ECI Grand Challenge

In 2018 a team led by the ANU Energy Change Institute won the University’s Grand Challenge Scheme, receiving $10 million in funding over five years for its project:  Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific.

Grand Challenge Vision

The ANU Energy Change Institute’s Grand Challenge – Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific – recognizes that Australia is a renewable-energy, resource-rich nation, whose immediate neighbours in the Asia-Pacific will account for 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.

In a rapidly decarbonizing world, Australia’s carbon-based exports will soon have to be replaced by zero-carbon embedded energy exports in order to maintain our role as an energy superpower. Our Grand Challenge will undertake inter-disciplinary research to underpin a transformation in the way Australia trades with the world and with the Asia-Pacific – based on renewable energy.

Our GC will investigate four socio-technological pathways that integrate social, legal, economic, political and technological solutions. The first two pathways involve reducing the carbon content of electricity consumed in the region via:

  1. Large-scale renewable electricity generation for NW Australia, and also for export via subsea cable.
  2. Policies and frameworks for renewable electricity generation and use in other Asia-Pacific countries.

The other socio-technological pathways embed our zero-carbon energy in exports via:

  1. Large-scale renewable electricity production of hydrogen-rich fuels and other products.
  2. Large-scale renewable refining of metal ores (especially iron).

Our aim is to produce high-quality, high-impact research by combining world-class expertise in Energy, the Asia-Pacific and Indigenous Policy in an inter-disciplinary research program.  We will enhance our existing expertise by establishing a team of early/mid-career researchers who will partner with our industry collaborators – particularly in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) - to investigate key research questions, including:

  • Where is the greatest market potential for Australian renewable-energy exports, either as electricity, reduced metal-oxides or hydrogen-rich fuels and products?
  • What geopolitical, economic and technological frameworks are needed for successful trade in renewable electricity, and in embedded energy products and fuels, including hydrogen?
  • How might the growth of a multi-generational, renewable energy industry contribute to sustainable development for Indigenous communities in Australia?
  • What are the prospects for renewable-energy-based, value-added manufacturing in the Pilbara?
  • What new technological developments and economic mechanisms are needed for the creation of novel zero-carbon products and processed raw materials?
  • How can frameworks be developed to support international renewable energy trade and investment across borders, especially in the context of a trans-Asian ‘One Belt, One Road’?

Read the full five-page proposal submitted to the 2018 Grand Challenge Selection Committee.

Updated:  18 September 2019/Responsible Officer:  Director, Energy Change Institute/Page Contact:  Webmaster