At the Sydney Energy Leaders Forum (ELF) 2019, we met with a number of key professionals in the Renewable Energy & Environment space to look at what smart, clean, efficient energy solutions have the opportunity for growth in Australia in 2020. Hearing from my fellow panellists, here are my visions and predictions for the future of renewables in Australia.


The panel included Jackie McKeon of WWF Australia & Business Renewables Centre Australia (BRCA), Barbara Albert of 100% Renewables, Ben Hutt of Evergen and Mary Hendriks of Australian Energy Storage Alliance.


Sydney Energy Leaders Forum

Panellists at the Sydney Energy Leaders Forum held at EnergyLab.


Firstly, I would like to see far more concrete messages of hope. This means successful case studies of clean energy growth, as well as project and industry innovation. At present, the industry is not realising its true potential due to federal political resistance and regulatory barriers. Despite growing awareness around climate change, this doom & gloom mentality remains steadfast.


Let’s Talk Grid Stability

Grid stability and 100% renewable energy are treated like the pot of gold at the end of a seemingly infinite and painstaking rainbow.

Clean energy-driven grid stability projects need to be escalated. Tesla’s big battery expansion is just one example of the viability and potential for innovation in this sector. But there are other huge opportunities for utility-scale batteries and smaller pumped hydrogen projects that could be completed in 2020, too.


For the Community & Beyond

Fortunately, community and social impact-driven initiatives continue to escalate. We talk a lot about urban planning and populations, but in a country like Australia, regional communities cannot be overlooked. With the recent spate of fires tearing through eastern Australia, as well as intense droughts, rural areas are suffering immensely. We must remember that our decisions and projects around natural resources and energy supply affect regional Australians as well.

There is also a great opportunity to drive growth in regional towns, boosting employment and supporting local communities. Virtual power plants (VPPs) are one such technology that has the opportunity to be explored in much greater depth.


Hydrogen on the Horizon

Everyone is talking about the power of green hydrogen. Hydrogen certainly represents an indispensable source of energy in Australia.

Some claim hydrogen is one of the driving forces behind Australia’s renewable energy transition.

Former CEO of Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) Oliver Yates even foresees 500% renewables in Australia, stating:

“Australia missed the dotcom-boom, but we can’t miss the clean energy boom…We can become a smart, reindustrialised and reinvigorated nation.”

And he’s not alone.

Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel also recently spoke of Australia’s 800% renewable opportunity.

With the adoption of the new National Hydrogen Strategy, this renewable reindustrialisation is underway. After all, if we are to export “one million tonnes of hydrogen per annum”, Yates predicts, we will “require the construction of 23 GW of new renewable capacity.” 

This is all part of the reindustrialisation of Australia, which I hope to see unfold over the coming years.


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About the Author:

Liz is Polyglot Group's Senior Manager for Renewable Energy & Environment. For over 12 years, Liz has helped businesses grow in the Renewable Energy & Environment industries, as a highly successful and reliable recruitment professional.
Read more about Liz Floyd.