institute for sustainable futures december 2014 · pdf file season’s greetings best...

Click here to load reader

Post on 21-Jun-2020




0 download

Embed Size (px)


  • In this issue

    Innovations to boost the energy sector

    Beginning at the end

    A level playing field for local energy

    Network Opportunity Mapping project launched

    The Wrap is the monthly newsletter of the Institute for Sustainable Futures

    E: W:

    T: +61 2 9514 4950 F: +61 2 9514 4941

    Postal address: PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007

    Street address: Level 11, UTS Building 10 235 Jones Street Ultimo NSW 2007


    Season’s Greetings Best wishes for the holiday season. We are looking forward to working with you again next year to build on this year’s considerable success in creating changes towards sustainable futures.

    Innovations to boost the energy sector

    Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key research areas for ISF and we are pleased to announce two provisional patents in these areas were filed in November 2014.

    Juergen Peterseim completed his PhD on concentrating solar power hybrid plants with ISF this year and has developed a novel solar tower structure and method of construction (Australian patent application number 2014904779).

    Solar tower plants require one or more tower structures to support a receiver where the working fluid is heated to a desired temperature. Building a tower structure in a remote location is by its nature costly due to higher labour cost and logistics. The inven- tion aims to significantly lower the cost of the tower structure, by up to 30%, through modularisation and pre-manufacturing.

    The individual modules could be manu- factured in a suitable workshop at lower cost and higher quality before being transported to site. On site the modules are connected requiring little field work and hence lower- ing cost. The erection of the complete tower is also very quick and designed to minimise field work. Modularisation and pre-manu- facturing is being used to lower equipment and process cost in many industries, such as oil & gas, mining and conventional power, and the concentrating solar power industry can benefit from adapting this approach too.

    In addition to his research role at ISF Juergen has been involved in power and industrial plants for the last 11 years and has a deep understanding of practical problems affecting the industry.

    One of these problems is the significant loss of generation capacity of gas turbine installations at high ambient temperatures. Various technical solutions exist to counter this effect by cooling the gas turbine inlet air, such as evaporative cooler, fogger as well as mechanical and absorption chillers. However, these require water (evaporative cooler and fogger) or complex equipment with the need for attended operation, both factors contributing to operational expenses. Juergen developed a gas turbine inlet air cooling concept (Australian patent applica- tion number 2014904780) which can exceed the performance improvements of the exist- ing technologies without consuming water and the need for attended operation. The invention is ideally suited for gas turbine installations in environments where ambient temperatures >35°C occur frequently. Many such sites exist in Australia with active min- ing and power generation operations relying on gas turbines.

    The University of Technology Sydney has signed NDA’s (non disclosure agreements) with a few industry partners for both inven- tions and we are looking forward to work- ing towards commercialisation. Both can be applied in the Australian environment but also have the potential to create new prod- ucts for an export orientated partner.


    Beginning at the end

    Starting with a richly articulated picture of where we would like to be at some defined point in the future has powerful consequences for any human endeavour, not least for transdiscipli- nary (TD) research.

    A journal article by Prof. Cynthia Mitchell, Dr Dena Fam & Dr Dana Cordell describing the way Institute researchers do this has just been accepted by the pres- tigious journal Futures.

    Professor Mitchell says: “This accept- ance by the upper echelons of TD researchers of a process honed over 17 years of change cre- ating research projects is really exciting.“

    The journal article presents a frame- work to tease apart the distinct but over- lapping and interrelated set of outcomes associated with research projects that explicitly seek to create change.

    The framework is based on the Institute’s extensive experience of project- based transdisciplinary research.

    The authors define three outcome spaces (Situation, Knowledge and Learning) and they argue that defining upfront the desired outcomes in these spaces has profound implications for how transdisciplinary research is conceived, designed, implemented and evaluated.

    The first outcome space is improve- ment within the ‘situation’ or field of inquiry, that is, the everyday world of our research collaborators and clients. Changes in the situation may be institu- tional (e.g. a shift in a policy), or biophysi- cal (e.g. more efficient water use).

    Secondly, the generation of relevant stocks and flows of knowledge, includ- ing rigorous scholarly knowledge and other forms of knowledge (e.g. decision- making tools, industry reports, interactive websites, apps) in order to make insights accessible and meaningful to both research participants i.e. clients and col- laborators, as well as broader beneficiaries i.e. industry sectors and/or citizens.

    Finally, outcomes of mutual and trans- formational learning by both researchers and research participants increase the likelihood of persistent change.

    The authors also define core attributes of transdisciplinary researchers that need to be considered and made transparent to both the project team and primary audi- ences. These include:

    Intention (what is the intent of the research project? e.g. to improve the situa- tion or better understand the situation? )

    Worldview (the worldview of the research team can influence their theoreti- cal lens, the boundaries of the project and selection of stakeholders)

    Experience and qualifications (influ- ences roles & responsibilities; theoretical frameworks & methods used and quality of the research)

    Past engagement with the situation (influences trust by stakeholders, ‘street cred’ or perception as invested in a par- ticular outcome)

    Funding arrangements (implications for likelihood of implementation, trust in the outcomes, risk of perceived bias)

    Degree of engagement across dis- ciplines (implications for opportunities for insights gained through engage- ment across disparate philosophical perspectives)

    Degree of engagement with the situ- ation (the degree of engagement across sectors and stakeholder groups influences the breadth of perspectives, saliency, cred- ibility and legitimacy of the research)

    The authors recognise transdisci- plinary research is neither objective nor value-free. Their starting point is to acknowledge that each of us has episte- mological and ontological preferences as a transdisciplinary researcher and values as a person. They argue making worldviews and other formative influences explicit is good practice.

    The transdisciplinary outcome spaces framework introduced in this journal arti- cle provides a useful conceptual frame- work to guide the conception, design, conduct, and evaluation of purposive transdisciplinary research projects.

    The full paper is now available online: C. Mitchell, D. Cordell, D. Fam,

    Beginning at the End: the outcome spaces framework to guide purposive transdisciplinary research, Futures (2014) futures.2014.10.007

    Conceptual map of the three outcome spaces indi- cating a transdisciplinary project embedded in the broader landscape.


    A level playing field for local energy

    The operators of Australia’s electricity networks are advised to prepare for the future by recognising and reward- ing local energy, or risk disruptive change as the country’s energy system undergoes an unprecedented transformation, argues the Institute for Sustainable Futures in a new issues paper.

    A million households, community buildings and small busi- nesses now have solar PV, while electricity prices have doubled in a decade. More change is coming, as new technologies and new business models unlock new demand for customer genera- tion and energy storage.

    The electricity ‘death spiral’ Electricity consumption from the grid, once thought to have

    an inevitably upward trajectory, has been going down for more than five years. If grid defection becomes a reality, it could precipitate an untenable situation for network operators, where rising prices push customers to reduce consumption or even dis- connect from the grid, which increases prices and further drives down consumption.

    Those customers who remain grid-connected face higher and higher prices as they pay for legacy infrastructure, built to serve a larger customer base and meet outdated demand forecasts.


View more