$4.2 million research centre for sustainable clean energy technologies

Thursday, 8 September 2016


A $4.2 million research centre to be based at the University of Newcastle (UON) will support world-class researchers to solve critical clean energy challenges through a new industry funded research centre – VTara Green Energy Technology (VGET).

Professor Behdad Moghtaderi

Led by Professor Behdad Moghtaderi, Director of UON’s Priority Research Centre for Frontier Energy Technologies and Utilisation, and in collaboration with VTara Energy Group, VGET will develop a range of sophisticated hybrid renewable technologies.

One of the first technologies to be rolled out is an integrated hybrid gasification and power pack system that uses genetically modified short rotation energy crops such as precision farmed and harvested bamboo as feedstock to produce a gas for power generation.

Professor Moghtaderi said research and industry collaboration was key to achieving powerful global impact.

“VGET builds on some groundbreaking research we’ve already achieved in partnership with VTara. We’re excited to be developing some new technologies but most importantly, the industry collaboration enables us to see the application where it’s needed,” Professor Moghtaderi said.

A pilot-scale demonstration of the technology will be built at the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), and then field tested in India.

“The first demonstration site has the potential to power up to 40,000 – 50,000 homes in developing economies annually.

“Such technologies have a wide application globally, particularly in underdeveloped and developing economies, where there are 1.3 billion people that have no access to electricity. Our work could change lives,” said Professor Moghtaderi.

Chairman and CEO of VTara Energy Group, Dr Clive Stephens, said the partnership will play an important role in advancing the needs of regional communities globally.

“One of VTara's core beliefs is that by bringing sustainable and clean biomass based energy technologies to regional and rural areas, VTara not only delivers energy, but enables industry and employment in rural and regional communities.

“Importantly, the establishment of VGET’s collaborative environment is a fantastic development for the future of rural and regional electrification globally. VTara Energy can demonstrate and deploy a suite of hybrid technologies, such as decentralised waste to energy applications, state-of-the-art smart grid technologies and energy storage and harvesting, to a global market” he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation, Professor Kevin Hall, said the partnership between UON and VTara will significantly further UON’s work in the field of renewables.

“UON’s NIER facility is a global leader in innovation through industry collaboration. VGET is an outstanding example of the many benefits that can arise when research and industry partner up,” said Professor Hall.

VGET will launch in January 2017 at NIER on Callaghan campus.