The ECI Grand Challenge: Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific

Tuesday 22 May 2018
Energy demand growth centres on the Asia-Pacific in coming decades.

The ANU Energy Change Institute’s Grand Challenge is to bring Zero-Carbon Energy to the Asia Pacific.

We live in the Asian century. In the next two decades, two thirds of the world’s energy growth will happen in our region. As one of the highest per capita emitters, our challenge is to ensure this growth is zero-carbon.

News update: 

ECI wins $0.5m funding for Grand Challenge project

The Energy Change Institute (ECI) has been awarded $500,000 funding for its Grand Challenge project – Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific.

The seed funding will enable the ECI to build upon its ambitious cross-disciplinary program of research that began in mid-2017 and will enable research into the key questions that underpin zero-carbon energy growth in the populous Asia Pacific region.

“As a finalist in last year’s ANU Grand Challenge, we have been funded for 2018 to undertake research to keep the momentum of our program moving forward,” said Professor Ken Baldwin, Director of the ECI.

“This year we will be examining the prospects for two key initiatives that will change the way that Australia does business with the world – both based on renewable energy.

“The first is to export renewable electricity from north-western Australia to south-east Asia via an undersea high voltage DC cable. The second is to investigate techno-economic pathways to replace our fossil-based exports with products such as renewable fuels, and refined metals created using renewable energy,” said Professor Baldwin.

The broad-reaching ECI Grand Challenge involves researchers from across all the University’s seven colleges along with a number of external partners.  This includes CWP Renewables, a leading renewable energy developer, who have established a consortium to develop the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a $20 billion renewable energy project that will export electricity from north-western Australia to south-east Asia.

Other external partners include the ACT Government, Evo Energy (formerly ActewAGL), the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Australia-Indonesia Centre headquartered at Monash University.

The ANU Grand Challenges Scheme began in 2017 and funds transformative research with the potential to radically change our understanding of, and responses to, the world’s most intractable problems. The initiative is designed to fund long-term programs of research not typically supported by external competitive funding. The Grand Challenges Scheme will announce one winner each year up until 2021 and the winning project will receive up to $10 million.

The ANU Grand Challenges Scheme 2018 is now open.Video submissions for the current round close on 7 June. Watch this space.

Context

From global agreements on international initiatives and trade opportunities, through to ACT commitments and ANU campus plans, responses to climate change are driving worldwide action:

  • 195 member states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have signed (and 175 ratified) the Paris Agreement, aiming to keep the global temperature rise to below 2oC.
  • Australia is one of 22 countries plus Europe to have signed onto the Mission Innovation commitment to double investment in clean energy innovation, while making clean energy economic.
  • Austrade reports growing export opportunities for renewable energy products, and the Clean Energy Council reports increased activity in Australia in large-scale renewables projects, with over $10B in investment in projects with financial commitment, under construction or completed during the 2017 calendar year, creating 5206 MW of new renewable energy capacity and more than 5470 direct jobs.
  • The ACT target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020 has brought major renewables investment into the region, further stimulated by committing to net zero-carbon by 2045.
  • The ANU Energy Master Plan under development aims to reduce energy emissions and costs, whilst attracting research, education and outreach opportunities.
  • The ANU Energy Change Institute, with its campus-wide reach in every College, is coordinating this Zero-Carbon A-P Grand Challenge proposal.

For the ANU to drive a targeted and substantial response within this global setting, the Zero-Carbon A-P program will first examine the meta-framework combining the economic, legal, policy, social and technological components needed to create pathways for delivering zero-carbon energy to the Asia-Pacific. The Zero-Carbon A-P interim team will deliver via a series of position papers the key information to underpin a full Grand Challenge starting in 2019, guided by this framework. Over 2018 we will research the interplay between the Australian supply chain and the Asia-Pacific demand pull for renewable energy products, and identify the gaps and opportunities which will inform our 5-year research program.  This will focus our research, concentrate our key stakeholder linkages and optimise leveraging opportunities from external resources. 

Grand Challenge Vision

The ANU Energy Change Institute (ECI) Grand Challenge Initiative Zero-Carbon A-P recognizes that Australia is a renewable-energy, resource-rich nation, whose immediate regional neighbours in the Asia-Pacific will drive two-thirds of the world’s energy demand growth in the coming decades.  Decarbonizing that additional energy use and cutting existing emissions from the region are essential if the world is to have any chance of meeting its goals for limiting climate change. 

Further, in a rapidly decarbonizing world, Australia’s carbon-based exports will soon need to be replaced by zero-carbon embedded energy exports.  Zero-Carbon A-P will undertake the research required to transform the way that Australia trades with the world.  We will do this through engagement with the Asia-Pacific region to develop zero-carbon technologies and frameworks founded on an understanding of the geo-political and socio-economic context.  Zero-Carbon A-P will combine world-recognized ANU expertise in Energy and in the Asia-Pacific to research two key themes: 

  1. the export of Australian renewable electricity to, and the creation of renewable electricity capability in, the Asia-Pacific; and
  2. the creation of new zero-carbon embedded energy products made using Australian renewable energy.

ECI Grand Challenge Participant List

What is the ANU Grand Challenge scheme?

The ANU Grand Challenges Scheme began in 2017 and funds transformative research with the potential to radically change our understanding of, and responses to, the world’s most intractable problems. The initiative is designed to fund long-term programs of research not typically supported by external competitive funding. The Grand Challenges Scheme will announce one winner each year up until 2021 and the winning project will receive up to $10 million.

For more information on the ECI's Grand Challenge please contact Sarah Wilson, ECI Communications Manager, tel 02 6125 0946, sarah.wilson@anu.edu.au

VC's Update - ANU Grand Challenges Scheme.

Find out more about the Grand Chand Challenges Scheme (accessible to ANU staff only).

 

Updated:  21 June 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director, Energy Change Institute/Page Contact:  Webmaster