CSIRO-developed tech for energy-smart homes
Combining solar panels and batteries with smart technology, the system continuously analyses and optimises home energy use.
The system chooses the most efficient source for the household’s electricity supply at any given time, switching from solar to stored power as required.
The system looks at the power consumption patterns of each household and local weather to make smart decisions that reduce energy costs.
The system is remotely managed by Evergen and regularly analysed and updated by CSIRO.
CSIRO Energy Director Dr Peter Mayfield is excited to see this CSIRO-developed technology available in Australian homes.
“CSIRO has been at the forefront of solar and battery technology research for many years, and we are committed to the development of intelligent systems and tools which change the way we use energy,” Dr Mayfield said.
“We know that consumers are viewing their household electricity differently and taking more control; intelligent systems allow them to do this with ease.”
Evergen Chairman Stephen Dunne said the system is the gateway to energy-smart homes of the future.
“We’re excited to be taking the science of CSIRO and building it in to an energy system that will benefit families all over Australia,” Mr Dunne said.
CSIRO developed Evergen’s core energy management intelligence and provided research expertise to help Evergen commercialise the product.
The Evergen system is now available to Australians in an early release program, with a second-stage release program in January 2017.
For ACT residents
Evergen was one of eight winners of the ACT Government’s second round of its battery storage auction, part of a nation-leading plan to deploy 36 MW of cutting edge distributed battery storage in more than 5,000 Territory homes and businesses by 2020. ACT residents can save between $3,000-5,000 off the cost of an Evergen System (depending on system size) as part of this next generation ACT Government initiative. As the total subsidy pool is limited, ACT residents will gain access on a first-in basis.
CSIRO has a well established reputation for developing new technologies and partnering with industry to bring innovation to the community. Ginninderra provides an opportunity for this sort of technology and innovation to be practically applied through such collaboration.
Exploring Ginninderra’s past, present and future
After more than half a century of dedicated scientific research, CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station is entering a new phase. Planning and engagement has commenced to deliver a new benchmark in liveable, sustainable and resilient urban development.
The Ginninderra Field Station was established in 1958 as a site for plant and agricultural research. This was in anticipation of the closure of the Dickson Experiment Station to make way for urban development in that area, which eventually occurred in 1962.
As with the Dickson site, the Ginninderra Field Station has now been surrounded by urban development and is no longer optimal for CSIRO’s agricultural research. In 2011 CSIRO started considering options for Ginninderra’s future use.
Rather than simply sell the property, CSIRO saw Ginninderra as a great opportunity to bring its research together to make a difference, not only for local residents and the ACT, but for other Australian cities, people, industry and the environment.
The sustainable urban development of Ginninderra presents an opportunity for positive social, environmental and economic impact for the ACT and Australia, while generating revenue for the reinvestment into CSIRO innovation and research infrastructure.
In December 2012, CSIRO sought advice from the National Capital Authority about the correct process for seeking an amendment to the National Capital Plan. Through this, a long-term vision to deliver a new benchmark in sustainable urban development has arisen.
It’s a vision that has emerged through engagement with CSIRO’s science capability, undertaking environmental and heritage investigations, and initial conversations with the community, and one that will continue to evolve and bring lasting benefits.
CSIRO staff first met with ACT Government officials in July 2014 and have met regularly since then to discuss the possibilities for the potential development of the Ginninderra Field Station for urban use.
These meetings confirmed that the site presented an opportunity for greenfield development, which has been supported by the NCA’s response to the key issues considered as part of Amendment 86: ‘The CSIRO Ginninderra site presents an opportunity for greenfield development that can make use of existing infrastructure and services, and provides a more suitable alternative to cater for the growth of the city than other greenfield sites.’
CSIRO’s engagement with community groups, nearby residents and industry associations began in August 2015, coinciding with the land’s inclusion as part of Amendment 86.
This first round of engagement with the local community in September 2015 included three drop-in sessions at Gold Creek, Evatt and Charnwood and involved more than 220 people. This is only the beginning, as CSIRO aims to involve more of these people and groups in the conversation about how we can design and work together for a liveable, sustainable and resilient urban area.
On 5 May 2016, classification of the Ginninderra Field Station to ‘Urban’ as part of the National Capital Plan was approved. This decision paved the way for CSIRO to seek Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a suitable development partner.
Following the closing of the EOI on May 23, CSIRO is evaluating and shortlisting suitably qualified developers, ahead of a Request for Proposal process later in the year.
CSIRO is excited about the opportunity to continue to work with the community, government, research partners, and other stakeholders, to create something unique at Ginninderra.
CSIRO is also committed to continuing the discussions with ACT Government agencies to harmonise with future planning goals and aspirations.
Future steps for the Ginninderra project include a site visit with conservation groups and workshop in June, community forum in July, additional community meetings in early 2017, as well as planning, approvals and detailed design in 2018. The earliest that any development could commence on the site is in 2019.
Bold green vision for Ginninderra future
Over the past few years a vision has been emerging for what a sustainable urban development backed by science and innovation could be like.
Our vision is to restore and improve our natural environment while setting a new benchmark for sustainable urban development.
The terms ‘benchmark and sustainable’ apply to the extent to which we can maximise and maintain the stream of future environmental, social and economic benefits, that flow from the development and its surrounding natural values.
The aspirations for Ginninderra are closely aligned with many of Australia’s key policy settings and targets namely in areas of national innovation, infrastructure, cities and built environment, energy and climate, water and the economy.
CSIRO is well placed to significantly address these important issues because of our coverage of relevant research areas and our capacity to draw on all of these and engage the right collaborators and partners.
We are looking to provide multiple benefits through combining a diversity of housing, community and recreational facilities together with some retail and commercial opportunities, all integrated with the restoration, conservation and management of the landscape and its important natural and heritage values such as the endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodlands.
We are absolutely committed to the management and restoration at Ginninderra of areas of threatened vegetation types and species that are protected by ACT or Commonwealth legislation.
Protection of trees regulated and administered by the Tree Protection Act 2005 is an essential component and CSIRO is developing guidelines that extend beyond its regulatory obligations to ensure their preservation.
This commitment has extended to comprehensive environmental studies that sees approximately 130ha of the site largely protected by legislation and a further 80ha that CSIRO has identified should be managed to protect ecological and heritage values.
Ginninderra residents and other water and energy users will draw benefits from the efficient and sensitive management and use of water and the leading-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities that we are exploring for the site.
We want to contribute to the evolution of urban areas from being ‘consumer and polluter’ to being ‘energy and water efficient’ and ‘environment protectors’.
We want to help solve the issue of affordable housing, particularly for those in the lower 40 per cent of incomes.
Encouraged by the ideas and feedback generated at our recent gathering of experts – The Affordable Housing Think Tank – we are firmly committed to providing real and lasting affordable housing options, among the property mix at Ginninderra. This will extend well beyond the asking price for moving into the neighbourhood, to various other aspects that affect the cost of living including energy, water and transport.
These topics and others including urban food growing, waste minimisation, recycling and reuse have regularly been raised in our community conversations and we will continue to explore these in future planning together with our joint venture partner.
We are aspiring to urban planning and design that can promote such features, encourage social interactions and connections and maintain an accessible open space network.
CSIRO is committed to keep building this vision with the community and to plan the development with and for the community. There are many steps and stages in front of us before any development occurs and we want to work with the community throughout.
We see community innovation and opportunities for ‘citizen science’ as fundamental components in the creation and future success of this venture.
Citizen science and community activity is already underway and helping to deliver our environmental commitments at five sites across our Ginninderra property, led by the Ginninderra Catchment Group, Landcare member groups and some of its 500 volunteers. This group is extending its work with autumn burning to recover and restore native grasslands in the Ginninderra catchment.
This and other community-driven work will provide valuable insights on how best to restore and conserve areas of the endangered White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland located on the site.
CSIRO is committed to remaining involved and achieving the exemplar in sustainable urban development.
The reason we are seeking a joint venture development partner is because we want to be closely involved with Ginninderra – firstly, to ensure that we can achieve these conservation, sustainability, liveability and affordability goals. Beyond that we want to realise knowledge and innovation from this development that can be applied more broadly for benefit in the ACT, Australia and beyond.
CSIRO Ginninderra development prompts formulation of affordable housing strategy
Published on 29 March in the Canberra Times. Written by Tom McIlroy.
Redevelopment of the CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station could be under way within two years, as the research organisation looks to experts for proper integration of affordable housing options as part of a new community.
Experts from universities, social service agencies, charities, banks and financial institutions will come together for an affordable housing think tank event in Canberra on April 8, before the CSIRO engages a consortium or joint-development partner for redevelopment, pending federal government approvals on required zoning changes.
Affordable housing products are provided for rent or purchase at prices that low and moderate income households can afford, while also meeting other living expenses. The CSIRO expects to deliver more than the required 20 per cent quota on the field station site.
The 701-hectare area sits on the ACT-New South Wales border, framed by the Barton Highway, William Slim Drive, Owen Dixon Drive and Kuringa Drive.
First established in 1960, the field station replaced research sites at the current site of the Dickson shops. The area has been home to the development of a range of projects including novel grains and agricultural systems.
ACT Shelter executive officer Travis Gilbert welcomed the think tank event and said the CSIRO was committed to incorporating the needs to affordable housing consumers.
“I think what the event will do is provide an opportunity to bring some leading experts into one room to have a discussion about how we can guide the aspirations of CSIRO and those of housing people, to get what I think could be a good quality development and something a bit different to more rent housing developments,” he said.
“One of the issues when we talk about affordable housing is price … and what that can sometimes mean is putting as many tiny units per square metres of accommodation as you can get for the price and selling them at a price that is technically affordable but still maximises profit.”
Mr Gilbert said affordable housing didn’t mean cheap housing.
“What ACT Shelter is really interested in pursuing is how affordable is a home to live in? A higher energy efficiency rating, for example, makes it much cheaper for people to heat and cool their homes.”
The discussion will include shared equity and innovative purchase structures, shared housing arrangements and comparisons between ownership and rentals.
Aspiring for best practice at Ginninderra
As we welcome in 2016, some of the Ginninderra project team have been enjoying a holiday break while others are working hard to scope the vision and potential for a liveable, sustainable and resilient urban development at Ginninderra.
A team of CSIRO researchers, and experts in their fields, gathered in Canberra late in 2015 to discuss the areas of research, technology and innovation that could be included in the Ginninderra venture.
“The workshop produced a lot of ideas and energy about specific science and innovation that we could integrate if the project gets the go ahead,” said science leader Mr Guy Barnett.
“We have some exciting research knowledge and technologies that can contribute to a best practice urban development and we are now working those ideas into a consolidated vision.”
We look forward to revealing these ideas and seeking your input as the project progresses. Stay tuned.
As the vision continues to emerge, the process of seeking reclassification of the Ginninderra Field Station to ‘Urban Area’ also continues.
As mentioned in our last newsletter, we are still following through the processes that govern land reclassification in the ACT.
In the meantime, we’re continuing environmental, heritage and other studies to ensure we have a thorough understanding of the site and needs of a future residential community.
Advancing crop research and sustainability
CSIRO research has led to advancements that impact many aspects of our lives, from the way we conduct our finances to the way we communicate.
Some of CSIRO’s most well-known innovations include WiFi, Australia’s plastic banknotes, extended wear contact lenses and the insect repellent Aerogard.
Our scientists work on solving the nation’s and the world’s biggest challenges across a vast array of research fields.
In agriculture and plant science, CSIRO scientists work on projects ranging from improving grain and crop yields to sustainable farming.
The Ginninderra Field Station has been a key site for some of this research. Our innovations in barley and wheat crops, conducted at this site, have led to improvements in yields, quality and disease resistance, and are making an impact on a national and global scale.
This work includes the development of BARLEYmax, a whole grain with four times the resistant starch and twice the dietary fibre of regular barley grains.
Now used in a wide range of commercially available food products, BARLEYmax offers superior health benefits and can help combat cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Read more about BARLEYmax here.
Ginninderra has also played host to CSIRO’s rotation and dual-purpose cropping work. This work, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, has seen CSIRO breed and release more than 10 dual-purpose feed wheat varieties in the last 15 years.
In addition to plant breeding, the Ginninderra site has played an important role in the work of CSIRO and partners in crop and pasture improvement, soil biology and crop productivity, sustainable farming, and the effects of climate change on crop production and soil carbon.
The recent purchase of 290 hectares of land in the heart of farming country at Boorowa, NSW, will ensure that CSIRO can not only continue this breakthrough research, but do so more effectively at a green field site set up to maximise the use of new technologies. You can find out more about the Boorowa farm here.
The NCA process and beyond
Following the end of the National Capital Authority (NCA) public consultations, it’s time to look at what happens next in the process of seeking reclassification of the Ginninderra Field Station to “Urban Area”.
There are a number of robust processes, with both the Federal and ACT Governments, that govern land reclassification and development in the ACT.
The public consultation phase was an opportunity for members of the ACT community to provide feedback and input on the suggested change. At this stage, the NCA also has the opportunity to consult with key ACT Government agencies, including the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate.
Following the public consultation process, the feedback will be compiled into a report and submitted to the Minister, currently Paul Fletcher, Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects.
If both the NCA and the Minister support the reclassification, there are still a number of other parliamentary processes to follow before the amendment is registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.
The change would take effect from this point, although the amendment is then put before both Houses of Parliament and is subject to disallowance. You can read more about the process in detail on the NCA website.
We expect to find out about the outcome of the request in February or March 2016.
We share the NCA’s commitment to community engagement. If you have questions or suggestions about the future use of the Ginninderra site, you can continue to contact us through this website.
Throughout this process we will continue to work on environmental and heritage studies to ensure that we have a complete picture of the site’s significant historical and ecological features.
We are hoping that our request to change the use of the land to “Urban Area” is approved. In the meantime, our scientists will continue to look at best practices in urban sustainability that could be adopted at Ginninderra.
We look forward to revealing more about our aspirations that could eventually make Ginninderra a world-leader in innovative and sustainable development.