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Directions

ATSE column

Securing Our Digital Future

By Mike Miller

Our digital future depends on preparing industry and society for change.

Today’s digital technologies are having a significant societal and economic impact within Australia. They are also acting as the basis of a newly emerging set of foundational technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data, machine learning and autonomous systems, which will disrupt every aspect of the economy.

We Need to Solve the Energy Trilemma Now

Credit: juanjo/Adobe

Credit: juanjo/Adobe

By Hugh Bradlow

The Finkel Review provides a roadmap to investment in clean energy technologies.

We have three goals for our energy supply, two of which are uncontroversial: deliver electricity at the lowest cost to consumers and businesses, and ensure that the supply is reliable and adequate. The third consideration – to reduce (indeed remove) greenhouse emissions from our electricity generators – turns the rational discussion on energy into an emotional debate.

“Clean” energy (generally from sun or wind) is currently more expensive than “dirty” energy from burning oil, coal or gas, all of which release CO2 into the atmosphere.

Steady Budget for Science and Technology

Science and Technology wins and losses in the 2017 Federal Budget.

The 2017 Federal Budget holds few surprises for science and technology and has left the sector waiting for further announcements on major reviews and roadmaps, Science & Technology Australia said today.

“We welcome strong new investment in researching and developing new advanced manufacturing technology, including a $20 million injection into the important Cooperative Research Centres program,” STA CEO Kylie Walker said following the release of the Budget.

Are Research Priorities Useful?

By Peter Laver

Research priorities can place a greater emphasis on inputs than the potential outcomes.

Most government research funding programs are ostensibly guided by some set of priorities, mainly based on the National Science and Research Priorities or potential linkages with one of the Industry Growth Centres.

Changing the Way We Do Things

By Kathryn Fagg

We need to have a critical mass of women in key roles.

As we seek to increase gender diversity and create more opportunities for talented women, we need to be aware that we are looking to change the way things are done, which can be uncomfortable.

We want to create a better society for Australians, and that means we have to draw on all the talent that is available, both men and women, but be respectful and consider others’ views as we seek to bring about change. We will have a better society when we fully draw on the talent of all of our people.

Research Needs a New Narrative

By Tanya Monro

Research is a tapestry of creativity that enriches the society in which we live.

Research is all about asking questions. What separates good research from great research is the quality and nature of the question.

What drives researchers? What shapes their questions? Does it matter?

In recent years the Australian research ecosystem has been in the grip of a debate about the impact of the research we do and what can be done to remedy the relatively poor engagement between our industries and our universities, according to OECD reports.

What’s Ahead for the Minerals Industry?

By Denise Goldsworthy

Significant innovation is a must to satisfy mining regulators and communities.

Australian miners are known for digging things up and shipping them overseas. We do it at scale, and in many cases at lower cost than our international competitors.

However, mining in Australia is becoming increasingly difficult. The large, low-cost, Tier 1 deposits are in some cases nearing depletion, and the limited discoveries of replacement resources are bringing challenges of deeper, wetter and lower-grade ore.

Financial margins will always be low which, with the increasing requirements of regulators and communities, means significant innovation is necessary.

Cost, Reliability and Scale: Can Renewables Deliver?

By Tom Biegler

The science of climate change is more certain than the economics of how to tackle it.

Economics, and not science, will dominate the future political debate about climate change. The reason is simple – the science is more certain than the economics.

Scientific knowledge about carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas has a long and respectable history. The 43% increase in atmospheric CO2 caused by fossil fuel combustion since the industrial revolution is undisputed. It’s prudent, at the very least, to accept that CO2 emissions affect climate.

So the question is not whether to reduce emissions but how. Economics will determine the answer.

We Need Better Infrastructure Decisions and Planning

By David Singleton

Leaders must think strategically about how to plan, fund and implement infrastructure projects.

The pace at which urban development is happening across the world in the 21st century is intense. Highly concentrated demographic growth in cities is one of greatest challenges our leaders face as they look to protect the future of their nations in the face of the global sustainability challenge.

Can Australia Meet the Paris Climate Challenge?

By Graeme Pearman

We need to accelerate our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Meeting the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 2°C or less will require a massive reduction in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and a much steeper emission reductions trajectory than is commonly assumed.

Much of Australia’s fossil fuel resources – coal, oil and gas – will need to remain safely sequestered in the ground. Energy will become more expensive. Society will adapt by rapidly expanding renewables and becoming more energy efficient.