2019 Monash Energy Conference – summary

On September 18 & 19th, MEMSI (now Monash Energy Institute) held its inaugural Energy Conference on the Monash University campus. The conference brought together the university energy community, and showcased and celebrated the many ways in which we can work together to achieve sustainable innovation in the energy sector.

For a three-minute overview, watch our Monash Energy Conference video below or on YouTube. You may also want to watch 'The Future of Energy', a four-minute collection of brief insights from speakers on the opportunities and challenges faced in the energy sector.

For a summary of the two days, read on.

The Monash Energy Institute 2019 Conference. We can solve the world's biggest energy challenges by working together.

Opened by Monash University Provost Professor Marc Parlange and Associate Professor Jacek Jasieniak (MEMSI Director- now Monash Energy Institute), the event started with a keynote speech by Victorian Chief Scientist Dr Amanda Caples, followed by a panel discussion on the role of universities in the energy sector moderated by Ms Chloe Munro AO (Monash University), and featuring Dr Amanda Caples, Professor Simon Wilkie (Faculty of Business and Economics), Mr Neil Kavanagh (Woodside Energy), and Mr Kevin Hart (GE Power Digital). The panel emphasised that in order to resolve the complex issues faced in the energy sector and to enable the transition towards a low-carbon economy, academia, industry, and government must work together with a long-term vision.

The panel was followed by an overview of the research conducted by ARC Centres of Excellence, ACEx, ACES and FLEET. Professor Udo Bach (ACEx) spoke to the advances in luminescent solar concentrators, photon up-conversion and next generation solar cells. Professor Doug Mc Farlane (ACES) emphasised the important role that hydrogen can play in the energy future. Dr Tich-Lam Nguyen (FLEET) discussed the new generation of ultra-low energy electronics that will help reduce the significant energy costs incurred from the information and communication technology.

In an inspiring address, Dr Tony Marxsen (Grid Innovation Hub Chairman) called on universities to engage with the energy industry to tackle the current threats to clean, affordable and reliable energy. Afternoon speakers provided insights into how this may be achieved. Mr Scott Ferraro (Net Zero Initiative) updated the audience on the progress of he ‘Monash Net Zero Initiative’, a pledge to commit to net-zero emissions by 2030, for which the university was awarded the UN Momentum for Change award in 2018. Professor Mainak Majumder (Faculty of Engineering) emphasised the role of batteries and super-capacitors in overcoming the intermittent nature of renewable energies. Dr Larissa Nicholls (Faculty of Information Technology) provided an overview of an electricity sector-wide engagement strategy, outcome of the Future Grid Homes project funded by Energy Consumers Australia, and highlighted the need for differentiated flexible and inclusive approaches.

A second panel discussion moderated by Professor Rob Raven (Monash Sustainable Development Institute) and featuring Associate Professor Megan Farrelly (Faculty of Arts), Associate Professor Arthur Campbell (Faculty of Business and Economics), and Professor Maria Garcia de la Banda (Faculty of Information Technology), stressed the importance of interdisciplinary research and consultation with energy technology users in meeting the current challenges faced by the energy sector.

The presentations ended with the launch of the Monash Energy Club by Alexander Taylor-Bartels. The club aims to facilitate access to and mobility within energy industry careers and to inform students about energy investments, technology and policy. The day closed with the announcement of the conference image and poster competition winners and the handing out of awards. Science PhD student Luke Wylie took the prize for the best poster while Yen Yee Choo, PhD candidate with ACES was acknowledged as the winner for best image.

Day two of the conference consisted in two parallel sessions in the morning and afternoon. The Monash Microgrid session offered an overview of the Indra OneSait AGM platform, which integrates and coordinates microgrid assets, and of the microgrid transactive energy market, which is currently in development. ACES held a session focused on the promises of hydrogen energy-generation with guest speakers from Woodside Energy, CSIRO, and ANT. In the afternoon, ACEx researchers gave a series of short talks on developing materials to improve the performance of solar cells. The Grid Innovation Hub session included a series of 5-minute presentations focused on collaboration with industry and innovators, with topics such as the generation and transmission of power and wholesale markets, as well as distribution networks, DERs and customers.

You can find the full program with speakers' biographies in the conference brochure. Selected slides from the conference are available here.

Dr Amanda Caples (Chief Victorian Scientist), Prof. Simon Wilkie (Faculty of Business and Economics), Mr Neil Kavanagh (Woodside Energy), and Mr Kevin Hart (GE Power Digital)

From left to right: Dr Amanda Caples (Chief Victorian Scientist), Prof. Simon Wilkie (Faculty of Business and Economics), Mr Neil Kavanagh (Woodside Energy), and Mr Kevin Hart (GE Power Digital). Image credit: Nyasha Jokomo.

Amanda Caples speaking at the 2019 MEC

Dr Amanda Caples, Chief Victorian Scientist, gave a keynote speech on how to achieve energy security and environmental sustainability. Image credit: Nyasha Jokomo.

Ms Chloe Munro AO

Ms Chloe Munro AO speaking to the role of university in the energy sector. Image credit: Nyasha Jokomo.

Prof. Doug McFarlane

Prof. Doug McFarlane emphasised the important role that hydrogen can play in the energy future. Image credit: Nancy van Nieuwenhove.

Luke Wylie’s poster, ‘Tailoring Ionic Liquids for Use in Organic Radical Redox Flow Batteries’, won him the best poster presentation at the 2019 Monash Energy Conference poster competition.

The winning image at the 2019 Monash Energy Conference image competition, ‘The Hot and Energetic Sun’, by Yen Yee Choo, PhD candidate with ACES. Credit: Nancy Van Nieuwenhove.