Australian Science: Emerging Renewables
Posted by David Burns | No comments | agree_icon Agree (5) | disagree_icon Disgree (0)
Australian Science: Emerging Renewables

Australian science is positioned to provide fantastic renewable energy solutions. In the shaddow of a federal election without vision, Maryella Hatfield's film 'The Future Makers' showcase energy solutions that are ready to come online. Which one do you think offers the most promise?

The 'Future Makers' follows several Australian scientists who are leading the way forward in renewable energy solutions. Australian scientists believe that our future renewable energy systems will be based on models in nature, known as biomimicry.

Wave and Tidal Generator: Dr Tim Finnigan uses biomimicry, (innovation inspired by nature), to design his ocean power systems. and

Hybrid Solar Sailor: Dr Robert Dane modeled the design for his Solar Sailor boat on the insect's wing.

Solar Thermal Energy: Dr David Mills and Professor Graham Morrison's solar thermal technology to generate steam (50 bar and 258oC) and drive a standard energy turbine is pitched as the clean alternative to coal and nuclear power. It has attracted international attention and is being rolled out now in the US on a very large scale.

Geothermal Generator: Deep hot rock, or geothermal technology, has been developed by Dr Prame Chopra and Dr Doone Wyborn, in the remote deserts of South Australia. They believe geothermal could prove to be a major contributor to Australia's energy needs for the next 500 years. It was claimed that there is significantly more steam potential than remaining coal reserves in the Australian landscape waiting to be harnessed.

Next Gen PV Solar: Dr Zhengrong Shi's solar cell research was built on work pioneered by Professors Martin Green and Stuart Wenham at the University of NSW. It has made him the world's second largest solar panel supplier. His ongoing support of UNSW helps PhD students, such as Eureka Prize winner Nicole Kuepper, to develop solar PV for a wider market using affordable ink jet printer technology. After six years of intensive R&D, the world record holding PERL solar cell design from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has been successfully commercialized to Suntech's production lines as PlutoTM solar cells. Well exceeding efficiencies achieved by conventional screen-printing processes, Pluto technology has been independently verified to reach efficiencies of greater than 19% in mass production. Pluto cells feature a unique texturing process that improves sunlight absorption, even in conditions of low and indirect light. Our innovative Pluto cell design and ultra-fine top contact gridlines combine to boost power output, delivering a 10-15% performance advantage using the same materials, wafers, and module line equipment as a standard cell.

Ammonia Battery: ANU's Dr Keith Lovegrove has developed a solar thermochemical process that stores solar energy for use in commercial power stations.

The Future Makers premiered on Discovery Channel and has screened at the 2009 Rhode Island Film Festival, Toronto Planet in Focus Film Festival and Pacific International Documentary Film Festival 2010. It was Highly Commended for Best Social Awareness Programme in the Asian TV Awards 2009 and nominated for the Zayed Future Energy Prize 2010. I caught my screening at a special event hosted by The Sydney Theatre Company, part of Cate Blanchet's Greening of The Wharf project. The screening was be followed by a panel discussion hosted by director Maryella Hatfield, Eureka Prize winner and solar scientist Nicole Kuepper (PhD Student Engineering UNSW), and University of NSW's Professor Alistair Sproul (PV Solar expert). Australia has a bright future in the area of renewable enegy.

Learn more about the film at


David Burns is a Sustainability Advisor and Analyst,

If you have a friend that you would like to share this with, then



Share Facebook   Twitter   Google   Technorati   Stumble Upon   Digg   Linked In  

Post Comment

Name (required)
Email (required, but not published)
  Please copy the following characters into the textbox
Captcha (required)