The University of Wollongong (UOW) on the New South Wales south coast will be home to the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre in Energy Technologies for Future Grids which it says will advance Australia’s transition to a clean energy future and help deliver the next generation of renewable energy industry leaders and specialists.
UOW deputy vice-chancellor Professor Jennifer Martin said the training facility, included in a $74 million dollar funding package announced by the federal government this week, will help deliver world-class industry-linked research into renewable energy and boost Australia’s transition to a clean energy future.
“The new training centre will deliver solutions to complex issues that create barriers to Australia’s transition to a clean energy future which is sustainable, cost effective and environmentally friendly,” Martin said.
Australia’s uptake of renewable energy is almost double the global average but the nation’s ageing infrastructure has been struggling to keep pace with the rapid transition and electricity networks and market operators have increasingly been constraining variable assets like rooftop solar, wind farms and utility-scale solar farms.
Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) chief executive Daniel Westerman earlier this month declared the nation’s energy system needs to evolve to keep pace with the transition, saying the grid needs to be ready for instances of 100% renewables by 2025 to end asset constraints.
“I’m not saying Australia is going to run at 100% renewable energy for the entire year of 2025, nor am I asking for policy intervention or otherwise,” he said.
“The goal for us at AEMO is to harness the talents, capabilities, and experience across the industry, to engineer grids that are capable of running at 100% instantaneous penetration of renewable energy by 2025,” he said.
Professor Kashem Muttaqi, from the School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, will head the new UOW training centre and said it will look to address some of those issues currently confronting the energy sector.
“The training centre will address the complex and challenging issues currently limiting the growth of renewable energy through innovations that facilitate widespread integration of these resources into electricity grids while maintaining grid stability,” he said.
“It will advance Australia’s transition to a clean energy future and will deliver the next generation of industry leaders and specialists in future grid technologies for renewable energy generation, transmission and distribution.
“Supported by renewable hydrogen energy storage and market-driven customer responsiveness enabled by new information and communications technologies, this will provide a more sustainable, reliable, secure and affordable electricity system.”
The UOW training centre is one of 16 new research hubs and training centres set to be established around the country after the federal government this week announced a $74 million funding package as part of its commitment to commercialising Australian research under its Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP).
The program will provide $36.4 million for the establishment of eight new research hubs and $37.8 million will see eight new training centres commence operations.
Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said the projects will create stronger research and industry connections in areas including energy, biomedical technology and agriculture.
“These facilities will bring together our finest research minds and leading businesses to tackle the key strategic challenges facing our nation, our region and the world,” he said.
“They will ensure we are getting the most out of our world-class research while transferring that information into real-world outcomes.
“The training centres will also equip our future generation of researchers by giving students and postdoctoral researchers practical skills and experience through industry placements.”
The University of New South Wales is another of the facilities to secure funding under the program with $4.98 million allocated to establish the ARC Research Hub for Resilient and Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (RIIS) in Urban, Resources and Energy Sectors.
To be led by Professor Nasser Khalili, the hub will integrate sensor technology, connectivity, data analytics, machine learning, robotics, smart materials, and reliable models.
“A frontier arena of research, the hub will provide a fully integrated platform for the development and delivery of next-generation digital technologies for Australia’s infrastructure,” Khalili said.
“The technologies will enable design, real-time performance analysis and life-management of infrastructure.
“The hub will solve industry challenges and translate research and development into commercial opportunities and outcomes.”
The unveiling of the new training centres and research hubs comes just days after the Australian National University in Canberra opened its Distributed Energy Resources Lab, dedicated to researching and testing technologies including batteries, solar panels and electric vehicles which it says will “underpin the energy grids of the future”.
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