Leading US environmental economist Professor Michael Hanemann has hailed the "magnificent" initiative taken by UNSW at the launch of the new Centre for Energy Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA).

Professor Hanemann, Director of the California Climate Change Centre, performed the official opening of CERPA at a reception attended by 200 industry and academic leaders at UNSW this week. The renowned international expert on environmental and resource economics said CERPA gave UNSW "a tremendous strategic advantage" in energy research.

"You have seized the initiative in a very magnificent way," he said.

CERPA is believed to be the first Australian institute to cover all aspects of energy research - from renewable technologies and sustainable fossil fuel use to markets policy - with the aim of developing multiple solutions to the complex challenges posed by climate change and rising global energy demand.

UNSW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fred Hilmer, said CERPA was a significant initiative at a time when future supplies of cheap, abundant, clean energy cannot be taken for granted.

"Energy research is a strength of this university - CERPA is pulling together all these ideas into something that is interdisciplinary but still excellent within each of those disciplines," Professor Hilmer said.

Backed by more than $25 million in annual research funding, CERPA brings together the diverse capabilities of seven UNSW faculties: Engineering, Science, Law, Arts and Social Science, Built Environment, the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian School of Business.

UNSW Dean of Engineering, Professor Graham Davies, said CERPA was unequalled in the breadth of energy-related technologies it brings together.

"We are facing an energy crisis and it's only from engineering solutions that we are going to see some real answers," Professor Davies said.

"What distinguishes us from other research centres is our combination of understanding the technology and being able to relate it to real-world policies and solutions."

CERPA Director, Professor Rose Amal, said the centre's multi-faculty structure opened up new possibilities for interaction between different areas of research.

"By combining our diverse research strengths we have the potential to come up with new approaches to problems and new technologies," Professor Amal said.

Media Contact: Peter Trute | +61 (0)2 9385 1933 | 0410 271 826 | p.trute@unsw.edu.au