Sun Real completed the installation of a 100 percent renewable off grid micro hydroelectric system at Mt Stirling to service the Telephone Box Junction café, ski-shop and office, as contracted by the Mt Buller/Mt Stirling Resort Management Board. This was to replace the hydro system destroyed by fire during the bushfires of 2006-7 which was temporarily replaced by a diesel powered generator. The project by all accounts was a very challenging one due to the difficult terrain and the need to install a weir with 350 metres of 110 mm diameter poly pipe to deliver water to the AC ‘turbine’ with 80 metres of vertical drop. Around 6 to 7 kW power is produced by the 3 phase alternator. This is converted to DC and then converted back to AC by associated inverters to provide 3 phase grid quality power.
To get the power from the turbine to Telephone Box Junction several hundred metres of aluminium cable was also installed. 650 metres is underground down the Mt Stirling Rd and 200 metres in steel conduit through bush country in accordance with the environmental requirements of the State Government and Energy Safe Victoria.
Also installed was a large lead acid battery bank costing around $30,000 and associated inverters. This provides 70 kW hours of storage to boost power production when required.
Martin explained some of the difficulties and problems which arose with the project. The system has been operational since July this year and is working well according to reports.
Martin also imparted a good deal of information about roof top solar systems generally and responded to many questions from interested participants regarding the latest types of panels available, micro inverters, power optimizers and battery back up. Martin also showed us some very interesting monitor displays of working solar systems. The information available from these displays shows how well the system is performing and how much power is being used at any time and how much is fed back to the grid.