Over two days, 300 stakeholders – political leaders, regulators, energy producers, disruptors, and users – come together for the nation’s highest-level discussion of Australia’s multiple energy challenges and opportunities.
"These discussions at The Australian Financial Review's National Energy Summit are all the more vital at the moment because the national policy-making effort has run into political turbulence and we need to know what the market can do in the vacuum and what policymakers are doing in the absence of direct national leadership,” said Ben Potter, senior reporter at the AFR.
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor gave the Summit’s opening address, and he was followed by Labor’s Mark Butler - they both emphasised the need for affordable and reliable energy for consumers, despite having contrasting strategies on how to achieve that result.
A number of subsequent speakers focused on the political sphere but Audrey Zibelman, CEO of AEMO, anchored her speech around the fact that the domestic energy industry is in the midst of significant disruption, and there is an urgent need to manage this situation.
She highlighted that the energy sector missed the 3rd industrial revolution but cannot afford to miss the 4th industrial revolution (or Industry 4.0). “The rate of change is occurring at an exponential pace. This is the reality we’re dealing with – a changing resource mix, climate change, ageing infrastructure, a massive cyber security threat and falling costs of renewables,” said Ms. Zibelman.
In order to manage this transition and address these industry challenges, Ms. Zibelman underlined the need for a much more diverse energy market and to facilitate the integration of new technology into the grid. Success in these endeavours will require much greater collaboration between all energy market participants, and there is no country more advanced in the world at managing this transition. “We are leading the world– we are now installing 6.5 solar panel every minute.”
The summit continues today in Sydney.