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Australia's energy future launched today

CSIRO : 31 October, 2003  (Technical Article)
In one of the largest research projects of its type leading Australian scientists will concentrate on the nation's future energy requirements which could lead to Australia developing one of the world's first hydrogen economies.
Taking the first steps to the use of hydrogen as a clean, safe and efficient fuel is a goal of the new National Research Flagship Energy Transformed, launched in Newcastle on Friday by Bob Baldwin MP (Paterson), representing the Minister for Science, Peter McGauran.

'Use of hydrogen will help us to eliminate greenhouse gases and air pollution, create greater efficiencies and build a new export industry in energy technology,' the Director of the Flagship, Dr John Wright of CSIRO, says.

The Energy Transformed research flagship aims to:

develop and implement technologies leading to near zero emissions power from fossil fuels and eventually, large-scale hydrogen generation
develop cost-effective electricity and hydrogen from renewable sources
increase the fuel and traffic management efficiency of urban transport leading to an eventual transition to hydrogen-powered vehicles
double the efficiency of fuel use (natural gas and eventually hydrogen) by the generation of power/heat/cooling at point-of-use, and
carry out energy scenario analyses to guide the research activities of the Flagship to achieve the goal of clean, cost-effective future energy for all Australians.
The Flagship launch coincided with the opening of the $36M CSIRO Energy Centre in Newcastle by Mr Baldwin and NSW Premier, Mr Bob Carr.

Mr Baldwin acknowledged the support of the NSW Government and the NSW Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) which have committed substantial funds to the project.

The new CSIRO Energy Centre will provide an international focus for energy research that will put Australia on the map in this vital sector. The building showcases new and renewable energy technologies and represents the largest base of energy research and development in the Southern Hemisphere.

'The new Centre is a distributed energy system in action,' says Acting Chief of Energy Technology, Dr Jim Smitham. 'Photovoltaic cells, gas microturbines and wind generators will initially provide most of our power, with any surplus being fed back into the main grid.

'Building and Energy Management Systems are also in place and we are monitoring the performance of the various technologies in relation to our needs,' he says.

'Effective distributed energy systems make good use of waste heat. In our case, the waste heat from two 60 kW microturbines will provide space and water heating in winter and will be linked to novel turbo-chiller technology in the future for cooling in summer.'

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Geoff Garrett says the decision to invest in the new Energy Centre is closely linked to CSIRO's research and development strategy and to the Federal Government's National Research Priorities.

'Researchers in the energy sector world-wide are keenly aware of the importance of moving quickly towards cleaner energy generation, and ultimately a hydrogen economy,' he says.

'We believe that demonstrating new and emerging technologies in a working building is an excellent way to show our industry and government partners what can be achieved.'

Flagship Director Dr Wright says that distributed generation will become increasingly important as the demands on national centralised generation and transmission infrastructures increase.

'Recent power blackouts in the United States, Italy and Denmark demonstrate that total reliance on central power generation is not a wise future option,' says Dr Wright.

'Unfortunately, we use so much power that distributed generation can be only part of the solution. We must strenuously research and promote cleaner options in large scale centralised generation systems,' he says.

The National Research Flagships initiative is a partnership approach to tackling major challenges faced by Australia, and one of the largest scientific undertakings in the nation's history.
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