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Vast appoints Project Director for VS1 

Concentrated solar thermal power company Vast Solar has announced the appointment of Federico Sandoval as its new Project Director for VS1, a 30 megawatt / 288 megawatt hour CSP project in Port Augusta, South Australia. VS1 uses Vast’s proprietary modular tower CSP v3.0 technology and will generate dispatchable power with eight hours of thermal energy storage. It will be supported by up to $110 million in concessional financing and up to $65 million of grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Sandoval’s previous role as Construction Manager at Noor Energy in the UAE, and his CV includes multiple CSP projects worldwide. Craig Wood, CEO of Vast, said “We are confident his leadership of our VS1 project will expand Vast’s capabilities, cementing our position at the forefront of global renewable energy innovations.”

Monash’s harvesting robot wins engineering award

Engineers and engineering projects were recognised 2023 Engineers Australia Excellence Awards – People & Projects Victoria, held at South Wharf on Wednesday night. The Victorian Project of the Year was won by the Monash University team behind the development of its Monash Apple Retrieving System (MARS) apple harvesting robot. According to a statement from the university, MARS addresses the apple industry’s challenges with a solution that counters labour shortages and alleviates notable occupational health and safety concerns. The robot’s ‘soft gripper’ technology and vision system “ensures precise detection and picking of ripe fruit, and is gaining considerable global recognition within the fruit-growing sector… [holding] the promise of revolutionizing the orchard industry, with potential applicability to other fruits.”

Frucor Suntory appoints new Chief Supply Chain Officer  

Beverage company Frucor Suntory Oceania announced the appointment of Ian Roberts as Chief Supply Chain Officer on Thursday. According to the company, Roberts brings a wealth of experience to the new role, including serving as the Executive General Manager of Retail at Visy and over two decades at Lion in various senior Supply Chain Director roles. Roberts will lead the trans-Tasman supply chain, including the business operations based in Wiri, New Zealand, and the highly anticipated $400+ million manufacturing and distribution facility currently under construction in Ipswich, Queensland. Operational from mid-2024, this net-zero facility will be hiring over 160 roles to support its multi-beverage mandate. Former Chief Supply Chain Officer, Jon Sackree, departed Frucor Suntory earlier this year after a decade in the role.

Engineers Australia: AUKUS announcement good, but 60,000 more grads needed by 2033

Peak engineering body Engineers Australia has welcomed the federal government’s announcement of $128.5 million investment over four years to fund 4,000 additional university places to help build up the AUKUS workforce. Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew praised the commitment to addressing skills shortages in  engineering and acknowledging its significant role in Australia’s future. “AUKUS is one our nation’s biggest engineering endeavour since the Snowy Hydro project and the profession will be a critical voice in areas of regulation and oversight, as well as the operation and maintenance will be required to support this program,” said Madew. The CEO did however recommend further interventions due to the escalating demands on the profession. “Engineers Australia is calling on the government to adopt the target of producing 60,000 additional engineering graduates by 2033,” added Madew. “This will help cater to our nation’s engineering needs and ensure that Australia continues to thrive in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.”

NSW government’s $1.8 billion boost to clean energy praised by Climate Council

Advocacy group the Climate Council has welcomed the NSW government’s announcement on Thursday of $1.8 billion to accelerate NSW’s switch to clean energy, including $800 million additional to its election commitment. “The $800 million of new funding for transmission is the jump start we needed to get NSW back in the clean energy game. New transmission is one key to unlocking more renewable energy capacity across the state and beyond,” said Head of Advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner. “While the focus is on accelerating the build out of transmission, the $1 billion to set up the Energy Security Corporation will provide better community access to batteries. We should also be working out how more households can have smart meters and electric vehicle charging, efficient electric appliances and energy efficiency to lower their energy costs.”

Innovation clusters not “set and forget”: researcher

University of South Australia PhD student Kathryn Anderson is this year’s winner of the UniSA Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, winning a $3,000 research grant in the final this week for her speech on innovation districts and earning a spot representing the university at the Asia-Pacific semi-final later this month. Anderson looked at whether simply co-locating business was all it takes for new industries to flourish, reviewing archival documents, and interviewing entrepreneurs, CEOs and policy makers to deconstruct the secrets of success for innovation districts. “Technology allows us to collaborate at distance, but there is a human side to entrepreneurship that needs a place. Simply putting the ingredients in place is not enough,” said Anderson in a statement from the university. “For innovation districts to really work, they must create layered opportunities to connect capabilities onsite, and connect strategies to economic priorities. They require ongoing facilitated effort – they are not set and forget.”

PowerLink sale complete, project “on track to deliver clean energy”: NT government

The sale of SunCable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink project to a Grok Ventures-related entity is complete, and is now “on track to deliver clean energy for Middle Arm”, according to the Northern Territory government. The project includes development of the world’s biggest integrated renewable energy zone and battery complex on Powell Creek in the Barkly region, 800 kilometres of overhead HDVC transmission to the Darwin region, and 4,300 kilometres of subsea transmission to Singapore. Sun Cable entered voluntary administration earlier this year after an “absence of alignment” between shareholders. Grok Ventures has said it is now committed to progressing the $40 billion project to Final Investment Decision, and will keep a SunCable office in Darwin. “Today, SunCable is moving forward under new ownership, with a renewed focus and robust plan to launch new export industries for Australia while making a significant contribution to Australia and the Northern Territory’s energy transition efforts,” said Grok Ventures CEO Jeremy Kwong-Law.

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