Energy Symposium

Victoria’s Energy Future: Prospects and Challenges October 2013

 Friday 25 (9.00am-5.00pm) & Saturday 26 October (9.30am-1.00pm)

at The Royal Society, 8 La Trobe Street

An audience of over one hundred attended the public forum at Melbourne Museum to hear three very interesting presentations by Tony Wood from the Grattan Institute, Mike Sandiford from Melbourne Energy Institute and Simon Holmes a Court from the Embark Project.  The three speakers then took questions from the audience, as well as some posed by moderator Rob Gell.  The forum proved to be an ideal precursor for the symposium held on the 25th and 26th in the Society’s theatre.

In closing the symposium, the President, Dr Bill Birch, made the following observations:

“Firstly, I’m confident that our initial premise, that Victoria’s geology and geography make it an ideal place for innovative energy technologies, has been confirmed.  That we have been able to assemble a range of speakers based in Victoria or with projects in the region strongly supports this conclusion.

Secondly, was the Royal Society right to take on such a topic in the first place?  Again, I’m now sure it was.  Just about all the presentations were strongly underpinned by science and technology —the amazing technology of wind turbines, for example, and for harnessing deep and shallow geothermal energy, and what about the ‘cat-HTR’ process for turning dirty brown coal into a potential super product?  Then there are the advances in solar PV technology, the engineering of prototype wave turbines, and the methods of converting waste to energy.

Thirdly, having a range of speakers across topic and from academia, industry, business and government has given this symposium a quality that more specialized and larger meetings don’t have. And all the presentations were accessible to everyone!

What have we learnt, apart from all the technological advances and challenges?  Here are some outcomes.

  • Victoria is ideally situated in the world of energy generation and innovation.
  • Despite all the technologies becoming available, there is a disturbing disconnect between government policy on implementation and stated objectives and targets.
  • While market forces seem to be having an effect on reducing emissions from electricity generation and use, we are not going to meet our target of a 5% reduction by 2020.  Much more is needed.
  • A carbon pricing scheme is fundamental to ensure innovation continues, with or without so-called direct action approaches, such as soil carbon sequestration.
  • Science and technology are well advanced for energy generation — storage is still a work in progress.
  • At the more detailed level, we learnt the difference between coal seam gas and shale gas, and the distinction between deep and shallow geothermal energy, as well as the various health issues associated with wind, unconventional gas and coal mining.

I’m sure we’ve all learnt more than just these, and you the audience will no doubt take away additional information.”

Program details were:


Symposium: Friday 25th October 2013, 8.50am-5.00pm,

Royal Society of Victoria, 8 La Trobe Street, Melbourne


8.50-9.00am Welcome/ Introductory Remarks
  President of RSV, Dr Bill Birch


9.00-9.30am Energy Requirements for Victoria
  Phil Harrington
  Principal consultant-Carbon & Energy Team, Pitt & Sherry
9.30-10.00am Brown coal: Unlocking Victoria`s potential
  Dr Bill Rowlands, Chief Scientist, Ignite Energy
10.00-10.30am Panel discussion
  Chair: Dr Bill Birch AM, President , RSV
10.30-11.00am Morning tea
11.00-11.20am Australia`s gas future: How Victoria can stay ahead of the pack
  Ms Kerrie-Anne Lanigan, ExxonMobil, Director of Gas Marketing
11.20-11.40am The Potential for Carbon Capture and Geological storage in Victoria.
  Dr Maxwell Watson, CRC for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC)
11.40- 12noon Carbon Capture and Storage: The biological potential
  Mr Walter Jehne, Director, Healthy Soils  Australia
12 -12.30pm Panel discussion
  Chair: Mr Dennis O`Neill, Director Resource Futures Pty Ltd
12.30-1.30pm Lunch


1.30-1.50pm Wind Power in Victoria
  Mr Tom Keddie, Exec. Manager Development,  Pacific Hydro Australia
1.50-2.10pm Geothermal energy: Deep sources
  Dr Graeme Beardsmore, Technical Director, Hot Dry Rocks Pty Ltd
2.10-2.30pm Geothermal energy: shallow sources
  Prof Ian Johnston, Golder Associates Chair of GeotechnicalEngineering, University of Melbourne
2.30-3.00pm Panel discussion
  Chair: Mr Rob Gell, Executive Director bhive Group Pty Ltd
3.00-3.30pm Afternoon tea
3.30- 4.00pm Unconventional Gas: shale and coal seam and some prospects for Victoria
  Dr Vaughan Beck, Senior Technical Advisor, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
4.00-4.30pm Tracking Australia`s progress to a low carbon economy
  Professor John Thwaites, Chair Monash Sustainability Institute and Climate Works Australia
4.30-5.00pm Panel discussion
  Chair: Mr Richard Lightfoot, Director  Casconsult Pty Ltd


Symposium: Saturday 26th October 2013, 9.00am-1.00pm,

Royal Society of Victoria, 8 La Trobe Street, Melbourne


9.30-9.50am Solar energy: small and large installations
  Dr David Ferrari, Project Lead, Sustainability Victoria
9.50-10.10am Waste to energy
  Mr John Sanderson, Principal Environmental Engineer Earth systems
10.10-10.30am Wave and Tidal energy
  Dr Tim Finnigan, Biopower Systems
10.30- 11.00am Panel Discussion
  Chair: TBC
11.00 11.30am Morning tea

Impact of energy generation on health

11.30-11.50am What is the evidence for potential health impacts from wind power?
  A/Professor Marion Carey, Monash Sustainability Institute
11.50-12.10pm Impact of energy generation on health: Unconventional gas
  Dr Helen Redmond, Doctors for the Environment Australia
12.10-12.30pm The impact of coal-fired power generation on health
  A/Professor Linda Selvey, Curtin University School of Public Health
12.30-1.00pm Discussion
  Chair: Professor Sandra Rees, Research Secretary, RSV
 1.00pm Summing up and close
  Dr Bill Birch, President RSV