THE AUSTRALIAN POWER INSTITUTE AND ENERGY NETWORKS AUSTRALIA INNOVATION INITIATIVE

A cooperative partnership between Energy Networks Australia and the Australian Power Institute (API) has been established to deliver an innovation strategy for the Australian energy network industry that will assist in driving the future direction and sustainability of the industry. This initiative seeks to:

  • Maximize visibility and collaboration on innovation projects throughout the industry;

  • Reduce duplication and wasted resources;

  • Provide clear alignment to industry priorities;

  • Focus the research perspective beyond technical constraints to include identification and realization of potential efficiencies, innovative service delivery, policies and practices, using a multi-disciplinary approach;

  • Translate research into action and realized benefits; and

  • Provide an understanding of changes required to develop energy networks of the future.

This initiative is being led by an Innovation Steering Group that consists of:

  • Two representatives from the API Board - Gerard Reiter and Wayne Tucker;

  • Two representatives from the Energy Networks Australia’s Asset Management Committee – Craig Savage and Steve Wachtel;

  • Energy Networks Australia Officers – Stuart Johnston and Heath Frewin; and

  • API CEO - Mike Griffin (Secretariat).

Industry driven innovation projects/initiatives which the Australian Power Institute (API) facilitated and Energy Networks Australia (ENA) funded with other industry partners will total $5.33M in 2019/20. The cash funding of these projects by Energy Networks Australia through member contributions will be only 20% of the total project costs due to the substantial leveraging that has been achieved: $5 of research/innovation work for every $1 of cash contribution.

The Australian Power Institute’s objective in its collaboration with Energy Networks Australia on the Innovation Initiative is to strengthen the skills of future STEM professional graduates working in the energy industry by enhancing the capability of university academics and their teaching curriculum. This is being achieved through academics working collaboratively with industry on industry driven “real world” research and innovation such as the projects outlined below. API is also well placed to assist with “knowledge sharing” to both industry and academia of the outcomes of all innovation and research in the energy industry to provide a sustainable supply of industry STEM professionals with contemporary skills.

 

 “A new approach to Innovation and R&D is required, and through consultation with energy industry and universities/research organisations this new approach will involve industry driven collaborative research with university partners. But more importantly this needs to be coupled with significant development and demonstration activities and field trials in industry to apply and implement the innovation and realise the benefits” - Mike Griffin, Chief Executive of API, Secretary of Innovation Steering Group

Former TransGrid CEO, Peter McIntyre was engaged to undertake an Independent Review of the Assessment of University Research Alignment to Energy Networks Australia and API Priorities.

“It is apparent that the university sector is strong in regards to power engineering. The academic head count at all 20 universities assessed is either stable or growing compared to numbers over recent years. Several universities are actively recruiting now to supplement their academic and research strength.” - Peter McIntyre

This review identified that post-graduate research in power engineering is very strong at present with over 300 active PhD research topics currently underway. Interestingly, of these, over 150 relate to the integration of renewables.”

The review identified 4 Australian universities with capability matched to 70+% of industry innovation topics/issues and 6 universities with capability matched to 20+% of industry innovation topics/issues.