Clean technologies and renewable energy
With Brisbane city as its commercial hub, Queensland is an Australian state rich in renewable energy resources from solar, geothermal, biomass, wind (offshore and onshore), to hydro, wave and tidal. The state of Queensland implemented a Renewable Energy Plan in June 2009. This plan aims to leverage $3.5 billion of the $12 billion investment pool offered by the Australian national government for renewable energy projects. At a national level this funding is part of a strategy to ensure that a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions occurs in Australia by 2050. The Queensland plan aims to create 3,500 jobs in renewable energy industries in Queensland, generate 9,000 GWh or approximately 2,500 MW of Queensland based renewable energy by 2020 and reduce GHG emissions by more than 40 million tonnes by 2020.
Consistent with international and national trends, the most significant growth in commercialised clean tech activities within Queensland have related to the energy sector. There has been significant investment in renewable energy projects in recent years. This is being encouraged and assisted by government policies and is attracting investment by local, national and international firms. Carbon capture and storage pilot projects, funded by both industry and government, are being undertaken in Queensland.
Outside of the energy sector, there is a range of research activity and small innovative clean tech firms associated with the dynamic, largely university-based research sector in Queensland. At the same time, the region’s strong growth in the mining sector has resulted in increased demand for remote energy, waste and water treatment technologies.
Brisbane City Council’s Living in Brisbane 2026 vision aims to ensure Brisbane is carbon-neutral by 2026. Guided by sustainably-focused governments and world-renowned universities and research institutions, Brisbane is evolving as a leader in the innovation of clean technologies. The rapid growth in the region’s population has resulted in the emergence of several greenfield developments throughout the region, providing opportunities for clean tech incubation and integration, demonstration projects and large-scale renewable energy projects.
Brisbane’s ecosciences precinct is Australia’s first centre dedicated to solving some of the country’s biggest environmental issues. Climate change, mineral and petroleum resources, water issues and environmental balance are priority research areas.
Brisbane’s subtropical climate combined with its robust economy, phenomenal population growth, and large and growing energy market makes it an ideal location for a strong renewable energy industry. Our climate is especially conducive to innovation in solar energy production. Brisbane is located in a region with an abundance of renewable energy resources including geothermal, bioenergy, wind, hydro, wave and tidal.
Queensland has heavy reserves of coal and gas which has strongly positioned the state as a world leader in clean-coal technology. The sugarcane industry and other agricultural crops also equip the state for innovation in biomass and biofuels, including ethanol production and use.
Brisbane has access to a specialised knowledge and skilled workforce through premium research and development institutes at world-renowned local universities.
Organisations in Brisbane’s clean technologies sector include:
- ARC Centre for Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials – headquartered at The University of Queensland and internationally-renowned as a research centre in the field of functional nanomaterials.
- Centre for Organic Photonics & Electronics – this centre brings together chemists and physicists to investigate plastic (organic) materials that can be used as the active layers in a range of applications including solar cells, light-emitting diodes for displays and lighting, transistors and sensors.
- Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities – a centre undertaking commercial research in plant biotechnology and sugarcane processing and biomass conversion for high value product development.
- International Water Centre – a joint venture of four leading Australian universities providing education and training, applied research and expert services to develop capacity in integrated water resource management around the world.
- The University of Queensland School of Chemical Engineering is working on direct carbon fuel cells which will create twice as much power from coal as current methods and minimise greenhouse gas emissions.
- Queensland Microtechnology Facility – a strategic research unit of Griffith University specialising in cleanroom design, cleanroom performance and process capabilities.
- Syngenta Centre for Sugarcane Biofuel Development – a scientific collaboration between the Queensland University of Technology, Syngenta Biotechnology Inc. (a Swiss biotech company) and Farmacule Bioindustries Ltd (an Australian agbiotech company) that’s developing advanced technology for the conversion of sugarcane bagasse to bioethanol.
- UQ Biofuel – this university research team has developed a gene transfer system for sweet sorghum, a promising biofuel crop.
- UQ Centre for Organic Photonics and Electronics – working to develop organic photovoltaic solar cells, also known as plastic solar cells.
Brisbane is the closest major Australian capital city to Asia, making the city an ideal position for initial investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Cost advantages gained from this close proximity to Asia means that Brisbane is perfectly placed as a base for manufacturing.
Brisbane City Council is Australia’s largest local council and one of the largest local authorities in the southern hemisphere. It is leading the push for sustainability through its Living in Brisbane 2026 strategy which provides a clear focus with developing opportunities for renewable energy and clean technology focused companies. The Council is able to significantly influence the adoption of clean technologies with its buying power via its procurement capabilities.