The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is calling on Australia’s brightest academics to collaborate with the rule-maker to develop more ‘pilot-to-policy’ approaches to ensure their research contributes quickly and effectively to the energy transformation.

In a keynote speech delivered to the ERICA - State of Energy Research Conference at UTS today, the AEMC’s Chief Executive Benn Barr, claimed the greatest gains the next decade of research can offer might not be in technology, but in the ‘missing link’ between trials and deployment.

“The energy sector has to move fast. Governments across Australia are largely aligned and keen to act. This means the most successful research projects of any kind in the next decade will have their transition to policy ‘baked in’ from the start,” he said.

Mr Barr cited the UNSW SolarShift project, which looked at turning household electric hot water heaters into mega batteries, as an example of the close relationship between research and rule-making. He said the work informed a rule change by the AEMC in 2021, allowing greater integration of innovative storage into the National Energy Market (NEM).

Mr Barr went on to announce five initiatives to connect researchers with the AEMC – an independent authority governed by the national energy objectives, soon to include emissions reduction targets.

“As much as we’re already intersecting with research – we still want to do more.  The work you do, broadening our field of knowledge, allows what seemed impossible to become practical,” he said.

The initiatives include:

  • Connecting Policy and Research Program (with support from ARENA and Monash University), on wholesale market design with high VRE and storage, including:
    • investigating how storage interacts with wholesale market design
    • trying to answer the question of how we can get the incentives right for storage to operate efficiently in the future system.
  • AEMC Postgraduate Summer Internship Program (2023-2024) to introduce PhD and Masters students in economics and related fields to the energy sector.
  • AEMC Research Seminar Series where academics and AEMC staff can share and develop their research in an intellectually honest and challenging environment.

Additional work will be carried out with innovators via a forum facilitated by the AEMC, with a view to discussing the barriers and opportunities for great research and ingenuity.

A new online toolkit, led by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) with the support of the AEMC, will also enable researchers to test their new approaches, sandbox-style, in relation to regulatory frameworks.

Mr Barr claimed 2023 marks a crucial turning point in the energy sector in Australia and researchers have a critical role to play in the transformation required for 2050.

“Practitioners such as the AEMC rely on you to push our thinking out further than anyone has – to question and challenge and provide new perspectives.  

“We all need to find new ways to collaborate and cross-pollinate between research, policy and practice if we are going to make the most of the transition,” he said.

Those interested in applying for the AEMC initiatives can register via

MEDIA: Jessica Rich, 0459 918 964,