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Spotlight on the World Renewable Energy Congress

By Andy Kondola
Emerging Technology and Innovations Manager

Emerging Technology and Innovations Manager Andy Kondola shares his thoughts from the first two days of the World Renewable Energy Congress 2017 at Murdoch University. The event’s theme is “Transition Towards 100% Renewable Energy”. 

Moving to 100% renewable energy production is one of the key conversation topics of this event – an aspirational target with challenges across the spectrum from policy to standards, and concepts to proven technologies.

Whether 100% is achieved or not isn’t the focus of this conversation, it’s what others are doing to achieve this vision. What trials are being conducted, what research is being run, who are the movers and shakers in this space.

Everyone is trying to adapt to this change, all at different speeds, coming in from different perspectives. There isn’t one single size that fits all, but a vast range of probabilities with varying degrees of success.

Listening to academics, scientists, entrepreneurs, leaders, made me realise that Murdoch University was the perfect setting for this conference – that in this amazing time of energy revolution, we are all students learning something new, seeking a better way for future generations.

It is a setting for academia and industry to meet, to share the learnings from innovations complete. To present the innovations being planned and to propose the innovations of tomorrow that need to be considered to bring about the next big change.

Landcorp’s CEO, Frank Marra, said in his presentation, “Innovation through demonstration”.

I believe that the only way to learn is through trying, again and again until you succeed. Someone once said, “fail fast, learn fast”, and there’s probably a million other sayings I could write here about failure and success, but this simple saying falls directly into who we are in the emerging technology space.

Based on the various presentations through the conference, everyone was happy to share their learnings, unafraid to show their failures and lending support to others where needed.


Dr Seán Mc Goldrick, Executive Manager Asset Management, presented at the event on behalf of Western Power

The development of smart grids was seen as a solution that would help enable the increased amount of renewable generation to be integrated into the traditional network infrastructures.

One of the visiting delegates from Indonesia showcased an aggressive plan to convert all of Indonesia’s grid into a complete smart grid solution, including the deployment of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), by 2035. The strategy being deployed and the key steps being planned to achieve this goal, along with the key technologies that need to be tested, were clearly shared for all to see and learn from.

And speaking of technologies, one of the exhibits showcased a military-grade quick deployable stand-alone power system, which is being used by the defence force for remote area deployments. Solutions such as these are now being looked into as part of the first pass deployment during major network outages by our emerging technology team. The design of the system and the ability to literally fold away the panels into a couple of military style suitcases was amazing to see on display.

The broad range of presentations, ranging from long term sustainability thinking at a high level right down to innovation on key technologies was exciting to see.

On a side note, one presentation that stood out for the ultimate futurist out there, was about the need to start thinking about the materials being used in our emerging technology, and how sustainable it would be to continue using these finite resources to resolve the problems of the current generation alone.

For example, lithium isn’t an infinite material, it needs to be mined and processed to be used in the batteries that feature in everything from our mobile phones to large grid-scale batteries – so what happens when the deposits of lithium diminish, or it gets harder to access these deposits? What does society do then? No doubt that this scenario is quite some time away, but developing alternatives to replace this technology need time and money to invest to perfect. Thinking of these challenges now allows us time to hopefully resolve them in due course, rather than leaving them withering away in the “too hard” basket.

Finally listening to all the various experiences and learnings made me realise that we are on the right path. We are committed to trying new ideas, willing to take a risk, allowing our gaze to be broad – all to ensure that we continue without fear and with knowledge that we aren’t the only ones on this journey of discovery.

The World Renewable Energy Congress 2017 concludes tomorrow. Western Power is an event sponsor.

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