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Australia starts producing solar powered signals intelligence

March 3, 2019 2 minutes read  News

A 1.2 MW solar array has been powered up at Western Australian “spy station” near Geraldton. The array aims to take pressure off the region’s ageing power grid.

Author: Marija Maisch, pv magazine Australia.

Australia’s Department of Defence has officially unveiled a 1.2 MW solar array at its Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS) at Kojarena, in Western Australia. The PV project has been funded by Defence with a total of $4 million.

The Kojarena station is a major Australian signals interception facility, and is part of a worldwide system of satellite communications keyword monitoring known as Echelon. Under an agreement initiated in 2007, the Geraldton array is a part of the Wideband Global SATCOM system, which provides Australia access to the principally US-funded constellation of a number of high capacity global war-fighting communications satellites, according to the Nautilus Institute.

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said the site is a key component in the Australian Signals Directorate’s architecture defending Australia from global threats.

"It is exciting that we are now producing for the first time solar powered signals intelligence. The facility is the first large scale solar array developed by Defence, which has now increased its expertise in the procurement and installation of such facilities."

Said Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne

The solar power facility was installed by local Australian contractors. The project was due to be completed in the 2017/18 financial year. Balance Services Group was the main contractor on the project.

“The new solar powered intelligence facility will free up electricity to meet the demands of approximately 400 households in the local community."

Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price said, noting that the project is expected to save taxpayers up to $500,000 per year in electricity costs.

A tender for the 1.2 MW solar system was called in October 2017, with the goal to reduce the Department’s Satellite Communications Station’s reliance on the main grid, the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS). At the time it was said to mark the Australian military’s first foray into solar energy.

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MAISCH, M. (2019). Australia starts producing solar powered signals intelligence. Pv Magazine Australia. Retrieved from https://www.pv-magazine-austra...

Australia starts producing solar powered signals intelligence