S-5! selected for iconic Arkaroola Microgrid Project

Solar panels on the roof of Arkaroola Wildlife Sanctuary building with the Flinders Rangers in the background
Solar panels on the roof of Arkaroola Wildlife Sanctuary building

Rail-less solar mounting specialist S-5! has been selected for the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary Microgrid in the northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

Designed and installed by leading off-grid specialist Apex Energy, the microgrid provides critical energy security to power decades of global science and environmental research at the multi-award-winning site, slated for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Listing.

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Backed by a $1.3 million grant from the Australian government and located 600km north of Adelaide, the entire microgrid project will power the eco-tourism hotspot, a landmark of global significance within the global science community.

Arkaroola showcases unique wilderness, almost 2 billion years of geological history and world-class dark skies for astronomical observations, with a joint US operated observatory at the site.

The Arkaroola microgrid will be powered in part by a 61.6kW (peak) rooftop solar system on the sanctuary’s Mawson Lodge, with its installation video on show here. In planning and designing the solar system, Apex Energy carefully considered the need for a strong yet lightweight mounting system, which would both protect the ageing sub-structure of the building and be reliable enough to stand the test of time, as future replacement or maintenance at the remote site would carry a high cost. The selection of the S-5! PVKIT rail-less solar mounting system will cut installation costs by 25%.

“We’re proud to have partnered with S-5! for the Arkaroola Microgrid solar installation,” said Sean LePoidevin, project manager at APEX Energy.

“The S-5! PVKIT offered the perfect solution for the Arkaroola Microgrid. The ability to install this rooftop system without rails meant lower freight costs, maximising the available rooftop space for solar, an easier installation, and ultimately a reliable and better-looking, low-profile rooftop system that blends with the stunning natural landscape.”

The advanced microgrid has a total of four solar arrays with 120kWh of battery storage and monitoring and control capabilities, which manage loads such as EV charging, air conditioning and hot water heating. The sanctuary had operated since the mid-1960s on diesel power, making it vulnerable to fluctuating fuel prices and road access issues, as well as presenting an ethical conflict for this conservation site.

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“Being so remote, we have to generate our own electricity, and we’ve been doing that based on diesel fuel,” said Doug Sprigg, sanctuary owner.

“Arkaroola’s about conservation; we really should be trying harder to move away from diesel, and that’s what we’re doing.”

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