It’s time to enter your best work for the year in the Solar Design and Installation Awards, writes Clean Energy Council executive general manager of industry integrity Sandy Atkins.

I fondly remember the first Clean Energy Council event I was involved in. It was the gala dinner held as part of Clean Energy Week in 2012. At the event I was lucky enough to announce the winners of the Clean Energy Council Solar Design and Installation Awards.

At the time the industry had been through a period of massive and rapid growth which was obviously incredibly positive. But all actions have their equal and opposite reactions.

The expansion of the industry led to a lot of talk about poor quality installations and a focus on all the things that solar installers should avoid doing. Being involved with the awards was great because it celebrated the positive things we, as an industry, were doing. For the same reason I look forward to them every year.

Solar showcase

Each year we receive a lot of applications to the Design and Installation awards, and it is always exciting to see the innovative way installers have approached technical challenges. But a couple really stand out for me over the years.

The first was a 16kW remote solar project for His House of Hope Hospital in South Sudan. This system was designed and installed by Martin Dingemanse from Mode Electrical. It was a stand-alone power system that was designed, constructed and commissioned in Tasmania before being shipped to Sudan for installation. It has cut down the reliance on expensive – and difficult to source – diesel fuel to provide electricity to the hospital. This system provides clean, reliable power and has literally saved lives.

Another system example is a 21kW stand-alone power system that was installed in Raymangirr by Philip Robertson from Bushlight. Raymangirr is an indigenous homeland about 260km by road from Nhulunbuy in the East Arnhem region of the Northern Territory. There is a core population of 60 people and the community includes seven houses, a school, a community office, a health clinic and a store.

Each of the connected buildings has an energy management unit or energy meter fitted to control the loads. This ensures equity use by each connected building and splits the power into three discrete buses – essential, discretionary and generator-only. This provides a staged shutdown of supply, in the event that the power use exceeds the allocated capacity. Fridges, smoke alarms and a couple of lights are installed on the essential bus, while the balance of the lighting load, the ceiling fans and power points are connected to timed circuits on the discretionary bus. A third circuit runs equipment like air-conditioners. This power is only available when the generating set is running, preventing such from running down the renewable energy supplied power.

Last was a 99.75kW solar power system installed by Mark Deutschbein and Mark Fanning of iEnergytech. The awards are predominately focused on innovation but these installers went genuinely above and beyond. The design and installation on this job was exceptional, and the testing and commission process was well and truly above what is required. They can basically tell you the torque setting of each bolt, nut and isolator screw in the whole system.

Get involved – enter the 2017 Solar Design and Installation Awards

Do you want to be recognised as a top gun solar designer/installer? Have you installed a system in the past 12 months that you are really proud of? The Clean Energy Council’s solar awards are open for applications until August 15.

The solar industry is filled with incredibly skilled and passionate professionals and these awards are a chance to celebrate this work. The focus is on systems that are innovative and provide a good solution to customer requirements.

This year we have restructured the categories of the awards. We have three awards for the smaller systems:

  • Off-grid – Under 30 kW
  • Grid-connect with Battery – Under 30 kW
  • Grid-connect – Under 30 kW

We also have two awards for larger systems:

  • 30-240kW – Open Category
  • 240kW and over – Open Category

These categories can be for either on-grid, on-grid with storage or off-grid systems.

The winners will be announced on Wednesday October 11 at the awards dinner, which is one of the highlights of the All-Energy Australia Exhibition and Conference.

Nominations close on Tuesday August 15. Visit the Clean Energy Council website to find out more information and submit your nomination.