Shining a light on energy and cost of living : new reports

08 May 2023

Shining a light on energy and cost of living : new reports featured image

More than one third of all Australians are currently struggling to pay for electricity, and electricity prices have been rising around the country.

While Federal Budget measures might give some households short term relief, three Churchill Fellows have some longer term solutions for Australia that could help address soaring energy costs, clean up the energy sector, and boost energy exports which are currently lagging.

Dr Julius Susanto from Western Australia, Dr Steven Percy from Victoria, and Bryony O’Shea from South Australia have all recently returned from overseas where they gathered combined intelligence on energy sectors from South Korea, US, Norway, England, Ireland, Germany, Turkey and France.

Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Trust commended the Fellows, saying: “With Australia’s cost of electricity increasing, Churchill Fellows offer practical solutions for decision makers, who bring benefits to the everyday Australian household.”

Dr Julius Susanto said: “Australia is at the forefront of the clean energy transition and while there is an understandable desire to move quickly, we still need to be mindful of the technical risks introduced by changing the dominant energy generation technology from fossil-fuel driven rotating machines to inverters powered by wind and solar.”

“To do this, we need to develop a framework for assessing the trade-offs between technical risks, economic efficiency and the speed of transition.”

Dr Susanto is also calling for greater transparency over network data models from the companies who own and operate the electricity network.

“In future, Australia’s electricity grid could draw more heavily on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. To get there, many technical studies need to be done to ensure that a renewable-dominated system will operate stably, but there is limited access to the network data to perform these studies.”

“We need to open up access to this data to have as many experts working on this as possible,” said Dr Susanto.

Two other Churchill Fellows, Dr Stephen Percy and Bryony O’Shea have recently returned from their Fellowships to understand hydrogen in Australia’s energy future, as well as barriers to introducing it.

Dr Percy said: “In simple terms, hydrogen is a new type of energy source with a multi-billion dollar value. Global demand for hydrogen continues to rise, and Australia can become a leader in this space.”

“Currently, Australia’s energy exports have fallen by more than 7%, but Australia could boost this by exporting hydrogen from Port Headland in WA and Gladstone in QLD,” said Dr Percy.

Briony O’Shea has recently returned from overseas where she researched barriers to introducing hydrogen into natural gas networks and how these can be overcome. Bryony is finalising her report, and is keen to share her findings.

Briony said: “The research suggested a strong correlation between clear policy settings and progressive outcomes.”

Read Dr Percy’s report here.

Read Dr Susanto’s report here.

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