Moveable solar power shifts closer to commercial reality

Posted by Design & Construct on 22-Apr-2016 17:28:58

In Construction, Engineering

Redeployable Hybrid Power

Laing O'Rourke and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have successfully developed, manufactured and deployed the world's first large-scale, fully re-deployable solar-diesel hybrid plant, now branded SunSHIFT.

SunSHIFT a concept realised from the drawing board to commercial demonstration in less than one year. Fabrication, transport, assembly and operation have all been successfully demonstrated and all without safety incident or damage to equipment. They are now in discussions for the next phase of collaboration for a commercial roll-out.


Many remote Australian communities need an alternative energy source as they currently rely on diesel generators, which are expensive to run due to transportation costs and fluctuating energy prices. Laing O'Rourke recognised this need and has developed a moveable hybrid power plant to supply cheaper off-grid electricity.

Laing O'Rourke has engaged in Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and each plant consists of a solar photovoltaic farm, a containerised integration module and traditional diesel generators. At the end of the project, the solar farm can be easily packed up and taken to the next deployment.

The inclusion of solar, within a mini-grid, represents an opportunity to save money without impacting reliability, it will:

  • reduce diesel fuel consumption
  • reduce exposure to fuel price volatility
  • reduce frequency of fuel tank refills
  • reduce truck movements in remote locations
  • reduce fuel spillage risks and increase safety
  • reduce runtime of diesel generators
  • increase plant lifetime
  • reduce CO2 emissions
  • create carbon credits
  • reduce noise levels
  • increase air quality

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht remarked that the innovative project showed how funding support for early stage renewable energy solutions can pave the way for new products and companies to enter the Australian market.

“This successful demonstration project has given Laing O'Rourke the confidence to commit to further developing its technology and is a crucial step in proving the technical and commercial viability of moveable, modular renewable energy concepts more broadly,” said Mr Frischknecht.

About SunSHIFT

SunSHIFT Pty Ltd is a clean energy company formed by Laing O'Rourke and focussed on the commercialisation of its large-scale, modular, moveable solar photovoltaic system technology, SunSHIFT. Primary markets for the technology include, off-grid mining operations and remote communities with preferences for short-term contracted power supply.

About Laing O'Rourke

This project is led by Laing O'Rourke, an $8billion-turnover global construction company dedicated to engineering excellence. With operations in Australia for more than 50 years, Laing O'Rourke delivers building construction, railway services, materials handling, marine and civil infrastructure. They also provide a range of support services to clients in the oil and gas, resources, transport, defence, health, commercial and industrial sectors.

In addition to the parent company, two wholly-owned subsidiaries of Laing O'Rourke are involved with this project:

Select Plant Hire manages over 200 diesel generators across Australia and owns one of Australia's largest ranges of equipment with a current asset net book value of $150 million.

Redispan manufactures and markets DfMA modules, chiefly conveyor systems for materials handling applications.


ARENA is a commercially orientated agency who improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and increase the supply of renewable energy throughout Australia.

If you work within the green industry and are looking for the next big project or job opportunity, please contact one of our consultants to discuss your sustainability career today.






Australian Renewable Energy Agency. (2016). Retrieved 20 April, 2016 from