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Australian Government | Australian Renewable Energy Agency | ARENA
28 October 2021

Supporting the transition to low emissions metals

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Low emissions metals: a key priority for Australia

The transition to low emission metals represents a key opportunity to decarbonise Australian heavy industry. As part of its updated investment plan, ARENA will support this pathway by investing in innovative solutions to lower emissions in carbon-intensive value chains, such as steel and aluminium.

Image: ARENA CEO Darren Miller announcing our priority to support the transition to low emissions metals.

Read: Blog: "Is ‘green’ steel and aluminium within reach?" 


Watch: ARENA announces its support for low emissions metals 

Listen: Darren Miller’s vision on the future of heavy industries 


Watch: The role of renewables in Australian metals supply chains 


Australian Industry Energy Transition Initiative develops pathways to reduce industrial emissions

Recent analysis by the Australian Industry Energy Transition Initiative (ETI) shows that the majority of industrial emissions generated in 5 major supply chains can be addressed by 2050 with existing and emerging solutions. These solutions can be categorised as:

  1. energy and material efficiency
  2. zero emissions energy and feedstock supply
  3. electrification and other fuel switching
  4. non-energy emissions abatement
  5. capture or offset of residual emissions.

Image: Key pillars of a net zero emissions transition.

Read the Australian Industry ETI Phase 1 Technical Report 

Read the Australian Industry ETI Phase 1 Highlights Report 

See the Australian Industry ETI Project summary presentation 

Image showing cloud band over South Australia

Alcoa investigates low emissions solutions to produce alumina

Aluminium producer Alcoa will use renewable energy to refine bauxite ore into alumina, which can then be smelted into aluminium. The first-of-its-kind deployment in Australia is planned to be undertaken at Alcoa’s existing alumina refining facility at Wagerup, Western Australia.

The project involves a process known as Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR), which is expected to play a key role in achieving the company’s ambitious decarbonisation targets.

ARENA conducted a spotlight interview with Ray Chatfield, Global Technical Manager of Refining Energy at Alcoa of Australia, to discuss the process and other initiatives to decarbonise their alumina refining operations.

Image: Alcoa’s Wagerup refinery.


Read our spotlight interview with Alcoa of Australia 

Watch Alcoa of Australia’s project video 


Green manganese concept developed in Australian outback

Element 25 has developed and tested a novel method of refining manganese ore that could be powered by variable sources of renewable energy available on-site. The modified “electrowinning” process, developed with Murdoch University, can produce electrolytic manganese metal from ore mined at the Butcherbird manganese deposit in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Extensive solar and wind resource assessments at the Butcherbird site have determined the amount of renewable energy available, but more importantly: the variability of that energy source. Refining manganese with renewable energy would provide financial and environmental benefits by offsetting the amount of natural gas required for power generation in this remote location.

Image: Measurement equipment - Pyranometer (foreground) and SODAR unit (background).


Read Element 25 Phase 2 - resource assessment report here 

Read Murdoch University’s Phase 3 - full scale test work report here 


New to the Knowledge Bank this month

System Security and Reliability
Monash University is leading a team to investigate options to successfully integrate inverter-based resources into weak grids. This first report presents findings related to weak grid classification and grid strengthening solutions.

Pumped Hydro Energy Storage
Genex have published 2 more reports from their Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro project that detail the lessons learnt from developing the project and the process of reaching financial close.

Solar PV R&D
This final report discusses project results and lessons learnt to date for UNSW’s Integrating Industrial Black Silicon with High Efficiency Multicrystalline Solar Cells project.

This report presents initial lessons learnt from the Alice Springs Future Grid Project with regards to the challenges and benefits of establishing a project consortium.

This is the final report for the Advanced Silicon Solar Cells by DESIJN (Deposited Silicon Junctions) project. The ANU partnered with private firm Jinko Solar to develop and deploy new silicon solar cell technology that has led to a number of world record achievements.

This is the final report for the ANU’s Next Generation Industrial Bifacial Silicon Solar Cell project that has developed new technologies to be transferred to industrial scale devices, along with specialised testing methodologies.

Distributed Energy Resources
This report provides an evaluation of ARENA’s Virtual Power Plant portfolio in terms of the value provided to ARENA’s stakeholders and the energy industry more generally and to identify lessons learned which may be applied to future programs.

The Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP) hosted a virtual public forum on 5 October 2021. This event provided an overview of DEIP and an update on 3 workstreams: Dynamic Operating Envelopes, DER Communications and Cyber Interoperability, and EV Grid Integration.

Demand Response
This report provides an evaluation of ARENA’s demand response portfolio in terms of the value provided to stakeholders and the energy industry more generally and to identify lessons learned which may be applied to future programs.

The Demand Response Short Notice Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader Trial was a $35.7 million program, spanning from 2017 to 2020. This report presents the key results and lessons learnt throughout the Demand Response RERT trial.

Battery Storage
ITP’s latest report analyses the performance of twenty-six leading batteries, comparing major lithium-ion battery brands to existing and advanced lead-acid battery technologies, as well as a zinc-bromide flow battery and a sodium-nickel chloride battery.

Australian Government | Australian Renewable Energy Agency | ARENA
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