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What is decarbonisation?

Decarbonisation is the process of reducing and removing net greenhouse gas outputs by reducing the amount emitted, using zero or low-emission energy sources, increasing energy efficiency and by carbon sequestration.

Our research is helping governments, industries and communities achieve their decarbonisation goals, to reach net zero emissions.

‘Net zero’ refers to a balance between the emissions we produce, and the emissions we can take out of the atmosphere. In order to have an overall (or ‘net’) balance of zero, we must ensure that one does not exceed the other. This means that we can still produce some emissions. But we also need to ensure they’re offset.

We can tackle the emissions we produce.

In Australia, the energy sector is responsible for more than 80 per cent of emissions, made up of electricity, direct combustion — the use of heat or steam, often to produce steel and cement — transport, and fugitive emissions (any unintended emissions that occur during coal or gas extraction activities). Outside of the energy sector, the rest of Australia’s emissions come from things like agriculture and waste.

It makes sense to focus on the energy sector. Not only because it’s where most of Australia’s emissions come from, but also because it’s where the technology is most advanced, with a greater proportion renewable sources coming online and large fossil-based sources reaching the end of their lifespans. Energy efficiency improvements are also being realised in homes and commercial buildings.

If we can apply the same technological improvements to other sectors (like industry, transport and agriculture), we’ll go a long way towards limiting overall emissions.

We can remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, by:

  • conserving and planting more trees and mangroves, and looking after other large 'carbon sinks' like seagrass beds
  • using technologies like direct air capture to ‘suck’ carbon dioxide out the of the air, like a tree does
  • scaling up processes like carbon capture and storage, in which carbon dioxide can be stored safely in geological formations kilometres below the ground, or used in other industries that require carbon dioxide as an ingredient.
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Flexible solar: Providing solar for everyone, everywhere

Thin, flexible solar panels are gaining attention worldwide as an exciting energy source, particularly because of their potential integration into a variety of materials.

Find out more about our printed solar film.

[Music plays and image shows three blue boxes appearing between the walls of tall city buildings. Text appears: Imagine Solar Energy Everywhere, for everyone]

[image shows two model houses with solar panels and text appears: Solar Energy is a huge source of clean, sustainable power. Even a fraction of the sun’s energy could power the world]

[Image shows a purple flexible printed solar film scrolling around a rod, then a black flexible printed solar film scrolling]

[Image shows a machine parts and text appears: We’re developing new materials and processes to produce thin, lightweight and flexible solar cells based on printable ‘solar inks’]

[Image shows a man wearing a lab coat and safety goggles inspecting a machine with the scrolling films]

[Image shows flexible printed solar film and text appears: These inks are developed onto flexible plastic films using roll-to-roll processes]

[Image shows film scrolling through the machine, then the man’s face]

[Image shows the printer head printing onto the film]

[Image shows a tent covered with printed solar film and text appears: Our lightweight, flexible printed solar film can be integrated into fabric to make tents or awnings]

[Image shows a mailing tube with a rolled film in front of large tents covered with vertical parallel rows of flexible printed solar film and text appears: supply energy relief power]

[Image shows a sailing boat with horizontal rows of flexible printed solar film and text appears: or used in boat sails to name a few applications]

[Images shows a garden with a canopy of flexible printed solar film and text appears: We have made a ‘canopy’ of printed solar film to create a beautiful shade structure]

[Image shows a green dispenser with white flexible material scrolling out and text appears: and we recently attached our flexible printed solar to roofing panels that can’t support the weight of conventional solar panels]

[Image shows corrugated roofing material with flexible printed solar film moving over rollers]

[Image shows flexible printed solar films scrolling through rods, then a man examining the printing process, and text appears: By developing new materials and processes, we have achieved power conversion efficiencies of around 20 per cent on small devices]

[Image shows flexible printed solar film on a rod and text appears: But it’s not over yet. Thanks to funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) We have partnered with Monash University, University of Cambridge and UNSW to work on an exciting group of next generation solar materials called perovskites]

[Image shows flexible printed solar film scrolling through the printer and text appears: These perovskite solar cells have achieved performances approaching that of conventional silicon solar cells]

[Image shows the printing machine and text appears: Roll-to-roll solar cell manufacturing has a much lower barrier to entry and energy cost than conventional solar cell manufacturing]

[Image shows flexible printed solar film scrolling through the printer and text appears: These solar cells have the potential to create new opportunities for Australian manufacturing and to add value to existing industries]

[Image shows a woman holding a strip of flexible printed solar film up to the sunlight and text appears: It’s another example of how CSIRO is solving the greatest challenges through innovation and technology]

[Music plays and CSIRO logo appears]

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