Six of Australia’s leading research institutions, including CSIRO, have united with international researchers to spearhead innovation to address challenges in clean energy production and storage.
In a joint effort between Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK, two multi-lateral research projects have been announced as part of the National Science Foundation Global Centres in Climate Change and Clean Energy (NSF Global Centres) program.
Together, these countries have pledged more than $118 million in investment in the NSF Global Centres program over five years to tackle challenges posed by climate change, as the world moves towards net zero.
“NSF builds capacity and advances its priorities through these centres of research excellence by uniting diverse teams from around the world,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of NSF.
“Global centres will sync talent across the globe to generate the discoveries and solutions needed to empower resilient communities everywhere.”
Kirsten Rose, acting chief executive of CSIRO, said as Australia’s national science agency, it is proud to be part of a strong national contribution to solving this critical global challenge.
“CSIRO is proud to stand alongside numerous Australian research organisations to combine our shared expertise, strengthening our national response to accelerate the transition to a cleaner, sustainable energy future,“ Rose said.
“Collaborative initiatives like CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission and Smart Energy Mission are essential in ensuring solutions are co-designed with industry, research, and our communities.
“Partnering with the NSF Global Centres means Australia remains at the global forefront of work to build a clean hydrogen industry, build integrated and equitable energy systems, and partnering with regions and industries for a low emissions future.”
Two projects earmarked by the multi-national collaboration are being steered by Australia innovations.
First up, the Electric Power Innovation for a Carbon-free Society (EPICS) Centre will be a global scientific leader in developing transformative computing, economic strategies, engineering solutions, and forward-thinking policy to enable a completely renewable energy power grid.
This joint project involves the US, the UK and Australia, and is led by CSIRO and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the University of Melbourne, and Monash University.
“There is a joint response globally to enable the secure operation of power systems challenged by the rapid transition to inverter-based variable renewable generation,” said Michael Gatt, executive general manager of operations at AEMO.
“This research funding will contribute to identifying and resolving engineering and system issues that facilitate the continued transformation of Australia’s energy systems.”
Next up, the Global Hydrogen Production Technologies (HyPT) Centre is pioneering large-scale net-zero hydrogen production methods. It explores three innovative technologies – renewable energy and integrated water electrolysis, methane pyrolysis with valuable solid carbon co-products, and solar-driven water splitting.
The University of Adelaide, Flinders University, and Curtin University represent Australia in this international collaboration, working with partners from the US, Canada, the UK, Egypt and Germany.
The institutions will pool resources and expertise to confront the challenges of a changing climate, and continue the charge towards net zero emissions.
Speaking on the EPICS Centre, Professor Pierluigi Mancarella, University of Melbourne’s chair of Electrical Power Systems and Australian EPICS Centre principal investigator, said the global centre is an unprecedented opportunity to partner with major international institutes in the US and UK.
“It allows us to harness world-leading research to address some of the most pressing scientific challenges that Australia and other jurisdictions worldwide are facing during the energy transition towards net zero,” Mancarella explained.
“These challenges range from guaranteeing stable and secure system operation in the presence of ultra-high penetration of variable energy sources and distributed energy resources, most of which are based on power electronic interfaces, to identifying reliable and resilient investment paths across the whole energy system in the presence of deep, long-term planning uncertainty.”
Speaking on the HyPT Centre, Professor Anton Middleberg, University of Adelaide’s deputy vice-chancellor (Research), said the University is delighted to be working with CSIRO and other partners to advance the commercialisation of technology that has the potential to be game-changing for hydrogen production.
“Our world-class researchers will be collaborating on finding solutions that will help create a more sustainable future for society,” Middleberg continued.
According to Dame Ottoline Leyser, CEO of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Building a Green Future programme aims to harness the power of research and innovation to tackle hard-to-decarbonise sectors in our economy.
“We are excited to be partnering with our sister organisations in the US, Canada and Australia to accelerate progress toward this crucial goal,” Leyser said.
“Our combined investment in global centres enables exciting researcher and innovation-led international and interdisciplinary collaboration to drive the energy transition. I look forward to seeing the creative solutions developed through these global collaborations.”