Day One highlights

  • State and federal politicians took to the stage on Day One to talk about the policies that will shape Australia’s energy market over the next decade, and beyond.

    CEC Chief Executive Kane Thornton and Chair Rachel Watson kicked things off before handing over to NSW Minister for Resources, Energy and Utilities, Don Harwin.

    Mr Harwin outlined the work his government is doing around renewables and highlighted the role it played in avoiding major blackouts during February’s heatwave. He also called for an end to the bitter fighting that has characterised national energy policy over the past decade.

    “We need to end what could be referred to as a culture war and let the economics and engineering guide policy,” he said.

    Greens leader Richard Di Natale was up next, lashing the Federal Government for its inaction on energy and calling for the legislated closure of coal plants and a transition plan for affected communities. He also stressed that public support for clean energy is overwhelming.

    “The politics of solar and storage are winning. The energy revolution is reversing the relationship of power. People are taking back control,” he said.

    Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio spoke about the many fantastic clean energy initiatives underway in her state.

    “It is critical that we have a grid and energy system that are what people want them to be – clean, reliable and affordable. It’s the rational thing to do,” she said.

    Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that wherever he goes in Australia, families and small businesses tell him the same thing about renewable energy policy: “just get on with it”.

    “When you look at what’s at stake, failure isn’t an option. We need to find a way through the politics,” he said.

    Mr Shorten called for parliament to put a price on pollution and said his party wouldn’t get stuck in a “hair-splitting argument” between an emissions intensity scheme and a Clean Energy Target.

    “I want to help create an environment where Mr Turnbull can persuade his colleagues to put the future first. My promise today is very straightforward: whether we are in government or in opposition, Labor will just get on with it,” he said.

    And in a flying lunchtime visit, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce talked up the benefits that renewable energy had delivered to his New England electorate before echoing Mr Shorten’s call for bipartisanship.

    “What is important is that we come to some form of resolution. All parties will have to move,” he said. “We need our colleagues in the Labor Party to come to a bipartisan position so that we can land this.”

    “We have to nail this down so that what we have is the confidence in the marketplace so that whether it’s photovoltaic, whether it’s wind, whether it’s low emissions high-efficiency coal, whether it’s gas, whether it’s hydro, people can see a return on their capital.”

  • Our second plenary for the day brought a range of energy leaders together to talk about the challenges and opportunities for the sector in this time of immense transition.

    Goldwind Chairman Wu Gang hit the nail on the head when he said ‘the renewable energy revolution never stops’ – a mantra echoed by the rest of the panel. Everyone agreed that the price of renewables will continue to fall and that storage along with smart grid technologies will reshape the energy sector as we know it.

    Jérôme Pécresse from GE Renewable Energy thinks we’ll see more breakthroughs in hardware, software and grid integration that will have an ultimate benefit for the consumer.

    ‘Renewable energy is mainstream. It's disrupting traditional customer models and will continue to become cheaper,’ he said

    Andy Vesey, Managing Director and CEO of AGL, compared the impact of battery storage on the electricity sector with the effect that refrigeration had on agriculture – a massive change to way the entire industry does business.

    Andy also joined the chorus of voices calling for greater policy certainty at the national level. ’Certainty is absolutely important. Capital wants certainty, or it will go someplace else,’ he said.

    Origin Energy CEO Frank Calabria agreed, stressing that the 50 recommendations of the Finkel Review should only be implemented as a whole package.

    ‘Origin – and I think industry overall – can get behind the full package of Finkel recommendations as a roadmap to greater certainty,’ he said.

    The Australian Energy Regulator’s Michelle Groves stated that consumers want greater control over how they interact with energy and will play an increasingly important role in providing energy security and reliability. However, high-level regulation is important to ensure that consumers get the best value, ‘We need customer confidence in the market,’ she said.

VIP Drinks photo gallery

Gala Dinner photo gallery

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