Broadcast Australia has been honoured with the IABM International Award for Excellence in Sustainability. The company was recognised for successfully introducing a renewable energy Solar PV solution at its Muswellbrook site in New South Wales.

The new photo-voltaic system uses advanced German battery storage technology, coupled with 156 solar panels. This solution has allowed Broadcast Australia to take a remote site almost entirely off the national power grid whilst continuing to deliver quality broadcasting, radio, and critical emergency services for its customers, and over 50,000 end users within a 500 km radius.

“Broadcast Australia is proud to trial this renewable energy solution – and take Australia’s first transmission site off-grid,” said Peter Lambourne, CEO of Broadcast Australia.

“The system has been designed with the ruggedness and reliability demanded by the Australian outback, where many sites are extremely remote and operate under harsh conditions.”

The 72 batteries can store 215kWh of power, producing enough solar energy to run the Muswellbrook transmission system for up to 43 hours and take just over 5.5 hours to charge at full efficiency.

The company had made a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint by 10% by 2019 (against a 2014 baseline). They entered into a partnership with Photon Energy to trial this innovative solar solution.

The project was not without its challenges. The solar solution needed to be reliable enough to meeting a 24 hours per day load requirement, whilst still being commercially viable. The Muswellbrook site consumed over 40 mWh from the grid on annual basis, and therefore the system had to produce enough power to maintain optimum performance once offline. To meet this requirement, the team at Broadcast Australia designed a system of solar panels producing 39kWp, 72 batteries producing 215 kWh, alongside 3 SMA inverters that can be monitored online. The incumbent 15kVa diesel generator was retrained as a backup system to counter periods of adverse sunlight.

The solution was mobilised in 2014 and achieved savings of 38 mWh per annum (equivalent to 95% of the sites baseline), with a complete reduction in outages and zero disruption to services for their customers. It is this kind of investment which has enabled Broadcast Australia to deliver an efficiency dividend to the country’s national broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, every year in the form of price rises below CPI and significantly below the average price increases in power.

IABM’s John Ive said, “This successful trial has given BAI Communications the confidence to further pursue its quest to become a carbon neutral organization, and a leader in delivering energy efficient services within the broadcasting industry: just the right credentials to win the award for excellence in sustainability.”

Broadcast Australia is part of BAI Communications – a communications infrastructure group with operations spanning Australia, Hong Kong, Europe, the USA and Canada. Broadcast Australia stands at the forefront of broadcast transmission, responsible for delivering television and radio services for Australia’s national broadcasters since 1928. Their capabilities in engineering, delivery and operational capability have made Broadcast Australia a trusted partner for the national broadcasters, government and industry stakeholders alike.

Following on from this successful green initiative, Broadcast Australia will install a second solar solution at its Mount Owen site in Tasmania, and is exploring other renewable energy projects throughout Australia.