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ANU Launches Lab to Study Green Tech

A new lab that will help build a greener and climate change resilient electricity grid has been officially launched at The Australian National University (ANU). Opened recently by the ACT Chief Minister, the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Lab researches and tests new technologies like batteries, solar panels and electric vehicles that underpin the energy grids of the future.

The ANU Vice-Chancellor stated that the DER Lab was helping build Australia’s low carbon energy system of tomorrow “today”. He noted that now more than ever, Australia must design an energy system fit for the 21st century.

As Australia moves away from large centralised fossil-fuel powered generators to a decentralised grid consisting of a vast array of distributed renewable energy assets, we need to find innovative ways to enable this vast amount of renewable energy to safely and effectively enter the electricity grid.

It is through the research carried out in the Distributed Energy Resources Lab that society will be equipped with the technology and capabilities that will help smooth out and accelerate this vital energy transition. The Lab will provide a fail-safe power system to rapidly, efficiently and securely develop and test technologies and systems before deploying them into the live grid.

The DER Lab was announced in 2019 with $1.5 million in funding from the ACT Government. The project to design and construct the national facility has been a partnership between ITP Renewables, UNSW Canberra, evoenergy and ANU.

The Chief Operating Officer of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program noted that over the last two years the DER Lab team has embarked on an ambitious program of work. Over the last few years, the world has moved from simply de-carbonising the electricity sector to de-carbonising the whole economy, she said.

“We are now in a race to ‘electrify everything’. This means we need to build an energy ecosystem that is powered by millions of connected and different devices, including batteries, vehicles and even air conditioners,” she said.

The DER Lab is helping lead the charge. The ‘plug and play’ set-up means researchers, government and industry have the opportunity to test this new tech and how it can be harnessed by our energy grid before the switch is flicked ‘on’.

The DER Lab is exactly what the world needs right now to build a more resilient electricity grid in response to climate change.

The ACT Chief Minister noted that the new Distributed Energy Resources Laboratory cements Canberra’s position as the national leader in renewable energy innovation and collaboration.

Supported through a $1.5 million Priority Investment Program grant in 2019, the DER Laboratory is an Australian first, delivered in partnership between the ANU, UNSW Canberra, IT Power and Evoenergy. It builds on the significant investments that industry and the ACT Government have already made to grow Canberra’s renewable energy sector.

The facility will unlock new opportunities around renewable energy capability that will ultimately translate into new investments, economic growth, lower energy bills and new jobs for Canberrans.

The Australian Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is investing $2 million to support the industry to accelerate the development and deployment of low emissions technologies. The funding will be provided to a non-profit organization in Melbourne to assist in the next phase of the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative (ETI).

Through the ETI, some of Australia’s biggest companies are working together to decarbonise industry supply chains across hard-to-abate sectors, with a particular focus on:

  • iron and steel
  • alumina and aluminium
  • liquefied natural gas
  • other metals (including lithium, copper and nickel)
  • chemicals, such as plastics, fertilisers and explosives.

Together, these sectors represent more than a quarter of Australia’s industrial emissions and generate around $160 billion in export revenue annually.

The program is also focused on supporting the uptake of the next generation of energy technologies. Target technologies include green steel, hydrogen and carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) – all of which are priority areas under the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap.

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