The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced nine new research and development projects to be supported through its latest funding round, including solar, battery storage and biogas developments.

The selected projects include:

  • Integrating concentrating solar thermal energy into the bayer alumina process-University of Adelaide
  • Smart sodium storage system for renewable energy storage– The University of Wollongong
  • Consumer energy systems providing cost-effective grid support (CONSORT)– Australian National University
  • Utilising biogas in sugarcane transport and milling– Queensland University of Technology
  • Wave energy cost reduction through location and configuration optimisation– University of Western Australia
  • Real-time operational PV simulations for distribution network service providers– Australian National University
  • A robotic vision system for automatic inspection and evaluation of solar plants– Australian National University
  • Increasing the uptake of solar PV in strata residential developments– Australian National University
  • Maximising solar PV with phase change thermal energy storage– University of South Australia

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the funding would create clear pathways for renewable energy technologies to move from the laboratory to the field by fostering collaboration between research institutions and industry.

“Each successful project is focussed on delivering commercially viable solutions, aimed at solving a current industry challenges,” Mr 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.

Mr Frischknecht said ARENA’s $17million funding is leveraging substantial contributions from private and public sectors, with combined project values totalling more than $54million.

“This will tap into our home-grown ingenuity and complement our existing portfolio of 144 Research and Development projects.”

Mr Frischknecht said the projects would ultimately aim to benefit businesses and consumers by integrating more renewables into our energy networks and industrial processes.

“A range of renewable energy technologies are represented, including storage, biofuels, wave power, solar PV and solar thermal,” Mr Frischknecht 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 project aims to develop a low-cost, high density sodium battery.

The 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.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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