SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2011 > Solar Technology

216 solar modules from SCHOTT on top of a former maintenance building near the harbor in Sydney convert sunlight into 100 MWh of power. Photo: Solgen Energy

Sunny Times

Australia is strongly affected by climate change. The country is investing huge sums of money in renewable energy. Here, a solar system from SCHOTT installed in the harbor of Sydney will hopefully encourage people to rely on solar technology.

Boris Hänssler

The water level rose and rose. Thousands of people had to flee from the Australian metropolis of Brisbane when the ­Brisbane River burst its banks in January, 2011. The water floods carried away boats, cars, bridges and containers. It was the worst flood in over fifty years, and not the only record that has been set in recent times. In 2006, meteorologists in Australia confirmed the hottest start of the year since the recording of temperatures. Experts have spotted a clear trend toward higher average temperatures. Australia, with its weather extremes like droughts, floods and forest fires, is particularly affected by ­climate change. This is why the government plans to fight the country’s high energy consumption. A tax on the 500 companies with the highest CO₂ emissions is planned, for example. At the same time, Australia will be investing around 20 billion dollars toward the expansion of renewable energies in industry and private households by 2020.

The Green Precincts Fund plays a very special role here. Through this initiative, the government is hoping to encourage communities to manage water and energy more efficiently. 13 projects will be receiving 15 million dollars in support. This will result in annual savings of 144 megaliters of water and around 9 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

One of these flagship projects is located in the middle of the harbor of Sydney. The buildings on Cockatoo Island will be receiving 20 percent of their energy from solar modules that were installed on a former submarine turbine repair building.

The order for this installation was awarded to a company called Solgen Energy, a SCHOTT distribution partner. 216 SCHOTT PROTECT® POLY 300 double glass modules installed on top of the turbine building now absorb solar radiation and convert the energy into electricity. A very impressive sight for those who visit the island: the panels cover 680 square meters and generate about 100 megawatt hours of energy and thus avoid the emission of about 110 tons of carbon dioxide.

The trust decided to use modules from SCHOTT for one main reason. The double glass technique used is quite unique. Thanks to the additional glass pane on the back side and the anodized aluminum frame that is free from hollow chambers, the modules are extremely resistant to even the most extreme weather conditions.
The solar industry is gaining ground in Australia. The buildings on Cockatoo Island will soon be getting about 20 per cent of their power from SCHOTT ­Solar modules. This will help save 110 tons of CO2 each year. Photo: Solgen Energy

And this is of vital importance because, on Cockatoo Island, they are constantly exposed to salty atmosphere and the many sea birds that inhabit the island. Salt and droppings would damage conventional modules rather quickly.

Onto the island with 15 tons of equipment

The unusual environment proved to be a challenge from the very start of the installation. Preparations prior to commencement of the project took six weeks. Solgen Energy, the design and building contractor, had to transport 15 tons of equipment to the island on heavy load vessels. Nevertheless, all of the work was finished only one month later. ”Everything went well and we are very satisfied,” says David Williams from the Sydney ­Harbor Federation Trust who manages the island installation. Now, the trust is planning to advertise for the usage of solar technology with its installation.

One could hardly hope for a better environment. Cockatoo Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sydney. The island used to be a prison. After that, it served as a vocational school for girls and hosted the largest shipyard in the country for quite some time. Today, Cockatoo Island mainly serves as a venue and some of the industrial buildings are now home to film studios. UNESCO declared the old prisons World Cultural Heritage sites in 2010.

The trust decided to install a large display in one of the ­former turbine buildings that interactively informs people of the solar system and shows its current performance in real-time to give tourists a better understanding of the technology. In addition, there are tour guides, teaching materials for schools, a website and a newsletter. Two popular television programs were filmed on the island and presented the solar system to an ­audience of millions.

The neighboring region will probably also benefit from the system in the future. ”Premium quality real estate that is not well-suited for solar systems is located right next to the island,” David Williams says.

The people here are extremely interested in investing in ­additional modules on Cockatoo Island. Gonzalo Muslera, Country Manager of SCHOTT Australia, is convinced that solar systems hold huge potential for the country anyway. ”In the last year alone, we saw a strong rise in interest, especially on the real estate market. The solar industry is just starting to gain a foothold in Australia,” he concludes. <|
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