The Solar2011 Conference, held at the Australian Technology Park in New South Wales, involved three days of focused debate and discussion about the policies and research that will support the growth of a sustainable solar energy industry in Australia.
The conference hosted the hand over of the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) Presidency, from current President Mike Dymond to incoming president Steve Blume. At its Gala Dinner, awards for global leadership in solar research were presented to Professor Martin Green of the University of New South Wales and AREVA Solar Chair Dr David Mills, while solar experts Nigel Morris and Warwick Johnston took home the AuSES Award for Industry Advocacy and Leadership.
AuSES Chief Executive John Grimes said that the event was one of the most significant AuSES conferences ever held in terms of its timeliness, given the recent passing of the Clean Energy Future legislative package in federal parliament.
“As Australia prepares to embark on its clean energy future with a carbon price in place, there is tremendous potential for new investment in the development and growth of solar energy in Australia,” said Mr Grimes.Article continues below…
The Solar2011 Conference heard from Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet and Australian Greens Deputy Leader Federal Senator Christine Milne about their different perspectives on Australia’s new carbon pricing plan.
Senator Milne told delegates that the solar industry is “the future” for Australia.
“Solar technology is real, it’s exciting, and it’s expanding,” Senator Milne said. “You need to challenge the ridiculously conservative assumptions [by the Federal Treasury] about the future of photovoltaic solar.”
Senator Milne said that challenging such assumptions would be an imperative contribution to feedback on the new Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to be established under the Clean Energy Future Plan.
“The Federal Government appoints the boards for these institutions, and whoever is appointed is a critical issue,” Senator Milne told the Solar2011 Conference. “The investment mandate is absolutely critical – what does [the investment mandate] have to be to leverage more private sector investment? This has to be negotiated with the board.”
Senator Milne also said that the Australian solar industry should provide a considered opinion on how much the Federal Parliament should attempt to increase the Renewable Energy Target.
Examples of expertise
Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Chief Development Officer for Energy and Climate Change Allan Jones from the City of Sydney provided case studies to demonstrate how Sydney is meeting the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target of any Australian government (70 per cent reduction on 2006 levels by 2030), and the role played by solar in meeting this target.
Experts such as Opower Director of Markets Jeff Lyng, who was instrumental in developing a number of the energy policies in Colorado, United States – including the 30 per cent Renewable Portfolio Standard – and Dr David Renne of the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory spoke about solar resource assessment for projects.
The conference also explored opportunities for ‘big solar’ to take advantage of government funding initiatives such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Solar Flagships Program.
Special Mandarin-language sessions were held, which included a review of Australian solar market trends and advice on entering the market, and over 75 peer-reviewed papers on solar energy technology, policies and economics were presented.
There were also sessions focused on professional development for solar installers, featuring information from Solar Australia magazine contributors Warwick Johnston of SunWiz Consulting and Ric Brazzale of Green Energy Trading.