University hosts Turnbulls with a clean and clear vision

Taking the opportunity to showcase our capability as an innovator in next generation resources, the University of Newcastle was delighted to host the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull and Ms Lucy Turnbull at its Callaghan campus this week (Tuesday 3 November).


Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull with Alex Zelinsky

The Turnbulls are well-known for their combined commitment to energy diversification and urban renewal. The former Prime Minister has long been a champion of the advantages of renewable technology as part of Australia’s immediate and long-range energy security strategy.

Tuesday’s visit, hosted by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, showed the University’s established and growing preparedness to lead research and develop new energy technologies and support sustainable transformation of energy markets.

“Malcolm and Lucy have a strong understanding of the history of our region and the Hunter’s relationship to traditional energy markets,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“Their visit allowed us to present the work we are doing to transform old coal technologies into cleaner delivery models that support our regions’ workforces.”

“They were also keen to learn of our achievements in hybrid and fully renewable energy sources – from energy capture, storage, through to the end-use.”

The Turnbulls toured the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources, where the team from MGA Thermal presented their thermal energy storage blocks and briefed the Turnbulls on the real potential to transition decommissioned coal-fired power stations to thermal energy-bank facilities.

“With several power stations soon to close their coal-fired operations, I was proud that the team at MGA Thermal were able to plant a viable solution such as thermal power storage into the conversation,” said Professor Zelinsky.

“We were also able to show how the university is contributing to a clean hydrogen future, with living examples of how energy technology can transition from traditional production to renewable.”

“The Hydrogen Harvester achieves this by separating hydrogen from oxygen using solar energy instead of carbon fuel sources. This innovative development of the H20 splitting process sets our organisation apart in terms of next generation resources.”

“We showed on the visit how our established Hydrogen Taskforce has brought community leaders together to make the transition a viable one in terms of our regional economy. It is not every day we have such high-profile spokespeople to get first-hand experience of how the hydrogen sector is motivating strong collaboration between research and industry to achieve this viability,” Professor Zelinsky said.

The afternoon was concluded with a keynote address by the former Prime Minister in the University’s Great Hall. Mr Turnbull presented a case for renewable energy and the country’s capacity to transition to clean-sourced power without undermining jobs or overblowing power prices.

“The Hunter Region has the skilled workforce, and the innovation and engineering capacity to become a green energy powerhouse”, Mr Turnbull said.

The University of Newcastle’s In Conversation series featuring Mr Turnbull was streamed to more than four-hundred listeners across our regions. Listeners were given a rare opportunity to hear considered and evidence-based discussion from traditional and renewable energy researchers, policymakers and producers, who swapped notes with Mr Turnbull on the opportunities for our regions in new energy markets.

“Our role as an institution is to facilitate open debate and encourage discussions that explore all sides of an opportunity. Mr Turnbull and his panellists left their audience with a balanced view on the advantages of a diversified energy economy for our regions.

“The University of Newcastle showed today how well-positioned we are to support regional growth and transformation of the energy sector through research expertise and purposeful industry engagement,” said Professor Zelinsky.

“I want to thank the Turnbulls for their openness and being so generous with their time. I also express my thanks to our panellists for invoking such meaningful and though-based public discussion on this important issue for our future economy.”

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