South Australia’s Flinders University has installed an impressive 1.8MW of solar PV across its Bedford Park campus in Adelaide, the bulk of which make up a 4136-panel shaded car park.
The $4.8 million project, which includes 1681 panels across six campus roof-tops, is expected to generate 20 per cent of the University’s electricity needs, and pay itself off – through cheaper bills – within seven years.
The size of the purpose-built new solar car park rivals those installed at Sydney Markets (just shy of 1MW), at the University of Southern Queensland (1.1MW) and at Adelaide Airport, where 1.28MW of PV was added to the roof of the multi-storey short-term carpark.
The Flinders car park will also feature a charging dock, for the autonomous shuttles the university hopes to use to ferry people across campus, and provisions for recharging electric vehicles.
“We have an opportunity to do things in a way that is different, and we should be looking at ways that we can all live in the future,” said Flinders University vice president of corporate services Mark Gregory.
“In demonstrating some of these more progressive ideas our campus can become a place where we live and breathe and create a living laboratory for new technologies, sustainable activities and new behaviours,” he said.
As it is, the 1.8MW project adds to existing solar arrays on the University’s new Student Hub, and Law and Commerce Buildings, illustrating Flinders’ increasing commitment to environmental sustainability.
“At Flinders we genuinely believe in our mission of changing lives and changing the world for the better,” Professor Stirling says.
“This investment in on-site renewable energy generation at our Bedford Park campus will contribute to decarbonising the energy grid in South Australia and elevate Flinders as a leader in the use of solar to support the sustainable operation of its campus and facilities.
“While we are improving our operational costs, we’re also providing an opportunity for our researchers to test ‘real world’ deployment of renewable energy technologies on our localised electricity grid at Bedford Park, as we create a more robust system with flexible forms of supply.
“There will also be many opportunities for this project to be used in our teaching and learning to expose students to the latest in renewable energy technology, engineering, civil and transport system development.
“Ultimately we want to create campus environments that enable students and staff to experience the technology of the future – and partner with industry, government and the community to maximise the benefits to all,” Professor Stirling says.
Already, the University has existing solar arrays on its new Student Hub, and Law and Commerce Buildings, as part of its goal of achieving zero net emissions from electricity by 2020 and cutting grid electricity demand by 30 per cent from a 2015 baseline, through renewable energy generation and storage.