Scientists predict energy transformation

AUSTRALIA’S homes and businesses could be powered by more than 20 different energy sources and technologies by 2050 if CSIRO’s Newcastle-based energy scientists’ predictions are correct.

CSIRO will announce a $13million Future Grid Cluster research collaboration with four universities today.

The partners, which include the University of Newcastle, plan to develop the nation’s capacity to plan and design the most efficient, low-emission electricity grid for Australia.

CSIRO Energy Group executive Dr Tom Hatton said the electricity sector was undergoing a transformation not seen since the industrial revolution.

“We are facing unprecedented change in the electricity system over the next 20 to 30 years,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re talking about change to a system that has seen stability for decades and has used technologies and energy sources that are predictable and controllable. Moving away from that is going to require a great deal of effort and capacity building.’’

The Future Grid Cluster would provide a framework to assist the electricity sector make an estimated $240billion worth of decisions in the next two decades.

“Each university will contribute specialist knowledge and expertise and will work with CSIRO to develop a new suite of tools to understand, develop and optimise energy grids of the future,’’ research program leader Tony Vassallo, from the University of Sydney, said. 

“This will assist decision makers in their choices about future grid development.’’

The University of Newcastle will provide specific expertise in the area of planning and co-optimising electricity and gas networks.

The project is supported by $10million in-kind contribution from university partners and a $3.2million grant from the CSIRO’s  flagship collaboration fund.

The fund was established to assist the Australian and global research communities to be applied to the major national challenges.

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