Progress on power solutions for the MRO 'surges' ahead

Construction vehicles installing poles in an outback setting. Credit: EMC Solar Construction.

Installation of support poles for the solar panels
underway by EMC Solar.

1 December 2015

The Mid West outback in Western Australia may be the ideal site to build highly sensitive radio telescopes, but the challenges of building a scientific facility in such a remote location require specialised design and infrastructure solutions.

The Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory is home to CSIRO’s ASKAP telescope and the international Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). It will also soon be home to a permanent observatory power station – a hybrid plant that will use both diesel generators, photovoltaic solar cells and a large lithium battery storage system.

This work is being undertaken primarily by two organisations. Horizon Power is installing the diesel plant, constructing the access track and power feeder cable, and installing an initial quantity of solar panels, and Perth-based EMC Solar Construction have been appointed to engineer, procure and construct an additional 1.6 MW solar array and a 2.5 MWh battery storage system at the MRO.

The Western Australian government has recently approved a power supply agreement between Horizon Power and CSIRO for the supply of electricity to the MRO. This is an important milestone for the site, with Horizon Power now able to commence construction. Further details about this are available in the official statement from the WA State Government.

Lewis Ball, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) Director, is pleased that Horizon Power now has all the necessary approvals and contracts in place, saying, “We look forward to the completion of this power generation component, and the integration of it with our complementary renewables-based power generation capability.”

In parallel, contractors from EMC Solar are now also at site installing support post foundations for the solar panels, while design of the electrical system and the battery storage system is currently underway.

A panorama of an outback site where construction activities are underway. Credit: EMC.

Construction work on the solar array infrastructure underway at the MRO, by EMC Solar. Click on the above for more detail.


Back to Latest ASKAP News page.

Back to top