Coming clean - energy in Australia

The government has been focusing increasingly on the use of clean energy sources as well as energy efficiency measures, in order to protect the nation from shocks in electricity price shocks as well as minimising Australia's carbon footprint. 

One of the ways the government has been doing this is through its Clean Technology Investment Program, providing $800 million worth of grants, designed to encourage investment in new renewable technologies and developments.

The associated Clean Technology Innovation Program, which provides grants to companies looking to develop new clean technologies and improve energy efficiency, has $200 million worth of grants to be allocated between $50,000 and $5 million, with the grant amount to be matched dollar-to-dollar by the recipient.

The latest recipient to be awarded funds from the program is Dunham Holdings (trading as Hivotech), a manufacturing company in Burnie, Tasmania.

The company has received $499,748 to go towards its Network Integrity Management System (NIMS) - a monitoring system to improve the energy efficiency of electrical railway and tramlines.

The money for the fund comes from revenue generated from Australia's carbon pricing mechanism.

"This is a great example of a clever Tasmanian business coming up with a solution to a worldwide problem. Hivotech's system could virtually eliminate the laborious and expensive physical maintenance cycle for electrical railway and tramlines," said Greg Combet, minister for climate change, industry and innovation.

Currently the budget for maintaining Australia's electric rail industry is more than $3 billion annually, as rail networks operate a 45 day maintenance cycle as they inspect every insulator and joint.

Hivotech's new technology will mean monitoring units are placed at the top of power grid support poles at every two kilometres for rail, and every 500 metres for trams.

The units will measure the condition of the network and its insulators at every point the units are placed one.

"This grant will allow electrical railway and tramline operators to remotely identify the location of faults in the network and target their maintenance effort," said Sid Sidebottom, federal member for Braddon.

"This will make it easier to detect faults and reduce power leakages, improving energy efficiency and cutting emissions."

Mr Sidebottom also congratulated the North West of Tasmania on its innovative spirit and for being a great example of how to turn a great idea into a practical and beneficial solution.

Posted by Charlie Moore