The University of Melbourne and the Australian National University (ANU) will lead the Australian side of a new bilateral research collaboration with top German institutions to build economic and technological opportunities from the global transition to clean energy.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull noted the new Energy Transition Hub, expected to be worth more than $20 million at full funding stage, at the 2017 G20 meeting in Hamburg.
The Energy Transition Hub will generate collaborative and world-leading research to help the technical, economic and social transition to new energy systems and a low emissions economy.
It will bring together researchers from the University of Melbourne, ANU and Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Münster University’s Centre of Applied Economic Research, and the Mercator Research Institute of Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC).
Researchers from Murdoch University, RMIT, Monash University, the German Aerospace Centre DLR, DIW and the Hertie School of Governance will also be involved, with the Hub open for further partners.
It will include more than 60 Australian researchers and industry partners.
The initiative will kick off with joint research on strategic scenario analysis of energy transition issues.
The international board of the Energy Transition Hub will be chaired by prominent economist Professor Ross Garnaut AC. Associate Professor Malte Meinshausen from the Australian-German Climate & Energy College at the University of Melbourne, and ANU Professor Frank Jotzo from the Crawford School of Public Policy will be co-directors.
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis AC said the Energy Transition Hub would help support a secure, cost-efficient and sustainable energy transition to support the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“The University of Melbourne is delighted to be a part of this unique opportunity to build long-term capacity and bilateral cooperation in the energy space,” Professor Davis said.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC said ANU expertise would help the world transition to low emissions technology.
Professor Schmidt was a member of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, which included science and research cooperation as a major theme of its recommendations to Prime Minister Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in its 2015 report.
“The Energy Transition Hub is an example of collaboration between Australia’s leading universities, government and industry, fostering an important bilateral relationship. ANU is proud to be a leader in the kinds of research that will help build a sustainable future for our planet,” Professor Schmidt said.
The Australian side of the bilateral partnership is initially funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the University of Melbourne and ANU.
Hub chairman Professor Garnaut said Australian and German scholars of energy and climate have much to learn from each other on the energy transition.
“We now have a magnificent institution through which to do the learning. The Energy Transition Hub will play a stellar role in Australia fulfilling the potential granted by our unequalled renewable energy resources: to be the energy superpower of the emerging low carbon world economy,” he said.
Professor Jotzo said that better understanding of the energy transitions in both Australia and Germany can unlock investment opportunities.
“There are many complementarities between the two countries, and similar problems to be solved in market design, policy and regulation. Through the Energy Transition Hub, Australia can tap into German expertise on energy sector reform, picking up from where the Finkel Review left off.”
Associate Professor Meinshausen said vast economic opportunities could be seized by both Australia and Germany in a zero-emissions world.
“The opportunity is to build a new growth vision for Australia that combines the mineral wealth tradition of the past, with the renewable potential of the future,” he said.
“If Australia plays its cards right, the economic advantage of low cost renewable electricity can build new growth that includes energy-intensive industries. An energy transition based on tradition.”
The Hub will also provide deep engagement with all stakeholders, including fellow researchers, industry, civil society and government.