Energy highlights 2021

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Energy overview

2021 has seen a continued move towards clean energy and a quickening of the uptake of renewables both in Australia and elsewhere. As the energy transition begins to unfold, possible pathways to a zero-carbon energy future are becoming clearer, demand for the best possible technological solutions rises, and economic and social opportunities and challenges are coming into sharper focus.

With many countries having adopted net-zero commitments and net-zero trajectories being considered in boardrooms around the world, attention is shifting to the zero-emissions technologies required to achieve them. Over the past 12 months, ANU research has made many important contributions to both the development and refinement of these technologies, their effective and efficient deployment, the institutional and regulatory frameworks to enable energy transition as well as economic and social ramifications.

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Research and news

Director's highlights

Professor Frank Jotzo led and contributed to research including on long-term emissions strategies, options for Australia’s climate policy, hydrogen economics, modelling net-zero trajectories, coal transition, public attitudes to climate change and more.

Caption: Professor Frank Jotzo OpEd in the AFR 12 September
Professor Jotzo continued his work for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as a lead author on the 6th Assessment report and member of the core writing team of the next IPCC Synthesis Report.

Professor Jotzo spoke at a number of significant public events and conferences, including for example as a keynote speaker at the Australian Financial Review’s Climate Summit. His address can be read here. He also spoke at the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum, the Investor Group on Climate Change Forum, the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate conference, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung trilateral hydrogen forum and the Citibank Annual Investment Conference Asia-Pacific. He was also invited to contribute to various high-level briefing sessions and roundtable discussions.

Professor Jotzo engaged extensively in public outreach through the media over the year, on topics such as emissions targets, domestic and international climate policy, hydrogen subsidies, the decline of coal and COP26. Interviews with and commentary pieces by Professor Jotzo were published among others in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times, the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, the Australian Financial Review, Yomiuri Shimbun, Sky News, ABC television and radio (730 Report, ABC PM, ABC News), Triple J, The Conversation, Cosmos magazine and Nature journal.

He also appeared alongside ICEDS Director, Professor Mark Howden, and UNSW’s Dr Sarah Kirkpatrick at the National Press Club address, Towards COP26: Hopes and Expectations. The video of this address can be viewed here.

Professor Jotzo teaches on climate change policy in Masters courses at ANU Crawford School and contributes to ICEDS executive short courses.

Research publications

ANU researchers in the energy sphere once again published prolifically in the academic literature. ANU research appeared in globally leading academic journals such as Joule, Nature Energy, Energy, Applied Energy, and many others.

Their research covered topics as broad as technology, scientific foundations, policy, economics and social aspects, as well as the pathways towards a just transition to renewable energy in Australia and the region.

Through work in the Grand Challenge Zero Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific, ANU researchers have covered on published on topics including the potential for and cost of hydrogen as clean energy, the potential for zero-emissions heavy industries including green steel in Australia, frameworks for international trade in clean energy, technological readiness for balancing the grid with 100% renewable electricity generation, social license for new energy industries and what it means to have a just transition to a zero carbon future.

Projects and initiatives

Marghanita Johnson (top), moderator Professor Ken Baldwin, Dr Emma Aisbett, A/Professor John Pye and Dr Fiona Beck discuss Zero-emissions industries and the role of hydrogen at the 2021 ANU Energy Update.

Energy Update 2021

What role will the energy sector play in the journey to net zero emissions? This year’s Energy Update addressed this question, in the context of recent developments in energy research and analysis.

With speakers including ANU academics, researchers from other organisations and leading practitioners, the ANU Energy Update 2021 presented an overview of energy sector developments, in-depth research presentations on trajectories to decarbonisation, and a cross-disciplinary discussion on a research and action agenda for Australia’s energy transition. ANU researchers were joined by speakers from other universities, industry associations and NGOs.

The ANU Energy Update is a traditional focal point for the energy community at ANU, among governments, industry and the interested public. The 2021 Update was also a much-anticipated chance for this community to gather in person on campus.

Australian Energy Emissions Monitor

The Australian Energy Emissions Monitor is a comprehensive analysis of the latest data on Australia’s energy related carbon dioxide emissions. Produced by Dr Hugh Saddler, the report was published by the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions for the first time in December. Publication will continue on bi-monthly basis in 2022.

Economic Opportunities from Offshore Wind Power: Supply Chain Development in Europe and Australia

Caption: Supported by the Strategic Partnerships for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (SPIPA), this seminar discussed what Australia can do you maximise opportunities of offshore wind power.
Photo: Supplied

ICEDS hosted a seminar on Economic Opportunities from Offshore Wind Power – Supply Chain Development in Europe and Australia. Seminar participants heard from Iván Pineda, Director for Public Affairs for WindEurope about the European market experience with supply chain development in offshore wind power, and from Andy Evans, CEO of Oceanex and an early leader in Australia’s nascent offshore wind industry, about what Australia can do to take advantage of the opportunities that offshore wind power presents.

The seminar was supported by the Strategic Partnerships for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (SPIPA), commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and co-funded by the European Union. A video of the seminar and presentation slides can be accessed here.

Comparing Australian and United States net zero emission trajectories

At a symposium convened by ANU in December, representatives from ANU, University of Maryland, and the United States and Australian federal governments discussed decarbonisation options and possible trajectories to net-zero emissions for Australia and the United States.

The presentations and conversations covered emissions reductions options, their economic implications, and the potential ways forward for policy in both countries.

Hosted by the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions at the Australian National University and supported by the Embassy of the United States of America in Australia, the event laid the groundwork for further model based analysis which will be undertaken in 2022.

Professor Yun Liu shows members of NSW Fire and Rescue the ANU hydrogen labs.
Photo: ICEDS

NSW Fire and Rescue outreach on the Hydrogen Economy

In June, ICEDS hosted a visit by NSW Fire & Rescue. Led by Dr Igor Skryabin, the event aimed to provide Fire & Rescue with an overview of general trends in hydrogen technologies, current projects, and considerations for adjustments to its operational trategies to prepare for the emerging Hydrogen Economy.

The visit included a tour of the ANU hydrogen labs with Professor Yun Liu and PhD scholar, Asim Riaz. Discussions regarding opportunities to align, including training, support and development, are continuing.


Public policy submissions

Dr Igor Skryabin, Assoc Professor Matt Stocks and Dr James Prest present at the hearing on Renewable Energy Innovation in the ACT.
In April, ICEDS made a submission in response to the Federal government’s Future Fuels Strategy Discussion Paper, led by Assoc Professor Matt Stocks, Dr Bin Lu, Professor Ken Baldwin and Professor Andrew Blakers.

The Institute also made public policy submission on Renewable Energy Innovation in the ACT. ICEDS members Professor Xuemei Bai, Professor Ken Baldwin, Dr Yuan Peng, Dr James Prest, Dr Igor Skryabin and Assoc Professor Matt Stocks contributed to the to the submission, which addressed the opportunities and challenges facing renewable energy in the ACT, and made a series of recommendations based on


Grand Challenge Zero Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific

In 2021, the Grand Challenge Zero Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific intensified its engagement and outreach based on its expanding portfolio of research.

The Grand Challenge was invited to lead key international energy export fora in conjunction with international partners, including bilateral symposiums and workshops on hydrogen with Germany, France and Italy, and the development of renewable energy trading agenda for the upcoming APEC meeting in New Zealand.

The Grand Challenge expanded engagement with industry, including Yara Pilbara (responsible for 5% of the world ammonia trade), Sun Cable (exporting electricity to Singapore), Woodside (interests in developing green hydrogen), Fortescue Future Industries (with interests in green steel and green hydrogen) and other companies and industry associations.

The initiative continued its secondment program with the federal public service, jointly funding public servants from relevant government departments (including the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) to work at ANU for a six-month period. This year, secondees contributed to several research outputs, including a paper on hydrogen certification.

Member highlights

The following section features submissions made by ICEDS members on their contributions to research, public policy and engagement, and outreach throughout 2021.

Dr Fiona Beck and Dr Thomas Longden.

Research on the cost and emissions of hydrogen made from different processes garnered considerable media attention. Below are some of the highlights of interviews with Dr Fiona Beck and Dr Thomas Longden.

Dr Jose Iria

Dr Jose Iria engaged in the following activity in 2021:

Research

  • Optimal DER Scheduling for Frequency Stability project (2019-2021) funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. You can read more about the project here.
  • Coelho, J. Iria, F. Soares, Network-secure bidding optimization of aggregators of multi-energy systems in electricity, gas, and carbon markets, Applied Energy. 301 (2021) 117460.
  • A. Attarha, P. Scott, J. Iria, S. Thiebaux, Network-Secure and Price-Elastic Aggregator Bidding in Energy and Reserve Markets, IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid. 12 (2021) 2284–2294.
  • J. Iria, P. Scott, A. Attarha, Network-constrained bidding optimization strategy for aggregators of prosumers, Energy. 207 (2020) 118266.
  • J. Iria, N. Fonseca, F. Cassola, A. Barbosa, F. Soares, A. Coelho, A. Ozdemir, A gamification platform to foster energy efficiency in office buildings, Energy and Buildings. 222 (2020) 110101.

Awards

  • Cum Laude distinction. Cum Laude is the highest distinction for a PhD degree at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto.
  • Second prize in the APREN Award 2020. The APREN Award recognizes the best PhD dissertations in renewable energy.

Professor Andrew Blakers

Professor Andrew Blakers and his team engaged in the following projects in 2021:

Indonesia’s Vast Solar Energy Potential

Pumped hydro storage

Energy modelling

100% renewables

Article by Professor Andrew Blakers in The Conversation, 17 October

Public policy and outreach

  • Oral evidence to the House Inquiry into the current circumstances, and the future need and potential for dispatchable energy generation and storage capability in Australia. Read Professor Blakers’ presentation here.
  • Submission to Energy Security Board “Post 2025 Options Paper”.
  • Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry “The current circumstances, and the future need and potential for dispatchable energy generation and storage capability in Australia”
  • Submission to the ACT Government’s Inquiry into Renewable Energy Innovation in the ACT.

Dr Thang Do and Professor Paul Burke

Dr Thang Do and Professor Paul Burke were engaged in multiple projects relating to renewable energy in Vietnam. They released a number of papers on the project, which in turned garnered local media attention.

Below is a summary of outputs for this, and other projects undertaken by Dr Do and Professor Burke in 2021:

Research

Public policy

Media

Professor Peter Drahos

Professor Peter Drahos published a book with Oxford University Press, New York dealing with the implications of the US-China rivalry for climate change. Survival Governance: Energy and Climate in the Chinese Century.

Survival Governance by Professor Peter Drahos draws on more than 250 interviews carried out in seventeen countries, including the world's four largest carbon emitters.

Professor Emerita Lorraine Elliott

Professor Emerita Lorraine Elliott engaged in the following activity in 2021:

Research

  • Toward a socially just transition to local carbon development: the case of Indonesia’, Asian Affairs, 51(4) (2020) 875-894, co-authored with Abidah B. Setyowati
  • Seah, S., McGowan, P. J. K., Low, M. Y. X., Martinus, M., Ghoshray, A., Lorusso, M., Wong, R., Lee, P. O., Elliott, L., Setyowati, A., Rahman, S. A., and Quirapas-Franco, M. J. (2021) Energy Transition in ASEAN (Singapore: British High Commission and the COP26 Universities Network)

Public policy and outreach

  • Member, International Advisory Committee, Intergovernmental Platform on Disaster Displacement
  • Expert Reviewer, Government and Expert Review, Working Group III Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (Second Order Draft including Summary for Policymakers and the Technical Summary), Jan-March 2021
  • 'Social justice in energy transitions', invited expert, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Roundtable, Building Back Better in Post-Pandemic Southeast Asia, Singapore International Energy Week, 29 October 2021
  • ‘Climate change impacts on vulnerable communities and migration movements’, Invited expert, Workshop and Roundtable on Climate Security and Good Security Sector Governance in Southeast Asia, Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance, 12-14 October 2021

Dr Reza Fazeli

Dr Reza Fazeli co-authored the following papers in 2021:

Dr Mark Hoggard

Dr Mark Hoggard engaged in the following activity in 2021:

Research

Public policy

  • Key project 1 selected by Australian government for evaluation by independent financial firm ACIL Allen and used as one of the justifications behind a $125-million extension to the Exploring for the Future program.

Awards

 

Dr Hieu Nguyen in the newly established Optical Spectroscopy & Imaging Laboratory (C107, Craig building, CECS)
Photo: supplied.

Dr Hieu Nguyen

Dr Hieu Nguyen engaged in the following activity in 2021:

Research

  • Established the Optical Spectroscopy & Imaging Laboratory hosting a state-of-the-art optical characterisation cluster at CECS.
  • Unlocked effects of twist angles on the performance of ultra-thin 2-dimensional materials (publication link).
  • Developed novel imaging techniques to capture optoelectronic properties of the emerging perovskite materials for solar PV (publication1 link, publication2 link).
  • Unlocked differences in microstructures and optoelectronic properties among various poly-silicon passivating contacts for the next generation of silicon solar cells (publication link)

Education

  • Recipient of two ANU CECS Dean Awards for Remote Teaching (individual and course categories, Photovoltaic Technologies course).

Outreach

 

Dr Hieu Nguyen and PhD student Mike Tebyetekerwa exploring optoelectronic properties of 2-dimensional materials.
Photo: ANU

Media

Professor David Stern

Professor David Stern was engaged in the following activity in 2021:

Honours

Professor Stern was invited to be the Francqui Chair holder at University of Hasselt in Belgium. He gave a series of five lectures on energy, environment, climate change, and the economy. Videos of the lectures can be viewed here.

Research

Bruns S. B., A. Moneta, and D. I. Stern (2021) Estimating the economy-wide rebound effect using empirically identified structural vector autoregressions, Energy Economics97

Media

In this article, titled Energy Efficiency Improvements Do Not Save Energy (Stochastic Trend, 19 February), Professor Stern argues that the rebound effect from energy efficiency improvements may be near 100% so that in the long run they don’t save energy. This means that decarbonization is all the more important as encouraging energy efficiency innovation as a policy probably won’t help much.

 

Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program (BSGIP)

BSGIP consists of a diverse team designing and implementing the building blocks of a decarbonised and resilient energy system, for the benefit of all energy users. BSGIP’s academic expertise ranges from computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry to economics and the social sciences.

 

The program places a strong focus on transdisciplinary research, development and demonstration (RD&D). Since the program’s inception in 2018, it has grown rapidly and now comprises more than 40 staff and students with diverse academic, industry, gender and cultural backgrounds.

 

Below is a summary of activity for BSGIP in 2021.

Nature Energy paper, July. Written by Dr Hedda Ransan-Cooper, Dr Bjorn Sturmberg, Dr Marnie Shaw and Professor Lachlan Blackhall.

Research

 

Public policy

Inside the Battery Lab. L – R: A/Professor Alexey Glushenkov, Dr Thrinath Ramireddy
Photo: ANU, Jamie Kidston

Outreach

  • All Energy Australia conference, 26-27 October:
    • Community energy session featured a presentation by Dr Marnie Shaw
    • Electric vehicle session featured a presentation by Ms Laura Jones
  • Clean Energy Council Online Energy Storage Forum, 16 September. Dr Bjorn Sturmberg presented on community batteries.
  • BSGIP webinar: Battery Lab launch: advancing research in lithium-ion & sustainable, next-gen batteries, 16 February. A new world-class facility set to research lithium-ion batteries, optimising their enabling materials, providing characterisation, testing and assessing recycling and reuse options. Research in the lab is led by Associate Professor Alexey Glushenkov.
  • Distributed Energy Resources Lab launch featuring Heather Logie
  • International webinar: Making EVs a grid asset – An Australian case study. Supergen Smart Charging webinar by the Alan Turing Institute, Newcastle University, UK. Featuring Ms Laura Jones and Dr Kathryn Lucas-Healey, 13 July
  • What’s the role of community batteries in the climate emergency response? Yarra City Council webinar featuring Dr Marnie Shaw, 8 April.
  • Dr Shaw and Dr Ransan-Cooper frequently presented at and participated in a national Neighbourhood Batteries Working Group (run by the Total Environment Centre).
  • Dr Shaw and Dr Ransan-Cooper also wrote a submission to the Australian Energy Regulators (AER) rule change on ring-fencing guidelines. The AER’s final decision on the rule change (determined in early November, 2021) reflected the recommendations that Dr Marnie Shaw and Dr Ransan-Cooper submitted.
  • Hugo Temby and Dr Ransan-Cooper published their final report to the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria on emerging issues on consumer protections for distributed energy products and services:

Media

Videos

Podcasts