2016 BANKSIA SMART AWARD

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Infratech Industries, NSW

Australia’s first floating solar generation plant has been launched, with further installations to follow. The plant, which floats on a wastewater facility in Jamestown, is the first part of a $12 million, 4 MW system that will cover five basins. Infratech developed the floating system, which took more than three years to design and implement. Flinders University also contributed work on materials, corrosion resistance and energy storage. The project largely sourced its materials within Australia and combats climate change by producing renewable energy at the same time as preventing water evaporation, blue green algae outbreaks and increasing water quality. The system consists of a raft supporting photovoltaic panels, which are coated to prevent corrosion. The water works to cool the panels, increasing their efficiency, and the raft includes a tracking system to orient the panels over the course of the day. The panels operated with about 57% greater yield than landbased installations. Computational fluid dynamics was used to analyse the loads created by wind and wave impacts on the anchoring system. The floating platform is walkable, to allow easy access for maintenance and breathable to allow air to flow in and around which is important for “living” water systems with ecology. Add on water treatment systems can be powered by floating power on site. The project was completed without any government subsidy, and is based on a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Council, in which the council will buy the energy generated by Infratech with no capital investment.