Reflections on Community Energy Congress 2017

Just some of the 600 participants at Community Energy Congress, Melbourne 27–28 Feb 2017. Photo credit: COREphotolibrary @ Flickr

Last week was quite an intense one for the Nexergy team, attending Community Energy Congress and an ARENA A-Lab workshop all in the same week!

It was inspiring just being there, hearing many stories of efforts large and small (though no less important) across the country to bring renewable, community-led energy projects to fruition. For such a large group, the organisers did a fantastic job mixing up the activities between presentations and rolling up the sleeves, keeping interactive activities focused on tangible actions that could be taken forward by participants in their own way.

The founders of the First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance, with friends from the Community Energy Congress. Photo credit: COREphotolibrary @ Flickr

One particular highlight was witnessing the formation of the First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance. The Alliance recognises and builds upon the great work already happening within community, and aims to build more support for the transformational potential of community-led energy projects. On Day 1 we heard some harrowing stories from the communities that the Alliance includes, but also how community energy projects were having an impact. We’re hopeful that the Alliance can continue to grow and strengthen into the future, and are looking forward to contributing where we can.

At the start of day 2 I had the pleasure of working with a small group on the idea of local energy trading, especially in relation to renters and apartment dwellers. As regular readers would know, we see a lot of value in local energy trading in enabling people in this context to participate and contribute to the rise of local renewable energy. So it was great to hear about where other participants in the group felt local energy trading could play an active role in responding to this challenge.

This was just one example of local energy trading being part of the broader dialogue. There were a number of sessions where the idea was raised as a positive contribution to the solutions being discussed. This was really strong validation for us of the importance of local energy trading to our communities as they work towards their goals of more local renewable energy generation, and as they consider bringing storage into their projects and thinking.

As we’ve noted previously, we were really excited about participating in the Congress, both as participants, but also on the “Back to the future” panel and breakout session, which also happened on day 2.

Nexergy’s presentation slides from the “Maximising value: Solar, storage and all things trading” session at Community Energy Congress 2017

It was terrific to be able to contribute some of our thinking alongside different visions of the future grid, with learnings and ideas shared from Jay Rutovitz from the Institute of Sustainable Futures, Dean Spaccavento from Reposit, Andrew Tanner from Geli. But even more interesting, from our perspective, was the opportunity to then dive into this different ideas with members of community groups from around the country.

As is my experience with most conference-type events, so much of the value happens “in the gaps”—waiting in the coffee line, during food breaks, after hours. And Congress was no exception. Meeting all the great peeps—some we knew prior to Congress, some we didn’t—definitely buoyed us and gave us renewed energy—’scuse the pun—to push forward on our journey. Thanks to everyone for their hard work, inspiration and open-ness. Can’t wait to see the progress made next time Congress rolls around…

Posted by: Grant Young, Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of Nexergy.

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