Baran Yildiz is an energetic researcher who represents Australia’s bright future in innovation. He is currently a Senior Research Associate at UNSW’s School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering.
He was attracted to the CRC Program for doctoral research after his Master of Engineering at UNSW.
“I’ve always wanted to do research that is intertwined with industry. I heard about the Low Carbon Living CRC and its ambitious targets spoke to me. It presented the opportunity to do further research in smart home energy management systems (HEMS), which could benefit both households and electricity providers. So I thought, why not?”
The two primary partners in Baran’s PhD project were UNSW and Solar Analytics Pty Ltd, which is a smart energy monitoring company. The industry collaboration was invaluable to his research.
“Collaborating with industry gives you a closed feedback loop. They can give advice on what is applicable or not and you can fine-tune your research. But it is a balancing act. You can’t just think about industry for your research. You have to see the bigger picture. But when narrowing it down, industry input really helps.”
His advice for prospective PhD students is to embrace opportunities to collaborate with industry.
“I would encourage them to be in close touch with industry’s needs to extract the most value from their research. This can only happen with open communication. This does not mean industry dictates the research, but its input can be a guideline.”
After his PhD, Baran expanded his industry collaboration in a CRC-P, led by Solar Analytics with other players in the energy sector such as SA Power Networks, Energy Queensland Limited and WattWatchers Pty Ltd.
“Solar Analytics was happy with our synergy, so they asked me to work on this project.”
Baran and his team built a prototype device to use excess solar energy to heat household water rather than feed back to the grid. This helps households use their solar generation to maximum benefit and helps energy providers to avoid issues caused by an overabundance of solar energy.
His experience in collaborative research continued as a project leader in the Curtailment and Network Voltage Analysis Study (CANVAS) with the RACE for 2030 CRC.
Baran is already seeing the impact of his collaborative research. His papers have been used for reports by the Australian Energy Market Commission and the Energy Security board, which are both significant decision-makers in the energy sector. The technology from Baran’s CRC-P research is now ready for commercial application.”
His next project will be implementing electric water heating control to 2500 households in NSW in collaboration with Endeavour Energy to make best use of excess solar generation.
“It’s a very applied project. I’m very lucky to have this opportunity and I’m excited for it.”
Baran acknowledges the challenges of being a researcher who straddles the academic and commercial sectors.
“How academia sees success and how industry sees success are not necessarily the same. In industry there is more emphasis on profit and a quick return. Whereas academia takes more time and its currency is publications.”
He says that a researcher who is deeply engaged with industry is extremely beneficial for both parties, even if they do not excel in the sector-specific KPIs.
“I hope that both academia and industry will see the value of this bridge.”
He concluded by pointing out the benefits of the CRC Program to his career.
“My experience with the CRC Program has contributed to my growth in academia and understanding of industry. It allowed me to shape research to not only benefit science, but also industry and the wider community.”
To learn more about the projects Baran is working on you can find them here