Record numbers at Energy Networks 2018

The Energy Networks 2018 Vision Critical Conference has welcomed a record number of delegates with 900 people gathering at the Sydney International Convention Centre for day one of the event yesterday.

The sessions discussed the transformation underway in the energy sector and work by network businesses to modernise the grid to support increasing amounts of solar and storage into the system.

Day two has kicked off with a ministerial address from Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

Mr Frydenberg carried on a strong focus of the conference – customer engagement – pointing to the national energy guarantee (NEG).

“For more than a decade, the federal parliament and state parliament have been bogged down by the debate about the integration of climate and energy policy. And the losers from that hyperpartisan debate has been the consumers,” he said.

“We’re unapologetic that our focus is reducing power prices… and we have seen a significant 30 per cent reduction in wholesale prices compared to the same time last year, and we’re expecting retailers pass on these reduced wholesale prices to consumers.

“We are trending in the right direction but we all have a collective responsibility and that collective responsibility is to bring prices down, bring reliability up and meet emissions reduction targets.”

Mr Frydenberg said he plans to legislate the NEG by the end of the year.

“I am confident that my state and territory counterparts, regardless of their political persuasions, recognise the NEG is a very positive step forward,” he said.

“There may be disagreements about the level of emissions reduction targets… but at the end of the day, it is a mechanism to go forward and the Commonwealth believes they have got the trajectory right and the targets right.

“I am looking to get the agreement of the states in August and legislate in the federal parliament before the end of the year.

“We may not always agree on different aspects on policy, but at the end of the day, we do all agree that the consumers of Australia are our number one priority and their confidence in the energy system is absolutely paramount.”

At the conference opening yesterday, Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon said Australia’s energy networks’ role in securing a more reliable, affordable and stable energy system has never been more critical.

He said the opportunities for network businesses and benefits to customers presented by the transformation and modernisation of the energy system were significant.

“Our generation sector has already started the transformation from a coal-based fleet to one powered primarily by renewables. This must be accompanied by timely and strategic investment to better link electricity from renewable energy zones to our customers,” Mr Dillon said.

“We also have to look at complementary technologies to manage the transition.”

Mr Dillon said the network sector was changing dramatically and the evolution of home energy storage and generation required a modernised platform that needed further development.

“We know that today’s grid already incorporates more than just large-scale renewables. Australians love household solar like no other country,” he said

“However, our grid can’t just absorb endless local generation electricity – networks have limits. When these limits are reached, fuses may blow or systems overheat, causing reliability and safety issues.

“Effective management or ‘orchestration’ of these renewable sources is needed to support their safe and reliable integration into the grid and unlock the true value of household solar and storage.”

The conference, held at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, finishes this afternoon.