WORK has officially started on a $30 million renewable energy project that aims to eventually power half of Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus.
Deakin is partnering with AusNet Services and Mondo to develop an industrial-scale microgrid energy system to provide an integrated research and education platform, and contribute to the university’s sustainability goals.
The 14.5 hectare solar energy farm will also have a 1 megawatt central battery and will integrate rooftop solar panels and smaller batteries across the campus.
The project is expected to be completed late this year.
Deakin vice-chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander joined AusNet Services managing director Nino Ficca and Mondo executive general manager Chad Hymas to turn the first sod on the project, located in the campus’ southwest corner.
Professor den Hollander said the partnership with AusNet Services would help build Deakin’s and the energy provider’s capacities as leaders in the development of innovative energy systems, and also enable the university to reduce its carbon footprint.
“We are experiencing growing global need for research in innovative renewable energy systems, and the demands on energy networks are changing rapidly as technology and knowledge tries to keep up with the growing shift by industry, consumers and governments towards sustainable generation and distribution.
“This partnership gives Deakin an unparalleled opportunity to help drive the renewable energy revolution by providing unique opportunities for researchers to develop and test solutions at an industrial scale and train the next generation of energy professionals.”
She said the university would also be able to reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 12,000 tonnes per year and generate half of the Waurn Ponds campus’ energy needs on site, supporting Deakin’s aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Mr Ficca said the partnership between AusNet Services and Deakin University provided education and career pathways for those seeking to build, run and maintain the energy networks of the future.
“This microgrid project will not only provide clean, renewable energy but also a world-class learning and education hub.”