Gatton Solar Research Facility

The Gatton Solar Research Facility (GSRF) was commissioned in March 2015 as part of the Education Investment Fund (EIF) Research Infrastructure Project attached to the AGL Solar PV Plant Project (159 MW at Nyngan and Broken Hill in NSW).

The GSRF contains a 3.275 MW CdTe array, bespoke Central Supervisory System, Data Hub, Research Building and Battery Storage Research Station.

It is the largest and most sophisticated facility for pilot-scale systems-level PV research anywhere in the world.

The installation provides about 40% of the Gatton Campus electricity, and during peak production exports into the local Lockyer Valley 11 kV network.

The facility also provides voltage and power factor support for the local area network.

The array comprises more than 37,000 thin-film photovoltaic panels, installed over 10 hectares on what was formerly a campus airstrip.

The advanced technology photovoltaic (PV) modules from First Solar produce enough clean energy to power more than 450 average Queensland homes and will displace the equivalent of 5600 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

The development is funded by a $40.7 million Federal Government Education Investment Fund program grant administered by the Department of Education.

The Gatton Solar Research Facility is part of research collaboration between UQ, the University of New South Wales, First Solar and AGL PV Solar Holdings Pty Ltd, an affiliate of AGL Ltd.

The UQ Solar initiative seeks to better understand the cost efficiencies of solar technologies to improve the integration of solar energy into the electricity grid, paving the way for future large scale solar systems to be connected (see research projects completed to date).

Key statistics

  • 37,000 First Solar CdTe PV panels
  • Fixed, single-axis tracking and dual-axis tracking arrays
  • 3.275 MW peak capacity
  • > 6 GW h /annum yield with capacity factors of 21-24%
  • ~ 10 hectares of plant
  • Bespoke Central Supervisory System (CSS)
  • 5 x Centralised SMA inverters
  • 760 kW h / 600 kW peak Li-Ion Battery (Kokam / MPower) with integrated CSS-Battery Management System
  • Research and Engagement Building > 600 visitors in the first 18 months' operation