Mining The Sun: New technologies reducing energy consumption, costs and impacts

Experts from The University of Adelaide and industry will join Professor Aldo Steinfeld of ETH, Zurich, one of the world’s foremost researchers in the field of mining and resources, to discuss the emerging opportunities to integrate concentrated solar radiation into mining and minerals processing operations and find out how mining and mineral processing companies can lead the way with energy technologies that may eventually contribute to developing renewable energy sources for domestic consumption.

In association with the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Energy Technology, Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources and Environment Institute and the Royal Institution of Australia. Find out more.

Join us at this event.

Date: Wednesday 13 July

Time: 6pm-8pm

Registration is free, however bookings are essential.

To register

A Renewable Energy Plan for Australia

Listen to Peter Seligman speak at the final Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy forum.

Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy: Our Energy Future
Interactive discussions about energy 40 years into the future

This RiAus and Centre for Energy Technology event was the final of six public forums aimed at providing comprehensive examinations of sustainable energy technologies and critical evaluations of their potential for reducing carbon emissions.

It is estimated that in the year 2050 the global demand for energy will be five times what it is today. At the same time we will be faced with rapidly dwindling reserves of fossil fuel and international laws that limit carbon emissions to perhaps 20 per cent of their current levels.

Listen to an expert panel examine the systems and technologies that might be at the forefront of a reliable, sustainable energy grid in the year 2050.

To access audio-visual material from this event, please visit our website.

Sustainable Energy Seminar 2 – Podcasts Now Available

Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy Seminar 2 : Established Renewables – Podcast available HERE.

Podcasts are now available for last night’s Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy Seminar Series 2, which tackled the theme of Established Renewables.

Associate Professor Bassam Dally and a panel of experts discussed the role that established renewables will play in the move away from fossil fuels. Together they examined whether these sources of energy are efficient enough to be cost-effective and produce enough energy to satisfy future requirements.

Presentations are also available as individual podcasts here.

The Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) and The Centre for Energy Technology at The University of Adelaide are proud to collaborate on this exciting 6-part series.

This series is a valuable opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about the energy sources humans rely upon today, and help us all to understand the options our society is considering to sustainably deliver our future energy demands.

Seminars are free but booking is essential.  To find out more and to reserve your seat, please visit the RIAus website.

Glimpse into the Future of Energy

Two new public seminar series starting in July will offer insight into how developments in clean, cost-effective energy technology will shape our future.

Run by the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Energy Technology, the free public seminars will focus on different aspects of energy.

“Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy” – organised in conjunction with the Royal Institution of Australia – is a six-part seminar series that will bring together top energy experts to provide information and tools for the public to be able to critically assess future energy sources.

Public participation in this series is strongly encouraged, with time for questions from the audience.

The first seminar in this series, on the future of fossil fuels, will be held on Wednesday 7 July.

The other public seminar series, “Energy Futures” – organised in conjunction with the University’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences – is a twelve-part series that will look at a range of clean energy technology options for the future.

The first of these seminars, on climate change, will be held on Wednesday 28 July.

“Our two new seminar series will give the public the opportunity to learn about the wide variety of new clean energy technology options, including those being developed at the University of Adelaide ” said the Director of the Centre for Energy Technology, Professor Gus Nathan.

“Research into clean and efficient energy technologies is needed to deliver a clean energy future that addresses climate change and reduces the cost of energy.

“Both seminar series will feature members of the Centre who are internationally recognised for their research in such fields as the combustion of fossil fuels, bio-fuels, solar, geothermal, wind and wave energy, and energy efficiency.  The seminars will also feature speakers from leading companies and organisations in the energy field.

“These public seminars aim to help the community to critically assess how each of these developments in energy technology may address our future energy needs,” Professor Nathan said.

The Centre for Energy Technology is part of the Environment Institute and the Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources at the University of Adelaide.

Thinking Critically About Sustainable Energy

When: 6:00pm-7:30pm 7 July–3 November

Where: The Science Exchange, Exchange Place, Adelaide

Cost: free – all welcome.  Registration required at

Energy Futures

When: 5.00pm–7.00pm each Wednesday from 28 July–15 September and 6–27 October

Where: Horace Lamb Lecture Theatre, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide

Cost: free – all welcome.  No registration necessary

For more information about either series please email: or visit:

Oz-Energy-Analysis.Org Website Launched

Professor Barry Brook along with other colleagues including Dr. Francis Clark, have launched a website ‘’ as a way to examine the broad implications of increasing levels of renewable energy into the electricity grid.  The aim of the website is to examine renewable energy sources, predominantly wind and solar, and examine how their variability interacts with the grid – how it can be managed, how much power they can produce and how much it would cost.

The website will transparently present data, assumptions, models, analysis, interpretation and engage with a wide range of contributors by using an Open Science model.  The initial focus is on the state of South Australia, but the vision is to scale up this work and apply it to all of Australia, and even other countries.  The website will provide a mechanism for everyone to contribute with information and discussion to develop the overall view that is needed by policy makers and to aid sophisticated public discourse.

The website, as of today, is in ‘beta-2‘ release and can be viewed here

Further funding support for Darrieus wind turbine project

The Darrieus wind turbine project supervised by CET researcher Dr. Maziar Arjomandi has gained further support with Parsons Brinckerhoff becoming a co-sponsor. The Mechanical Engineering final year project named ‘The design, build and test of a highly-efficient, smart Darrieus wind turbine’ has received $2000 in sponsorship from Parsons Brinckerhoff to go with $10,000 and a test site provided by AGL Torrens Island.

The project involves the development of a Darrieus wind turbine employing an active-pitch control system to efficiently capture wind energy in urban environments. The team, made up of seven aerospace and mechanical engineering students, will install their turbine next to a conventional horizontal-axis wind turbine (HAWT) for comparative analysis. The HAWT was built in 2008 as part of a similar final year project and has been repaired and upgraded by the 2010 team.

Are biofuels really a green alternative?

There is the potential for biofuels, biodiesel and bioethanol produced from organic products, to provide all of our energy needs, but are they really a green alternative?

Traditionally biofuels are produced from farm crops like corn or soy, however biofuels from these products can have negative impacts on the environment and society the form of deforestation, and rising food prices. Using algae to produce biofuel does not have the same consequences for society or the environment. Algae are a high-yielding source of biofuels and do not compete for land or water like other biofuel sources.

However like traditional crops, algae requires fertilisation. A recent article in New Scientist and Environmental Science and Technology claim that due to the costs of fertilisation, biofuels produced from algae are not a truly green option. Researchers from the University of Virginia used models to determine the environmental impacts of algal farms. Their findings found that algal farms used far more energy than growing land plants and created significantly more greenhouse gases.

Researchers from the Centre of Energy Technology (CET) and Murdoch University have been examining the technical aspects of downstream algal processing to produce biodiesel. This team has achieved the best production rates of oil from algae grown in saline ponds in the world. The CET is currently collaborating with the CSIRO to undertake life cycle assessments of algae for the downstream processing developed by the CET.

In response to the findings from the University of Virginia, Peter K. Campbell from the CSIRO notes,

“They’re comparing the heat content of crops, which means the end use of everything is burning it in a boiler for heat production, which kind of misses the point of why we’re growing the crop – i.e. for a vehicular fuel.  Obviously if you’re just looking at biomass to burn, you’re going to be hard-pressed to beat grasses/weeds like hemp, bamboo, duckweed and the like. If you’re just growing biomass for the purposes of heating up your house, then algae is not the way to go.  On the other hand, if you want to produce a liquid fuel that is compatible with the majority of the engines in the world’s transport fleet (trucks, buses, ships), then algae can be quite favourable when compared to other forms of biomass.”

Despite the conclusions detailed in the Environmental Science and Technology article there is a bright future for algal derived biofuels. Peter K. Campbell says “production methods look like they will be able to produce algae biofuels at a price point competitive with conventional fossil-based diesel within a few years, and with much more energy being produced than utilised in its production.”

For more information about biofuels derived from algae, examine the links below.

Roy Ramage and Jordan Parham discuss renewable energy in councils

Listen to Jordan Parham and Roy Ramage discuss the Research and Development program with the Centre for Energy Technology and the City of Victor Harbor.

The podcast starts with a explanation by Jordan Parham, the Research and Development Manager for the Centre for Energy technology, about the R&D program with the City of Victor Harbor. It follows with a discussion between Roy Ramage, the Economic Development Officer for the City of Victor Harbor, and Jordan about how the council intends to implement the Centre’s research.