Through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the government will fund A$2.1m ($1.6m) for the deployment of the movable solar technology developed by SunSHIFT, a Laing O’Rourke subsidiary.

The modular solar system that can be established and packed down in a matter of days will be experimented in New South Wales at Rutherford.

If the pilot project becomes successful, ARENA has put in place an arrangement for the royalty payment from the proceeds.

The SunSHIFT system features solar PV and control systems along with a conventional diesel or gas generator. It also has the potential to add battery storage.

Laing O’Rourke Australia managing director Cathal O’Rourke said: “The ongoing collaboration with ARENA has kept the SunSHIFT team intently focused on technical and commercial innovation to overcome the barriers limiting use of renewable energy generation for large-scale, short-term power.

“What started out as an idea to reduce diesel fuel consumption for power generation at our own remote construction sites has evolved into an entirely new type of power generation asset ready for uptake in the multi-billion dollar global temporary power market.”

According to SunSHIFT general manager Will Rayward-Smith, the new funding from ARENA would help the company to complete a pre-commercial deployment of its 1MW block solar photovoltaic (PV) product.

Rayward-Smith said: “After three exciting years in partnership with ARENA, ABB and SunPower, we can now showcase our megawatt-scale modular and moveable solar PV product to the market.

“Off the back of this demonstration, we will be ramping up manufacturing to meet the strong demand for our product from mining companies, independent power providers, and infrastructure investors active in emerging markets and developing economies.”

ARENA on the other hand, claims to have provided support to the SunSHIFT technology right from its creation to manufacturing stage. It has also supported in its pilot scale demonstration through successive projects.

Image: SunShift pilot project in Australia. Photo: courtesy of Australian Renewable Energy Agency.