Research & Development

South Australia has world-class research and higher-education institutions, each of which has globally connected centres of knowledge and expertise that investigate future renewable energy sources and applications.

Some of the major research and development groups are listed below. More information on their individual initiatives is available directly from those groups.

The University of Adelaide

The University of Adelaide includes relevant faculties, institutes, research priorities and commercialisation arms.

The Schools of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences have an outstanding reputation for research and teaching.

Key research nodes include the Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources, which collaborates with companies around the globe and experts across all discipline to build teams of specialist problem solvers, and the Centre for Energy Technology, developing innovative solutions for sustainable minerals processing, power and fuels.

The University of Adelaide’s research priority in Sustainable Energy has realised or is working towards the following:

  • $15 million solar thermal for alumina processing plant
  • $87 million Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI)
  • $3.3 million Australian Energy Storage Knowledge Bank – testing battery storage in the grid
  • Distributed generation technologies and power electronics
  • Electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, micro-grid battery management
  • Biomass to energy
  • Biofuels from microalgae
  • Wind, wave and tidal power research

The University’s Mining and Mineral Processing research priority has provided or is contributing towards:

  • $11.6 million Australian Research Council Australian Copper-Uranium Transformation Research Hub
  • Low-carbon materials
  • Developing cheaper drilling techniques
  • Exploration in the Great Australian Bight
  • Imaging and other techniques to identify mineral deposits
  • National Exploration Undercover School (NExUS), where 30 of Australia’s best students work with mineral exploration leaders from industry, government and research institutions

Adelaide Enterprise is the University’s commercialisation arm, delivering technologies to the market, a commercial accelerator scheme and technologies portfolio.

Flinders University

Flinders University supports renewable energy through its

Relevant faculties

  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical, electronic, robotics engineering
  • Mechanical engineering

Key research nodes

  • Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology (CNST)

Research priorities

  • $4 million driverless shuttle program (successful project from the Future Mobility Lab Fund)
  • Solar energy research, including photoactive membranes, carbon nanotubes, organic photovoltaic devices and printable solar cells


  • Co-location at the Tonsley Innovation Precinct with renewable energy, storage and autonomous driving-related companies

Commercialisation arm

  • New Venture Institute – links industry, government and researchers to develop and showcase R&D innovations and create robust industry-university linkages.

University of South Australia

The University of South Australia includes relevant faculties, institutes, research priorities and commercialisation arms.

Relevant faculties

  • Civil, environmental and infrastructure engineering
  • Electrical, electronic and advanced manufacturing engineering
  • Mechanical and manufacturing engineering
  • Space studies
  • Autonomous systems

Key research nodes

  • Research Node for Low Carbon Living
  • Barbara Hardy Institute
  • Future Industries Institute (FII)

Research priorities

  • Low-carbon living
    • Low-energy buildings
    • Low-energy air-conditioning
    • Energy forecasting and grid optimisation
    • Photovoltaic/thermal system for off-grid zero energy homes
    • Maximising renewable energy in small community precincts
    • New mobility services including the shared use of electric vehicles
  • Sustainable energy
    • Solar thermal technology, including testing and evaluation capabilities
    • Smart energy grids
    • Energy and advanced manufacturing, including sun-tracking heliostats
    • Mineral and Resources Engineering – assisting mineral extraction

Commercialisation arms

  • Innovation and Collaboration Centre
    • Strategic partnership between the university, the South Australian Government and DXC Technology (DXC) supporting technology-based incubation and business growth.
  • UniSA Ventures
    • Facilitates the translation of outcomes from research into products and services that create a commercial return and have a positive impact on society.

World Solar Challenge

The World Solar Challenge (WSC) has provided critical research and development opportunities in renewable technologies in South Australia.

The WSC is a biennial race for solar-powered electric cars that travel from Darwin to Adelaide. Teams of higher-education and secondary students from around the world design and build their own vehicles to compete in the 3000-km event.

Since it started in 1987, with pioneer sponsor the South Australian Tourism Commission, the event has demonstrated the development and application of advanced low carbon automotive technology and alternatives engines.

Solar car innovations are at the heart of all electric cars as they use technology that is continually researched and developed in the WSC.

The WSC is supported by a Scientific Faculty that includes South Australian member Dr Peter Pudney, chair of the Technical Committee. Click here for more about Dr Peter Pudney and the Scientific Faculty.

Of the seven Australian teams in the 2017 World Solar Challenge, three were South Australian, including the Adelaide University Solar Racing Team, Flinders Automotive Solar Team and TAFE SA Solar Spirit.

For more information about the 2017 teams and results, please visit the World Solar Challenge website.