Australia nuclear facility installs massive rooftop solar system to save $2 million

ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron with solar panels on the roof. Credit: ANSTO

One of the major nuclear research facilities belonging to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)’s is installing a major rooftop solar system that will save $2 million.

The ANSTO campus in Clayton hosts the Synchrotron, where electrons are accelerated to almost the speed of light to allow researchers to investigate materials down to the atoms. An electron beam travelling at about 299,792 kilometres a second requires plenty of energy.  

But over 2 million KW/h a year will be saved off their huge energy bill after

The facility is now host to a 1.59 MW rooftop solar system, one of the largest in the state, with 3,000 panels installed by RACV Solar. It is expected to save two million kilowatt hours a year, and $2 million over the first five years of operation.

“The engineering and technical expertise required to deliver this type of project is complex,” said RACV’s head of energy Greg Edye.

“The solar panel installation was completed over five months, and it covers the rooftops of the main Australian Synchrotron building, the Australian Synchrotron guesthouse, and the environmentally controlled storage facility.

“There will be a significant reduction in energy costs for ANSTO, with these savings used to support operations and important research. Not only are they reducing their carbon footprint, but they are also investing in a cleaner energy future.”

Synchotron director Professor Michael James says Going solar was a “no-brainer” because of the size of the facility’s rooftops and the “ample, uninterrupted exposure to sunlight” at the location within the Monash University precinct.

“While our science facility operates 24 hours per day, during daylight hours, the new solar plant provides a cyclical way to harness the power of light – from the Sun to help power our facilities,” he said.

“That in turn, allows us to generate brilliant beams of synchrotron light that are more than a million times brighter than the light from the Sun.

“Some of those brilliant beams of synchrotron light are even used to undertake research into the next generation of solar cell technology.”

The ANSTO team are hoping that the investment will save them $2 million over a 5 year period, as well as stop 1,680 tonnes of carbon equivalent entering the atmosphere every year.

“The reduction in our carbon footprint is enough to offset 367 family-sized cars each year,” James added.

“This investment in renewable technology is just one way ANSTO can meet its own sustainability goals, while also acting as a buffer against increasing energy overheads in the future.”

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