Environment big winner in Advance Queensland funding

Published Thursday, 15 September, 2016 at 02:50 PM


Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply
The Honourable Mark Bailey

Saving koalas, improving the management of batteries in solar energy systems, new plugging technology for decommissioned coal seam gas wells, and zero energy sewage treatment are all big winners of this year’s Queensland Government $15 million Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said these four research projects all promised innovative solutions to some of Queensland’s major environmental challenges.

“They also hold out the potential of producing hugely important new technologies which will be in high demand,” Ms Enoch said.

“A Central Queensland University cleantech project, led by Professor Peter Wolfs and partnering with Griffith University and power electronics company Elevare Energy, had been awarded almost $350,000 to look at improving the management of batteries in solar energy systems.

“Battery storage is a big issue for solar energy production. This project sets out to enable households and businesses to make the management of on-site power production and consumption easy and cost-effective,” the Minister said.

“If the project team can achieve this, particularly by increasing energy storage capacity and reducing the cost, that will encourage more people to take advantage of renewable energy, particularly in regional and remote areas.”

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships funding would complement the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to a 50 per cent renewable energy target in Queensland by 2030.

“By providing funding for key research projects, Innovation Partnerships is ensuring our state remains at the cutting edge of renewable energy technology,” Mr Bailey said.

“Taking ideas to commercial reality will not only have huge benefits for Queensland, but also have positive global impacts on the renewable energy sector.”

Ms Enoch said the Central Queensland University research project was one of 15 projects to be funded this year as part of the Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

The Innovation Partnerships program, part of the $405 million Advance Queensland initiative, aims to support collaborative research and development projects involving both research organisations and industry to address industry and society issues in priority areas such as agriculture, engineering, climate change, clean energy, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

Ms Enoch said the program sets out to address one of the big issues that consistently hampers the successful commercialisation of research in Australia: getting industry and the research sector to combine forces to develop solutions to industry and society needs.

“We’re investing $9.65 million in these 15 projects, with the successful recipients and their project partners contributing a further $15 million,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Innovation Partnerships program will boost productivity growth and the competitiveness of existing industries, accelerate the development of emerging industries, and increase the speed and scale of translation of our science and research into new products, services and business models that can help drive economic and jobs growth in Queensland.”

Other environmental research related projects to receive funding include:

  • A University of Queensland project led by Associate Professor Stephen Johnston will receive over $600,000 to develop a living koala genome bank. A genome bank used to store the genetic material of threatened populations of animals with the intention of using them in a future breeding program. In partnership with Dreamworld, this project sets out to improve the genetic diversity of small fragmented koala populations as well as allow the propagation of disease free koalas for release back into the wild;
  • Another University of Queensland project, this time led by Professor Brian Towler, will receive $175,000 to come up with reliable, cost-effective plugging and abandonment technology for the coal seam gas industry. Once a gas well has been decommissioned, it has to be plugged, to ensure it does not cause any environmental damage. Professor Towler and his research team will looking at using bentonite, a kind of absorbent clay, to fill plug former gas wells. The project could lead to an increase in bentonite mining in Queensland as well as the development of new plugging equipment based on this technology. Industry partners include major CSG/LNG companies QGC Ltd, Santos Ltd, Australia Pacific LNG Pty Ltd and Arrow Energy Ltd; and
  • A project led by Professor Zhiguo Yuan from the University of Queensland will receive almost $680,000 to demonstrate at pilot scale a zero-energy sewage treatment technology. The research team will set out to triple the bioenergy from sewage than what is currently available. The bioenergy recovered is expected to completely offset the energy needs for sewage treatment, creating zero-energy sewage treatment plants. The benefit is that the treatment plants becomes energy self-sufficient. The project’s industry partner Queensland Urban Utilities will host the key pilot plant study at its Luggage Point Innovation Centre. The City of Gold Coast, Wide Bay Water Corporation, the Western Australia Water Corporation and the South Australian Water Corporation are also industry partners, with the South Australian Water Corporation looking to establish a second pilot plant in Adelaide.

Media contact: Daniel Lato 0438 830 201