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SERREE Business Forum

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It was a similarly sunny day with a beautiful view out from the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion that the SERREE Renewable Energy Industry Cluster was launched three years ago.

The 2014 Forum-Launch was exciting, contemplating the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead. And little did we know…

This 2017 Forum however was a celebration, of the growth and successes of the SERREE Industry Cluster initiative over the three years from 2014 to 2017.

A full-house of SERREE Members were joined by ARENA’s Chief Operating Officer Nicola Morris who welcomed members and guests to the Forum, reflecting on the positive impact ARENA’s funding of SERREE had made to the development of the industry in this ACT – south east NSW region.

A strong program speakers followed, led off by Simon Corbell. A renewable energy guru, Simon drew on his wealth of renewable energy knowledge and experience of policy and markets, to give an insightful presentation on the potential implications of the Australian Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee on the renewables industry.

Simon also noted the potential to roll-out the SERREE model in Victoria where renewable energy industry growth is surging. (At least, that was SERREE’s interpretation of his message!)

Professor Andrew Blakers followed with a powerful renewables message compellingly delivered. Renewable energy generation needs storage to provide secure and reliable electricity, and one of the most efficient and effective ways to store energy is by using pumped hydro.

Andrew’s maps illustrated the immense capacity of Australia’s regional topography to be able to deliver that pumped hydro storage way beyond the need.

Jon Sibley described many of the ACT Government’s current initiatives in renewables, including the roll out of household battery storage facility, and the potential for the ACT to become a national, or even global, test bed for trialing innovative renewables technologies.

Chloe Hicks, representing the NSW Renewable Energy Advocate team delivered the NSW Government’s latest news on their renewables policies and programs, recognising the value of SERREE in delivering as a cross-border initiative. A key component within the NSW portfolio is the Climate Change Strategy, with this legislation currently being considered by Cabinet.

Michael Gartner, Managing Director of Photon Energy, has a wealth of solar farm development experience across both Europe and Australia. He presented on the 1500MW pipeline of large-scale solar projects under development in NSW including the 316MW Gunning Solar Farm just north of Canberra.

Richard Lowe, TransGrid’s Executive Manager, Business Growth, with over 25 years’ experience in Australian and international markets in mergers and acquisitions, financing and operations in the infrastructure and telecommunications sectors presented on current opportunities for the high voltage electricity transmission network in NSW and the ACT.

SERREE Cluster Manager, Craig Hanicek, introduced the Business Forum’s 2nd session highlighting the opportunity to further develop our global connectivity and regional business exports. SERREE region’s businesses are well-positioned to provide the expertise Asia Pacific nations need to help transform their energy systems over the coming decades.

Anthony Maxwell, Principal Energy Specialist at the Asian Development Bank, livestreamed into the Forum from the Philippines. ADB recognise the importance of sustainable investments across the region investing over $2 billion in clean energy projects per year. Anthony outlined the great work many Australian companies are already contributing to energy projects across the Asia Pacific and encouraged SERREE member businesses to register on the ADB contractor management system to keep abreast of current tenders.

Isaac Court, Trade Manager, Resources and Energy at Austrade presented on opportunities in Vietnam where energy demand is growing at an unprecedented rate. The Vietnamese government is committed to increasing the share of renewables in their energy mix and Austrade are developing a trade mission in the new year to leverage this opportunity.

Jenya Khvatsky, Chief Executive Officer at Cleantek Market presented on their global on-line clean technology marketplace that uses smart algorithms, machine learning and blockchain technologies to connect technologies and projects with investors, advisors, end users and other market participants.

Expert Panel – Exports

Facilitated by SERREE Advisory Board Chair Mark Schneider, experts from some of our more experienced local exporting companies formed a panel to share their learnings and discuss case studies that identified renewable energy industry export opportunities and challenges.

Companies represented on the panel included:

  • 2017 ACT Export Award winners ITP Renewables, a company that is taking their engineering expertise to Pacific Island Nations including Tokelau, which recently celebrated their island’s transformation from a reliance on diesel to 100% solar.
  • Solastor are taking their locally-developed Graphite Storage Technology to build solar thermal facilities in Cyprus. 
  • Windlab are leveraging their locally developed wind energy resource mapping smarts to develop projects in high-wind resource locations across the world including in the United States and Africa. 
  • The ANU Energy Change Institute is also working with a range of countries to develop innovative technologies, and has been developing a close working relationship particularly with the Australia-Indonesia Energy Cluster. 

The SERREE Future and Wrap 

RDA ACT Executive Director and Director of the SERREE initiative noted that SERREE will continue to flourish as we embrace the next phase of SERREE Industry Cluster development.

This future will include continuing to present our well-attended events:

  • SERRREE Business Forums and more ad hoc roundtables and meetings 
  • Renewable Energy Day (facilitating community engagement with the industry).

Also, we will continue to update the dynamic SERREE website and produce the popular weekly SERREE e-newsletters that deliver information on the latest regionally-relevant renewable energy industry news, activities and opportunities for members.

SERREE projects will include:

  • Compiling and publishing a Canberra Region Renewable Energy Industry Capability Directory that will be used to promote the region’s business and industry capability 
  • Continuing to develop the Renewable Energy Trail initiative – more sites, signage and visitation, plus developing some regionally-relevant school education material
  • Further developing Renewable Energy site tours for visiting global delegations with associated business meetings to facilitate global business opportunities for SERREE member businesses.

And in our spare time, we’d like to share the learnings of developing the SERREE Model with other regions in Australia. These learnings been captured into the recently-published SERREE Model Resource Kit that presents a regional-scale, replicable model for developing a region’s renewable energy industry, exemplaring collaboration.

We are currently working with the Riverina, NSW Central West, Far North South Australia and Newcastle-Hunter, and would like to hear from you if you are working in a region you consider may benefit from the roll-out of a Renewable Energy Industry Cluster.

The Forum concluded with a SERREE Reflections Slideshow in which we reminisced over the triumphs and pitfalls of the past three years, and thanked the network of committed and wonderful people who make up the SERREE Industry Cluster.

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