Murdoch plans for District Energy Project

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Murdoch University has revealed plans to develop a major renewable energy project, the District Energy Project, at its main campus, with plans to pilot a peer-to-peer energy trading system, utilising blockchain technologies.

The university has called for expressions of interest to develop the District Energy Project, which includes solar panels across roof space at the South Street campus, and a solar car park.

Murdoch University’s Chief Operating Officer Darren McKee said the project was not just about providing for sustainable campus-wide energy generation, but also to create a Research Centre of Excellence in energy distribution and storage, incorporating blockchain technologies.

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“This is a four-stage project, the first of which will see the installation of 5.7 megawatt direct current of solar photovoltaic system on existing buildings and a new 1000 bay carpark,” Mr McKee said.

“However, the vision is to develop a research led and commercially sustainable District Energy Project.

“Our vision is to create a living lab of various renewable technologies including different types of energy storage (electrical and thermal) and incorporate studies related to the optimisation of a behind-the-meter microgrid.

“We are looking to partner with industry that will provide, in addition to the infrastructure requirements, research, learning and teaching and industry opportunities which are the backbone of this vision.”

Embedded energy generation, smart grids and peer-to-peer trading are critical issues in response to increasing costs and community demand. 

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“In the longer term, we see this project as being able to provide energy solutions for local communities via blockchain technologies.

“Ultimately, our project is not just aimed at delivering these, but being a leader in providing research, teaching and education in this industry.”

Mr McKee said the ‘living lab’ would play a key role in research and development of renewable energy technologies, while incorporating blockchain technologies which would evolve during the life span of the project.

“We have the resources to make Western Australia a global leader in clean, reliable, secure and affordable energy solutions, but we need to also make sure we develop and keep the research and expertise here in Western Australia,” Mr McKee said.

“Our vision is for the Murdoch University District Energy Project to be an exemplar for Australia.”