Dobinson’s Spring & Suspension, North Rockhampton, Queensland

WINNERS: Dimitar Iliev and Jeff Hoare for GEM Energy

Dobinson’s Spring & Suspension has been turning out tough suspension gear since 1953 but after having felt the pain of a 100% increase in electricity costs over the past decade, and facing a projected doubling of prices in the coming four years, the company asked GEM Energy to help it become energy independent by 2020.

dji_0004_smallThe GEM team, Dimitar Iliev and Jeff Hoare, looked at three years’ of consumption data and completed a power quality assessment to calculate system sizing and payback.

“Based on the long-term objectives of the customer we had to be selective in choosing the equipment to ensure that the existing system would be compatible with planned future expansion,” they told EcoGeneration.

Due to the consumption pattern, diesel generators will be required to support the peak demand when the network is disconnected, they said. Extraction fans were used to remove heat built up in the roof cavity to prevent loss of module performance and module life.

The installation was such a success that the client is trying to purchase a neighbouring property to gain roof space for more solar production. The GEM team is also in the process of designing a suitable battery system to offset early morning and late afternoon loads as well as peaks.


Project name: Dobinson’s Spring & Suspension

Location: North Rockhampton, Queensland

Owner: Glen Dobinson

Developer/contractor: GEM Energy Australia

Capacity: 517kWp

Commissioned when: June 2016

Key equipment installed: 1951 x Q-Cells Q.PRO G4.1 265w Solar panels, 7 x ABB Trio 20kW + 12 x ABB Trio 27.6kW

Energy usage: 2.5MWh

Expected payback period: about 5 years


This project demonstrates solar power’s capacity to recast heavy industry. Dobinson’s Spring has furnaces and heavy equipment, traditionally considered beyond the scope of all but fossil fuel-powered baseload generation. Add to that the high thermal loads applied to the building’s roof and we have a high bar for any system to cope with. The result from GEM Energy is a highly considered and well-developed system that takes account of all the unique circumstances of the business it has been created to serve, making Dobinson’s a leader in Australian manufacturing.

Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics chief operating officer Dr Richard Corkish and Envirotecture director Dick Clarke.