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The Arkaroola Microgrid Project

Project at a Glance

“The S-5! PVKIT offered the perfect solution for the Arkaroola Microgrid. The ability to install this rooftop system without rails meant lower freight costs, maximising the available roof for solar, easier installation, and ultimately a reliable and better-looking rooftop system that blends with the stunning natural landscape. Rails are unnecessary on a metal roof, and once you understand how to approach cable management, it really is a more commonsense solution with a multitude of benefits, from protecting the roof to cost savings and simplified logistics and installation. It makes sense from all angles.”

—Sean LePoidevin, Project Manager, APEX Energy

The Situation & Results

Flinders Ranges is a remote area located 600km north of Adelaide, offering spectacular outback scenery with precipitous peaks and valleys, extreme topographic diversity, gorges and creeks. 

It is also home to the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, which showcases almost 2 billion years of geological history, excellent dark skies for astronomical observations and unique wilderness—and is under consideration for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage listing. This remote property in Australia must generate its own electricity and wished to transition from a reliance on diesel fuel to solar power energy.

Challenges Along the Way

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 the 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 maximising solar generation capacity.

What Worked?

Installer APEX Energy utilized the S-5! PVKIT® – a rail-less solar mounting solution – along with the RibBracket™ attachment, providing a simple, secure method to “lay & play” PV modules with tested, engineered, cost-saving, 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.

Long-Term Outlook

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.

S-5! Products Used

The pre assembled PVKIT® used in rail-less solar PV mounting can save you in logistics and installation time. It is compatible with all S-5! clamps and most brackets. It fits all 30-46 mm module frames and offers multiple slots for wire management.

The RibBracket is the perfect attachment solution for specific North American trapezoidal, exposed-fastened metal roofs.These profiles are commonly referred to as R-Panel or PBR-Panel.

Learn more about the product featured in this case study.

Discover the PVKIT Learn About The RibBracket
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