How can renewable and decentralised energy create a clean and affordable future for us all?
That’s the question set to be answered at the next UTSpeaks public lecture – Australia’s New Energy Ecosystem – on Thursday 17 August. Headlining the event are Research Principal at the Institute for Sustainable Futures Sven Teske and CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator Audrey Zibelman.
With political discourse on the future of Australia’s renewable energy being revived thanks to the recent release of the Finkel review and global efforts like the Paris Agreement, Teske says it’s important to hold conversations now, lest we run the risk of missing out.
“We can focus it down to specific needs in terms of next steps for Australia in order to not miss the boat, because the boat on the global level already left the harbour,” says Teske.
While we haven’t yet fallen behind, we’re in danger of doing so. According to Teske, even waiting another two or three years might be too little, too late.
He says, with the global tide turning irrefutably away from coal and towards renewable energy alternatives, the question is no longer ‘why’, but ‘when’, ‘how’, and ‘how fast’.
“We need to develop and support the political framework,” he says. “Because what’s missing in Australia, to some extent, is the policy.
“The science delivers, the science develops ideas, and politicians need to implement it.”
At the UTSpeaks event, Teske plans to introduce ISF’s work in this area, assess where Australia stands on the international stage in terms of renewable and decentralised energy, and outline the way forward over the next 20 years.
That future will also include making necessary changes to education and the workforce so these sectors move in tandem with the energy industry.
“If we really go into sustainable technology,” explains Teske, “that requires different jobs, different education. So the education system needs to follow.
“It does not mean, for the coal industry, that all the jobs need to close down tomorrow,” says Teske. “It’s possible to organise a just transition, a good transition for the workers themselves.
“We don’t want to leave anybody behind.”
And unfortunately, says Teske, that’s a common misconception.
“I learned when I came to Australia that the first sentence for a lot of people is: ‘Oh, we’re so far behind’. No, Australia’s not far behind,” he asserts.
“Australia is an innovative country, and it should remain an innovative country.”
UTSpeaks: Australia’s New Energy Ecosystem will be held on Thursday 17 August. Visit uts.ac/2ufN3GW for more information.