A new facility that will enhance global knowledge on electricity networks by focusing on power system analytics, energy management and microgrids, has been officially launched at The University of Queensland.
The UQ Industry 4.0 Energy TestLab – established in partnership with Siemens and with funding support from the Australian Government – will also investigate protecting critical infrastructure through cyber security.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deborah Terry AO said the national TestLab initiative demonstrated how universities in partnership with industry could benefit communities.
“This simulation capability is vital for Australia as it works to transition from centralised energy generation to a complex decentralised system that incorporates more sustainable energy options like household solar,” Professor Terry said.
“It’ll serve as a point of engagement between industry, researchers and students – enabling knowledge transfer and collaboration around power and energy system analytics, microgrid control, energy management, and cyber-physical systems security.
“It will also create engaging and deeply realistic teaching and learning experiences for students.”
Siemens Australia Chairman and CEO Jeff Connolly said the UQ TestLab brought together industry, research and education using the sorts of digital tools that we would all need to use in the industrial settings of the future.
“Having the software tools to create this ‘digital twin’ of the power network means the entire process can be carefully examined, simulated and tested virtually – from electricity generation, to transmission and distribution, and finally energy consumption and management,” Mr Connolly said.
“In addition to research projects, UQ is utilising this software around campus to understand its own energy consumption patterns, with the ability to then adjust the power that its systems are running – this is truly taking big data and turning it into smart data.”
Power systems expert Professor Tapan Saha, who is leading the research at UQ’s TestLab along with cyber security expert Professor Ryan Ko, said the new facility was complementary to UQ’s state-of-the-art renewable energy laboratory.
“This is a lab built for teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate programs, industry training with hands on experience and multidisciplinary research,” said Professor Saha.
“We’re able to make a real difference at many levels here to generate ideas and solve current problems that will propel us into the future.”
The UQ facility is one of the national network of Industry 4.0 TestLabs, which came about through the strategy and work of the Industry 4.0 Task Force.
The six Australian universities aim to provide industries and businesses the support needed to transition and benefit from opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution.
Each university Industry 4.0 TestLab has a different focus area to helps build complementary capability for Australia.