Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has overseen the start of work on UNSW's landmark new energy research centre, the Tyree Energy Technologies Building (TETB).

The $125m TETB will bring together under one roof the University's internationally recognised research and teaching in key energy areas including photovoltaics, carbon capture and storage, oil and gas reserves, nanomaterials, energy policy and market analysis.

In a sod-turning ceremony on lower campus, Ms Gillard said the TETB would contribute important research to Australia's efforts to combat climate change.

"What projects like this one show us is that already people are coming together to do the work and research that will make a difference to the way in which we live and the way we earn our living as a nation," she said.

The TETB is supported by $75m in funding under the federal government's Education Investment Fund and is one of the first EIF projects to get under way.

The sod-turning ceremony was also attended by UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer, Dean of Engineering Professor Graham Davies and Sir William Tyree OBE.

Sir William, a UNSW alumnus, successful innovator and businessman, and a major philanthropic supporter of Australian engineering and educational research, has generously donated $1m towards the new centre and pledged a further bequest of $10m.

"It's a great opportunity to give something back to the university and it's a great honour to have this building named after me," he said.

The TETB will be the focal point for the University's Centre for Energy Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA) and will also house the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering, the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets, the School of Petroleum Engineering and the laboratories of the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence and the ARC Centre for Functional Nanomaterials.

Due for completion in 2012, the TETB will support industry collaboration in areas of critical importance to Australia's energy security and international climate treaty obligations. It will also provide a formal learning space for 300 engineering students.

The TETB will be a leading example of sustainable construction, with a 6 Star Green Star building rating, a gas-fired tri-generation plant for power, heating and cooling and a roof-mounted solar panel array utilising UNSW solar cell technology.

Media Contact: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 | 0410 271 826 |