CSIRO to tackle energy storage and carbon locking

Man with safety goggles uses screwdriver to attach piece to energy storage device (CSIRO)
Dr Adam Best (Image: CSIRO)

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO will invest $50 million over the next five years in four new programs to drive critical breakthroughs in national challenges, including energy storage systems and permanent carbon locking.

The programs are part of CSIRO’s $200 million portfolio of Future Science Platforms (FSPs), programs that push the boundaries of existing research through collaboration with universities and industry.

Related article: CSIRO releases roadmap for renewables transition

The Revolutionary Energy Storage Systems FSP will reimagine Australia’s electricity grid from one designed to support fossil fuels to instead incorporate more sources of renewable power, while the Permanent Carbon Locking FSP will harness biology, chemistry and engineering to drive innovation in carbon capture and carbon storage science.

CSIRO’s Chief Scientist Professor Bronwyn Fox said the new FSPs would bring together industry and science, including early career researchers, to invent the cutting-edge science that will shape our future. 

“CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms are a big part of our strategy to stay at the forefront of discovery,” Prof Fox said.

“They are a critical part of the way we do science—they are our investment in cutting-edge, transformative research where we push the boundaries of science and lean into the seemingly impossible.

“The foundational research that these four new Future Science Platforms will undertake will pave the way for innovations and catalyse new industries that will help us to better manage our health, food security, natural resources and environment in the decades to come.” 

CSIRO’s Dr Adam Best, interim director of the Revolutionary Energy Storage Systems FSP, said disruptive change was crucial to meeting future energy needs safely, efficiently and sustainably. 

“Unlocking the secret to efficient and safe energy storage could see us charge electric vehicles as easily as we now fill our petrol tanks, or keep portable our devices charged for many days without the need for a top up,” Dr Best said.

“On a larger scale, it could even be mimicking pumped hydro through new technology and making it more responsive to the needs of the grid.”

Dr Andrew Lenton, director of the Permanent Carbon Locking FSP, said research would focus on accelerated atmospheric carbon removal and permanent carbon storage, and integrating these in novel ways.   

Related article: Global energy storage to be ’20 times larger’ by 2030

“If we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, breakthroughs and innovation in permanent carbon removal from the atmosphere is needed,” Dr Lenton said.

“The future science and capability developed in this FSP have the potential to underpin new industries and reshape existing industries for Australia and beyond, with CSIRO’s science at the centre.”

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