RMIT University’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct has commissioned Australia’s first commercial hybrid solar lighting technology as part of the City of Melbourne’s 1200 Buildings Program, which aims to reduce energy use, save water and lower carbon emissions.
Most solar technologies turn sunlight into heat or electricity. The hybrid solar light tracks the sun and concentrates its energy through a fibre-optic cable to an area, such as a basement, which has no direct access to sunlight.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the 1200 Buildings Program was supporting the transformation of existing buildings into centres of environmental innovation and showcases of engineering excellence, driving investment in the city.
“The City is recognising the leadership of building owners who are undertaking retrofit works to reduce energy use and lower carbon emissions,” the Lord Mayor said.
Anthony Calderone from global engineering firm Aurecon, the building services and sustainability consultants for the project, said the innovation allowed buildings to decrease reliance on artificial light and was expected to contribute to broader market transformations towards sustainable development.
Collectors move to focus the sunlight onto 127 optical fibres, which are conducted into a single chord. The bendable optical fibres can be joined to hybrid light fixtures that are connected to diffusing rods that disperse the light. One rooftop collector can power up to eight hybrid light fixtures covering almost 100m². The technology delivers energy savings of 50 to 75 per cent.