Sumitomo Electric and QUT complete construction of CPV pilot plant

Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Queensland University of Technology have completed construction of a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) power generation pilot plant in Australia and started its test operation.

The university and Japanese company joined forces in November last year for the renewable energy trial, which offers the potential to make Queensland’s energy system significantly more efficient, robust and sustainable.

The CPV system, unveiled at a ceremony today, has been built at the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Redlands Research Facility in Brisbane and operated and tested by QUT researchers.

Professor Ian Mackinnon, from QUT’s Institute for Future Environments, said the partnership would complement and boost QUT’s existing renewable energy research program.

“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,” Prof Mackinnon 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.”

Professor Mackinnon said CPV technology was around 2.5 times more efficient than standard photovoltaic technology.

The systems are ideal for the sunny Queensland weather.

“The country has large areas receiving high levels of direct solar irradiation, making it well suited to use Sumitomo Electric’s CPV systems, which are advantages to high-radiation and high-temperature environments,” a statement from Sumitomo Electric said.

“In view of such weather conditions, the state of Queensland aims to raise the rate of power generation from renewable energy sources from the current 4.4 per cent to 50 per cent by 2030.”

The test operation will run for two years, focusing on the measurement of total power generation and evaluation of possible economic effects of CPV.