A message from Jens Goennemann
I’m somewhat optimistic that technology advancements will save us once again – this time from the worst effects of man-made climate change. Existential crises focus the mind and so it will be with climate change.
Privation won’t be the answer. We’re rightly fond of energy and what it does for us despite energy generation being the biggest single contributor to greenhouse gases.
We can see plenty of promising solutions that might play a role in our energy transition. Only recently, there was news that an investment decision worth $600 million could be made next year in a 200-megawatt plant in the Eyre Peninsula based on a concentrated solar and thermal storage invention by Raygen Resources. Or like “Solex” in The Man with the Golden Gun as avid Bond viewers would know.
AMGC has seen plenty of Australian innovations that could be winners in the big shift in how energy is created, managed, and consumed. Let’s stay with solar for a moment.
We have supported Empower Energy in developing its ElectroBank 14 solution. It’s an integrated solar storage battery with a proprietary battery management system, inverter, enclosure, and software. According to the company, which has tailored its product to Australia’s specific climate challenges, it delivers a payback in six-years with no subsidies.
Then there’s AMGC-backed PVT Lab. This manufacturer has developed a heat exchanger solution that is fully recyclable and designed to retrofit easily to solar panels. Its Coolsheet product draws heat away from solar cells, boosting their efficiency with the warmed water used for things like preheating heat pumps or hot water. Better still, it increases the efficiency and life expectancy of solar assets, and by doing so, it decreases the need for replacement and reduces solar waste.
Sometimes, we hear lamentations that Australian research excellence-yielded Passivated Emitter Rear Contact (PERC) solar cells represent about nine-tenths of all solar being installed worldwide, but most of the commercial returns go to Chinese companies.
“The solar industry is a mug’s game because the margins are so low,” Professor Martin Green has said. Green is solar aristocracy and his students make an impressive representation in the senior ranks of the world’s biggest solar manufacturers. His lab has held the world record for PV efficiency for 30 or the last 40 years.
We can wish that industrial history played out differently, however, what we can do today is to acknowledge the importance of commercialising world-beating research and realise where we continue to fall short.
I applaud industry minister Ed Husic’s consistent messaging on commercialisation. Two flagship programs of his ministry, the National Reconstruction Fund and the Industry Growth Fund are about to get off the starting blocks.
Regarding the potential for Australian manufacturing in the energy transition, I’m confident these flagship programs will play an important role.
We must focus on where we can make an impact. It’s not in the mug’s game of commoditised goods, but, as always, by making something that is globally competitive, and that solves a market need better than anybody else. Manufacturing, making complex things, is an important answer to the challenges we face.
One of the best ways to tackle these challenges is to network, collaborate, and harness the innovative minds of manufacturing. On that note, AMGC will be hitting the road in October and November to bring manufacturers together to network, share, and collaborate. Sound interesting? Then see here to stay in touch for details.
We can build a more capable manufacturing industry that is able to tackle global issues and commercialise ideas. I invite you to be part of it.