Queensland leads the nation in the uptake of household solar power and battery storage, but solar is making waves in the business and government sectors, too. CitySmart looks at five products and initiatives to get excited about.

Solar street lights

Queensland company Orca Solar Lighting had gained preferred supplier status with all NSW, QLD, SA and NT local governments. Orca’s stand-alone outdoor lights eliminate the need for trenching and cabling, generate zero power bills and are not susceptible to power outages. The company says that when cyclone Yasi hit Townsville several years ago and knocked out the power, the only light that could be seen for miles was Orca’s solar car park lights at the back of the James Cook University.

This type of outdoor solar lighting is generally well suited to P category (pedestrian) lighting such as minor roads, car parks, walkways and bike ways, jetties and marinas. The technology is not quite there yet for V3 category (highway or motorway) lighting, as the large size of the solar engines would be impractical.

Examples of solar lighting installations in the Greater Brisbane region include a section of the bikeway/walkway just north of the Gateway Bridge, and the Windaroo State High School Car Park.

More at orcasolarlighting.com.au

Solar compacting bins

Bigbelly DUO Station Bondi Beach

Brisbane-based company and CitySmart partner Solar Bins Australia sees its innovative BigBelly Solar Compactor bins as a game-changer for councils and those overseeing bin collections. The first benefit is the waste compaction, powered by solar panels. Each bin can hold up to eight times the volume of common street litter bins or five times the volume of the average wheelie bin.

The second benefit comes from data: smart collection. Each BigBelly is connected to a software management system that creates dynamic truck routes, so that only full bins get emptied. Use of BigBelly bins can reduce truck movements by around 80 per cent; which in turn contributes to lower pollution, less noise and improved safety. The company currently has bin installations all around Australia including Moranbah and Taroom in Queensland.

More at solarbins.com.au

Solar charging for electric vehicles

Electrical vehicle charging stations get extra sustainability kudos if their energy is renewable; cue solar-powered EV chargers.

In 2016 the University of Queensland unveiled four fast-charging solar-powered EV chargers at its St Lucia and Gatton campuses, the first of their kind installed in Queensland. The chargers at St Lucia campus draw their supply from a rooftop solar PV system, while the Gatton charging stations are supplied with power from a solar farm located on campus.

Charging is free for all – students, staff and members of the public. The idea behind the installation is to drive wider usage of emissions-free electric vehicles in the state, eventually leading to a network of ‘fast charge’ stations around Queensland to enable practical EV use. In the meantime, the distance-per-charge of EV’s is continually improving. The Tesla Model S sedan, for example, has a stated range of up to 550 km per charge.

More at uq.edu.au/sustainability/ev

Solar for South Bank

The Ideas for South Bank paper is an initiative of Business South Bank (BSB) and outlines potential water and energy initiatives for the South Bank business precinct. The paper emerged from a recent workshop hosted by BSB and the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

The paper proposes a Sustainability Master Plan and includes a number of solar energy initiatives, including:

  • Setting a target for a 20% energy/carbon reduction by 2020, mobilised by revisiting the business cases for rooftop solar in light of improved business fundamentals.
  • An engagement strategy to negotiate co-investment by an energy supplier in the broader uptake of solar power within South Bank.

Instrumental in organising the workshop were BSB members including City Parklands, TAFE Queensland, Arts Queensland and Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Read the Ideas for South Bank paper in full.

Local renewable power hubs for business

This year, CitySmart partner InCorp Property Solutions Group has launched its t3 Initiative – a sustainability program that cleverly incentivises landlords and tenants to work together to make commercial building upgrades, such as changing to more efficient LED lighting.

But changing lights is just the beginning. In the medium term, the t3 Initiative aims to expand to allow the creation of local renewable energy networks, generating and selling electricity to member businesses from rooftop solar and other renewable sources.

Rooftops in industrial precincts are best suited for creating these decentralised hubs, with some 11.5 million sqm of space currently available in Australia. The networks will be managed by integrated smart data technology, delivering a peer-to-peer local energy network that provides renewable power at a lower cost than centralised power generation.

More at t3initiative.com.au