Hybrid systems to transform smart energy future

Hybrid energy systems deliver cost and efficiency advantages when compared with single energy systems and are now the focus of strengthened CSIRO and industry collaboration.

CSIRO recently launched its Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems, a collaborative facility to research cutting edge renewable and hybrid energy technologies.

Hybrid systems are those which combine two or more forms of energy generation, storage or end-use technologies. Configurations include renewable or non-renewable energy sources, electrical and chemical energy storage and fuel cells, often connected via a smart grid.

CSIRO’s new Centre, at Clayton in Melbourne, is a hub for researchers and industry to identify, improve and then tailor energy technologies to meet specific requirements.

The collaborative space will be used to share the benefits of emerging hybrid energy systems with industry and government to maximise the value of local energy sources.

CSIRO Fellow Dr Sukhvinder Badwal said there was a rapidly growing global demand for hybrid energy systems based on increased availability of renewable and modular power generation and storage technologies such as batteries, fuel cells, and household solar.

“These technologies are becoming cost competitive, but the key to greater use is to combine them in connected hybrid systems,” Dr Badwal said.

“By doing this, we can offer substantial improvements in performance, reliability of power, flexibility and cost.”

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems partner, Delta Energy Systems Australia, is a developer and manufacturer of solar-supported, fast-charging technologies for electric vehicles.

Delta Energy Systems Australia Director Allen Chao said his company was set to embark on a range of collaborative research projects with CSIRO in this field.

“The opening of the Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems expands research in this area and marks a significant milestone to ensure the success of any industry cooperation,” Mr Chao said.

Senior Executive Advisor to the Board of Toyota Australia, Bernie O’Connor congratulated CSIRO on the opening of a research hub for these important technologies.

“Toyota Australia recognises the importance of research into alternate green energy sources, as well as its role in the development of future infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, which are powered exclusively by hydrogen,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems will also provide education, testing and certification services for emerging storage batteries, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The Centre is underpinned by CSIRO’s research across low-emission energy technologies that create value for industry and households across Australia.

Opportunity for Ginninderra development and the ACT

Ginninderra is one of the potential sites for ‘real world’ application, innovation and development of such new and emerging hybrid systems. While it’s relatively early days in our planning process, Ginninderra presents the opportunity to introduce a constantly evolving smart hybrid energy management system.

Such a system could integrate all the various components including: household and community energy consumption, on-site and household renewable energy generation, fuel cell and on-site storage, electric vehicle charging, right through to the management of energy imported from or exported to the grid.

While a lot of pieces to bring together, it presents as a fantastic opportunity for us to do our bit for the ACT and for Australia’s smart, secure and sustainable energy future.

For more information, visit


Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

CSIRO-developed tech for energy-smart homes

Renewable energy start-up Evergen recently launched Australia’s first intelligent home energy management system, with the technical backing of CSIRO.

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.

Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen

Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen.


Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen, and Natalie Kikken from CSIRO

Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen, and Natalie Kikken from CSIRO


Bird, plane or scientific blimp?

The blimp in action at Ginninderra. The Phenomobile is also pictured on the left.

The blimp in action at Ginninderra. The Phenomobile is also pictured on the left.

Walking through the storage sheds at the Ginninderra Experiment Station, you would expect to find some interesting agricultural scientific equipment. What you might not expect to discover is a blimp.

However, like all shed items on site, the blimp has a story to tell. It’s part of a collection of items that also includes a ‘golf buggy on stilts’ or Phenomobile used to measure how effectively plants grow and perform under different field conditions.

The technology was developed by the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre, which is the Canberra node of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility – a partnership between CSIRO, The Australian National University, University of Adelaide and the Federal Government.

The technology uses cameras that capture different light wavelengths and signals to photograph growing plants. The photographs created allow scientists to make measurements about the plants’ growth rates, their water use efficiency and how productive the crops are over the growing season.

Having lab and farm facilities on site allowed the scientists to develop the technology in the lab, then test it in the field. The Phenomobile can get above a row of plants without harming the crop and take detailed images. The blimp does the same and can photograph a whole paddock at a time.

Being able to measure the plant without disturbing the crop or destroying the plants means crops can be monitored throughout the growing season as the environmental conditions change. The performance of different crop varieties can be monitored during a drought to see which varieties preform best under Australia’s harsh conditions.

After being trialled, tested and perfected on the CSIRO site, (and surprising a few local residents), the equipment is now used to make measurements on the paddocks of research collaborators and farmers.

While there are now certainly smaller and more portable measuring tools, such as drones, that can fly over plants and crops, the blimp provided a steady platform for the development of the imaging and analysis tools that are used in photographing plants across large areas.

While the CSIRO blimp won’t be seen again in the Canberra skies, the technology it helped to develop continues to be used in farms across the country.

Boorowa farm to carry on agriculture research from Ginninderra

Aerial view of Boorowa Farm

Aerial view of the Boorowa Farm

While moving away from the Ginninderra Field Station and all it’s contributed to agricultural research is a big change, we are very excited about the opportunities of a new farm.

We have purchased 290 hectares of land at Boorowa in New South Wales to continue our agricultural research program.

Boorowa is a farming region of NSW, located approximately 100 kilometres from the Ginninderra site.

The new farm, at less than half the size of the land at Ginninderra, will be easier to maintain and can be used more efficiently. Starting fresh at a new farm also means we have a new opportunity to use the latest digital farming technology from the outset.

CSIRO Agriculture Director Dr John Manners said he is looking forward to continuing CSIRO’s world leading agricultural science from the new farm.

“Establishing a new facility in a rural area allows us to take a green field approach to the site and our science,” Dr Manners said.

“This can enable us to conduct research into very new ways of farming, including the application of digital farming technologies. The new site is approximately 100 kilometres from our current site, allowing our Canberra researchers to continue their field trials on the new site.”

CSIRO’s acquisition of the land has been welcomed by local leaders including Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor and Mayor of Boorowa Shire Council, Wendy Tuckerman.

“Boorowa is one of Australia’s most significant areas for primary production and I am delighted its reputation will continue to be synonymous with agricultural excellence,” Mr Taylor said.

“Breakthroughs in technology have defined Australian agriculture. Hosting the customised farm research facility will ensure a long and beneficial relationship between the region and CSIRO.”

Mayor of Boorowa Shire Council, Wendy Tuckerman said the purchase of a farm in the local government area was fantastic news for the region.

“The purchase of the land in Boorowa by CSIRO has been a big win for the region,” Mayor Tuckerman said.

“We hope that this purchase brings researchers, scientists and staff to the region and pays dividends for both CSIRO and the community. We look forward to working with CSIRO into the future for the best outcomes of the region and the country.”

We will be looking at constructing our facilities on the property in the 2016-2017 financial year, subject to approvals.

We are excited to see how the new farm at Boorowa will advance Australian agricultural science.