November challenge

Imagine you are a renewable energy engineer in a rural community looking to improve a public space or community activity. How could you implement a small scale off-grid solar energy system to benefit the community?


Academic – Dr Jose Bilbao, Lecturer, UNSW Photovoltaic and Renewable Engineer.

Australia’s dry climate and sunny weather make solar energy a beneficial renewable power source. Today over 2.15 million solar systems have been installed in Australian homes producing 4.2% of Australia’s energy needs!

The particular benefit of solar energy systems is its diverse range of applications, from powering handheld calculators to supplementing power in residential homes. Often small-scale solar systems are used ‘off-grid’ (meaning not connected to the main power supply), to supply power in rural and hard to reach areas.

When designing your off-grid solar energy system, consider… 

  • The needs in the community and the areas or activities which would benefit from a solar power source
  • What kinds of devices could use a renewable source of energy?
  • Technological restrictions
    • A standard solar panel weights 18kg and is 1m by 1.6m in size.
    • Solar energy is only produced during the day, you may need a battery to store power.
    • The average solar panel produces 320 watts per hour - Enough for 5-6 light bulbs.
    • What kinds of devices might you want to run from this power?
  • Then, explain your solution in detail – including expected cost, ease of use, privacy/security concerns, and special features of your idea will make your technology appealing to community members

Video Length: 2 minutes

Submit: Make sure you upload it to the Girls in Engineering Club Facebook group by Thursday 30th of November, and you’ll have a chance to win prizes for participating!

(Don’t have Facebook? Email a link to your video to and you’ll still be in the running to win prizes!)

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