Australian Academy of Science 2021 Selby Fellow
Fellowships are awarded annually to distinguished overseas scientists to visit Australia. It is intended that public awareness of science and scientific issues is raised through a series of public lectures and seminars. The Foundation congratulates and acknowledges the valuable work undertaken by the 2019 Selby Fellow.
Awarded on 31/01/2021
2021 Selby Fellowship Tour: Professor Matthias WesslingBack to Top
The aim of the tour is to engage audiences in discussion of industry and energy transition and the opportunities created by the transition, which is an important topic in Australia. Aachen’s energy and industry will transition to zero CO2 emissions by 2035. Aachen is an industrial and commercial centre of brown coal mining and manufacturing; almost every type of heavy industry manufactures in the Aachen region. Wessling is the coordinator of all energy transition programs at RWTH Aachen and has co-developed the plans for a development, demonstration, and deployment site called “Power2X technologies” that is helping to deliver national plans to be Europe’s energy innovation site. His ability to build a united public and political vision for a successful transition from lignite to zero emission energy and manufacturing will make for a timely Selby Fellowship tour in Australia in 2021, at a time when Australia could choose to speed our transition. The tour will enable him to present current examples from Germany in their transition and to discuss Australian net zero emission strategies in each state and territory based on regional competitive advantage. His lectures will cover technologies, standards, and policies to speed the transition in sectors including electricity, transport, agriculture, and industry.
At the time of this Selby Fellowship nomination, Australia has not adopted net zero emissions targets nationally; however, each state and territory has adopted net-zero goals for 2050. Wessling will visit each state and territory to give lectures and stimulate discussion among the community, industry, researchers, and politicians. Taking Victoria as an example, brown coal makes up 80% of Victoria’s current energy supply with reduction targets to 60% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. Victoria is examining ways to best shift the state's energy use to clean sustainable sources and in 2020 have commissioned a roadmap that includes green hydrogen. Manufacturing is Victoria’s third largest employer and a $18bn export industry that underpins the construction, defence, food and fibre, medtech and pharma, new energy, and transport sectors. Wessling will give open lectures coordinated with the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, CEDA, and the Royal Society of Victoria, as well as an invited lecture to the Victorian Parliament on Germany’s roadmap and progress, highlighting emerging technologies that can create future industries for Victoria. One emerging technology example is AirthenaTM technology developed in Victoria and launched in February 2020 by CSIRO and industry partners (https://www.csiro.au/en/Dobusiness/Commercialisation/Marketplace/CO2Gen). AirthenaTM captures CO2 from ambient air for use as a gas for industrial, agricultural, commercial, and domestic use. The power consumption of AirthenaTM (~2.5 kWh/kg-CO2) is low enough to enable carbon negative production of valuable chemicals from CO2. As illustrated in his cv, Wessling’s research has shown that CO2 conversion to fuels, chemicals, and food are promising ventures for zero or negative emission industry transition and new industries. In addition to emerging technologies, Wessling will highlight the uptake of demonstrated and mature technologies and the standards and policies utilised to roll out these solutions in Germany.
Wessling’s presentations will be tailored to each region’s priority areas and address their ability to enhance capacity. Potential topics include but are not limited to: public private partnerships for transition to zero emissions; carbon capture and conversion; biofuels and bio-feedstocks; ammonia and hydrogen; electric and fuel cell transport; renewables, storage, and demand management; water conservation; waste reduction; materials valorisation. The benefits of the tour will be an informed and expanded public discussion that facilitates knowledge exchange, grows networks, focuses on economic and environmental returns, and helps Australia grow our capacity to transition to zero emissions. It is highly likely that Australian firms will be engaged with German firms and value chains as a result of this Selby Fellowship tour. Tangible examples of Germany’s transition and jobs growth will help accelerate Australia’s successful transition to zero