Access to electricity in poorer countries has begun to accelerate, energy efficiency continues to improve, and renewable energy is making impressive gains in the electricity sector.
– United Nations

At Victoria University, we approach the goal of clean energy through scientific enquiry and development, energy-policy research and practical infrastructure initiatives. Our Alternative Energy Group focuses on developing solar and wind energy, biofuels, sustainable buildings and other related areas.

Our campus infrastructure reflects this dedication, with 5-star-energy-rated buildings, and a commitment to renewable power and carbon neutrality.

7 affordable and clean energy (sun icon with power button)

Research, engagement & education 2020-21

Research with impact

VU researchers tackle clean and affordable energy challenges from both an engineering and a policy perspective. The Alternative Energy Research Group conducts research on renewable energy – biofuels, wind and solar – as well as sustainable building design to minimise energy usage.

The Victorian Energy Policy Centre (VEPC), led by Professor Bruce Mountain, is funded by the Victorian Government to address a lack of energy policy research in Australia and to inform state and national energy policy. The VEPC reports are critical to informing the development of evidence based policy in Australia with VEPC policy research translating into state and national policy decisions over time.

Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities researchers joined researchers from the United Arab Emirates, Korea, Malaysia and Pakistan in a joint effort to establish the progress towards using biomass (plant-based matter) as an affordable, scalable renewable and carbon-neutral energy source. Creating a bio-fuel from biomass involves a process called pyrolysis. Which pyrolysis processes should be employed – fast pyrolysis, slow pyrolysis or advanced pyrolysis – depends on the type of biomass and the specific reactor used.

High-impedance faults in power networks is a continuing and complex problem despite much research into potential solutions. Cagil Ozonay and Douglas Gomez from VU document the advances made in the field over decades of research, from seminal papers to contemporary methods and related technology. The review of the field provides a basis of understanding from which critically to analyse new developments.

Multi-area economic dispatch (MAED) is a very important issue in power systems, which affects the transmission of electrical energy. However, to optimise MAED functioning, and take into account costs and other practical issues, such as technical limitations, presents a very complex problem. Akhtar Kalam from VU, together with engineering researchers from Malaysia, Iran and Denmark, have developed an algorithm which provides a very powerful optimisation tool for determining costs and to choose the best alternatives for designing a multi-area economic dispatch.

Improving the design of electrical conductors has the potential to improve the cost and efficiency of power grids. Importantly, cables are subject to heating and must maintain their performance when subject to high temperatures and over a long period of time. VU engineering researchers Fernando Agustin, Akhtar Kalam and Aladin Zayegh are testing the suitability of new cable designs for use in different types of power networks.  Flexible aluminium conductors are not commonly used due to insufficient study of the performance of cable joints and connectors. The researchers tested the properties of aluminium cable with encouraging results for use in electrical systems that operate at a 110°C maximum temperature. Before the potential use can be confirmed, the authors will investigate further properties of mechanical sheer when the cables are subject to an electrical fault. The researchers further investigated the performance of TR-EPR-insulated cables. EPR cables are not commonly used in Australian power networks due to relatively high levels of power loss. However, TR-EPR have lower levels of discharge at a lower cost than the EPR designs. The TR-EPR cables proved to be a cost-effective option for use in cabling for underground power networks, with the improvement of discharge levels to an acceptably low level, after heating, being maintained over an extended period.

Engineering researchers Ujjwal Datta, Akhtar Kalam and Juan Shi produced a series of research reports addressing issues of clean and affordable energy. The researchers addressed the technical challenges of managing an electricity grid drawing on hybrid renewable energy sources of solar and wind power plants by designing a battery energy storage system to control grid loss of charge and to enable charge recovery. The battery energy storage system, in conjunction with a smart coordinated control of photovoltaic, also has applications for electric vehicle charging stations, to avoid the problem of overloading. They also investigated the financial and environmental implications of rooftop photo voltaic installation in a case study of commercial buildings in Bangladesh.

Applying mathematics to the problem of clean energy, Seyed Morteza Alizadeh, Sakineh Sadeghipour, Cagil Ozansoy and Akhtar Kalam presented a new voltage stability model in Developing a Mathematical Model for Wind Power Plant Siting and Sizing in Distribution Networks, for two common types of Wind Turbine Generators, to enable design engineers to predict how voltage will behave in different conditions.

The Centre of Policy Studies examined the Economic Implications of Global Energy Interconnection to quantify the economic implications of the proposed Global Electricity Interconnection (GEI) electricity system. Modelling results suggest that, by 2050, the GEI network will benefit all regions and will increase world GDP by 0.33 per cent, as well as contributing to sustainable energy and a reduction in green house gas emissions.

The Victorian Energy Policy Centre (VEPC) at VU has established that new forms of renewable energy generation are much cheaper than traditional energy sources. Bruce Mountain and Steven Percy of VEPC found that solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy sources are much lower in cost for the supply of electricity compared to coal, gas, hydro or nuclear electric power.


We engage with local and national government on policy affecting energy production and consumer pricing.

The Victorian Energy Policy Centre (VEPC) produced numerous reports on the relative costs and benefits of options for energy production and for consumer pricing including:

  • Inertia and system strength in the National Energy Market was prepared for The Australia Institute to inform the Energy Security Board’s Post-2025 redesign of the National Electricity Market (NEM). A focus for the Energy Security Board are the issues of the expansion of renewable generation and the expected future closure of synchronous generation typically obtained from thermal (coal-fired) generation. The report argues against current arrangements for essentially creating a Network Service Provider monopoly will tend to result in unnecessarily expensive solutions and that will impede innovation and learning in an area of rapid technology change.
  • The HumeLink proposal will be the most expensive electricity transmission project in Australia’s history. HumeLink is essential to connect the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro station, the largest generator to be built for 35 years. The Project Assessment Conclusions Report (PACR) incorrectly treated Snowy 2.0 as a sunk cost in the cost/benefit analysis, even though it included the benefits of Snowy 2.0. When the cost of Snowy 2.0 is factored into the cost-benefit analysis, HumeLink has a “deadweight" loss exceeding $4bn.
  • The Kurri Kurri Power Station: charging tax payers for hot air analyses the rationale for the proposed gas/diesel power station and concludes that there is neither the need, nor the prospect that it will earn the revenues to recover its outlay.
  • An analysis of the economics and greenhouse gas impact of Marinus Link and Battery of the Nation: 2021 update was prepared for the Bob Brown Foundation. The Marinus Link is a proposal to link the Tasmanian and Victorian electricity grid. The cost-benefit analysis found that the costs of interconnection exceeded benefits, with much cheaper options available to achieve the transition to renewable energy:

“Even if Hydro Tasmania could provide, for no additional cost, 1,500 MW that it could export to Victoria day in day out for eight hours at a stretch for the foreseeable future, it will still be cheaper to build 1,500 MW of batteries in Victoria rather than to build Marinus Link and storage capacity provided from the Tasmanian power system.”

  • Analysis of the impact of proposals to charge solar homes to export electricity to the grid rejects the the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) calculations that the impact on solar homes will be small. The injection price used by the AEMC is not correct, and so correcting for this error, VEPC concludes that “the great majority of solar homes in the National Electricity Market will receive little or no income for the surplus solar production that they export to the grid.”
  • In the report Is rooftop solar a play-thing of the well-to-do?, VEPC refutes the finding of existing studies that solar installation is associated with wealth for failing to account for the difference between rented and owned homes in their ability to choose solar. The analysis of owned homes reveals that poorer households install solar at a similar or greater rate than richer households.

The Victorian Energy Policy Centre (VEPC) also campaigns for evidence-based energy-policy decision making by providing analysis for news articles to inform public debate.

The Victorian Energy Policy Centre was funded by the Victorian Government to address a lack of energy policy research in Australia and to inform state and national energy policy. The VEPC reports are critical to informing the development of evidence based policy in Australia with VEPC policy research translating into state and national policy decisions over time. The VEPC produced numerous reports on the relative costs and benefits of power production including:


We offer several courses that focus on renewable energy systems, from practical solar-installation courses right through to postgraduate engineering studies.

VU’s engineering courses have a specialisation in Power Engineering with a Smarter Energy Focus, including the Graduate Certificate in Power Engineering, to develop renewable energy systems and power network solutions that contribute to solving CO2 emissions and climate change.

The Master in Engineering has a particular focus on contemporary ‘Smart’ electricity systems.

The Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Electrical and Electronic Engineering), and is designed to meet the global and national demand for professionals with advanced skills in creating Smart-compliant electricity grids.

VU Polytechnic’s Electrical and Engineering short courses provide licensed electricians the skills to design and install solar power grids.


Sustainability on campus

Victoria University has switched to 100% renewable energy for our electricity. We negotiated our latest electricity agreement with the support of Schneider Electric to source all our power from Cherry Tree Windfarm of Iberdrola Australia. The renewable energy agreement means VU will reduce carbon emissions by around 23,300 tonnes of CO2e per annum and is a major step to becoming a carbon-neutral university.