Queensland’s University of Technology has partnered with Japanese manufacturer Sumitomo Electric Industries to trial and develop large-scale renewable energy generation and battery storage technologies, including a concentrating solar PV system that is particularly suited to the Sunshine State’s climate.
QUT said last week that a demonstrator Sumitomo Electric CPV system would be installed at the Queensland government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Redlands Research Facility in Brisbane early next year. It will be operated and tested by QUT researchers.
Sumitomo’s concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology has been used in a number of projects around the world, including a recently completed 1MW CPV generation plant in Morocco. According to QUT Professor Ian Mackinnon, it is around 2.5 times more efficient than standard PV technology.
“Although they look similar to traditional photovoltaic panels, CPV systems have a layer of lenses over the top of the photovoltaic cells that concentrates the sunlight and makes the system far more efficient,” said QUT Professor Ian Mackinnon in a statement on Thursday.
“CPV systems are ideal for places like Queensland that receive high levels of direct sunlight.
“They operate best in clear, sunny conditions, because light filtered through clouds cannot be easily concentrated,” he said.
“CPV systems can operate efficiently at high temperatures typical of Queensland and, because they track the sun, they can provide stable power generation for longer periods of the day.”
And “in due course,” says Mackinnon, Sumitomo Electric plans to demonstrate the CPV technology in conjunction with a redox flow battery, such as are made here in Australia by up and coming Brisbane battery storage company RedFlow.
“Redox flow batteries are rechargeable with several technical qualities that make them more suitable for large-scale energy storage than other battery types,” Mackinnon said.
“For example, they have a long life cycle and the ability to operate at very high currents.”
Mackinnon said the partnership with Sumitomo would complement and boost QUT’s existing renewable energy research program, which was investigating the potential to make Queensland’s energy system significantly more efficient, robust and sustainable.
“Our partnership with Sumitomo Electric gives us the opportunity to study the operation of large-scale renewable energy generation and storage technologies in Queensland’s climate,” he said.
“We have a microgrid facility at QUT Gardens Point Campus partly powered by solar ‘trees’ on the Science and Engineering Centre’s roof which allows us to model and test different configurations of power systems incorporating renewable energy sources and distributed storage.
“CPV technology combined with redox flow batteries promises to be a crucial part of the future energy mix in Australia and around the world.
“In rural and regional Queensland in particular, there is great potential for megawatt-capacity renewable energy projects using CPV systems and redox flow batteries.”