Photon Energy employs German tech for pilot project Down Under


Photon Energy Operations DE, a subsidiary of Dutch firm Photon Energy Group, has teamed up with German Energy Agency (dena) and Australian company BAI on a pilot project that will use PV for communications infrastructure in remote locations.

Using mainly German technology, Photon Energy Operations DE will install a 215 kWh PV-powered battery system that will replace the current power system of a broadcast antenna near Muswellbrook in New South Wales operated by BAI. Once successfully tested the concept could be implemented on thousands of sites across Australia.

"Having been selected by dena to implement this innovative solar PV battery power supply is a great step forward for solar power to provide a complete clean and economically viable power supply for remote sites," said Michael Gartner, managing director of Photon Energy Australia, adding that dena had "shown confidence in our solution and it is great success for us. The potential for solar PV in the replacement of conventional energy sources is substantial and will bring cost benefits and emmissions savings for Australia in the coming years and decades."

Describing the collaboration as "a groundbreaking project," BAI Group CEO Jim Hassell said, "As a service provider that relies heavily on external market forces, it’s exciting to think that soon we’ll be able to generate much of our own power. The longer-term outcome of this project will prove beneficial for our customers in many ways, as we’ll be able to provide them with a lower carbon footprint, more cost certainty and improved reliability against the grid in remote locations. We’re looking forward to assessing the outcomes of this project for a potential future network-wide implementation."

The telcom tower will be powered by a 39 kWp solar power installation using 215 kWh of batteries and a 8 kVA diesel back-up system for emergencies. The technology — 96 solar panels, 24 BAE batteries (supplied by R+J batteries), three SMA inverters and a monitoring system — is mostly made in Germany, which allowed Photon Energy to secure funding for the project from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

The project is part of dena’s worldwide Renewable Energy Solutions Programme, which is co-financed by the Economic Affairs and Energy Ministry as part of its Renewables – Made in Germany initiative. The companies have not provided financial details of the agreement nor of the amount of subsidy money Photon Energy obtained for the project.

Photon Energy has installed several rooftop power plants in Australia and recently presented a standardized financing option for business customers. "We are thrilled that we can show how to incorporate solar PV into any given energy system and prove that using abundant sunlight for your own power consumption is the way forward," Gartner added.