Australia’s renewables research capacity has had a large boost now that the 64-MW solar farm at the University of Queensland is finished. The farm, at the UQ’s Warwick site, will generate as much – if not more – power than the university will need or use each year.
The uni’s vice chancellor and president professor, Peter Høj, said that renewables had to increase in prevalence as people demand more energy around the globe. Demand is only going to grow as people, especially in developing regions, use more energy and so this necessary supply should come from renewables.
An act of leadership
UQ’s solar farm shows the rest of the world that transitioning to renewables can be done at large-scale. UQ is leading the way by becoming the first major university in the world to offset all (or even more) of its annual power consumption by the power it generates with its own assets. Seven MW of this energy comes from UQ’s other plants at Gatton and St Lucia.
In total, Warwick Solar Farm’s production will reach around 160GWh each year, which is the equivalent of reducing coal consumption by 60,000 tonnes, which would power around 25,000 homes.
More research capacity
The new solar farm also offers more opportunity and capacity for research projects, such as new forms of battery storage or hydrogen power generation. Projects like these will keep the university at the front of the renewables sector and UQ will continue to publish the data from its solar farms and parks to keep both the public and government in the loop.
Combating climate change is a collective responsibility, the university believes, and industries, governments and individuals need to collaborate on new energy solutions for the future.
More study opportunities
The renewables sector offers lots of learning opportunities to undergraduates and graduates. Many of UQ’s engineering students go on work placements in this sector during their degrees, which can only feed back into the advancement of the industry in the coming years.