Mixed Greens: Solar pioneers awarded Australia Day honours

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Three leaders in Oz solar R&D win Australia Day gongs. Huge 100-turbine wind farm proposed for NSW; more good results from BuildingIQ.

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As the future of Australia’s solar industry hangs in the balance, three of its most respected leaders have been recognised as part of this year’s Australia Day awards. Professor Deo Prasad – Director of the Sustainable Development Program at UNSW and an international authority on sustainable buildings and cities – was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia medal for distinguished service to architecture, particularly in the field of sustainable urban design, as an academic and researcher, and to the solar renewable energy sector.

Dr David Mills – formerly a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney who is known worldwide for pioneering Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology and was inducted into the Australian Solar Council, Solar Hall of Fame in 2012 – was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for significant service to science in the field of applied physics, particularly solar energy research and development.

Mills’ CLFR co-developer, Graham Morrison, was also appointed a Member of the Order of Australia. Dr Morrison, who is currently Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UNSW, was recognised for significant service to science in the field of applied physics, particularly renewable energy and solar thermal technologies. The company Morrison and Mills founded, Ausra Inc, managed to attract more than $130 million in venture capital and went on to build a 4W plant in California, a 44MW plant in Kogan Creek, Queensland, and is currently building a 100MW plant in India.

In other news…

An Australian-Spanish joint venture is proposing a $400 million wind farm near Tarago in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, with up to 110 wind turbines on 12,000 hectares. The Canberra Times reports that the turbines will be up to 110 metres high, with three 63-metre rotor blades, and will span the properties of 25 landholders. The Sydney-based proponents of the joint venture, EPYC Pty Ltd’s Jupiter Wind Farm, say the wind farm will be in a district of small rural villages and settlements at Lake Bathurst, Tarago, Mayfield, Boro, Mount Fairy and Manar, which reportedly have a combined population of less than 5000 people.

Leading cloud-based energy management software company, BuildingIQ, has closed off a strong 2013 fiscal year with results include doubling revenues in Q4, quadrupling recurring revenue throughout the year, and saving customers $1.5 million in energy costs. The company announced the results on Tuesday, revealing that it had also more than doubled the amount of buildings under its management in Q4. A CSIRO spin-off, which last year became the only Australian company to make the Global Cleantech 100, BuildingIQ last week revealed it had raised $9 million in a venture funding round; money raised from leading financial and strategic investors such as Aster Capital (which is backed by Schneider Electric, Alstom and Solvay), the venture capital unit of Siemens Financial Services and Paladin Capital.

The number of NSW households to have installed rooftop solar has climbed to 246,314 (around 8%), a total that has been boosted by 24,537 since July of 2013, according to new data released by community solar group Solar Citizens. The data, presented in the group’s latest Solar Revolution Briefer, highlights the number of households with rooftop solar, the clean energy these homes have produced, the tonnes of carbon saved and the money saved on energy bills. In NSW alone, says Solar Citizens’ Taegen Edwards, these homes have invested over $1.8 billion in solar, and saved $137,935,570 annually in energy bills. Combined, the rootop panels have produced 616MW of clean energy and saved 769,730 tonnes of carbon from being produced.

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