Going Off-grid in the Australian Outback

Muswellbrook, Australia

Solar energy storage for a remote radio tower.


BAI Communications


November 2014

Key Numbers

39 kWp

Solar Capacity

216 kWh

Storage Capacity

up to 50.5 t

Annual CO2 Savings

up to 59,500 kWh

Annual Production

The Challenge

Communication towers are vital not only for entertainment, but also in emergency situations. So when BAI Communicatins made the decision to find a solar power solution for its radio tower in Muswellbrook, it was vital that the tower remained operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The tower’s remote location meant that the storage system needed to be reliable, with back-up solutions in place to ensure an uptime of 100 percent. The climate also presented a particular challenge. Intense and varied temperatures in the Australian outback demanded a solution that was durable and carefully designed to endure harsh conditions year-round.

The Solution

The system was designed as a hybrid power plant, providing 93 percent of the energy needed from solar power and battery storage and the rest from either a diesel backup generator or the power grid.

The positioning and mounting of the solar panels were specifically designed for the tower’s location and requirements. The panels were installed at a slightly higher slope than usual to maximise solar irradiation in the winter months.

Thanks to an automated control system the temperature inside the battery container is kept stable despite the harsh climate, and the average state of charge was kept at approximately 70 per cent. Both factors contribute to longer battery life.

The system has a production capacity of 39 kWp, while 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 success of this award-winning project clearly demonstrates that solar power is a reliable and economically sensible option for power generation in remote areas.

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