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South Australian households to take to smart energy appliances

Five hundred South Australian households are set to go energy-smart in a new project announced by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and electricity distributor SA Power Networks. ARENA is providing $6.2 million to SA Power Networks’ $13.8 million ‘Energy Masters’ project. The project will see SA Power Networks install consumer energy resources (CER) and smart energy appliances in 500 homes, with energy use optimised by a home energy management system (HEMS). This Australian first demonstration of aggregated flexible demand in residential settings will pioneer the coordination of residential CER and smart appliances to better match energy use to supply and respond to market signals, shifting households’ energy use away from peak demand periods. ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project would demonstrate the value flexible demand can offer households, in a market saturated with renewable energy. “South Australia has led the world in terms of variable renewable energy penetration, so it’s a perfect setting to trial how flexible energy use can complement a high share of renewable generation,” Mr Miller said. Households will receive subsidies to implement different levels of electrification within their homes, with devices including smart split-system air-conditioners, heat pump hot water, and smart EV chargers.

Queensland Pacific Metals receives $15.8 million R&D tax benefit

Battery metals developer Queensland Pacific Metals has announced receipt of a cash refund of $16.1 million from the Australian Tax Office comprising $15.8 million under the Research Development Tax Incentive Scheme and associated interest payable. The R&D Tax Incentive refund is related to eligible R&D activities in FY 2023 on expenditure incurred in relation to the TECH Project – the company’s Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) Project (pictured). The TECH Project will be a modern and sustainable, battery metals refinery. A short term loan of $12.6 million taken out against the R&D tax refund has now been repaid back in full. Queensland Pacific Metals shareholders include LG Energy Solution, steelmaker POSCO and General Motors.

New Queensland Advanced Biomanufacturing Network launch

The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland is to launch the Queensland Advanced Biomanufacturing Network on Wednesday May 8. The network is an AIBN-led collective that recognises the influx of global biomanufacturing companies setting up capabilities in the Sunshine State, and the immense opportunity that exists. The network brings together a number industry, government and research bodies who have a stake in biomedical, energy, and food solutions, and who want to see those opportunities grow. The AIBN stands ready with the research expertise, the facilities, equipment, and connections to take industry ideas and develop them into commercial prototypes. The launch event is at the AIBN (the UQ campus at St Lucia) and will be attended by biomanufacturing industry and government players including Dr Michael Wheatcroft from Telix Pharmaceuticals, Dr Pradeep Gundabolu from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Queensland Health deputy director general Colleen Jen, and Industry Professor Trent Munro from Microba Life Sciences and Life Sciences Queensland.

Matrak raises new capital, opens China business

Smart supply chain tracking developer Matrak has closed a Series a fundraise of $2.9M, led by G&M Capital alongside Sydney VC Our Innovation Fund, former-Aconex chairman Simon Yencken and others. The Melbourne based construction start-up with over 400 construction projects on their network said that with a fortified balance sheet it had opened Matrak China. Launched in 2018, Matrak aims to transform global construction supply-chains through connected materials tracking. Companies as diverse as manufacturers, suppliers and builders use head up the over 280 clients on their network. Co -founder and CEO Shane Hodgkins said: “We’re thrilled to have G&M and our existing investors support our international expansion. Construction is global, and building our team closer to our major manufacturing customers will de-risk critical supply-chains, and unlock more sustainable procurement worldwide.”

Ampcontrol appoints Victoria Aspden to key digital transformation role

Electrical systems manufacturer Ampcontrol has appointed Victoria Aspden (pictured) to the new position of Executive General Manager – Digital & Transformation. In this senior executive role, she will spearhead digital and operational transformation to drive continued innovation, optimisation, and efficiency across the business as it strives to lead the global energy revolution, according to a statement. With over 20 years of experience as a technology and transformation executive, Victoria has held senior management positions with Great Southern Bank, Colonial First State, and Commonwealth Bank. Ampcontrol Managing Director & CEO Rod Henderson said the appointment of Ms. Aspden signified a pivotal phase for the company, heralding a new technological advancement and transformation chapter to meet customer and industry demands. Victoria will oversee developing and implementing innovative digital solutions and modern ways of working that will enhance operational efficiency and improve end-to-end customer experience, as well as leading cross-functional teams executing strategic transformation initiatives.

Working with engineered stone to cease in Queensland

Following the agreement of a national ban of engineered stone in December 2023, the Queensland government has confirmed the ban will come into effect in full in the state from July 1, 2024. The ban means that work with engineered stone in the manufacturing, supply, processing, and installation of benchtops, panels and slabs must cease even if contracts were entered into prior to the ban date. The government considers the ongoing risks of engineered stone to workers as unacceptable and will therefore not adopt a transition period for the ban, according to a statement. Work with legacy engineered stone – products installed in a premise before 1 July 2024 – will be permitted and will be subject to a national framework under model work health and safety laws. Businesses that plan to undertake permitted work with legacy engineered stone will be required to notify WHS regulators and failure to provide the required information will constitute an offence.

AAS developing ten-year plan

The Australian Academy of Science has said it is developing a ten-year plan to demonstrate “how science needs to evolve to achieve our national ambitions and advance Australian interests locally and globally.” Australian Science, Australia’s Future: Science 2035 will assess the national science system, its ability to compete and collaborate globally, and its contribution to the nation’s economy, security, health and quality of life. President of the Academy, Professor Chennupati Jagadish, cited ambitions to decarbonise and diversify the Australian economy, create a future made in Australia, and strengthen defence and sovereign capability, each requiring a robust science system. “Australian Science, Australia’s Future: Science 2035 will equip decision makers with the evidence they need to address capability gaps and direct resources strategically so Australia can confidently put its best foot forward,” “We need to ensure we have the capacity, technology, skills and knowledge to address the challenges that will shape our nation,” Professor Jagadish said.

Canberra Institute of Technology to host first TAFE EV CoE

The federal government has announced $9.7 million, to be matched by $9.7 million from the ACT government, to establish the nation’s first TAFE Electric Vehicle (EV) Centre of Excellence at the Canberra Institute of Technology. According to a statement, the centre will provide world-class training for a future EV workforce and will develop new diploma and degree apprenticeship pathways. It is also planned to further develop training for mechanics, technicians and developers of light and heavy vehicles and mobile plant technology, hydrogen vehicles and associated fields such as charging infrastructure installation and maintenance. Tesla, Komatsu and the tripartite Australian Mining and Automotive Skills Alliance have committed to be involved, and will support the design and delivery of industry relevant training products, apprenticeship pathways and job pathways. “This Centre of Excellence in Canberra will help boost collaboration between CIT, other TAFEs across Australia and the university sector,” said skills minister Brendan O’Connor.

Picture: (Victoria Aspden) supplied

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