Seed Funding 2016 Recipients Announced

Discover the interdisciplinary energy research projects MEI will be helping to develop in 2016.

After a successful launch event in May, applications flowed in for MEI's 2016 Seed Funding round. Successful applications demonstrated passion, innovation, creativity and interdisciplinary growth potential.

We are pleased to announce the following projects received funding:

Project 1: Viability of Commercial scale distributed hybrid energy projects: Analysis of tariff structures, load profiles, technical solutions and key economic variables.

Team: Dylan McConnell , Khalid Abdulla, Ashton Walker, Yannick Zapf, Lachlan Bateman and Andrew Wirth

Faculties: Faculty of Earth Sciences and Faculty of Engineering

External Partners: Clean Technology Partners

Summary: This project aims to address the knowledge gap that exists between small- and large-scale projects. The goal of this project is to investigate the technical and financial viability of commercial scale distributed hybrid energy projects, and implications for the development of the grid. A specific area of interest is the interaction between the large-scale energy market and hybrid energy systems. Using a case study approach, this project will investigate the technical and financial viability of hybrid energy projects. This project will provide highly valuable information for tariff reform and network regulation for large customers, that is currently missing from public discussion. The main deliverable for this project will be a technical report that provides an overview of the commercial electricity market, and the opportunities and barriers for distributed hybrid energy systems in this sector. The implications for the broader electricity sector will also be discussed.

Project 2: Acceptance of renewable energy in agriculture dominant communities/regional economies – expanding social licence and community resilience in the agriculture sector.

Team: Sara Bice, Bill Malcolm, Peter Parbery, Megan Hill, Anne Dansey

Faculties: Melbourne School of Government, and Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences

External Partners: Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), Agriculture Victoria

Summary: This project aims to explore the working relationship between the uptake of renewable energy by agriculture producers and community attitudes. Globally agriculture is grappling with the challenges and opportunities presented by increasing production intensification to meet future food resource requirements sustainably. Agriculture Victoria would like to explore the relationship between the capacity of renewables to enhance the social license of agricultural industry, investigating the resilience of regional communities and the opportunity to create jobs.  The potential interconnectedness of the two sectors is currently lacking in research. Through designing and carrying out research initiatives, the project aims to convince farmers and producers to invest in and implement large-scale renewables within their operations. The findings of the study will be outlined in a detailed report. This will be communicated to Victorian government bodies, having identified that investment in young farmers is on the Victorian government’s growth agenda. The main deliverables of this project are:

  • A literature review of social licence/ community resilience factors for rural – agriculture dominant regional Victorian economies.
  • Individual, farmer processor and community representative interviews to test literature review findings
  • Design and carry out survey of three rural regions (with agribusiness dominant economies) – South Gippsland & Bass Coast, South West Region and Northern Victoria (Shepparton/Benalla) - explore current understanding of renewables options and their levels of acceptance

Design and hold workshops in each of the 3 regions to further explore quantitative and qualitative data collected and understand the barriers and opportunities to community acceptance of renewables, social licence enhancement potential for agriculture and barriers to renewables acceptance

Project 3: Design and Monitoring of a Prototype Aqua-Thermal Heating and Cooling System for Further Promotion on a Larger Residential and Commercial Buildings Around Port Melbourne.

Team: Behzad Rismanchi, Dominique Hes, Amir Kivi and Ian Clark

Faculties: Faculty of Engineering, and Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning

External Partners: GeoFlow Australia, and Activ Concepts and Deja Vu

Summary: This project aims to evaluate the economics of harnessing the renewable thermal energy stored in bodies of lake/ocean water for building heating/cooling and hot water generation. For this project, with our industrial partner, we are proposing to design and operate a medium scale prototype auqa-thermal system (120 kW) for a recreational facility. The proposed prototype aqua-thermal system will condition the main Building in the Cable Park with 4 distinct spaces and heat pumps. The seed funding would allow detailed study, design, simulation and economic evaluation of the system to assess the efficiency and economy of the system. While our industrial partner would fund the procurement of the prototype, this gives us a unique opportunity to have control on the project design and operation from day 1. The main aim of the research team is to make sure the project has positive environmental effect and more importantly, it is economically viable.

More Information

Caitlin McGrane

caitlin.mcgrane@unimelb.edu.au

T: +61 3 9035 9458

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