A new lab that will help build a greener and climate change resilient electricity grid has been officially opened at The Australian National University (ANU). 

Opened today by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Lab researches and tests new technologies like batteries, solar panels and electric vehicles that underpin the energy grids of the future.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the DER Lab was helping build Australia’s low carbon energy system of tomorrow “today”.

“Now more than ever, Australia must design an energy system fit for the 21st century,” Professor Schmidt said.

“As Australia moves away from large centralised fossil-fuel powered generators to a decentralised grid consisting of a vast array of distributed renewable energy assets, we need to find innovative ways to enable this vast amount of renewable energy to safely and effectively enter the electricity grid.

“It is through the research carried out in the Distributed Energy Resources Lab that we, as a society, will be equipped with the technology and capabilities that will help smooth out and accelerate this vital energy transition.

“The Lab will provide a fail-safe power system to rapidly, efficiently and securely develop and test technologies and systems before deploying them into the live grid.

“I want to thank the ACT Government for its support and vision and for helping make this happen.”

The DER Lab was announced in 2019 with $1.5 million in funding from the ACT Government. The project to design and construct the national facility has been a partnership between ITP Renewables, UNSW Canberra, evoenergy and ANU.

Chief Operating Officer of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program Ms Heather Logie said over the last two years the DER Lab team has embarked on an ambitious program of work.

“Over the last few years, the world has moved from simply de-carbonising the electricity sector to de-carbonising the whole economy,” Ms Logie said.

“We are now in a race to ‘electrify everything’. This means we need to build an energy ecosystem that is powered by millions of connected and different devices, including batteries, vehicles and even air conditioners.

“The DER Lab is helping lead the charge. The ‘plug and play’ set up means researchers, government and industry have the opportunity to test this new tech and how it can be harnessed by our energy grid before the switch is flicked ‘on’.

“The DER Lab is exactly what the world needs right now to build a more resilient electricity grid in response to climate change.

“We are honoured to undertake this work and help build a cleaner, greener energy future.”

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said: “The new Distributed Energy Resources Laboratory cements Canberra’s position as the national leader in renewable energy innovation and collaboration.

“Supported through a $1.5 million Priority Investment Program grant in 2019, the DER Laboratory is an Australian first, delivered in partnership between the ANU, UNSW Canberra, IT Power and Evoenergy. It builds on the significant investments that industry and the ACT Government have already made to grow Canberra’s renewable energy sector.

“The facility will unlock new opportunities around renewable energy capability that will ultimately translate into new investments, economic growth, lower energy bills and new jobs for Canberrans.”

Top image: Chuttersnap/Unsplash

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