Powering Australia's future: Monash partners in national research project to deliver reliable, affordable and clean energy

A record-breaking investment by the Federal Government will pioneer new research into delivering reliable, affordable and clean energy for consumers and businesses.

Announced by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Hon Karen Andrews MP, on Sunday 8 March, the $349 million grant will drive over $8 billion in benefits to the Australian economy over the next decade.

Reliable Affordable Clean Energy (RACE) for 2030 is funded by the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program and will be led by the University of Technology Sydney. It is the largest CRC bid in the history of the CRC program.

A cross-disciplinary partnership between the Faculty of Information Technology (IT), Faculty of Engineering, Monash Business School, the Monash Grid Innovation Hub, Monash Sustainable Development Institute and the Monash Energy Institute, the University will be the lead Victorian research institution for the CRC, facilitating relevant connections for partnering organisations and industry to amplify Monash’s research impact in the energy sector.

Monash University will also play a crucial role in the RACE for Networks research program, which is one of the four research pillars of the CRC program, giving the University a leading role in driving over $40 million of funding for energy networks related research projects.

Worth $349 million, this CRC funding comprises:

  • $87.1 million through partner cash contributions from over 80 industry partners
  • $68.5 million in Commonwealth funding
  • $194 million via partner in-kind (including over 500 FTE staff time)

As electricity costs continue to soar, impacting households and business competitiveness, this CRC will address one of Australia’s major challenges - delivering reliable, affordable and clean energy services for consumers and businesses. While solar and wind power are now more affordable than coal and gas, the reliability of these clean energy supplies will be the biggest priority for this CRC.

“RACE for 2030 will expand Australia’s response options, delivering new clean energy technologies to enable customers to vary their demand to match the variable renewable grid energy supply and network capacity. This approach has the great benefit of reducing customer costs, supporting the integration of large scale wind and solar farms, as well as reducing pressure on the grid overall,” Co-Director of the Monash Grid Innovation Hub and Research Lead for the RACE for Networks research program, Associate Professor (Department of Data Science and AI, Faculty of IT), Ariel Liebman said.

RACE for 2030 will research and demonstrate the best processes to achieve this goal, and test the practical limitations of demand-side strategies. This approach has had limited and fragmented research funding in Australia but is now increasingly becoming a priority initiative.

“We are delighted to be a part of RACE for 2030 CRC because we see the transition of our energy systems from coal-powered centralised production and distribution towards decentralisation prosumer markets as an exciting new area for research and policy,” said Professor Gary Magee, Deputy Dean Research, Monash Business School.

As part of RACE 2030, Professor Magee said the Monash Business School will be developing new capabilities to analyse industry and business model transformation in the energy sector with a view to guide new regulations, policy and investment decisions.

The program will develop a comprehensive and integrated suite of technologies and pricing models to facilitate customers to use electricity at different times to match supply. This integration of renewable energy into the energy market will enhance the flexibility of timing of customer energy use during peak and off-peak periods.

“The transition to a sustainable energy future that is affordable and reliable needs a coordinated research and development program as well as a deployment approach from industry and academia. The RACE 2030 CRC initiative has been established to do just this,” said Professor Jacek Jasieniak, Director of the Monash Energy Institute.

"Efficient, responsive electricity systems that successfully decarbonise are essential for the net-zero emissions economies of the future. We are very pleased to support this work," said Anna Skarbek, CEO of ClimateWorks Australia which works within the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

Dean of Engineering, Professor Elizabeth Croft said, “Engineers will drive the successful delivery of renewables into the energy market, by solving technical challenges in generating, converting and integrating clean, renewable and distributed energy resources.”

“The Faculty of Engineering is delighted to work with colleagues in the RACE for 2030 CRC to advance clean energy solutions for Australia and the world.”