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A round-up of energy-efficiency innovations from Australia and around the world.

Revolutionary hybrid cooling tower technology from UQ

Hybrid cooling tower technology, developed at the University of Queensland, could transform the process of electricity generation by greatly reducing water consumption and operating costs. ‘The implications of that are huge— offering up a reliable electricity supply without posing a significant environmental cost on rural communities,’ said Dr Kamel Hooman, director of UQ’s Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence.

Source: University of Queensland

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2016 Science and Innovation Awards

Grant applications are now open for the 2016 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Australians aged 18-35 year-old can apply for a grant of up to $22,000 to fund a project on an innovative or emerging scientific issue that will benefit the country’s primary industries. Applications close 5 pm AEDT Friday 9 October 2015.

Source: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

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Broken Hill solar plant puts energy into grid for first time

AGL’s Broken Hill solar plant in NSW has begun generating, with 26 MW of renewable energy feeding into the National Electricity Market. All 678,000 solar photovoltaic modules are expected to be installed over the next few months, with the plant on track to be fully operational by the end of this year.

Source: ARENA

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The future arrives, with energy-integrated 3D-printed house and vehicle

The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently demonstrated their working concept for an energy-efficient system that will link buildings and vehicles together, allowing both to operate off the grid. On days when the solar cells on the 3D printed house aren’t sufficient to run household operations it can use the natural gas engine in the 3D printed hybrid vehicle for supplemental power.

Source: 3D Print

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$50m in grants available under rural R&D programme

Applications for grant funding are now open for Round 2 of the Coalition Government's Rural Research and Development for Profit Programme. Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said up to $50 million in funding was available to deliver R&D projects to boost profitability and productivity.

Source: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

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ClimateWorks to develop energy productivity benchmark

ClimateWorks Australia has teamed up with its US counterpart, the ClimateWorks Foundation, to develop a global energy productivity benchmark for listed industrial companies. A company’s energy performance will be assessed in terms of its revenue or production levels per unit of energy used.

Source: The Fifth Estate

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Uluru resort powered by the desert sun

The Voyages Ayers Rock Resort has enough solar panel coverage to meet 30% of its peak power needs. ARENA is providing $450,000 funding for Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia to analyse and share the findings from the $6.5 million project with industry. ‘This project is a testament to the increasing competitiveness of solar PV in remote Australia,’ ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

Source: ARENA

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Recharging millions of electric vehicles—at the same time

Growing sales of electric vehicles poses the question—how can enormous numbers of them be recharged simultaneously on a grid that that wasn’t originally intended to supply such vast amounts of power? Researchers in Europe suggest the congestion can be managed by how the power is allocated throughout the charging network.

Source: Physics.org

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Green Building Economic Impact Study

A new US report finds that green building construction growth outpaces general construction and will continue to do so through 2018. Green construction and renovation has been driven by factors such as changes in code, emphasis on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction.

Source: US Green Building Council

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NASA technology set to save airlines fuel and time

Two passenger airlines soon will test NASA software developed to reduce flight times, fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines will use the Traffic Aware Planner (TAP) application, to make ‘traffic aware strategic aircrew requests’.

Source: NASA

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25 of the USA's most energy efficient colleges

American colleges are spending almost $7 billion a year in utilities and energy costs, meaning savings of just a few per cent can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Top schools in the USA are doing everything from investing in solar panels and cogeneration to making low-cost adjustments to change attitudes on energy use.

Source: Electric Choice

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A framework for reducing energy consumption in mining

This framework provides detailed advice on the steps that can be taken by mining companies to minimise energy consumption. By continually monitoring, tweaking and reporting new updates, companies can steadily improve system stability.

Source: Mining Global

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Energy efficiency creates jobs—new report shows how

Job creation is one of the many benefits that result from smart investments in energy efficiency. ACEEE’s new report Verifying Energy Efficiency Job Creation: Current Practices and Recommendations, looks at efforts to quantify and verify job creation from energy efficiency projects. The report also presents a framework for evaluators to use in future assessments.

Source: ACEEE

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Case study series on a range of energy efficiency retrofits

A series of six case studies showcases retrofit projects in a range of building types. Valuing Energy Efficiency  shows that many beneficial performance improvements can be achieved as part of ongoing building and business improvement and maintenance efforts.

Source: IMT

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New transparent coating cools solar cells for greater efficiency

Engineers at Stanford University in California have developed a transparent overlay that increases efficiency by cooling the cells even in full sunlight. The invention deflects the heat generated by a solar cell under sunlight and cools it in a way that allows it to convert more photons into electricity.

Source: Stanford Report

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Energy-efficient building for solar power research

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s new US$59m Solar Energy Research Center will provide space for 100 researchers dedicated to the development of artificial solar-fuel generation technology. The building itself features mechanical energy-efficiencies and sustainable design elements. These include runaround heat recovery, variable speed drive chillers and water-efficient landscaping.

Source: The News

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Energy efficiency helps drive economic development

Cities around the world are learning that aggressively promoting ways for buildings to cut their energy use is an important growth strategy. Building owners and their tenants in cities that practice effective energy management can save as much as seven times the energy costs of those in cities that don't make such an effort.

Source: Governing.com

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50 facts about energy consumption in the US

The US is a world leader in energy supply, production and consumption. Electric Choice present 50 facts on energy statistics in the US, providing a rundown of the sources and amounts of energy used around the country, and practices around renewables and energy efficiencies.

Source: Electric Choice

50 facts about energy consumption in the US

US$22m for next-generation motors

The US Department of Energy is awarding US$22m in funding to projects with advanced large-scale electric motors, to boost efficiency in high-energy-consuming industries. The funding is part of the US government’s plans to improve energy efficiency and to double US energy productivity by 2030. New variable-speed direct-drive systems incorporating power electronics advances could lead to $2.7bn in annual energy savings, and create high-quality manufacturing jobs.

Source: Drives and Controls

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Solar power for mining operations

Mining companies are increasingly interested in solar power because it can be more cost-effective than conventional energy solutions in remote locations that are not grid-connected. However, the engineering requirements for installation are much higher. A new study based, on interviews with mining and energy industry experts from Africa, Australia and Europe, shows show how complexity is increasing if solar energy moves toward major industrial consumers.

Source: Solar Industry

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