Technologies and people referenced in the film

Oceanpower: Wave and Tidal Power

“Its accepted that there’s more than 5,000 times the world’s current power usage in the oceans. Now that’s all forms of energy, its tidal, waves, currents, temperature and salinity gradients. Just the waves that break on our coastlines alone is about twice the world’s current power usage, so even to utilise a small fraction of that is going to be very meaningful”

Dr Tom Denniss

“We’re seeing more interest, more demand for large scale installations, and eventually, you will see large wave/tidal farms. Its gone past the point of being speculative and an emergent technology. I firmly believe its on the verge of widespread acceptance.

For our designs, by looking at nature, we could see ways that natural structures alleviate excess forces. They bend over when the waves are too large and they move in a natural, streamlined manner, with the wave forces.

We borrow some of that aspect of these natural systems. We integrate it into our designs, and thereby can make very lightweight, flexible structures that are more cost effective”.

Dr Tim Finnigan


solar sialor“Bio-mimicry at heart, is innovation inspired by nature. It’s a process of learning from, and then emulating, life’s blueprints, recipes, and relationship strategies.”

Janine Benyus

The Solar Sailor

“The thing about nature is, that everything that we see is a successful design. So if we look at what’s in nature now, there are obviously things that we as humans could be mimicking in nature that are far more efficient than the way we’ve been doing them up to this point, and therefore, doing them more sustainably.

solar sialorThat insects evolved their little wings, as buds, as solar collectors, and that would give them more energy, and then they eventually used them to fly. And as soon as I read that, I thought, “Of course, boats can evolve wings and use them as solar collectors and use them to sail”.

Dr Robert Dane

Solar Thermal

“Solar Thermal electricity uses the sun’s heat to actually make steam or make a very hot fluid…to turn a turbine and create electricity. Our technology is effectively just changing the boiler in such a system. Instead of using a nuclear boiler, we use a solar boiler. There are far more solar turbines on order throughout the world than there are nuclear turbines. Its just happened all of a sudden. And we also see timelines of plant installation which are between 2 and 4 years from the shaking of the hands, and nuclear’s lucky to have 7 or 8 years”.

Dr David Mills

“The market for solar thermal electricity around the world is just enormous. We are currently concentrating on the Californian area and in the very near future, we’ll see developments in Australia. The next big area, is likely to be North Africa, supplying power into Europe. There’s already electrical cables across the Mediterranean, where that can be fed into. Then there are the western deserts of China which have the potential to be a major solar resource.”

Emeritus Professor Graham Morrison

Solar Thermal and Ammonia Storage

solar sialor

“What we’re actually doing, is dissociating ammonia. We’re splitting ammonia into its constituents of hydrogen and nitrogen, and this is our method of storing solar energy, so that we can build power stations that work 24 hours a day.

We have more sun per square metre of continent than any other continent on the planet, and maybe what we want to be thinking, is the potential of our country to be the place where the solar energy is collected.

There’s a very intriguing possibility with solar thermal systems, that we can use concentrators like this to drive chemical reactions and generate renewable fuels that we can export to other countries. We can power Japan from solar energy collected in Australia’s arid areas”.

Assoc Professor Keith Lovegrove


geothermal“What you see is basically that large parts of Australia are very hot. These temperatures correspond to temperatures of about 250 to 300 Degrees at 5 kilometres underground. So what we’ve got are prospectively very large areas that could be used. We could access this heat and extract it, farm it if you like and use it to power the country. There’s more than enough energy here to power the country for 100’s and 100’s of years. To actually see the steam flowing this morning, I can’t tell you how exciting it is, to actually see the reality of this energy source.

It’s the kind of thing that a power engineer dreams of… the ability to be able to be able to produce renewable energy whenever you need it.”

Dr Prame Chopra

Solar Photovoltaics


“One hour of sunlight could provide enough power for the world’s industrial energy needs for one year…

The research group here at the University of NSW started in the mid-70’s and by the end of the 70’s we’d established a bit of a reputation because we could make solar cells that had very high voltage output.

Our group sort of shot to international attention because we were doing very much better than anyone else on this one parameter.”

Professor Martin Green

“I think that in the future as the price of both thin film and standard screen printed solar cells comes down, we’re going to see them being integrated everywhere.

People will all of a sudden realise that its absolutely ridiculous to build buildings without using photovoltaics on your windows, or on your roof”

Nicole Kuepper, PhD Student UNSW and Eureka Prize Winner

It took me 2 and a half years to finish my PhD.

I remember very clearly, it was about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, I took my sample…and the first time I succeeded in growing continuous poly crystalline silicon thin film on glass, I was so excited. At that moment, I said “I got my PhD degree.”

Unfortunately there was nobody there to share the happiness with me, but that was one of the many moments I experienced with excitement at the University of NSW.

Its very important to share collaboration of new ideas, and allow the commercialisation of those new ideas.”

Dr Zhengrong Shi

Sustainable Building

Sustainable Building

“This is the largest application of solar photovoltaic technology in Australia in a commercial building. We call it a “groundscraper” Combined with state of the art energy efficiency design, this is a place where people love to come to work. It shows how sustainable design creates places that not only help people live better, without the need for the same level of consumption, it makes them deliriously happy.

Here, we show how its possible to crank the happy meter up, through excellence in ecologically aware design. And they save massively on costs.”

Ed Horton

The Intelligent Grid

“This plug-in, plug-out hybrid vehicle, has a socket to charge up the vehicle, it also has another socket to run power, back to charge appliances or equipment, or potentially to feed back to the grid at times of high demand. When we look at it in the context of transport fuels; the cost of providing electricity to move this car, to travel around, it works out at about a quarter of the cost of providing petrol.

Chris Dunstan

“You could supply again, over 90% of the transportation sector from solar thermal electric power plants, sitting on the grid. So basically the 2 largest single emitters in the largest emitting country can be taken out by the same technology. It’s a very powerful result”.

Dr David Mills

“So when we bring those elements together, of the larger solar thermal plants, and geothermal plants, complemented with smart metering, and small scale distributed energy like photovoltaic panels on our rooves…

That will provide I think, the sort of framework, within which we’ll see sustainable energy become the dominant form of energy supply to meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy”.

Chris Dunstan