rooftop solar
CSIRO Black Mountain Science and Innovation Park

CSIRO is accelerating towards a zero carbon economy, announcing it’s move towards 100 per cent renewable energy for all its sites across NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

It has issued a tender for an Australian Energy Regulator authorised retailer for the supply of renewable electricity under a Power Purchase Agreement.

The organisation uses 115,000 megawatt hours of grid electricity per annum, currently provided by short-term fixed price “black power” contracts with retailers. The NSW, Victoria and ACT contracts are expected to expire in June 2020.

CSIRO calculates its current grid energy footprint generates about 110 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions annually – about one third of its total carbon footprint.

In addition to renewable energy, CSIRO wants the successful retailer to collaborate on research, and for it to provide services including metering, data provision, invoicing and site transfer for the CSIRO-managed sites through a Renewable Electricity Supply Agreement.

It’s open to either supply through multiple renewable energy generation sites, or potentially a “branded” dedicated renewable energy development.

Responses to the Request for Proposal on AusTender close on 8 November 2019. The contract term is expected to be up to 10 years, with commencement likely in April 2020.

In a statement supplied to The Fifth Estate, CSIRO said it hopes to extend its knowledge and research in the renewable energy field through the related research component proposed as part of the PPA.

The majority of its energy is consumed by the NSW, Victoria and ACT sites, so the PPA is regarded as the “best opportunity” to achieve significant reductions in its electricity-related carbon emissions.

That’s not all from CSIRO on decarbonisation

The PPA tender is part of a suite of carbon-cutting initiatives the science and research agency has been implementing.

Over the past financial year, it reduced energy use by three per cent, and carbon emissions by 4 per cent through measures including the large-scale installation of PV systems across eight sites generating $900,000 in annual bill savings and reducing emissions by 2000 tonnes of CO2e.

Lighting upgrades to LED lighting at nine sites are expected to deliver $500,000 in savings and a further 2000tCO2e emissions cut; and the CSIRO vehicle fleet is being changed over to electric and hybrid vehicles.

It is also implementing one of its own new innovations, solar-powered EV charging stations that link rooftop solar and batteries.

The technology supports charging of multiple vehicles in areas with limited access to grid power – such as home garages and public carparks – where the charge rate would otherwise be limited. Heat management strategies have been incorporated that enable batteries to be charged and discharged effectively even on days of extreme summer heat.

The research was funded by the Victorian government and in collaboration with Delta Electronics and Nissan Australia, CSIRO researchers developed and tested the system, incorporating a range of heat management strategies to ensure batteries are charged and discharged efficiently.

Lead researcher from CSIRO’s Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems Dr Christopher Munnings said a normal household battery system is typically not powerful enough to charge a car on a hot day as it can overheat and slow down.

“We’ve devised a way to manage the temperature of the battery, minimising the amount of power required from the grid. In a multi-EV home, this system will automatically monitor each car, spreading the load between the battery, solar PV and the rest of the home.”

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