Powering the SKA Low Frequency Aperture Array

Case study from: Co-hosting the SKA telescope

The SKA will have significant power requirements that must be delivered at remote locations in mid-west Western Australia. Supported under the Australian SKA Pre-construction Grants Program, Balance Utility Solutions is working with Curtin University to understand and deliver the power requirements for the Low Frequency Aperture Array (LFAA) component of the SKA. The LFAA refers to the set of antennas, on board amplifiers and local processors which are required to receive signals from the lowest frequency band for the SKA. A major challenge for the consortium is the sheer scale of work to be undertaken with well over a hundred thousand antennas to be built in Australia to exact specifications.

Balance Utility Solutions seeks to service the growing market for integrated and sustainable energy solutions. They have considerable experience working on the development and delivery of large scale energy infrastructure projects.

The company has greatly assisted Curtin University in examining the feasibility of novel LFAA power solutions, and in developing an optimum power distribution strategy. In particular, the work has demonstrated that using an alternating current in power reticulation to LFAA core station, with medium voltage direct current at the stations, the preferred solution in terms of cost, efficiency and radio quietness. In addition it was found that stand alone solar stations were a practical and efficient approach to supplying power to remote LFAA stations.

Balance is now working on the design of power systems for an LFAA prototype with Curtin, including the design and prototyping of the LFAA station power distributor.

Balance CEO Rod Hayes says ‘working on the SKA alongside Curtin University and ICRAR has created unique opportunities for Balance technical staff and the business and has positively assisted in broadening Balance's capabilities, especially in the area of highly distributed low power, low-cost, radio-quiet inverters.’

The company has worked closely with the University throughout the SKA Pre-construction Stage, with Balance also providing training opportunities for Curtin Students. This has included the placement of a PhD student currently working with the company.

Read more

Read about Australia’s involvement in the SKA project.

Contact us

Email ska@industry.gov.au