Photon energy case study

Hybrid Solar System for a UNESCO World Heritage Site


Lord Howe Island Board


Lord Howe Island, Australia

Key Data:

Solar Capacity:

1.3 MWp

Storage Capacity:

3.7 MWh

A unique solution to reduce Lord Howe Island’s dependency on diesel power by 67%.


  • Built on Lord Howe Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Tasman Sea, 700 km north-east of Sydney, this PV system consists of a 1.3 MWp solar array and a battery system with a capacity of over 3.7 MWh.
  • The ground-mounted PV power facility combined with solar battery storage is integrated with local microgrid and diesel generators, which previously formed the main power source for the island's community.
  • The system was purposely designed for a small and remote location, and is expected to provide more than two thirds of Lord Howe Island’s electricity, drastically reducing its reliance upon fossil fuel.

The challenge:

The Lord Howe Island Board were looking for an alternative energy supply that could provide sustainable, reliable power to the island, with the goal of reducing the island’s energy costs, its reliance on diesel and overall carbon emissions. Lord Howe Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an environmentally sensitive area, so it was very important that the solution, and it’s implementation, had minimal environmental impact.

The site was very remote and difficult to access, and provided the additional challenge of difficult geotechnical condition. This required sophisticated logistics, and for our team to develop an elaborate project delivery plan alongside our innovative renewable energy solution.

As the only power source for the island, integration to the existing diesel generators was critical, and required coordination with the local power generation team to ensure that preparation for the installation and commissioning of the renewable energy plant was seamless and ensured an uninterrupted supply of energy to the island.

This project also presented additional challenges such as complex logistics and inclement weather, and required a great deal of adaptability and problem-solving due to complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The solution:

We designed, installed and commissioned a 1.3 MWp Solar PV and 3.7 MWh battery storage solution for the island, which was integrated into the existing diesel system and the island power reticulation.

The project scope included design, installation and commissioning site management in order to reduce the island’s diesel consumption by at least 67%. It also required SCADA expertise, electrical engineering, power generation, civil engineering and project management, all working within the constraints of a remote environmentally sensitive site.

Photon Energy completes a value management process for all projects, which involves feedback and input from the clientas well as our design and project management teams to ensure the most cost-effective solution is delivered. This process was completed on the Lord Howe Island project and resulted in substantial cost savings and improvements to the system. The value management process produced additional benefits to the island, and resulted in an increase of 8% to the size of the PV component and 14% to battery component at no additional cost.

Through continuous communication with the client, strong project management and engineering design, the project was completed in April 2021. Peter Adams, the CEO of the Lord Howe Island Board, called the successful delivery of the project a ‘fantastic result for the community and visitors.’

Links and resources:

LHIB Project Summary

ARENA Project Summary

Media Coverage: Sydney Morning Herald



Source: Lord Howe Island Board

Credit: Jack C Shick

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