Australia Invests in Renewable Energy Center

Renewable energy use and development in Australia has received a significant boost with the award of a AUD$5.5 million Federal Government grant through the Australian Greenhouse Office to assist in the establishment of a new renewable energy center in Western Australia. The Research Institute for Sustainable Energy, RISE, will be located at Murdoch University in Perth.

Perth, Western Australia – March 23, 2004 [] The Research Institute for Sustainable Energy (RISE) will undertake a range of sustainable energy activities including the Renewable Energy Systems Laboratory (RESLab) systems testing and standards activities, remote renewable energy education, training and strategy development. The Australian Government is a strong supporter of the project having earmarked $5.5 million funding to RESLab, a key component of the new center at RISE. The Hon Dr David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage and Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry, Tourism & Resources made the announcement of the funding in April 2003 and recently dedicated the new center at the University. Operations began this year when Dr David Harries was appointed as Director of RISE. The new center, launched on 17 March, is a joint venture between Murdoch and Curtin Universities and a number of industry partners. Its vision is to be recognized, both nationally and worldwide, as a center of excellence providing support for the development and growth of Australia’s renewable and sustainable energy industries. “We are proud to be supporting a number of highly valuable studies and activities that should enable the renewables industry to fill some of the remaining information and development gaps, particularly in terms of the use of remote renewables,” the Ministers said. “This kind of industry development activity will foster and promote the effective use and deployment of renewable energy, especially in the challenging area of remote area power supplies.” Many people, businesses and towns in remote locations rely on diesel generators for the provision of electricity. The Australian Greenhouse Office estimates that over 700 million liters of diesel are consumed each year in Australia for the generation of electricity in remote areas. Due to the high costs of maintaining and fuelling diesel generators, many remote households make do with electricity only being available for 8 to 12 hours a day. Renewable generation (usually 0otovoltaic (PV) panels and wind turbines), combined with inverters and batteries can provide access to affordable 24-hour power. The aim of the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program is to displace the use of diesel fuel used for electricity generation by increasing the uptake of renewable generation technologies in remote locations that do not have access to the main electricity grid. Funding for the program is the relevant Diesel Fuel Excise paid by public power generators in the financial years 2000-01 to 2003-04. By February 2004, RRPGP projects and sub-programs worth a total of $124 million had been approved. A key element of RISE is ResLab (Renewable Energy Systems Test Centre). ResLab will support the industry through the development of standards, equipment testing and monitoring, professional training, demonstration and resource assessment. “There are huge opportunities for the supply of renewable energy systems, both here and overseas, and our objective is to help our industries realize their full potential in this growing and important market,” Harries said. “RISE is a demonstration of how universities, governments, industry and others can work together co-operatively in the best overall interests of the renewable and sustainable energy industries.”
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