One of Australia’s leading star-gazing facilities will soon be powered by the sun, after the CSIRO appointed EMC Solar Construction to engineer, procure and construct a 1.6MW solar power station at its Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia.
The 6,000-panel system – to be completed by the end of the year – will include a custom-built inverter room, designed to protect the CSIRO’s radio telescopes from interference and to preserve its quiet environment.
Among telescopes the solar system will be powering is CSIRO’s newest edition, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) – which stands to be one of the most powerful survey radio astronomy instruments on the planet.
Just this month, the ASKAP found a galaxy five billion light years away, via a radio emission travelling to Earth that was imprinted with hydrogen gas. Scientists gave some credit for the discovery to the unique radio-quiet environment of the Murchison site, about 600km north of Perth.
EMC managing director John Davidson said remote power supply was critical to the success of the MRO and ASKAP, which it is hoped will help astronomers answer fundamental questions about the creation and early evolution of the Universe, and to test theories of cosmic magnetism and predictions from Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
“To be a part of that process is an amazing opportunity for EMC to again showcase its IP and capabilities to engineer and build fully automate solar power stations in remote locations,” Davidson said in a statement on Thursday.
Last month, Perth-based EMC signed an MOU to supply a solar plus storage system to power a vanadium mining project in the remote Northern Territory.
The deal with strategic metals company TNG will see EMC evaluate and implement energy supply options for the Mount Peake Vanadium Project, including the potential supply of a solar power system suitable to run with (appropriately given what they are mining) a Vanadium Redox Battery (VRB) system.