Marine climate research the winner as Queensland hub goes solar
A $2.25 million, 1,044kW solar system has been installed at the Australian Institute of Marine Science’s headquarters near Townsville, completing a project expected to deliver up to $400,000 a year in savings to the key research agency.
The solar system, a combination of rooftop and ground-mounted PV arrays, was installed by NSW-based commercial solar outfit SolGen Energy Group, using 300W Trina panels and SMA Tripower inverters.
The CEO of AIMS, Dr Paul Hardisty, said the northern Queensland facility wanted to set an example on emissions reduction in light of its research focus on the impact of climate change on tropical marine ecosystems.
Dr Hardisty said solar was also being rolled out at the Institute’s other sites across Australia, with a system already in place at AIMS’ Darwin-based research facility, and in the works for the AIMS’ Perth facility.
“We are working towards a 25% reduction in our own carbon emissions across all our three sites, and this is a big part of that process,” he said.
“North Queensland is lucky to have more than 300 days of sunshine a year, which we have used for our energy requirements, and we plan to also look to wind generation for future savings.
“Not only does the system deliver environmental benefits, but it is forecast to deliver up to $400,000 a year in savings, which means we can put more money back into science.”
AIMS COO Dr John Chappell said a major cost saving of switching to solar would be at the Institute’s National Sea Simulator, which claims to be the world’s most advanced research aquarium, able to simulate, quantify and predict the effects of multiple pressures on marine and coastal ecosystems.
“The National Sea Simulator allows us to undertake complex research which was not previously possible anywhere in the world – including work on assessing the impact of complex environmental changes, and reef restoration,” Dr Chappell said.
“This investment in solar will help to reduce the recurrent cost of running this important research asset.”
The solar project was undertaken with a $1.8 million Australian Government investment in supporting science excellence, as part of the Public Service Modernisation Fund, announced in the 2017-2018 Federal Budget.