Australia is progressing towards the superpower vision by producing and supplying renewable energy equipment and solutions.
- Exporting electric vehicle chargers: Tritium
- Pre-assembled solar farms: 5B
- Renewable energy enabling robust agriculture: Sundrop Farms
- Electric Planes & MagniX
- All Electric Rubbish Trucks
- Battery manufacturing: Sonnen
- Electric vehicles for mining: Safescape
Exporting electric vehicle chargers: Tritium
A Brisbane based company, Tritium, makes and sells these world-leading high-powered chargers. In this photo, the chargers are in a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) car park in California. Tritium has sold 4,500 chargers across 33 counties. This Australian company has found a niche in the global renewable economy.
(NASA plugs into Australian electric vehicle chargers: Renew Economy: August 2018)
Pre-assembled solar farms: 5B
The Australian company “5B” pre-assembles solar farms in its Adelaide factory. This process enables rapid installation. Sun Cable plans to build another factory in Darwin to make these Maverick solar array systems for the massive Sun Cable project and other projects.
This is an example of the move to renewables generating new industries.
(Sun Cable submits plans for a gigawatt-scale solar manufacturing plant in Darwin: Renew Economy: 31 March 2021)
Renewable energy enabling robust agriculture: Sundrop Farms
Renewable energy has enabled productive agriculture on this near-desert land, near Port Augusta in South Australia. Sundrop Farms has been growing tomatoes in these greenhouses since 2016. The company supplies Coles and grows about 15% of Australia’s tomatoes. Most Australians would have eaten some.
On the left, there are 20 hectares of greenhouses. They grow tomatoes in water, not in soil. The water is desalinated ocean water stored in the ponds in the foreground. On the right, there are over 23,000 mirrors that focus the sun’s rays on the tower to heat molten salts. The hot molten salts are kept in the storage tanks and used to generate electricity on demand. This generator is a concentrating solar thermal generator. Solar electricity is available 24 hours a day to power the place, including desalinating seawater.
Sundrop Farms has renewable technology know-how. This successful greenhouse is progress towards the superpower vision.
Drought proof agriculture using renewable energy
Electric Planes & MagniX
MagniX electric propulsion systems
The company MagniX has made and installed its electric propulsion system in a range of planes – the birthplace of this technology was the MagniX engineering centre on the Australian Gold Coast in Queensland.
(The MagniX Story: MagniX)
Beaver Seaplane test flight
This photo shows an electric-powered Beaver seaplane during its first test flight on 10 December 2019. The plane has a range of 160 km and can carry six passengers. Harbour Air in Vancouver, Canada, owns this seaplane and plans to convert all of its 42 seaplanes. The company carries half a million passengers a year.
(Successful flight of the world’s first commercial electric aeroplane: Harbour Air: 10 Dec 2019)
(Harbour Air, MagniX, and H55 partner aiming for the world’s first certified all-electric commercial aeroplane: Harbour Air: April 2021)
(Image credit: Clermont Group: MagniX)
Cessna Caravan test flight
A converted Cessna Caravan, powered by a MagniX electric engine, had its first test flight in May 2020. On the half-hour test flight, carrying only the pilot, the aircraft covered 160 km. This plane can carry nine passengers.
The fuel costs of the electric test flight were low, US$6. The flight would have used petrol worth about US$350.
(Electric aircraft could take to the skies over Australia: PV Magazine: 1 June 2020)
Australian Cessna Caravan Seaplane plans
Sydney Seaplanes plans to work with MagniX to convert a Cessna Caravan for carrying passengers the 50 km between Rose Bay in Sydney and Palm Beach. Sydney Seaplanes is Australia’s largest passenger seaplane carrier and expects to have regulatory approval early in 2023.
(Sydney Seaplanes News)
(Sydney Seaplanes goes electric to convert a Cessna in an Australian first: Renew Economy: 10 Dec 2020)
MagniX will provide Eviation with propulsion systems for “Alice”, a 9-seater electric plane with a range of 1000 km. It’s a beautiful plane, but an electrical fault and fire have delayed the first test flight.
(Regional airline commits to a world-first commercial electric plane: Aerospace News: Nov 2019)
(How this electric aeroplane [Alice] could reshape regional air travel: The Driven: 12 Nov 2018)
Electric commercial flight
People thought that electric passenger planes were only a dream. That’s because batteries are heavy: jet fuel carries more energy per kilogram than batteries, about 100 times more. So, it’s surprising that these battery planes have already flown and should be carrying passengers in 2023.
Renewable energy flight is taking off
Australia has the know-how and can generate cheap electricity, so electric flight is progressing towards the superpower vision.
Here I have taken the energy density of aviation fuel as 45 MJ/kg (Megajoule per kilogram) and the density of Lithium iron batteries as 0.45 MJ/kg. (Note: researchers have now developed a Lithium-air battery with four times greater density, 1.8 MJ/kg.)
Opportunities for regional Australia
Low cost, low emissions, flights of up to 160 km could enable factories and businesses to thrive in regional areas.
All Electric Rubbish Trucks
Here’s a fully electric rubbish truck that started work in 2019 in the City of Casey, in Melbourne. Now, there is a similar rubbish truck working in Adelaide too.
The trucks are designed & made in Australia. Superior-Pak makes the trucks, while SEA Electric supplies the electric drives. SEA has a factory in Dandenong & they electrify other commercial vehicles: trucks, buses, and vans. SEA has won orders in the US and has set up there.
Here’s another Australian business, finding a niche in the global renewable economy.
(Australian electric truck company SEA powers into the USA market: The Driven: 5 Feb 2020)
(SEA Electric is mass-making electric trucks: An Australian first: The Driven: 24 March 2021)
Battery manufacturing: Sonnen
We’re Making Batteries. Renewables = New Jobs.
Sonnen is producing lithium-ion home batteries in the old Holden factory in Adelaide.
(Sonnen begins exports to NZ: Australian Manufacturing: 16 May 2019)
Electric vehicles for mining: Safescape
Safescape is an Australian company producing an all-electric vehicle for use in mines. It’s based on a diesel Brazilian military vehicle.
(Australian company unveils an electric vehicle for the mining industry: The Driven: 7 May 2019)
- The main page on Australia’s progress to becoming a renewable energy superpower
Updated 21 Jan 2022