Industrial-scale concentrating solar thermal, salt-based energy storage systems, and biofuel for sugarcane farming are among the technologies named in a group of nine new research and development projects to be supported by the latest – and one of the last – funding rounds of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
The list of projects (see table below) was revealed by ARENA on Wednedsay in Perth.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the collective $17 million in funding would create clear pathways for renewable energy technologies to move from the laboratory to field by fostering collaboration between research institutions and industry.
“Each successful project is focused on delivering commercially viable solutions, aimed at solving a current industry challenges,” Frischknecht said.
“The rich array of industry partners shows the breadth of sectors that will be involved in the transformation of Australia’s energy networks and systems.
“Research institutions will join the resources, agriculture, finance and property development industries to deliver the projects alongside utilities, power companies and renewable energy businesses.
“ARENA’s $17 million funding is leveraging substantial contributions from private and public sectors, with combined project values totalling more than $54 million. This will tap into our home-grown ingenuity and complement our existing portfolio of 144 R&D projects.”
Frischknecht said the projects aimed, ultimately, to benefit businesses and consumers by integrating more renewables into Australia’s energy networks and industrial processes.
“A range of renewable energy technologies are represented, including storage, biofuels, wave power, solar PV and solar thermal,” he said.
“The project led by Curtin University of Technology aims to unlock the potential of renewables in medium density strata developments while the University of Wollongong led one aims to develop a low-cost, high density sodium battery.
“University of Adelaide will lead a project to find out if solar thermal energy can be integrated into Alcoa’s alumina refining process and Queensland University of Technology will work with industry to explore how to produce biogas from sugarcane to further reduce the sugar industry’s fossil fuel use.
The Australian National University is leading three projects, one will develop a system to estimate the power produced by all the rooftop solar PV in a given area, another will look at how robots could capture data for solar installation diagnostics and the third will look at how battery storage and solar can solve network constraint problems on Bruny Island.
“The project led by the University of Western Australia will determine the optimum size and location of wave energy arrays and the University of South Australia led project will develop low cost phase change materials, which can store solar power for the industrial refrigeration market.”
The funding will be one of the last announced by ARENA, which will be stripped of $1,3 billion of unallocated funds and asked to work only on new equity and financing for a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund.
Meanwhile, the Turnbull government has announced a new board for ARENA. Please read here. Its main task will be to OK the last major grants to be awarded by ARENA, in the $100 million round for large scale solar projects.