Car manufacturer launches Adelaide solar plant

Car parts manufacturer Precision Components has partnered with the University of South Australia (UniSA) to launch a next generation solar power technology facility in Adelaide.

The 25-heliostat field in Edinburgh Parks will support the development of renewable power both domestically and overseas, as well as the design for remote WiFi-controlled heliostat.

The project was aided by UniSA researchers’ partnership with industry more than eight years ago to solve a car components problem.

The heliostat testbed employs an innovation in thin film coating design, an application that evolved from the same research that delivered the world’s first fully plastic automotive mirror.

“Heliostats need to withstand heat, cold, rain, UV light exposure and abrasion by sand, often in harsh, arid environments,” said lead researcher and Industry Professor at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, Peter Murphy.

“To be really effective they must have a lifetime of 25 to 30 years and that presents a huge set of challenges at a macro and nano scale.

“Our long term research goal is to develop tough, ultra-high reflectivity mirror coatings on polycarbonate to underpin lighter, more efficient heliostats that stay cleaner for longer.

“Being able to do this research in partnership with local industry and manufacturers is a real privilege. It is incredibly rewarding to see our research translated into real world outcomes.”

Mat Fitch, Precision Components director, said the development of the site is an important milestone for the company.

“This is another significant step in the diversification strategy we implemented to safeguard the future of the business and to create employment opportunities for South Australians,” he said.

“The relationship we have built with UniSA and the outcomes we have delivered are an exemplar for collaboration between the private sector and universities.”

Jay Weatherill, Premier of South Australia, said that the new site shows South Australia’s leadership in the national transformation to renewable energy technologies.

“Working in partnership with Precision Components, a company previously servicing the automotive industry, the two companies demonstrate a successful diversification from a manufacturing skill base into other industry sectors,” he said.

“There is huge potential for growth in SA’s renewables sector. Heliostat has an impressive plan to develop a $1.6 million new tracking system that would create 33 construction and more than 90 ongoing jobs.”