The company behind Australia's first floating bank of solar panels, a $17.5 million project in the mid-north of South Australia, aims to list on the stock exchange in the next few years as it expands into the mining and agriculture sectors with a system that it says produces 57 per cent more power than land-based solar panels.
Infratech Industries, which has offices in Sydney, Singapore and San Diego, California, has developed new tracking and cooling technology that it says makes a large bank of solar panels on a buoyancy frame sitting in the water work at optimum level. That solves the problem experienced by many householders where rooftop solar panels become too hot under a searing sun and lose efficiency.
The company on Wednesday officially unveiled what it says is Australia's first floating solar system, which is being built on a large wastewater treatment plant at Jamestown, 200 kilometres north of Adelaide.
Chief executive Raj Nellore said the first structure of 110 panels sits in one of the three wastewater ponds and is already up and running, while a second bank of 4000 panels will be installed in the next phase, with construction starting in May. A further 800 panels will be built on a third pond.
He is the major shareholder of the privately owned company, and said a stock exchange listing was likely to be pursued as more capital was required to meet demand, with the SA project a showcase for how the technology could work on a large-scale site.
Infratech is building a similar system at Holtville in California.
Mr Nellore said the system was ideal for the mining industry to power production sites, and for use in the agricultural sector. The company also saw applications in the residential sector for householders with large rainwater tanks.
A team of 15 engineers and research scientists from the Nano Science and Technology Department at SA's Flinders University helped develop the technology for the Jamestown site. The new 3.5MW solar system at Jamestown is operated by Northern Areas Council, a local government body, which is using it to power the region's wastewater facility. The extra power created by the plant is used to supply electricity to nearby Jamestown.