UNSW to collaborate on renewable energy research

PAG's Alan Yu, PAG CEO Henry Sun, Director of UNSW Knowledge Exchange Professor Warwick Dawson, Director of UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute Professor Joe Dong. Source: unsw.edu.au.

The University of NSW Sydney has signed a $3 million deal with renewables asset manager Providence Asset Group (PAG) as part of a 10-year commitment to joint research and collaboration in sustainable energy technologies.

PAG has made an initial investment of $500,000 to support renewables technology research at UNSW through the UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute and the ARC Research Hub for Integrated Energy Storage Solutions. These initiatives are working towards the provision of a reliable and sustainable energy supply, plus energy storage and distribution aimed at ‘future-proofing’ global energy systems.

In addition, PAG will provide up to a further $3 million over the next decade to fund a new, multi-disciplinary, world-class research centre, the New Energy Industry Research Centre (NEIRC).

The UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute was established in September last year to focus on advancing electric power technologies from both traditional and increasingly renewable sources as we transition to a more sustainable energy supply.

Professor Joe Dong, a researcher in energy systems and director of the UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute, said that this funding would help to address a host of challenges, including electricity generation and transmission, new technologies in smart meters, Smart Grid telecommunication and computing infrastructure, renewable energy generation, and regulatory aspects of the industry.

“It will also help us to develop a better understanding of what the renewables industry needs, developments in the sector in terms of technology, financial and risk management, as well knowledge transfer to the outside world,” Dong said.

“This will be particularly important for the ARC Research Hub, where a key measure of success will be its contribution to the energy storage sector nationally.”

While Professor Dong and his team are making significant progress on grid technology and energy storage for renewables, consumer take-up and business investment in the sector are also booming.

Henry Sun, CEO of PAG, said: “Providence’s vision is to become the leading sustainable and cost effective ‘green’ asset management company and service provider in Australia, powering the community with green and affordable energy, improving living with clean and innovative technologies.”

The second round of funding from PAG will establish the NEIRC and bring together global research teams and market-leading industry partners to conduct all-round cooperation in the energy field. It will focus on technologies, introducing more sophisticated economic and investment modelling for renewables, and policy and regulation development in the sector.

“UNSW is one of the world’s leading research and technology hubs for renewable energy innovation. Partnering with UNSW through NEIRC will enable us to fast-track our goals with collaboration on multiple levels,” Mr Sun said.

Professor Brian Boyle, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Enterprise at UNSW, said: “The significance of this investment from PAG is that it demonstrates the relevance of UNSW technologies and capability to the growing renewable energy sector in Australia and overseas. It’s also a strong endorsement of the partnership model adopted by the knowledge exchange team at UNSW to translate our expertise into social and economic impact and benefit.”

The parties expect to have the NEIRC up and running later this year. The NEIRC research team will include Professor Joe Dong and academic adviser to PAG, Professor Guangiun Li.