A tropical solar energy researcher has said the company is working to create solar energy that could help farmers in Australia and South Africa.
“We are doing some research on the market for this and have been looking at how much solar is available in Australia,” said Dr James McElwain, CEO of Sunrise Research.
“We believe we can create a very low cost solar system that can be used by farmers to generate electricity, as well as sell the electricity back to the grid, in return for the energy being stored and distributed back to Australia.”
“That’s what we’re doing with our research into this area.”
The company has developed a prototype solar system for farmers that will have a total capacity of 30 megawatts, or more than a fifth of the total solar power capacity of the Australian National Electricity Market (ANEP).
“We have had some very interesting results with this system and are now looking to develop a more sophisticated system,” Dr McElWain said.
“The potential of this system is huge.”
Solar energy is an intermittent source of power that can run on wind or water.
But it can also be used for solar power generation on rooftops and on rooftacks in remote areas.
“It’s also very good for the environment, because you don’t have to do any power generation,” Dr Michael Williams, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales, said.
Dr Williams said that while the technology could be useful for small farms, the technology is not suitable for large scale farms because it would require a lot of energy and water to produce.
“This technology could actually be very useful for a large, urban area, because it could produce electricity from rooftop solar energy and sell it back to a grid,” he said.
Professor Williams said he had been working with Dr McEllwain for about six months to understand the technology.
“I have been working on this for a number of years and I have a lot more experience in this area,” he told the ABC.
Dr McElowain said it was a matter of trying to solve a problem that had been plaguing the industry for many years.
“[But] I think this has the potential to really change the way that people think about this technology,” he added.
“What we are doing is looking at the potential for this technology to be used on rooftop solar and I think that is the first step in that direction.”
Solar power is becoming increasingly important for businesses in Australia, particularly in rural areas, as the country is grappling with the severe drought that has devastated the country.
“There’s a very real need for energy to meet our needs, so we need to find ways to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and that is a challenge that solar energy can help solve,” Professor Williams said.
Solar energy could also play a key role in developing renewable energy resources, such as the use of wind energy.
Solar is the world’s cheapest and most reliable source of electricity.
It has been gaining popularity for the last few years as an alternative to conventional electricity, which requires costly, high-temperature power stations.
However, the cost of solar power is still prohibitively high.
“Solar is a very competitive option, but it has to be very competitive because the cost is so high,” Professor McElworth said.
However, Professor Williams says the company has found that a significant portion of the market is in the early stages of development.
For instance, Professor McEllrains research found that around half of the solar energy in Australia is being developed in countries such as India, Japan and South Korea, and is only now starting to show signs of commercialisation.
Professor McElls research also found that the company was developing the technology for farms in Africa.
“That is something that I think is really important, because we have the capacity to make a huge impact here, but I think it is important to take a long view,” he explained.
“And we have found that we have very large scale solar farms in South Africa that have already got on board, and we are going to be able to grow these in the future.”
Professor Williams believes that Australia is going to have to look at alternative energy sources, and that solar is a promising one.
“You can imagine that Australia could be able in the next couple of years to do this,” he warned.
The research has been funded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Energy Market Operator.