AIRAH and ARENA team up to create the i-Hub
AIRAH and ARENA has teamed up with others to create the innovation hub for affordable heating and cooling (i-Hub), an initiative focused on tackling the notoriously energy-intensive HVAC and refrigeration (HVAC&R) sector.
Working alongside the CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong the i-Hub aims to help facilitate the HVAC&R industry’s transition to a low-emissions future. The project’s three-year, $18 million budget includes cash and in-kind contributions of nearly $12 million from the participating institutions.
“The i-Hub is designed to facilitate the HVAC&R’s industry’s transition to a low-emissions future, stimulate jobs growth, and showcase HVAC&R innovation in buildings,” AIRAH chief executive Tony Gleeson says.
“The objective of i-Hub is to support the broader HVAC&R industry with knowledge dissemination, skills development and capacity building. By facilitating a collaborative approach to innovation, i-Hub brings together leading universities, researchers, consultants, building owners and equipment manufacturers to create a connected research and development community in Australia.”
It will focus on a range of products from the healthcare, education and data centre sectors as they have the potential to deliver hundreds of megawatts of demand response at a fraction of the cost of other approaches.
“The i-Hub project brings a uniquely concerted effort from the HVAC&R and property industries to use the design and operation of air conditioning services as a tool for supporting onsite and local grid renewables,” Tony says.
“Through the deferral of HVAC&R loads – during renewable energy supply shortages – and the use of HVAC&R loads as a ‘productive source of demand’ during periods of excess supply, this project will increase the value of onsite renewable energy production and increase the fraction of building energy that can be economically provided by onsite renewable energy.”
The i-Hub will continue to develop capability beyond its three-year lifespan through an establishment of living laboratory facilities, a data cleaning house platform and an integrated design platform.
“With rising electricity costs putting further pressure on consumers and businesses, the i-Hub vision is to help make a positive impact by supporting Australian innovation,” Gleeson says.
“This will deliver superior comfort, better energy efficiency – and therefore lower running costs – and minimise peak demand.”