Shining light in renewable energy

STREETS AHEAD: The 3km stretch of Marys Mount Road is believed to be the single largest solar powered streetlighting project for a council-owned and maintained road in Australia. GOULBURN Mulwaree Council is leading the way when it comes to combining renewable energy and street safety by installing more than 50 solar powered streetlights along Marys Mount Road.
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The 3km stretch of road is believed to be the single largest solar powered streetlighting project for a councilowned and maintained road in Australia. The solar powered streetlights took three weeks to install, with local tradespeople contracted to assist with the project.

Council’s Engineering Services director Terry Cooper said Marys Mount Road has regional significance as it links Crookwell Road and Middle Arm Road.

“Marys Mount Road is currently in the middle of a housing boom, with Goulburn Mulwaree Council recently approving an additional 100 residential lots in the area,” Mr Cooper said.

“This increase in residential traffic, along with the current users of Marys Mount Road, gave us a chance to widen and upgrade the surface of Marys Mount Road, as well as look at the various options for streetlighting.

“When Council called for tenders, we specifically asked tenderers to address options that incorporated an alternative energy source, and successful contractor Solar G’s tender included a 100 per cent solar energy source.

“This option was preferred as it was the most appropriate to manage Goulburn Mulwaree Council’s commitment to our environment and financial sustainability.”

As part of their successful tender, Australian-owned company Solar G proposed an Integrated Stand Alone Solar Powered Street Light System that would operate on 12Vdc.

“The system was required to meet the Australian Road Standard AS 1158.3.1 – P5,” Solar G Director Gordon Manzione said.

“And as part of our Project Team, we engaged national lighting company Pierlite to choose a fitting and produce a lighting plan that could meet the Australian Standard with the widest possible pole spacings (considering a 20 metre Road Reserve) and with minimal load.

“The Green Street fittings (GS2x14W-T5 Fluorescent Lamps) were selected due to their outstanding light distribution quality and uniformity.

“The real challenge came when we needed position each pole while trying to avoid the numerous services (both underground and overhead) without compromising the intended lighting design layout,” Mr Manzione said.

“The system included a 7500mm galvanised flanged pole, each with a 2.5m outreach. “We also incorporated a stump post to secure the foundation of each pole while facilitating the installation process.

“However, due to the geographical location of Goulburn, we needed to factor up to 14 hours of nightly operation into each system to provide sufficient capacity (and redundancy) to operate all night in the dead of winter.

“This is when available solar radiation is at its minimal and is the single most important sizing issue when designing stand alone solar powered systems.

Although battery poles were an option, the batteries were buried due to the potential for flooding in Marys Mount Road. The batteries were placed in airtight box provisions where the air pressure inside resists water from reaching the battery terminals and plugs.

Also taken into account was the pole’s inspection door where the control centre sits in an IP66 rated enclosure. The door had been positioned 1800mm up from the base of the pole. This was to reduce the chance of any water ingress (due only to flooding) adversely affecting the three vital cable connections (solar, battery and lamp).

Each stand-alone system comprises primarily the three major electronic components, all working in unison.

1) Solar Panels – Absorbed radiation sent to through the controller to the batteries. The Solar Panels are monocrystalline and generally do not require maintenance. 2) Sealed Batteries – Supplying daily stored power. The batteries are sealed and require no regular maintenance. 3) Controllers – The Control Centre (operating, monitoring, regulating).

The controller automatically adjusts for the daylight savings throughout the entire year, and no manual adjustment is required.

The Cost of Life Analysis included the poles, solar panels, batteries, controller and fittings. This worked out to be $400 per pole/annum or approx five per cent of the Total Project value.

Goulburn Mulwaree Council has also installed solar panels at its Visitor Information Centre (installed by Ingenero Pty Limited), and is currently investigating options to install panels at its Aquatic Centre. Stage 1 of this process is now complete, with local company Sunup Solar and LED Lighting Systems installing the systems.

Council is investigating the possibility of tendering for Stage 2 of an additional 5KW.

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