Clean Power

Published on March 28th, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan


1-Megawatt Solar Hybrid Plant Installed In Just 7 days (Time-Lapse Video)

March 28th, 2015 by  

A time-lapse video recording of the swift installation of a 1-megawatt redeployable solar-diesel hybrid power plant turns a week into seconds, highlighting the innovative modular technology.

Laing O’Rourke developed the innovative modular technology. RenewEconomy reports that it was delivered, set up, unpacked, and fully operational within seven days.

Presently in full operation, RenewEconomy reports that the solar power plant was unveiled just last week in Combabula, regional Queensland. It is the first of its kind in the world. The pilot-scale plant is the product of an ARENA-backed project. ARENA intends to make it more affordable and more easily accomplished to provide remote Australian communities and industrial sites with off-grid renewable energy generation.

Diminishing insecurity of risks associated with projects in remote and regional Australia, ARENA (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency) considers the off-site construction and rapid packing and unpacking capability of the technology will potentially reduce costs.

RenewEconomy reports:

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the Combabula plant provided a clear demonstration of a versatile alternative to costly and heavy polluting diesel-powered generators.

Each redeployable hybrid plant is expected to power multiple successive off-grid users, allowing them to benefit from the advantages of solar without committing to a permanent installation.

Hybrids offer interesting complements to the clean power, renewable equation. Of course, there are also fully clean hybrid plants. See “Study Finds Wind-Solar Hybrid Power Plants Are Twice As Efficient,” which explains, “One of the strong benefits is the construction of these types of power plants do not require grid expansion since the plants generate wind and solar power at different intervals and during complementary seasons. This helps ensure that the level of energy being fed into the grid is more steady than that of wind or photovoltaic power plants alone.”

An analysis Joshua S Hill covered for CleanTechnica in “Hybrid Energy Systems Key To Future Of Renewable Energy,” reports, “much of the weather-reliant issues could be done away with by introducing enhanced energy storage technology and by developing what are called ‘hybrid’ energy systems — energy systems which, in tandem with a smart grid, combine two forms of energy generation so one is able to cover the other.” We’ll see where this option out of Australia leads.

Related Story: ARENA Looks To Accelerate Renewable Hybrid Power Plants

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About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • RJ

    This is off the grid, now add the time and costs to get the power to the grid. The math here is fuzzy at best. Also, the way at which the power fluctuates from these sources require a lot more of the grid which is being subsidized by the power companies At this point and creating issues for other steady forms of power production. storage of this power is were the real expense is going to be. Now do the math and see what the costs will be. Let’s not be so short sighted.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Solar is rapidly becoming our second cheapest way to bring new electricity to the grid. Currently it’s roughly tied with natural gas for second. A few years from now solar may take the number one place away from onshore wind.

      CA is now getting 5% of their electricity from solar. No problems incorporating that much solar and more. Big thermal plants suddenly going off line is a larger problem for grids.

      Storage prices are coming down, possibly faster than solar prices dropped.
      Math has been done. Renewable advocates are smiling.

    • Offgridman

      Earlier in the comments someone provided the link to the study showing how the combination of wind and solar stabilizes the flow of power without the concerns of needing storage as they usually peak at opposite times. Improved meteorology and weather forecasting over the past couple of decades has also helped to predict/stabilize the energy from wind and solar.
      Solar power can be set up almost anywhere that there is some free space without the environmental concerns of traditional power plants, so it can be right where the grid needs some more input. And to a large degree this is also true of wind turbines because of the improved resources that can be accessed with the new taller towers.
      Have a brown field site where a coal plant has been decommissioned? Install solar or wind the grid connection is already there, and the panels or turbines are not bothered by any trace pollution that is leftover.

  • Matt

    Now that is ground mount! looks about knee high.

    • Omega Centauri

      Knee high. Will have to keep after the weeds.

      • Eddie Jones

        A small herd of goats will cover that….

        • Bob_Wallace

          Better go with rabbits. Or pygmy sheep…

          Goats will be climbing on the racks.

        • Omega Centauri

          At least in popular mythology goats are known to eat tin cans. Maybe solar panels would be on their diet?

          • Offgridman

            Never seen them actually eat the can, but have seen them tear them up to get at the little bits of food inside.
            Also unfortunately had one gorge itself so full that it died after breaking into the shed where the feed was kept. Goats can be amazing at times, and amazingly stupid critters at other times.

  • Steven F

    they are beeing a little loose with “1 Week”

    Based on the shadows in the video the solar was installed in one week. the fuel tanks and generator, containerized modules were there before the video started. The land was leveled, every thing truked in, tanks Pipes and much of the electrical was done before the video started. My guesssIt probably took 2 to 3 weeks to do the entire job. Does the full video of the entire construction exist?

    • Will E

      Steven, this is a search for nails in low tide,
      When constructing a house you dont count the time the tree had to grow to provide the wood.
      nor the time to bake the bricks in the oven.
      building time one week, done.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’ve noticed that nuclear plants do “site preparation” work – prepare the land, install roads, string wires, etc. – before they “start construction” on the actual plant.

      • Martin

        Good one Will!

  • Martin

    Question for everybody, how many other power plants, coal , NG, etc, of that size can be build in that time frame?

    • Jouni Valkonen

      For example, nuclear power is way faster to build. One 1600 MW nuclear power plant can be build around in 15 years. However if we build 1600 of these one megewatt plants at the rate one per week, then it will take around 30 years to install 1600 MW capacity.

      Therofore by the sheer proof of mathematics, Nuclear power can be installed twice as fast as these kind of solar power plants!

      • Bob_Wallace

        Here’s the problem with your argument. It takes skilled and experienced crews to build a nuclear plant. Look at the mess that is Olkiluoto 3. And the completion date for Vogtle keeps be extended into the future as more construction problems arise.

        Solar farms can be built with nothing more than common construction skills. There are thousands of companies in the US that could build solar farms with nothing more than a set of plans and containers full of parts.

        • Jouni Valkonen

          Indeed, this ridiculously long construction time frame for nuclear power is perhaps the strongest argument why even subsidized nuclear power does not make economic sense. Although offshore wind power costs nearly as much as nuclear power, short installation and ROI time frame makes offshore wind power vastly better investment from the economic point of view.

          • Will E

            In Finland there is a nuclear project going on for years gone and years to come, must be 15 years, cost are rising out of the pan by billions over estimate construction costs, must be 15 billion add cost for used nuclear fuel storage construction, deep down in granite mountain, 15 billion again, add decommission cost of the nuclear plants for the Finland children in the future.
            lets say 15 billion.
            thats a 15 year construction time and 60 billion cost.
            Still not working.
            regarding your name you must be from Finland
            I hope you emigrated or you have to pay for all this.
            and your children.

          • Aku Ankka

            The ironic thing (IMO) is that many of these delays are based on furiously trying to cut costs, by for example hiring cheaper labor from eastern European countries via shady middlemen. Since the actual inspection is done thoroughly by experts who actually verify the construction quality loads, plans, processes etc, unsurprisingly problems were found. Trying to skimp on project ended up evaporating trust and leading to circle of project death.

            The whole building project is a gigantic mess and bad PR for nuclear industry. Fundamentally it shows that projects of this size are problematic. In order to try to get economics of scale, project becomes “too big to fail”, and by extension, way too big to stay on budget. But unlike other similar industries (airplane-making, say), there isn’t enough business to go around (hundreds of big planes sold each year) to spread overhead around. Planes are still horribly expensive because of size and bloat of the industry, but it works out ok. Not so with nuclear plants, because there are just couple commissioned annually. If industry had focused on smaller units maybe situation would be different. They didn’t. Maybe that’s due to Airbus-mentality by french (and Boeing for US nuclear).

      • Martin

        Me bad, the real question should have been, how much time to install a 100 MW plant? Cost to maintain and fuel?
        Solar ?
        Geo thermal?

        • Bob_Wallace

          I think I can answer some of that by giving you the price of electricity from new plants.

          PV solar in the US. Sunny places. About 6.5 cents/kWh w/o subsidies. Add a couple of cents for less sunny places. (On its way to 2c to 4c.)

          Onshore wind in the US. Just under 4 cents/kWh w/o subsidies.

          Geothermal. Perhaps around 8 cents/kWh. Not too sure about that number.

          Hydro. No guess for a new dam. Conversion of an existing dam or run of the river could be under 10 cents/kWh.

          Coal. Over 15 cents/kWh. That does not include the external costs.

          NG. About 6 cents/kWh but fluctuates quite a bit.

          Nuke. Latest estimates for the Vogtle reactors is over 12 cents/ kWh. With subsidies.

          Time to install is both meaningful and non-meaningful.

          It’s not the days per MW as much as the number of projects we can have operating at one time. Clearly we can get renewables (wind and solar) on line much faster than coal or nuclear because we can run many, many parallel installations.

          Look at the video which shows 1 MW of solar installed in a week. That crew can go on to install another 51 MW in a year and, if desired, we could have hundreds of similar crews at work at any given time.

          We build large wind farms in less than two years and sometimes in less than one. We could have dozens and dozens of wind farms being built at the same time. Pouring footings and running underground wires is a common commercial construction task. Towers/turbines can be stood and connected in three days.

          • Will E

            Bob Wallace, I like these numbers, Solar 6.5 cents going to 4 and 2 cents.
            and fast, clean, easy,
            Even Western Australia goes Solar next year. Queensland will be next.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s where the 2 cents comes from.


            My guess is that we’ll be under 5c/kwh in the US SW in a year or two, making PV solar the second least expensive source of electricity and pushing NG into third place.

            I’ll hedge my bet by warning that the expiring 30% PTC may cause a rush to install and companies will be able to hold prices up for a while. But after 2017 the PTC will fall to 10% and companies will be working hard to bring down BOS costs in order to create as much business as possible.

          • Martin

            That was exactly my point, RE power is a lot faster, and return on investment (ROI) a lot faster because as soon as the project is finished, it does have money coming in.
            As a investor which project would you pick?
            Ask Warren Buiffet, he did spend a little bit of money on RE investments, just a few billions! 😉

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t forget, there’s no need to complete a project before cash begins to flow. Each wind turbine stood and solar panel array installed can start producing power. No need to wait for the last turbine/panel.

          • Omega Centauri

            Actually, a half finished PV plant is already generating power. The big utility scale plants take a couple of years build time, but as soon as some panels are connected to a grid connected inverter, you start getting some usable juice out.

          • Matt

            Also there are timing issue in construction. So if they were building a 10MW (instead of 1MW) it likely would not have taken 10 weeks. Also a lot of the labor is not high skill construction labor (that is not welders, electricians, large crane operator) so increase to staff is easier. So using the above if I took the pay rate to build a Nuke for 15 years. I could hire a lot more people to work on the above.
            Second lets saw you build a nuke, one unit is ~1GW (to make math easier). So I get not power until that unit is done and blessed. But with solar or PV, they can start smog on way before the whole farm is done. Even on a large PV farm, the “unit size” is in the 1-10MW size. So as each “unit” complete can start sell power.

      • Will E

        this is one week by one company.
        order 100 companies to do the same and you ve got 100 megawatt constructed in 1 week.
        that makes 16 weeks construction time for your 1600 megawatt capacity.
        by sheer proof of mathematics.
        16 weeks construction time compared to 15 years makes a difference.
        where you want it when you want it.
        in the desert, in the mountain, in the city.
        safe reliable cheap clean, I even have it on my roof at home, no fear.

        • Hermit_Thrush

          Cool down, Will. He was just subtly poking some fun at those who usually appeal to *math* (numeracy stripped of any deeper logic) to make their case for the *hard path*. ;- ))

      • I think that answer misses one key point: 2000 of these plants (or more) could be built simultaneously. No reason why not. So you could build 2000 MW of capacity in “one week.” Though, obviously, some work was done before the filming of this video began.

      • Hermit_Thrush

        LOL. ;D

      • Philip W

        You can build as many solar farms at the same time as you want. You can’t do that with one nuclear power plant.

      • S.Nkm

        You wouldn’t be so completely wrong if you had just included the necessary workforce in your “proof”.

  • Will E

    leave diesel out and Wind Power in and perfect.
    then go to Sydney for some Gw Solar and a few Windfarms.
    even more perfect, Solar and Wind Power combined is a business case to make a lot of clean money.
    love the video.

    • Jouni Valkonen

      Most of the night time electricity supply is probably from batteries. Diesel generators are probably there more like a back-up power. Capacity factor for Diesel generators will probably be very low.

      • Breakingwind

        Lot of “probably’s” there Jouni,
        you should find out the facts not guess, plenty of info available out there, if you do the research.

        • Jouni Valkonen

          It is your job to bring the facts.

          • Breakingwind

            “It is your job to bring the facts” ???

            Not until I’ve cashed your cheque it isn’t !!!

            But for free, I can tell you that – 2 of your assumptions are totally wrong & the other is partly wrong.

            Now go & do the research.

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