Australia is currently faced with a growing energy crisis and investment in clean energy technology and renewable generation infrastructure has been a large focus of federal governments.
In 2020, the previous Government committed to invest at least $20 billion in low emissions technologies by 2030, to drive more than $80 billion of total public and private investment over the decade. The Technology Investment Roadmap, with annual Low Emissions Technology Statements (LETS), provides a comprehensive investment strategy to guide government investment in low emissions technologies.
The first LETS prioritised five technologies to guide government investment: clean hydrogen, energy storage, carbon capture and storage, low emissions steel and aluminium, and soil carbon measurement. It also showed that Australian Government expenditure on clean energy solutions is an indicator that this development is already occurring; Government expenditure on Research, Design, and Development for low emissions technology averaged $280 million per year in the 5 years from 2014–15 to 2019–20.
It is likely that the new, incoming federal government will likely spend a greater amount on the sector.
Energy storage solutions, such as the SiBox, developed by recently ASX listed 1414 Degrees Ltd, aim to reduce energy costs by increasing the efficiency of renewable generation and stabilizing grid supply. The SiBox thermal energy storage system (TESS) stores renewable energy as latent heat in molten silicon, and then supplies heat and/or power through energy recovery systems such as turbines. Silicon’s very high melting point – 1414 °C – and high energy density means it can hold much more energy than other phase change materials and deliver maximum energy efficiency.
Further, SiBox doesn’t have the geographical limitations of other clean energy sources such as solar or wind, and is suitable for all climates and locations, and viable for grid, off-grid and co-generation installation. These factors, in conjunction with the abundancy and affordability of silicon, make this new technology a versatile, scalable and sustainable combined heat and power (CHP) solution.
Last year, 1414 Degrees was successful in attaining Australian Government funding to assist with their developments including:
The funding will be used to support the development commercialisation of the SiBox through the construction, commissioning and testing of the circa 1 MWh SiBox demonstration module validation project, which begins construction this year.
AusIndustry have published Energy Sector guidance for companies registering R&D Activities under the R&D Tax Incentive. It is likely that funding for the sector may be announced in the new federal government’s budget later in the year.