Published 09 May 2017
What does a renewable energy future look like?
In partnership with Sydney Ideas.
Global energy markets are in process of rapid change and transformation. Over the last decade, renewable energy technologies like solar and wind have become dramatically cheaper and now challenge the economics of traditional fossil-fuel energy systems. Added to this, the catastrophic implications of human-induced climate disruption are forcing governments to seriously embrace decarbonisation as demonstrated in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. However, the US Government’s recent rejection of clean energy legislation and proposed expansion of coal, oil and gas highlight how the old fossil fuel order is not giving up without a fight and there are countervailing trends evident in current political battles over energy and climate. This Sydney Ideas event will bring together three expert speakers on the potential for renewable reinvention and a global green shift. What are the opportunities and challenges Australia and the world face in the coming decade as we try to kick our fossil fuel habit and embrace a cleaner, more sustainable energy future?
Chair: Professor Christopher Wright
Professor John Mathews is a leading scholar of the greening of capitalism and the role that China and East Asian countries play in this process. In September 2014 he and his collaborator Dr Hao Tan had an article published in Nature, on the theme of renewables, energy security and China. This interest in greening of business stems from a decade and more of scholarship focused on the competitive dynamics of international business, the evolution of technologies and their strategic management, and the rise of new high technology industries, especially their creation in East Asia through strategies of technology leverage and the management of technology diffusion. His work now focuses on the emergence of the ‘green economy’ and the transition to renewable energies, and the institutional changes needed to provide industrial capitalism with genuine long-term sustainability.
Emma Herd is Chief Executive Officer at the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC). Prior to IGCC, Emma spent 15 years at Westpac Banking Corporation where she had a range of roles across carbon finance and emissions trading, ESG Risk assessment, public policy and sustainability strategy development. Emma has participated in a number of key public forums, government and industry bodies relating to climate change and the environment. Emma is a Non-Executive Director of the Carbon Market Institute and a member of the Cornerstone Capital Global Advisory Council. She holds a Bachelor of Asian Studies (Thai) Hons.
Professor Tony Vassallo holds the Delta Electricity Chair in Sustainable Energy Development in the Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology. Although a physical chemist by training he can masquerade as an engineer when required. He is a passionate advocate of the need to transition to low carbon energy sources, and in particular, the development of battery energy storage to facilitate very high levels of renewable generation. He teaches sustainability and researches energy storage.
A past President of the Australian Institute of Energy, he is also Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Development in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.