UNSW has announced Australia's first professorship in electricity power economics, thanks to a $1.25 million commitment from EnergyAustralia.

The EnergyAustralia Chair in Electrical Power Economics will focus on developing an understanding of future emissions trading schemes.

The Chair will be charged with looking at innovative and sustainable infrastructure provision and regulation, taking into account technical, economic, public policy and governance aspects.

The UNSW-EnergyAustralia partnership was announced at a signing ceremony with UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer and the Managing Director of EnergyAustralia, George Maltabarow.

"The establishment of the Chair, the first of its kind in the country, recognises the vital importance of cutting-edge research in driving Australia's future energy policy and strategy," Professor Hilmer said.

EnergyAustralia Managing Director George Maltabarow said energy policy and regulation was already a fundamental building block for a prosperous economy.

"The decisions we make in the future on policies around energy efficiency or an emissions trading scheme are vital to our economy," Mr Maltabarow said.

"We're building a smarter electricity grid that will interact with distributed generation like solar panels on our roofs, cogeneration in our office buildings and electric vehicles on our roads. This smart grid will drive growth in jobs and our economy.

"Our investment in the Chair in Electrical Power Economics will deliver a greater focus on training and research in these important areas and a solid future for the power industry," Mr Maltabarow said.

The UNSW Dean of Engineering, Professor Graham Davies, said EnergyAustralia's commitment of $1.25 million over five years was welcomed.

"Questions of power supply, alternative energy sources, how they feed into the grid and are costed, are all critical questions to be addressed by any future ETS scheme," Professor Davies said.

The appointee, to be announced in coming months, will be based at the $125 million Tyree Energy Technologies Building, due for completion in 2012. The building brings together 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.

Media contacts: UNSW - Denise Knight (02) 9385 8920 EnergyAustralia - Kylie Yates (02) 9966 7985