Get Smart…

Last week we had the pleasure of attending two events which were focused on innovating Australia’s energy sector. We started the week at the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne which was both a great deal of fun and a really valuable opportunity to connect with community energy groups, as well as the wider industry. Grant has posted about our excitement leading up to the Congress, and it didn’t disappoint. A huge thank you to all who were involved in organising the event — it was a raging success.

The second event was a two-day workshop for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) “skunk-works”, A-Lab. ARENA created A-Lab to drive renewable energy integration in Australia by fostering collaboration between energy sector folk and by providing the methods, tools and approaches to facilitate the process.

The purpose of this workshop was “creating the internet of energy” — exploring the technology underpinnings and requirements of a highly distributed and interconnected energy system. Hosted by EnergyLab, a recently launched Australian cleantech accelerator, and facilitated by design thinking consultancy, ThinkPlace, the event brought together some of the sharpest and most influential minds in Australia’s energy industry. Indeed, we were humbled to get an invitation! All corners of the sector were represented including retailers, network businesses, IT consultants, hardware providers, lean start-ups, consumers and telecoms giants.

Imagine locking up a room full of the “energy nerdocracy” such as myself for two days — with unlimited food and caffeine supplies — and you can imagine the cornucopia of ideas which emerged. On top of innovative ideas, the event was an important opportunity to network and cross-pollenate the industry. While a number of ideas had already been investigated by some of the players, large and small, the learnings from those experiments often get siloed without conscious efforts, like this one, to share learnings, or “flearn.” Quoth Mark Twain:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

What’s critical here is that workshops like those run by A-lab, as well as events like the Community Energy Congress, bring us one step closer to achieving our common goals of cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy. We’re not going to get there by fostering protectionist idealogies and squirrelling away on technologies in a dark basement — we need to be open and collaborative. Stay tuned, these are exciting times.

Posted by: Darius Salgo, CEO of Nexergy.