Flinders University Goes Solar

One of Adelaide’s largest solar arrays will soon provide one-fifth of the electricity needed to power Flinders University’s Bedford Park campus.

The project also sets the scene for the introduction of autonomous campus shuttles run on renewable energy.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the project involves the installation of 5,817 solar panels at Flinders’ Bedford Park campus, demonstrating continuing commitment to renewable energy and complementing Flinders’ reputation for exceptional research into clean energy technologies.

“We’ve built a massive solar array of 4136 panels over an existing car park to create a solar car-port, plus installed a further 1681 panels across six roof-tops, that collectively will generate 20% of the University’s electricity needs,” Professor Stirling says.

“The solar car-port will include a charging dock for recharging planned autonomous shuttles that will ferry people across campus from the future Flinders rail station. We’ve made provision for charging points for plug-in electric vehicles, to encourage their use on campus by providing access to free solar energy.

Flinders University Vice-President (Corporate Services) Mark Gregory says Flinders’ main campus has a large number of people and uses a significant amount of resources.

“We have an opportunity to do things in a way that is different, and we should be looking at ways that we can all live in the future,” Mr Gregory says.

“In demonstrating some of these more progressive ideas our campus can become a place where we live and breathe and create a living laboratory for new technologies, sustainable activities and new behaviours,” he says.

Professor Stirling says the project adds to existing solar arrays on the University’s new Student Hub, and Law and Commerce Buildings, illustrating Flinders’ increasing commitment to environmental sustainability.

“At Flinders we genuinely believe in our mission of changing lives and changing the world for the better,” Professor Stirling says.

“This investment in on-site renewable energy generation at our Bedford Park campus will contribute to decarbonising the energy grid in South Australia and elevate Flinders as a leader in the use of solar to support the sustainable operation of its campus and facilities.

“While we are improving our operational costs, we’re also providing an opportunity for our researchers to test ‘real world’ deployment of renewable energy technologies on our localised electricity grid at Bedford Park, as we create a more robust system with flexible forms of supply.

“There will also be many opportunities for this project to be used in our teaching and learning to expose students to the latest in renewable energy technology, engineering, civil and transport system development.