Research project to target thermal losses in large-scale solar farms


From pv magazine Australia

Australian modular solar manufacturer 5B will work with a team of researchers from the University of Sydney (UoS) to develop optimization tools for the design of gigascale solar farms after the project received a share of AUD 40 million ($27.2 million) in the latest round of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Linkage Project Grants program.

Sydney-based 5B will lead the project in conjunction with Mark Baldry from the UoS’s Faculty of Engineering. Clean energy developer Sun Cable, which is now for sale after entering voluntary administration in January, has been listed as an industry participant.

5B was selected as the preferred supplier for Sun Cable’s proposed Australia-Asia PowerLink project in the Northern Territory (AAPowerLink), which would include up to 20 GW of solar and 42 GWh of energy storage on a 12,000-hectare site in Australia's Northern Territory.

The research partners said the scale of the Sun Cable project means that temperature-induced panel efficiency losses represent a major challenge that must be overcome through thermal performance optimization.

The project, which was awarded AUD 636,676 as part of the Linkage grants program, will include the building of “sophisticated multiscale models to simulate and understand the multiple interacting phenomena that cause panel heating.”

“This project will create the tools and know-how to optimize array design and solar farm development, delivering major efficiency gains and enhancing the viability of future gigascale solar projects,” the research partners said.

The project is one of eight energy installations to receive funding through the ARC Linkage Projects scheme 2022 Round 1. Funds totalling AUD 40 million for 81 new projects were announced under the program.

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Linkage grants support strategic research partnerships between Australian universities and other publicly funded research institutes, plus industry or community participants. Grants under the scheme are worth between AUD 50,000 to AUD 300,000 per year, for projects running between two and five years.

“By supporting the development of partnerships, the ARC encourages the transfer of skills, knowledge, and ideas as a basis for securing social, commercial and other benefits of research,” ARC Chief Executive Officer Judi Zielke said.

Other agencies to receive funding this week include the University of Melbourne which will work with Spark Property Developments to develop an ultra-low carbon precast panel system that allows for rapid modular construction. This proposed project, which was awarded AUD 545,173, aims to develop a precast panel comprising a novel ultra-low carbon concrete mixture that is cast in vertical battery moulds.

Researchers at the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute received AUD 420,000 to deploy helix-shaped anchors to secure floating wind developments.

Project lead Professor Christophe Gaudin said the project will reduce the cost of offshore floating wind energy. UWA’s partners on the project are Ocean Infinity (Australia), Ireland’s University of Dundee and Geowynd Offshore Engineering.

A full list of approved projects is available at the ARC site.

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