Demystifying the connection between resources engineering and climate change solutions

Dr Roger DargavilleThe solutions to climate change can seem confusing. So far scientists have done what they need to help us understand its causes and dangers and the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash is helping navigate the solutions. Dr Roger Dargaville, Senior Lecturer in Resources Engineering, is working to transform the way we think about the resources we extract from the earth in order to address climate change.

After first studying atmospheric science, Dargaville has had a varied career in Australia and overseas such as for the International Energy Agency writing the book Energy Technology Perspectives 2008. He later completed his PhD and is now an academic and accomplished lecturer with Monash Department of Civil Engineering and a public commentator on Australia’s Energy system. Dargaville has a finely tuned understanding of the energy systems required to address climate change and his research aims to understand the optimal mix of energy resources required to reduce carbon in the energy system.

Dargaville believes if you’re good with numbers, you can solve problems in a broad range of areas—a message he actively imparts on his students in the Bachelor of Resource Engineering students. With research based on developing simulations and modelling power flows in the National Electricity Market, he is working towards solutions that will deliver a low carbon energy system to power our cities, transport and industries. “The answer has to be renewables, but we need to find the optimal mix so that Australia’s energy supply remains reliable, low carbon and cost-effective” he says. For Australia’s future, research points towards several options, such as photovoltaics combined with batteries or pumped hydro, or alternatively, large amounts of concentrated solar thermal with integrated storage.

Resources Engineering at Monash is moving on from just being about extracting minerals from the earth. Students can specialise in Geological, Renewable Energy, Oil and Gas or Mining Engineering. Dargaville and other members of the discipline are creating an overlap between science and engineering to find applied solutions to the current and future threats of climate change and energy consumption. Dargaville says “even if we are transitioning from resources such as coal for energy consumption, rare earths are still needed for constructing wind turbines and to develop lithium batteries”. Resources, in some form, will always be required in the solution to the world’s energy crises.