CSIRO, universities get $12m for CleanTech research

Brandon How

The Australian government has awarded $12.4 million to three research institutions to strengthen Australia’s international renewable and clean energy research collaborations.

The supported projects at RMIT University, national science agency CSIRO and the University of Melbourne target renewable energy integration into the electricity grid, solar and battery recycling, and energy efficiency in buildings.

RMIT University received the most funding of the three entities, at $5.87 million.

The announcement comes amid Climate Change and Energy minister Chris Bowen’s 10-day trip to India, Japan, and South Korea to strengthen Australia’s clean energy ties.

The competitive International Clean Innovation Researcher Networks grants program will deliver funding over a four-year period to support technology research and development aligned with global initiatives from Mission Innovation and the International Energy Agency.

RMIT will recieve a $3 million grant for a project on solar panel recycling and material reuse in new panels and batteries, as well as a $2.87 million grant to accelerate the integration of renewables and electric vehicles into the grid alongside researchers in the United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union.

CSIRO will receive two grants: a $2.59 million grant for research on renewable energy integration into the electricity grid, and a $1.97 million grant to support its international leadership on energy efficient ‘smart buildings’.

The remaining $2 million will go to the University of Melbourne to set up the Researcher Network for Decarbonising the Building Industry. It seeks to progress work on renewable energy integration, production of low-carbon materials and optimising building operations for energy efficiency.

On Wednesday, Mr Bowen told the Australian Business Council in Japan “there is so much more scope for further collaboration across R&D, supply chain development and certification”, building on growing Japanese investment in hydrogen projects in Australia.

It follows a $50 million commitment last week to accelerate development studies on ‘investment-ready’ manufacturing projects for clean energy technologies, including solar ingots, wafer production, and battery cell components.

He also acknowledged the role that carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology “can play in reducing emissions as part of the energy transition, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors”.

However, he noted that “the best focus for the Australian government to support CCUS” is to provide regulatory certainty.

The Albanese government is also already committed to a $200 million Australia-Indonesia Climate and Infrastructure Partnership, and a Singapore-Australia $20 million Go-Green Co-Innovation program, expected to open to expressions of interest later this year.

During the Quad leaders’ summit in May, the Quad Clean Energy Supply Chain Diversification Program, coupled with a high-level statement committing Australia, the United States, India, and Japan to diversify the ‘Clean Energy Supply Chains in the Indo-Pacific’, was announced.

In the same month, Australia and the United States signed a Climate, Critical Minerals, and Clean Energy Transformation Compact which was described as affirming “the third pillar of the alliance”, in addition to cooperation on defence and economics, by the countries’ leaders.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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