The state is developing from a gas exporter to produce a range of energy commodities and technological innovations, with energy exports to potentially hit $50 billion in a decade.
Western Australia has a critical role to play in driving the world’s energy future. Currently, about 1.5 billion people worldwide live without electricity and 2.5 billion people have no access to clean cooking or heating facilities. Limited availability to reliable, largescale energy greatly restricts living standards and entrenches inequality. To overcome such energy poverty, developing nations will utilise whatever available resources they can. However, while all forms of energy when used at scale have environmental impact, some forms are significantly better than others. Given its vast endowment of multiple energy resources, WA can make a substantial contribution to solving this global grand challenge.
The University of Western Australia works closely with the key industries responsible for delivering energy to billions of people in a region spanning the Indian Ocean to north-east Asia. The largest contribution to solving the future energy grand challenge will come from WA’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. For example, China is committed to using more natural gas to reduce its dependence on coal and lower CO2 emissions. The vast reserves of natural gas located off WA’s coast are central to that strategy; however significant technical challenges must be overcome to produce them cost-effectively. Having worked closely with the gas industry for over 30 years, providing education and technical solutions in offshore engineering, natural gas processing and LNG production, UWA established in 2018 the Chevron-Woodside Chair in Long-Subsea Tiebacks to help develop and deploy the engineering solutions required.
Electric vehicles and hydrogen will also play an increasingly important role in meeting the world’s energy demand with the least environmental impact. Experts at UWA are also making important contributions in these areas, for example through the renewable energy vehicle project in which technologies for fast battery charging enables multiple vehicle types to be powered with zero emissions. The Future Energy Exports CRC bid led by UWA aims to help grow a new hydrogen export industry able to meet Japan’s emerging demandfor de-carbonised energy. These initiatives are the latest examples from a sustained track record of significant contributions to the future of energy.