The recent AIE Conference 'Energy Options for our Region – the Way Forward' helped to shed some light on changes in the energy sector during this time of transition both in the Australian energy market and internationally.
A think tank approach to panel discussions invited questions from a diverse audience eager to hear how the transition will play out in the bid to deliver affordable, reliable energy as we move to a lower emissions future.
Opening speaker Minister for Energy Dr Mike Nahan MLA said the cost of energy supply in Western Australia was a challenge given that it was three times the national average.
It is clear that renewables will be part of the major reform in WA, with solar, wind, batteries, standalone and microgrids playing a big part. While West Australians are embracing solar energy in unprecedented numbers, the State Government is looking to ensure everyone has access to this exciting technology.
Currently Synergy, Western Power and Horizon Power have a raft of experiments that will help them decide which way they will go. To this end, a decade from now, our electricity market will look very different to the one that we have today, when new technologies including smart metres, battery storage and electric vehicles are incorporated.
International topic, China’s Sector Reform and Changing Energy Mix, was addressed by keynote speaker Professor Philip Andrews-Speed from the Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore, who claimed that China’s energy sector was undergoing a period of change, huge uncertainty and contradictions.
He discussed that although China’s renewables electricity was picking up with growing hydro power and wind, coal consumption was in decline, but there was still 200 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations in construction right now.
There was good news for Australian LNG imports into China as America was being squeezed out of the supply market for the cheaper Australian/South East Asian production due to the closer proximity, and lower Australian LNG prices compared to domestic prices in China and South East Asia.
Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg MP, discussed the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council reform package during a televised presentation.
The package promises to ensure a seamless integration for a new energy supply, but the story was not just about supply, but how better we could use energy. It was hoped that the reforms would improve competition, encourage more supply and put downward pressure on prices.
Hosted by the Australian Institute of Energy (Perth branch) and the Department of Finance, Public Utilities Office (Government of West Australia) and organised by the local energy industry the conference was well attended.
More information: energywa.org.au/