Solar energy cells have achieved enormous efficiency gains in recent years, converting in research a world record 46 per cent of sunlight being generated into electricity.
And even if you can’t buy such advanced photovoltaics off the shelf just yet, there are mighty advances already taking place out in the field where high-efficiency solar arrays are making green energy far more economically sustainable than ever before.
Global clean energy investment rose 16 per cent in the latest year, hitting $US310 billion in 2014, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The rise was boosted by fast-growing solar power, whose costs have plummeted in recent years. Solar attracted more than half of the new investment.
“Solar arrays now are achieving efficiency levels more than double those a few years back,” says solar energy spokesman David McCallum of the global Conergy organisation.
Conergy is one of the world’s largest downstream solar companies, specialising in the design, finance, build and operation of high performance solar systems for utility-scale and large-scale commercial projects. “We are currently installing a new heart-shaped 2MWp power plant on Grand Terre, New Caledonia’s largest island, where 7,888 German-made Conergy PowerPlus panels will generate enough electricity to supply 750 homes.”
David McCallum – Conergy Australia MD – says new generation on-grid and off-grid solar power systems are ideal for business and community operations on island, Outback and remote coastal locations and in applications ranging from mining and energy, infrastructure and oil and gas sites camps, through to luxury resorts, marinas and ports, indigenous communities and national park facilities.
But there are some important provisos if such facilities are to achieve top ROI figures:
- The solar cells themselves must be robust and reliable, providing top performance not only initially, but also over terms of years and decades.
- They must be matched by the best, most cost-efficient storage capacity including parameters such as robustness, energy density, safety, transport costs, temperature performance etc.
- It must be simple to operate, require minimal maintenance and not rely on pools of skilled labour that simply do not exist in many remote locations.
Conergy’s CHESS system is housed in easily transportable standard shipping containers with scalable power output in 100kW increments continuing upward depending on site requirements. The fully expandable ‘plug and play’ system is designed to seamlessly integrate solar energy into existing power supplies of minesites, production and accommodation facilities, as well as hospitality, recreational, processing and community developments operating in remote off-grid or on-grid locations.
Drawing on Conergy’s global expertise in delivering large-scale solar energy projects, totalling more than 1 GW, CHESS is designed to deliver stable 24-hour, seven-day-a-week power supply for any remote off-grid, micro-grid or grid-connected location.
“This outstanding source of solar energy supply and storage, integrated into the overall power supply of a site, can dramatically reduce operating costs as well as insulate businesses against the future volatility of long-term fuel prices.”