ARENA backs game-changing temporary power technology

A game-changing moveable and modular solar system that can be set up and packed down in days is on track to enter the global temporary power market.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has committed $2.1 million of recoupable funding support to deploy 1MW of the SunSHIFT technology in Rutherford, New South Wales.

SunSHIFT is a newly formed subsidiary of Laing O’Rourke, who developed the solution.

It is all-in-one and comprises solar PV and control systems together with a conventional diesel or gas generator, with the potential to add battery storage.

ARENA has supported the technology from inception to manufacturing and pilot scale demonstration through successive projects.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said SunSHIFT could help smooth the transition to a renewable energy future by providing a cleaner and more cost-effective alternative to diesel generators for off-grid users such as mines, construction sites and remote communities.

“This latest project will provide proof that SunSHIFT can be deployed at scale then effectively packed up and redeployed,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Quick set up and pack down, along with sizing flexibility, presents several advantages for different applications.

“Projects that only last a handful of years, like construction and mining operations, could benefit from SunSHIFT without having to rely on the typical 20-year payback period for solar installations.

“You can start small – with a single 1MW block alongside your existing generation facility – and as you become comfortable with the approach and the economics improve, you can add more solar blocks.”

SunSHIFT general manager Will Rayward-Smith said the new funding would allow the company to complete a pre-commercial deployment of its modular and moveable 1MW block solar PV product.

“After three exciting years in partnership with ARENA, ABB and SunPower, we can now showcase our megawatt-scale modular and moveable solar PV product to the market,” Dr Rayward-Smith said.

“Off the back of this demonstration, we will be ramping up manufacturing to meet the strong demand for our product from mining companies, independent power providers, and infrastructure investors active in emerging markets and developing economies.”

Laing O’Rourke Australia managing director Cathal O’Rourke said the development of this technology was only made possible by ARENA’s support through research, demonstration and now pre-commercial deployment.

“The ongoing collaboration with ARENA has kept the SunSHIFT team intently focused on technical and commercial innovation to overcome the barriers limiting use of renewable energy generation for large-scale, short-term power,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“What started out as an idea to reduce diesel fuel consumption for power generation at our own remote construction sites has evolved into an entirely new type of power generation asset ready for uptake in the multi-billion dollar global temporary power market.”