Masterclass 1A – Bioenergy
The North Coast has a natural advantage in some types of bioenergy. What is already happening, what is on our radars, and what are the challenges? This session will begin by scoping the range of bioenergy opportunities including combustion technologies like pyrolysis and ‘cool’ technologies like anaerobic digestion. It will then focus in on production of ‘organic energy’ from waste products using anaerobic digestion, and conclude by looking at the opportunities for this technology on the North Coast, including on farms, in food processing and waste management plants.
Fiona seed funded and is currently CEO of Utilitas, a specialist biogas (anaerobic digestion) asset development company. Utilitas has 1.8MWe of client projects in construction and is raising capital to build its own portfolio of biogas projects. Fiona was on the Board of EcoFund Queensland Pty Ltd which managed the sale of the business to CO2 Australia Ltd. She was a member of the Australian Government’s Clean Technology Innovation Committee and worked with the Financial and Energy Exchange (FEX) to establish environmental product developer, Envex, and SIM VSE, an innovation themed equity market board. Fiona has a Bachelor of Manufacturing Management from the University of Technology, Sydney, a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Studies from Macquarie University and a Diploma in Business from the Queensland University of Technology. She is an Industry Fellow at the Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development (USQ) and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Masterclass 1B – Community energy
The buzz has started and the new wave of communities taking control of their energy needs is rippling across Australia. The movement to create community designed, community managed and community owned renewable energy projects is changing towns and villages both overseas and now right here at home. The community energy masterclass will inspire you with examples of other community owned projects, demystify how they work and the governance structures they can operate with, and map out how communities are raising their own people power. Groups or individuals interested in starting a community energy project will benefit enormously from this masterclass gaining valuable lessons from projects that are already underway. And renewable energy companies will learn about how to engage with local communities to get projects off the ground.
Jarra is a co-founder and Director of the Community Power Agency and has a professional background in community development, campaigning and renewable energy. She and Nicky Ison established the organisation in 2011, motivated by the power that everyday people are engaging to make real contributions to the sustainability of their communities. In 2010 and again in 2012 Jarra completed study tours of community renewable energy initiatives in North America and Europe and spent time as a volunteer renewable energy policy advisor in Delhi, India. She has also spent two years as the Project Coordinator of Mount Alexander Community Wind in Central Victoria, as well as working for a range of community organisations and social enterprises, from food to energy, advocacy to banking. Jarra studied Development Studies at the University of Newcastle and in 2009 completed Honors research that focused on grassroots renewable energy projects as effective responses to climate change using innovative economic practices. She is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales. She is researching the potential for community energy projects to contribute positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for regional communities in Australia. Her research focuses on community engagement, social enterprise models and diverse economic arrangements that community energy projects use.
Masterclass 2A – Storage
A major challenge for wind and solar energy in the past has been the intermittent supply of energy throughout the day and over a year. Fortunately this is a fast-changing space, and as various types of batteries become more cost effective this challenge is being overcome. The growing uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) has helped to drive battery development but how far away is individual and community energy self sufficiency? This masterclass will start with the basics including:
- how energy can be stored,
- what storage is used for,
- recent technological changes,
- where and when it is economical to either go off-grid or to use storage as a grid backup for reducing peak demand, and
- the interaction of EVs with the grid.
The masterclass will conclude with a look at the ‘storage paradigm shift’ – ie, what the future holds, and how the energy system will change when storage becomes ubiquitous.
Dr Andrew Simpson
Andrew founded Verdant Vision in 2011 to meet the demand for trusted, expert advice in the planning of renewable electric transport solutions. Andrew has 15 years of direct experience in this area, including work for the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Tesla Motors Inc from 2005-2008. Since 2009 Andrew has worked primarily as a consultant to clients across the Australian electric vehicle sector, and he is in high demand as a guest speaker on renewable transport topics. Andrew’s expertise is recognised by his invited participation in committees for the Federal Government Alternative Fuels Strategy, the Standards Australia EV Technical Committee, the Victorian EV Trial, the South Australian Low Emission Vehicle Strategy, the Western Australian Strategic Energy Initiative, the AutoCRC EV Reference Group and the Australian EV Alliance. Andrew has also provided invited expert testimony to the California Air Resources Board and the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and is a former member of EV technical committees for the US Department of Transportation and Society of Automotive Engineers, International. Andrew is also an Adjunct Research Fellow of the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Energy, and a Member of the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Masterclass 2B – Selling local energy
We have the energy but how can we make money out of it? Whether you are a householder, small business, community group or big energy generator, you need your investment in renewable energy to pay its way. This has often meant restricting your energy generation to what you use onsite, but there are ways to successfully sell energy into the grid. This masterclass explores a range of practical options including becoming a market participant, negotiating a power purchase agreement, becoming an exempt retailer, selling renewable energy certificates, and getting the best possible price for your rooftop solar. It will also cover the process currently underway to set up Australia’s first community energy retailer on the North Coast, and a reform underway to reduce high network costs for energy that is generated and consumed in the same local area.
Craig is the energy market specialist and consumer advocate with the Alternative Technology Association. Craig is funded by the Consumer Advocacy Panel to advocate for more affordable and sustainable energy supply for all Australian energy consumers. He promotes reform of energy regulation, competition and consumer protections, engages with energy market institutions, businesses and communities, and sits on a number of national advisory groups and steering committees. Craig also provides communities, governments, and the private sector with expert advice on the feasibility of sustainable energy projects, and supports community energy groups who are negotiating the rabbit warren of regulation and policy to deliver their own projects. Craig’s enthusiasm for community energy grew out of 12 years in the energy sector as an advocate, advisor, project manager and educator, and hands-on experience delivering energy projects ranging from household stand-alone power supplies to large wind farms.
Craig will be supported in this masterclass by Mark Byrne, Convenor of the North Coast Energy Forum.
Renewable Social Licence
It is now very clear that energy projects on the North Coast in addition to a regulatory licences must also build a meaningful social license to operate. Transferring momentum into a sustainable energy system that we as the North Coast community does want will be a key focus of the afternoon session of the Forum. The social license session will create the opportunity for participants to contribute to answering “how do we want to build a social license for bio energy on the North Coast”. Facilitated by Adam Blakester from Starfish Initiatives.
Adam has a diverse career spanning environmental, community, business and government sectors, from local through to national and international roles. Adam’s professional focus is to enable significant changes for sustainability across different scales from regional to international and different spheres from organisations to sectors and whole communities. Adam believes humanity has entered a ‘paradigm storm’ – a multi-generational period of simultaneous and significant shifts towards a healthier and more sustainable culture. Sustainability is an ambitious though necessary principle for us all. This necessarily considers environmental and economic requirements as much as it depends upon inclusive and equitable community development.
The current sustainability initiatives Adam is involved with span renewable energy, reconciliation, youth development, regenerative farming, social housing, business sustainability, mental health recovery and landscape-scale bush regeneration.
Mini EV Expo
Another first for the Forum in 2014 is the North Coast’s first electric vehicle expo, which will showcase everything electric on wheels, from bicycles through backyard conversions to mainstream brands, both hybrids and plug-ins. The expo will mostly happen during the Forum lunch break in the club’s second car park, where owners will be happy to show off their charges and preach to the non-converted.
Anyone interested in EVs should also attend the energy storage master class. We are keen for this expo to prompt not only the uptake of EVs in the region but efforts to install charging stations to enable hassle-free trips from southeast Queensland initially, and eventually from Sydney and beyond.
Paul Cruickshank is an environmental lawyer working with NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to encourage the development of large scale and community renewable energy projects. Paul has worked as CEO and Public Affairs manager for organisations as diverse as Greening Australia, Leightons and OTC, and recently (as Manager of Lismore Neighbourhood Centre) developed the nation’s first multi-million dollar regional no interest loans scheme.