A research collaboration between CSIRO and four leading Australian universities has been announced to develop the nation's capacity to plan and design the most efficient, low-emission electricity grid for Australia.

Public Service News reports the $13 million Future Grid Cluster will feature the University of Sydney, the University of Newcastle, the University of Queensland and the University of New South Wales.

The project is supported by $10 million worth of in-kind contribution from university partners and a $3.2 million grant from the CSIRO Flagship Collaboration Fund.

Executive with the Energy Group at the CSIRO, Tom Hatton said the electricity sector was undergoing a huge transformation, a change not seen since the industrial revolution.

“The Future Grid Cluster brings together Australia's best research capabilities and provides a framework the electricity sector needs to make $240 billion worth of decisions in the next two decades,” Dr Hatton said.

“We are facing unprecedented change in the electricity system over the next 20 to 30 years.

“We're talking about change to a system that has seen stability for decades and has used technologies and energy sources that are predictable and controllable.”

He said moving away from that was going to require a great deal of effort and capacity building.

Leader of the research program at the University of Sydney, Tony Vassallo said each university would contribute specialist knowledge and expertise and would work with the CSIRO to develop a new suite of tools to understand, develop and optimise energy grids of the future.

“This will assist decision makers in their choices about future grid development,” Professor Vassallo said.

This article was initially published in the Public Service News service.

More information is available on the CSIRO website.