Photo by Lannon Harley

A Zero-Carbon energy future for the Asia-Pacific

21 September 2018

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Professor David Stern is an economist with an interdisciplinary background in geography and economics. His research has focused on understanding the relationship between resource use and economic growth and development. He currently teaches Energy Economics (IDEC8089).

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With $10 million dollars in funding, the winning team of the 2018 ANU Grand Challenges program will research a new export industry to deliver cheap, clean energy for Australia and the region.

The ANU Grand Challenge Scheme invests in transformative research to make the impossible possible. In its second year, the scheme seeks to bring new perspectives to the most pressing challenges facing society.

Research into a new export industry to deliver cheap, clean energy for Australia and the region has received $10 million in funding as part of The Australian National University’s Grand Challenges program.

The team, led by Professor Ken Baldwin, spans across Six ANU colleges, including seven team members from the Crawford School of Public Policy: Dr Emma Aisbett, Dr Paul Burke, Associate Professor Sara Bice, Associate Professor Llewelyn Hughes, Dr Matthew Dornan, Professor Frank Jotzo, and Professor David Stern.

“This is the Asian Century,” says Dr Paul Burke. “Over the next two decades, two-thirds of the world’s energy use growth will be in the Asia-Pacific. This will bring a huge increase in emissions, unless the energy is low-carbon. Our Grand Challenge research will focus on technologies and strategies for making the switch.”

The project will catalyse the development of a major renewable energy export industry from the ground up: building the infrastructure, exploring the trade relationships, developing the policy frameworks to get Australia’s abundant renewable energy resources cheaply and reliably to our Asia-Pacific neighbours.

The Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific project “is pursuing the vision of Australia switching to a new economic model, based on [its] rich solar and wind endowments.”

These aims will be developed under two key themes: first, by exporting Australian renewable electricity, and the creation of renewable electricity capability in the Asia-Pacific; and second, by developing zero-carbon embedded energy products, that can be made using Australian renewable energy.

“Australia has the potential to become a superpower in zero-carbon energy exports, with large-scale exports of electricity, hydrogen-rich fuels, and refined metals and products – all produced using renewable energy,” says Dr Burke.

The winning team was selected from four finalists, which included projects that will aim to humanise machine intelligence, build positive social cohesion and conduct high-tech biodiversity rescues.

For more information on the project, see the team talking about it in this video.

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