Deakin vice-chancellor professor Jane den Hollander AO today joined AusNet Services managing director Nino Ficca and Mondo executive general manager Chad Hymas to officially turn the first sod on the $30 million Renewable Energy Microgrid set to power the University’s Waurn Ponds Campus.
Deakin is partnering with AusNet Services and Mondo to develop an industrial-scale microgrid energy system to provide an integrated research and education platform, and contribute to the university’s sustainability goals.
The project is underpinned by a 14.5-hectare solar energy farm with a one megawatt central battery and integrates rooftop solar panels and smaller batteries across the campus. The microgrid project is expected to be completed late this year.
Construction is set to begin as soon as possible and is being undertaken by Victorian companies, which is already resulting in local employment that will raise workers’ skill levels in globally relevant jobs.
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Professor den Hollander said the partnership with AusNet Services would help build Deakin’s and the energy provider’s capacities as leaders in the development of innovative energy systems, while also enabling the University to reduce its carbon footprint.
“We are experiencing growing global need for research in innovative renewable energy systems, and the demands on energy networks are changing rapidly as technology and knowledge tries to keep up with the growing shift by industry, consumers and governments towards sustainable generation and distribution,” den Hollander said.
“This partnership gives Deakin an unparalleled opportunity to help drive the renewable energy revolution by providing unique opportunities for researchers to develop and test solutions at an industrial scale and train the next generation of energy professionals.
“The university will also be able to reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 12,000 tonnes per year and generate half of the Waurn Ponds campus’ energy needs on site, supporting Deakin’s aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2030.
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“Deakin is passionate about supporting the communities we serve, working collaboratively with industry and relevant businesses as well as governments to drive forward solutions to the challenges we are all facing, and together with AusNet Services we’re looking forward to welcoming additional partners to increase our reach and impact through this innovative project.”
Mr Ficca said the partnership between AusNet Services and Deakin University provides education and career pathways for those seeking to build, run and maintain the energy networks of the future.
“This micro-grid project will not only provide clean, renewable energy but also a world-class learning and education hub,” he said.