Innovation That Matters

The solar panels at USC are part of the campus’ smart energy system | Photo source USC

Smart solar system cuts university energy bill by 40 per cent

Agriculture & Energy

More than 6,000 solar panels installed across campus should help to save more than €62 million in energy expenses over the next 25 years

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Spotted: An award-winning, three-storey, thermal energy storage tank powers air conditioning across Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast’s Sippy Downs campus. The new system works by converting solar energy into thermal power, which cools the water held in the tank. More than 6,000 solar panels are in place across rooftops and car park structures as part of the campus’ smart energy system. 

Depending on various factors including weather, the university’s power switches between the solar panels, the storage tank and mains electricity. This helps ensure that energy use is as cost-efficient and clean as possible. The solar energy and water storage system is a public-private partnership between the university and international resource management company Veolia. Veolia installed the system free of charge and sells the energy back to the university at a lower-than-commercial rate. 

The university uses the project as an on-site learning opportunity for students in many departments. A regional leader in sustainability, the university is working towards carbon neutrality by 2025. Over the next 25 years, the energy storage system should help save more than €62 million in energy expenses and reduce carbon pollution by 100,000 tonnes. In October 2019, the university and Veolia won the Out of the Box category in the Global District Energy Climate Awards. 

Making renewable energy more accessible and easy to use is a common theme in some of the solar-based projects Springwise has spotted. They include self-sufficient cabins powered by filtered seawater and heat from a sauna and an indoor solar panel that generates electricity from ambient lighting. 




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