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Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre Overview
The $3.1 million Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre is the first site in Australia to publicly showcase such a broad range of large scale solar technology with over 15 installations established at the Centre. The Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett will officially launch the Centre tomorrow, and all Alice Springs residents are invited to attend. Solar installations include large scale tracking arrays, a solar water pump and water purification system, a variety of photovoltaic technologies, and a unique ‘Solar Compass’ and ‘Solar Forest’. Additionally, large solar concentrator dishes 17.5m high, will be ready for action in early 2009. Desert Knowledge Australia CEO John Huigen, expects the Centre to attract both national and international attention. “This Centre provides an important technical, education and training centre that will be open to the public, and it will also offer tourists a unique, interactive experience with solar technology.” “There are only two or three other places in the world that have got this scale of demonstration and we’re one of very few in the world to combine this level of technology demonstration and public accessibility.” “The project funding has been provided by Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, through the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program, and we are delighted that the Australian Government is so supportive of this innovative project”, said Mr Huigen. “We are also pleased at the on‐going commitment of the Northern Territory Government. This significant project validates the NT Government’s ongoing support and investment in Desert Knowledge and the Desert Knowledge Precinct.” The Centre for Appropriate Technology is responsible for the design and project management, using technical capabilities and learning’s generated through the successful Bushlight program. Project Manager Lyndon Frearson, said “When you look at what this is trying to do as far as comparing technologies, it’s absolutely unique in Australia.” “It will also reinforce Alice Springs’ position as the pre‐eminent location for large scale solar projects within Australia.” People will be able to track the operational performance of the different technologies through an interpretive website, which will be accessible at the site itself or from a distance while in front of their own computer. The Centre will reduce the energy costs of the Desert Knowledge Precinct, providing 20% of its energy needs.
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Over 100 tonnes of CO2 will be saved each year, equivalent to taking approximately 25 cars permanently off the road. The Centre will produce 312,000 hours per year, enough to supply about 42 homes. The official opening will take place at 2pm at the Desert Knowledge Precinct on the South Stuart Highway. Alice Springs – a leader in solar science An interactive website that feeds live data from The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre’s solar installations will be unveiled tomorrow at the official opening, showing people instantly how the technology is performing. “As well as presenting scientific and technical data to the solar industry, the website has been designed in such as way that it is interesting and fun for the general community too”, says Project Manager Lyndon Frearson. All of the solar installations at the Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre will supply meaningful and accurate comparisons of their performance in arid environments, improving the knowledge base for solar initiatives globally. “We will be able to assess the electricity generation of each solar array in relation to their different orientation to the sun, as well as degradation in output due to dust which is an important issue for photovoltaic systems in desert and arid zones”. A number of ground breaking technologies never before used in Australia will feature at the Centre, including Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) panels and Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) panels, where Cadmium is recovered from the waste of zinc and nickel processing. “While not as high efficiency as some of the others being displayed they have unique benefits both in cost and for the environment and testing of these technologies will highlight their pros and cons”, says Mr Frearson. The large concentrating photovoltaic tracking dishes will also be installed using a world first, closed loop cooling system ‐ a ground breaking Australian technology. As well as showcasing technologies that are new to Australia, the Centre will also demonstrate different mounting technologies. A range of different manufacturers and suppliers have chosen to demonstrate their technologies at the site, including BP Solar, Kyocera Solar, M&H Power, Phoenix Solar, Choice Electric, Solar Sales and Solar Systems. Alice Springs based Asbuild undertook the civil headworks including the paths, interpretive centre and equipment shelter. Inland Electrical constructed the majority of the array frames for the technologies and Suntec installed the Solar Compass and various roof and ground mounted PV photovoltaic panels.
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Solar education and training The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre is part of the Desert Knowledge Precinct — a hub for the transfer of knowledge and expertise across the arid regions of Australia. The website data collected from the solar installations will be unique in the world with regard to its ability to be accessed by the public, the quality and rigour with which the data has been collected and measured, and the sheer breadth of the data set. Students will be trained in the use and maintenance of solar installations by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), as part of the Desert Peoples Centre (located at the Desert Knowledge Precinct). “This Centre provides an opportunity for Alice Springs to export knowledge and skills to the rest of Australia and the wider world, reversing an ongoing trend of importing skills and knowledge into remote areas”, says Desert Knowledge Australia CEO Mr Huigen. “Solar Technology has the potential to be a lucrative and important knowledge‐based employer in Central Australia.” “The fact that Alice Springs has had the capacity to deliver this project is a direct result of the skills developed through the successful CAT Bushlight project, and a reflection of the desert knowledge that exists in the town.” Desert Knowledge is about living well and prospering in the desert. Energy sustainability is a major challenge for desert people and this Centre will demonstrate sustainable energy solutions. A tourist facility The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre will satisfy a growing curiosity from tourists who are interested in environmentally savvy products and technology, at a time when consumer concern about the impact of climate change is at an all time high. Tourists who visit the Centre will be able to get up close and personal to the various technologies via a 500 metre interpretive pathway. An interpretive centre with interactive panels and screens will allow visitors to see first hand how the technologies work with a display of real time data. The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre creates a new and innovative tourism product for central Australia, reinforcing Alice Springs position as the solar heart of Australia.
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Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre
Above - example webpage. The ‘System Powering’ section at the bottom of the website shows how many (equivalent) houses the Solar Centre is powering. When users click on each technology the details of that installation’s performance will be displayed. 1 – Solar Inception large scale trackers 2 – Solar Systems concentrating dishes 3 – BP solar roof mount 4 – Kyocera hydraulic trackers 5 – Kyocera 1 axis trackers 6 – Kyocera 2 axis trackers 7 – Phoenix Solar CdTe 8 – M&H Power Amorphours 9 – Choice Electric CIGS 10 – Sunpower monocrystalline 11 – BP Solar polycrystalline 12 – BP Solar monocrystalline 13 – Solar Inception ﬁxed arrays 14 – Kyocera ﬁxed arrays 15 – Trunz solar bore and water ﬁltration 16 – BP Solar compass
Full website can be viewed at www.dkasolarcentre.com.au