The Federal Government’s Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program has received $90 million in funding to secure its research program until 2025.

The CRC program will be co-funding Future Fuels CRC with $26.25 million over its proposed seven year research program.

The combined investment from the Commonwealth, Australia’s energy industry and universities will total over $90 million over the life of the program.

The Future Fuels CRC will undertake research and development to transition Australia’s energy infrastructure to a low-carbon economy using fuels such as hydrogen and biogas.

Collaborating with over 60 companies, six universities, the energy market operator and two regulators the CRC will develop solutions for current infrastructure and equipment to use these new fuels today and well into the future.

Future low-carbon fuels offer the potential to store and deliver reliable, clean and affordable energy through both new and repurposed equipment.

Future Fuels CRC CEO, David Norman, thanked all those who had participated in the workshops, planning and project development to bring the organisation to this position.

“This has only been achieved through the cooperation of a large number of parties working towards a single goal. The CRC will enable industry to leverage Australia’s competitive advantages in renewable resources and its existing world-class gas industry and become a world innovator in low-carbon energy production, transportation and use.”

The CRC will be researching across three integrated programs.

The first program will look into the future fuels technologies, systems and markets. It will address technical, policy and commercial barriers to the increased utilisation of future fuels and aims to accelerate development of production technologies and end-use applications.

The second program will address the issues around safety and social acceptance of new and changed fuels, so industry can more effectively design, build and operate projects needed to deliver Australia’s energy needs now and in the future.

The final program focuses on the infrastructure itself. It studies the effect that future fuels introduction will have on existing and new infrastructure.

Research will address novel materials, design, installation, operations and maintenance, and re-purposing or decommissioning requirements.

These programs are all supported by an extensive education and training program.

In addition to training up to 50 industry-ready PhD’s, the CRC will deliver seminars, conferences and training for industry and the wider community.

The Future Fuels CRC aspires to be at the centre of training up for a whole new industry.

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) and Energy Networks Australia welcomed the announcement.

NERA chief executive, Miranda Taylor, said additional investment in future fuels research and development is critical to ensure Australia successfully and sustainably transitions towards a low-carbon economy.

“NERA actively supports the transformation towards a more diverse energy mix and works with industry partners across the supply chain to create partnerships with clean and renewable technologies,” Ms Taylor said.

“A decarbonised energy future cannot be achieved without supporting Australia’s traditional energy resources sector and leveraging Australia’s global competitive advantage, existing infrastructure, assets and technology into a smart, high value and sustainable domestic energy sector that can reliably meet Australia’s future energy needs.

“NERA looks forward to working productively with the Future Fuels CRC and continuing to engage with industry to support sustainable development and initiatives across oil, gas, coal seam gas, coal and uranium industries.”

Australia’s gas network businesses will contribute $8 million towards the venture, in addition to investing in trials that will demonstrate how hydrogen technology can be used in Australia’s existing gas networks.

“The more than $90 million Centre will undertake cutting edge research that will accelerate a decarbonised gas industry,” Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said.

“Our nation’s gas networks are a colossal system, delivering as much energy as the electricity networks, and in some cases, such as Victoria, even more.

“Applying transformational technologies of biogas, hydrogen, and Carbon Capture and Storage to existing networks could build and maintain a highly reliable energy system.”

The industry-led research will continue to develop pilot trials and exploratory projects that network members have already started.

The deployment of hydrogen technology is the focus of the centre’s research program, but additional fuels, such as biogas, are also being tested as alternatives.

“We have research proposals ready to go and are eager to move forward with trialling hydrogen production and storage,” Mr Dillon said.

“Decarbonising our nation’s gas industry will support our global obligations under the Paris Climate Change Agreement and simultaneously help to secure a reliable, affordable energy system.

“We need a suite of measures to decarbonise our energy and transport sectors. Countries around the globe are investigating the potential for hydrogen to play a significant role.

“Using existing and new gas infrastructure will be essential for Australia to benefit from the expected global demand for hydrogen.

“We look forward to working with the Future Fuels CRC over the next seven years and bringing new, innovative energy storage and supply systems to Australian homes and business.”

Research is expected to begin in July 2018. 

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