This area encompasses development and deployment of the basic technologies to generate renewable energy and the associated storage systems, and also to intelligently integrate these into society’s and industry’s needs.
Urgent action is required to avoid catastrophic climate change. Viable pathways to decarbonise, and to accelerate these technologies, are the top priority of this Mission. Australia’s abilities to create and deploy these technologies hinge largely on its endowment of critical minerals required for decarbonisation, and the development of secure and diverse supply chains to manufacture and deploy technology solutions.
Australia, and the world, need to develop and deploy these technologies sooner rather than later. At this time, the value-adding transformations in supply chains of critical minerals and technologies are concentrated in a small number of locations with an equally small number of companies, and that is a risk to Australia and partner nations that seek to adopt renewable energy technologies. Most of the raw materials required for these supply chains are available in Australia, but most are barely processed in-country before export. Australia needs to become more self-sufficient in these supply chains, alone and in concert with its trading partners, to ensure a diversity of supply options for renewable energy materials and technologies.
This Mission seeks to:
- lengthen and strengthen the supply of critical energy minerals in Australia
- create supply chains of manufactured goods that are essential for the growth of renewable energy, and
- demonstrate renewable energy technologies that are adaptable and fit for purpose in Australian cities and towns, for remote and bespoke applications.
These will also be applicable to our near neighbours in the Asia and Pacific regions, where reliable and renewable energy is currently in poor supply.
CSIRO is seeking proposals that could address any of the following areas.
- Supply, demand, economic resource and criticality assessment tools: Develop demand forecasting, economic resource and assessment tools that are sensitive to a variety of scenarios concerning industrial use, supply concentration, location and the nature of resource and likely recycling rates. Determine measures of criticality based on these scenarios (perhaps referencing USGS methodology) to inform governments and investors with measures of supply chain health, and suggested interventions. This includes resource inventory tools that consider social and environmental science factors in scenarios of likely development. Consider how at regional scales these tools could form economic corridors.
- Critical Minerals for Renewable Energy Technologies: Australia has an abundance of critical minerals which are integral to Australia and the world’s energy transformation. The development of mineral processing technologies is important to reduce the environmental footprint of critical mineral processing. Further, the development of battery active materials are currently multi-step processes and can be energy intensive. We are seeking to development methods to produce these materials that are faster and less energy intensive. The development of innovative energy storage solutions is critical to the continuing expansion of renewable energy. These solutions need to have a lower cost ($/kWh), improved cycle-life and designed for recyclability and can span from (electro)chemical, thermal, mechanical and other solutions.
- Secondary sources: Assessment of mine waste streams, tailings, and landfill to determine the richest secondary sources of critical minerals. The assessment will also need to cross-reference with existing process routes for recovery to determine economic viability. Gaps in economic viability need to be flagged as opportunities for process development to recover these resources.
- Systems and integration: The challenge for Australia to move toward a decarbonised energy sector is unparalleled in scope and scale. The energy transformation globally, and in the Australian context, requires novel technology integration solutions. Research needs to be conducted to implement energy resolutions for (electrical) networks, and unique (and remote) application cases. Identifying resource materials, appropriate energy storage solutions, and behavioral studies of end use, and supply-chain improvements all will assist to navigate the increasing demands on the grid.
All proposals aligned with this theme should contain a section that clearly describes how the proposed solution is complementary to CSIRO’s Renewable Energy Powerhouse Mission.