Melbourne Energy Institute 2017 Wrap Up
It would be impossible to overstate the importance of innovation in the energy sector in Australia at this stage in the energy transition. After major uncertainty in 2016 with state-wide blackouts in SA, and the looming threat of summer heatwaves, at MEI we are increasingly focused on stability and security in all areas of the energy system, particularly as pathways to a low carbon future continue to widen and entrepreneurship in the sector flourishes.
No event this year was more reflective of this philosophy than the Energy Hack 2017. Over one windy rainy weekend in late October over 100 participants from science, engineering, technology, and social science gathered in the Melbourne School of Design to develop, design and innovate solutions to complex energy problems.
Together with founding partners Powershop, and event partners The State Government of Victoria, City of Melbourne, CitiPower PowerCor, Deloitte Digital, DB Results, Allens, Zen Energy, Clean Energy Council and Intelligent Energy Systems, the Energy Hack 17 demonstrated the entrepreneurial fire power and innovation in the energy sector. Once again, huge congratulations to winners xsSPACE whose idea to create a marketplace connecting under-utilised roof space with consumers who don't have access to a rooftop wowed the judges.
Our vibrant events program has covered a wide range of the issues currently facing the Australian energy system, including the future of clean coal, the role of battery storage in the energy transition and supply issues in the gas market. These events have brought together specialists from across academia, industry, government and media to increase understanding of crucial issues impacting Australia’s energy future.
One of the Institute's most exciting achievements this year has been our involvement in the nationwide review of the National Electricity Market conducted by a team led by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel. MEI researchers including Prof Pierluigi Mancarella and an expert team reviewed the power system security and stability of the NEM, and emphasised the importance of achieving security, reliability, cost and emissions objectives for the NEM. Dr Finkel joined an all-star expert panel including Audrey Zibelman, Tony Wood and Sabra Lane to present the report's findings and recommendations, of which 49 out of 50 have since been adopted by the government.
The Institute's research work has continued apace this year, with the eagerly awaited launch in September of our partnership feasibility study into pumped hydro energy storage using seawater conducted in Cultana South Australia. Together with partners EnergyAustralia, ARUP and ARENA, MEI researchers Dr Roger Dargaville and Dr Daniel Marshman determined that the proposed project was possible and recommended, given the importance of grid-scale energy storage to sure up the security of our energy system. After a resoundingly successful launch, we look forward to hearing what happens next with this exciting project.
We wrapped up the year with our final Energy Futures Seminar for 2017: Can Australia fix its energy mess? Hearing from the Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims and the Independent Chair of the Energy Security Board Dr Kerry Schott, the answer is yes, but not without much hard work and cooperation from across the sector in government, industry and research.
We look forward to seeing you next year, to continue this work, as Australia’s energy sector embraces the challenges presented by our transitioning energy sector and realises the opportunities this change presents.