5 Stories of Innovation from South Australia
20 Sep 2019
The BWSC is in good company in South Australia, with the state known well as the innovation capital of Australia, and the home to a myriad of exciting projects in technology.
In the past few years innovation is become one of the state's key outputs. Just looking around the City of Adelaide it's easy to see innovation brought to life; the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Insitute, and the currently in progress Lot 14 site on North Terrace.
There's a burgeoning hub for startups, entrepreneurs, and international tech companies looking to find a new home. Only in the last couple of years, many of South Australia's industries have welcomed world-class projects and companies.
Some are even out of this world - the Australian Space Agency will be based in Adelaide, with a new HQ in the Lot 14 site, making Adelaide the space capital of Australia.
As the home of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, South Australia is also honoured to be the host of so many incredible advancements in solar and electric vehicle technology as a result of the BWSC. Just look at Lightyear, a company run by a group of BWSC alumni.
With this year's result still unknown, for now you can read about 5 other exciting stories of innovation in South Australia around renewable energy.
First Electric Vans Assembled
Formerly housing the Mitsubishi Motors main assembly building, the Tonsley Innovation District has now home to the first ACE-EV (Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicle Group) electric cargo van.
The carbon fibre composite van is quiet, solid and high quality, showing huge potential for the future.
“It has taken us a million dollars to get where we are today,” Greg McGarvie, managing director of ACE-EV said.
“My ambition is to work at it until at least 50 per cent of the car comes from South Australia.
“That will be a higher local content than Holden ever had.”
The ACE-EV cargo bay (right) has a capacity of 500 kilograms, giving the vehicle a range of 200 kilometres.
Solar-Powered Furniture the Way of the Future
Adelaide-based engineering company Specialised Solutions has created an innovative range of smart shelters, including park benches, parklets and bus stops.
Built from sustainable timber and steel, the shelters have solar-powered lighting, integrated charging ports, WIGI and info screens that all run off of a battery.
Bronte Modra, the director of Specialised Solutions, created the Sedi range of shelters to fill a gap in the Australian manufacturing market, following the growing ‘smart city’ movement.
“People want to be connected to the furniture and to the web, and the greater society,” said Modra.
“Everyone talks about smart cities but no one is really delivering a piece of smart furniture here.
“We just saw a real need and something that we could make out of our existing facility.”
Modra and Specialised Solutions hope to see the Sedi range throughout Australia, particularly in regional areas. The tourism hot spots such as national parks will be perfect places for the Sedi range, giving tourists WIFI access, in an eco-friendly way. They also plan to export internationally.
50 Solar Farms in South Australia
Yates Electrical Services, based in Renmark, started its Red Mud Green Energy project 2 years ago with a 187kW commercial solar farm. Since then, 50 farms have been built up to 1MW in size.
Currently 80% of the farms are in the South Australian Riverland, but there have also been plants built in the Eyre Peninsula and the Mid North.
“We’ve built about 50 plants now since we started a couple of years ago so it’s been really, really busy and we’ve probably done a touch over 20MW now.”
The Riverland is about 250km east of the South Australian capital Adelaide and stretches for 120km along the banks of Australia’s biggest river, the Murray”, Yates Electrical Services Managing Director Mark Yates said.
“The majority of the clients are in agribusiness whether it be broad acre, vines or citrus and we’ve had a couple of clients doing it purely for investment purposes utilising self-managed superannuation money and pure equity investors as well,” he said
Yates said the concept of solar farming and people’s acceptance of it had become a lot more mainstream since he first had the idea for the Red Mud Green Energy project in 2015.
“The farming we are getting into has progressed a long way since we started, people are becoming a lot more comfortable and are starting to understand the concept of solar farming whereas a few years ago it was a bit of a pie in the sky idea,” he said.
“But now we’ve demonstrated the viability of it, it just makes it a simple business decision for an investor or a landowner to take up an offering of a solar farm and add it to their existing farming or investment portfolio.”
National Robotics Competition at Home in Adelaide
This December the Australian finals of the International VEX Robotics Competition will host more than 700 students in Adelaide.
The competitions sees teams of primary and high school students design and build a robot that can win a game-based engineering challenge. A select few teams will progress to the international finals in Louisville, Kentucky.
South Australian was picked for its status as the innovation state of Australia, said Nicole Champagne, VEX Robotics Australia and New Zealand sales director.
VEX Robotics Australia and New Zealand sales director Nicole Champagne said South Australia was picked for the Australian finals because of its status as the innovation state and strong backing from the state government.
“When it comes to what’s actually happening, you can really see South Australia coming up with all the exciting new opportunities”, she said.
The competition set a Guinness World Record in April 2018 as the largest robotics competition in the world, with more than 30,000 competitors. Each year the finals are attended by organisations such as Google, Tesla and NASA.
Australia’s First Electric Motorbike Launched in Adelaide
Adelaide is now home to the new Fonzarelli NKD electric motorbike and its charging stations.
Founders Michelle Nazzari and Simon Modra had previously been working on their own start-ups in sustainability and electric vehicles, before they came together for an exciting new project.
Nazzari launched her first electric scooter in 2012-13 under the brand Fonzarelli, later connecting with Modra around charging stations for the NKD Electric motorbike.
The electric dual-sport mini motorcycle has a range of up to 120kms and can produce 6000 RPM and a top speed of 100 km/h.
Modra, who is also an architect and Future Submarine design researcher at the University of South Australia, jumped at the chance to collaborate with Nazzari on the NKD project and convinced her to manufacture the charging stations and bike in South Australia.
“It’s a legitimate form of transport – there are many motorcyclists out there who don’t have a car and we’re lucky battery power has become so reliable now and Peter [Coombs – Chapter president of Design Institute of Australia] did give the hat-tip to Tesla,” Modra said.
“The Fonzarelli technology can be retrofitted to older motorcycles – potentially expanding the customer base for this product throughout high-use motorcycle populations in the countries across the Southern Hemisphere.
“The idea at the moment is to solidify ourselves here in Australia, but we’ve got strong interest from around the world,” said Nazzari. Modra said the motorcycle has got a bit of iRobot or Gattaca about it.
The Fonzarelli NKD bike is made to order. Base model pricing starts from $9,990AUD and early adopters will be able to have their bikes ready for the Australian summer.
Information and images via The Lead.