Located 600km north of Adelaide, Australia is the Flinders Ranges. A remote portion of the outback, the Flinders Ranges is a gorgeous expanse of land scattered with various valleys, diverse flora and fauna, and natural water formations. Many visitors flock to the area for artistic inspiration and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. For those looking for a unique experience and a chance to live as one with nature, this land is the perfect place to do so.
It is also home to the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, which showcases almost two billion years of geological history, excellent dark skies for astronomical observations, unique wilderness and is under consideration for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage listing.
Education is a core value at Arkaroola. The Arkaroola Education and Research Foundation encourages the pursuit of careers in various scientific disciplines. Groups of students use the site for geological and astronomical investigations, with approximately 12,000 people visiting annually to experience the natural environment and local history.
The site is caught between a challenging environment in remote Australia and a desire by local, state and federal governments to showcase the region’s treasures. The entire microgrid project is backed by a $1.3 million federal government grant. The Arkaroola Microgrid will provide a reliable ongoing supply of clean energy to power the sanctuary and serve as an additional educational experience in remote energy technology and engineering.
On site, rooftop solar arrays on four buildings now power the microgrid. The most recent addition is the sanctuary’s Mawson Lodge, which features a new Fielders TL-5 Colorbond® dual roof with 61.6 kilowatt (peak) solar PV.
Since the mid-1960s, the sanctuary had operated on diesel power, which was transported to the site monthly. The property’s owner and son of founder, Doug Sprigg saw it as a top priority to transition to clean energy.
“Being so remote, we have to generate our own electricity, and we’ve been doing that based on diesel fuel,” said Sprigg. “Arkaroola’s about conservation; we really should be trying harder to move away from diesel, and that’s what we’re doing.”
One of several lodges at the sanctuary, the old Mawson Lodge features 20 accommodation rooms, each equipped with an ensuite bathroom, kitchenette, TV and reverse cycle air-conditioning unit. The total power consumption can be considerable during the winter peak season when temperatures drop to near freezing and up to 40 degrees Celsius in the summer. The new rooftop solar array would need to generate power for the entire building.
To power the sanctuary throughout its high season, it was important to cover the entire roof space with as many solar panels as possible, thereby maximizing solar generation capacity.
In addition, the Mawson Lodge presented a challenge to installer APEX Energy due to the age and engineering of the substructure — it was not ideal for the adherence of a traditional racking solar system. This made it critical for the solar mounting solution to be strong yet lightweight to withstand potential wind uplift and minimize stress on the building structure.
A key consideration for the installation was the sheer remoteness of the site itself, being hours away from the nearest town and only accessible via a bumpy rugged road. Any materials transported to the site needed to be compact, lightweight and reliable enough to stand the test of time, as future replacement or maintenance would carry a high cost.
Installer APEX Energy utilized the S-5! PVKIT® – a rail-less solar mounting solution – along with the RibBracketTM attachment, providing a simple, secure method to “lay & play” PV modules with tested, engineered, cost-saving and direct attachment onto the ribs of the metal roof.
Providing a faster and easier installation than a traditional rail system, S-5! turns the roof into a canvas, allowing panels to be installed anywhere on the roof, not just on roof purlins. The ability to design a landscape-oriented system enabled Apex Energy to maximize roof space and meant the arrays could be expanded by 7.3% to an impressive 61.6kWp of generation capacity.
The compact and lightweight nature of the S-5! mounting solution not only simplified freight and transporting logistics but reduced the load on the roof by 300 kilograms compared to traditional racking by eliminating the need for rails.
The microgrid will reduce Arkaroola’s use of diesel by approximately 15,000L per year, a savings of 126,000kg of CO2 annually. At times, the village will operate on 100% renewable energy. In addition, the sanctuary owners can rest assured knowing the quality and reliability of the S-5! solution is engineered to outlast the life of the roof and carries a market-leading lifetime warranty.
Since its first patent filing in 1991, S-5! has been the leading authority on metal roof attachment solutions. S-5!’s zero-penetration clamps attach ancillary items to standing seam and exposed-fastened metal roofs, while maintaining roof integrity and warranties. S-5! solutions are engineered for a variety of roof-mounted applications and are now installed on more than 2 million metal roofs worldwide, providing strength and longevity never before seen. For more information, visit www.S-5.com.
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