Australia's first redeployable large-scale hybrid PV plant up and running in one week

Laing O’Rourke, Australia’s biggest privately owned construction company, has assembled the country’s biggest redeployable large-scale solar-diesel hybrid power plant in the state of Queensland.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) partnered with Laing O’Rourke by providing $410,000 in support for the feasibility and design work and a further $450,000 for the $1.4 million demonstration project.

The 1 MW hybrid solar diesel plant includes 144 kWp of solar PV and is supplying power to a 350-bed accommodation village for a large construction project in Queensland. The system was delivered, unpacked and fully functional in one week, according to ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

Frischknecht said the plant – understood to be the world’s first fully redeployable large-scale hybrid plant — was a clear demonstration of a versatile alternative to diesel powered generators.

“The Laing O’Rourke solution is a real game-changer – it provides off-grid locations with a viable energy alternative to a portion of expensive, trucked-in diesel and overcomes the barriers and risks associated with permanent, fixed framed solar installations,” Frischknecht added.

The plant can be scaled up or down by adding or removing modules and can be packed up and moved elsewhere when it is no longer needed, allowing the solar panels to be re-used several times over their lifespan. The plant is suitable for construction projects, mine sites and other applications where temporary power is required, Frischknecht said.

Laing O’Rourke Managing Director Cathal O’Rourke said the system would “potentially change the renewable energy landscape in regional and remote Australia. We believe this investment and innovation could provide huge benefits to remote communities, business operations and construction projects in the future, as well as have particular benefits for events that require rapid deployment of power units – such as disaster recovery.”

Laing O’Rourke is in the process of making the system commercially available to the broader market. The company has also released a time lapse video showing the on-site assembly of the plant.