Reflections on the Road ahead for the SWIS

Greg Ruthven, Associate Director at Rennie Advisory, provided an overview of the drivers and trends influencing Western Australia's South West Interconnected System (SWIS) energy transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. 

WA has seen strong renewable growth over the last few years (especially rooftop solar), however coal and gas still dominate the generation mix.  Residential PV is forecast to more than double in the next 10 years, however more battery storage is required to manage that uptake. 

Whilst the WA Government is taking steps to set the energy-intensive sectors on a pathway to net zero emissions there is much work to do. Key investment is in transmission to allow more renewables into the SWIS - especially much needed wind (onshore or offshore).

Global resource companies are showing greater decarbonisation ambition by setting their own NZE targets - many are looking to electrification which will significantly increase the demand on the SWIS. Existing and new investors repeatedly cite concerns around policy uncertainty, network connection and access. Improving the transmission investment and connection frameworks will be paramount to achieving the energy transition

Please find a link to the overview presentation by Greg Ruthven here.

More information on Rennie Advisory can be found here.   

How to Navigate the Big Switch

In a Special Joint Presentation with

East Fremantle Climate Action Reference Group 

and Sustainable Energy Now

Electrify Everything - Navigating the Big Switch Event


With a recorded welcome by Dr Saul Griffith the scene was set for Fraser Maywood to present a convincing argument for making the switch to an all electric home.  Starting with the alarming statistic that Australia's 10 million households are responsible for 42% of Australia's national emissions, the audience heard that individual households can have a significant impact by transitioning away from fossil fuels to cleaner, cheaper renewable energy and reduce their energy use by a whopping 63%.

Inspired by inventor and entrepreneur, Dr Saul Griffith, and his recent book ‘The Big Switch’, the audience of around 100 was presented with an overview of the how and why of transitioning to an all electric home. Following the overview the audience heard from actual case studies - one from a local resident who retrofitted an old home to all electric and another who was undertaking a new build with all electric inclusions. There was strong interest in questions to the panel from the engaged audience after. 

Please find a link to the overview presentation by Fraser Maywood here.


All Things Rooftop Solar Power

The East Fremantle Council and the Climate Action Reference Group hosted an event featuring Ian Porter, Chair of Sustainable Energy Now speaking on All Things Rooftop Solar. 

It was a comprehensive presentation discussing the basic concepts of domestic solar, the economics, the benefits, evaluating individual circumstances, and the role of batteries.

There was a lively question session afterwards with some thoughtful scenarios posed.

In all, a most engaging and informative session. 

Please find a link to the slide presentation here.

What role will Hydrogen play in a deep carbonised future

We had a full night of activity with the Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC, Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Hydrogen Industry opening the discussion.  She stated that she is aware of the opportunities and the need to act now and she is most supportive of green hydrogen with other forms to be used as part of a transition to renewable forms of energy.

Next, one of Australia’s most knowledgeable experts in the field of Hydrogen research, Professor Craig Buckley provided an overview of state of the art hydrogen storage options and discussed the many options with comparisons of the pathways.  He described research currently being conducted by Curtin University in metal hydride technology using Sodium Borohydride as a storage media.

This was followed by an industry expert, Kent Ramsey, of 9 Tech Solutions with a presentation summarised as Hype - Hope - Nope. He provided very useful real world scenarios and actuals on barriers such high costs, inefficiencies in production, transport challenges. For example he said that it would take as many as 14 trucks to deliver the same energy to a truck as a tank of diesel. He noted that it is important to invest in the appropriate projects. 

Dr Benjamin Kaebe, Director Space Industries has worked at FMG’s hydrogen project then joined the panel with the previous 2 speakers.  

The event was filmed and once the video is edited, it will be posted here. 

Copy of Kent Ramsey slideshow. Hype/Hope/Nope

Copy of slideshow by Prof Buckley 50 Shades Hydrogen

The Power and the Politics

The Power and the Politics Slowing Western Australia's Energy Transition

SEN Events was delighted to have Peter Milne, journalist, energy industry analyst and commentator through his online publication Boiling Cold ( He addressed an enthusiastic audience on a squally Monday night.  

Peter gave an overview of the SW Power System and examined the current realities and future challenges in power delivery, decarbonisation and the interplay with the political issues impacting and holding back investment and development.

Read more

Why is it so Bloody Hard to Bring a new Renewable Energy Project to Fruition

Sustainable Energy Now hosted three senior energy executives to answer this question. Together, they represented the entire spectrum of the energy industry with combined experience in utilities; commercial project development; system planning and engineering; and leading-edge renewables development.

Geoff Glazier, Managing Partner at Merz, Richard Winter, General Counsel and Company Secretary, Solar River Project and Rod Hayes, Chairman of Balance Group, gave their views and answered audience questions in an open, challenging, and positive session moderated by Sustainable Energy Now. It was revealed that there were no commercial sized Renewable Energy (“RE”) projects in development or construction in the SWIS (Southwest Interconnected System), the equivalent in Perth of the NEM in Eastern Australia..

In addition to the shocking status, the biggest take away from the discussion was that there is an absence of a commercial structure that supports new energy.  So, even though there are investors and funds available, being unable to forecast how much energy would be allowed to be input to the system stops any investment.

How can you enter an energy provision contract with Aldi, for example, if you do not know how much energy you are going to be allowed to sell to Aldi in future years?  If you do not know how much energy you will be able to sell, how do you know how much revenue you will generate?  It is impossible. 

What has brought about the current situation?


Read more

SEN Jobs Report 2020 Launch Event

The much anticipated launch event for the Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) Jobs Report 2020 was held on Monday 14 September at RIFF. 

Two panels comprising 8 industry leaders discussed the findings of the report, the future of the SWIS grid and new jobs rich, sunrise industries powered by renewables and storage, highlighting:  

* 55,000 energy jobs on the SWIS grid over the decade 2020 - 2030.

* A 90% renewables and energy powered SWIS grid by 2030.

Read more

Dr Lex Fullerton, Tax and the Electric Car, 27 July 2020

Dr Lex Fullarton is well credentialed in taxation law, and considers what is likely to happen to future motor vehicle fuel excises with an increase in the number of electric vehicles on Australia roads, the impact of rising self-generated electricity from renewable energy sources, and how that energy might be used to power electric vehicles in the future. He refers to his own case study of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owned by the solar farm project, where he found that unless motor vehicles are charged from independent electricity sources, such as dispersed, embedded solar pv installations, little is saved in the way of greenhouse gas emissions. The case study demonstrates the 'triple bottom line' of economic, social and environmentally sustainable industry.

Read more

Special Presentation DER Roadmap by Hon. Bill Johnston, MLA

by Hon. Bill Johnson, MLA, Minister for Energy, Government of Western Australia.

Early this month, Energy Minister Bill Johnston released the Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap, produced by the McGowan Government's Energy Transformation Taskforce. 

Read more

Professor James Prof James Trevelyan, UWA talks about his personal airconditioning device designs.

Professor James Trevelyan, University of Western Australia Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences talks about his experiences in engineering personal air-conditioning units, with a particular interest in servicing developing countries.

Click hear to download James presentation slides as a PDF file.

Read more

Superpower : Australia's Low Carbon Opportunity

31 January 2020

Joint Special Event:  JCIPP and SEN preset Prof Ross Garnaut.

Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) and John Curtin Institute of Public Policy (JCIPP) hosted Professor Ross Garnaut AC at an event at Curtin University. 

Professor Garnaut addressed the potential of Australia to use its renewable energy resources to power a new future for the country, a theme of his newest book "Superpower: Australia’s low carbon opportunity".

In his presentation and in his the book, Professor Garnaut offers a road map for progress, covering energy, transport, agriculture, the international scene and more. Rich in ideas and practical optimism, Superpower is a crucial, timely contribution to this country’s future.

Read more

Demand response : Practice and Insights from the Field

2 September 2019

Demand response can be put simply as a technology-enabled economic balancing method for grid based power systems. 

Demand response is used by network operators to reduce the demand for electricity at particular times to help keep the grid stable.  It has particular relevance in renewable energy power systems with intermittent generation and allows the system to cope with supply fluctuations without increasing the need for investment in more costly capacity.

At this panel presentation, we gained insights from 3 different perspectives: one from a retailer, Amanda Energy, one from the market operator AEMO, and one from a  generator and consumer at the domestic level, Ian Porter. 

Geothermal Energy with Mark Ballesteros and Martin Pujol, Directors of the Australian Geothermal Association

2 December 2019

In this presentation Mark and Martin explored the potential applications of geothermal energy for heating and cooling; whether geothermal heating of water is already competitive against gas; and whether geothermal generation can provide baseload power and match demand. We heard about who is using it and where, and what is in store for the Australian geothermal industry?

Mark and Martin have worked extensively in the geothermal and groundwater industries, and have taken on the role of geothermal educators for a variety of audiences. 

Mark outlined the key benefits and challenges of geothermal electricity generation, gave a brief history of geothermal exploration in Australia and discussed how geothermally generated electricity could fit into the Australian energy mix. Note that ARENA reported that geothermal electricity can provide one of the lowest Levelised Costs of Energy in the right circumstances.

Martin outlined the geothermal resources that exist in Australia and the role that direct utilisation of geothermal energy and Ground Source Heat Pumps can play for Australia’s energy future. The presentation will include an overview of the Perth’s geothermal projects (including pool heating).

Read more

Plico Community Energy Project

14 October 2019

Mike Kilcullen , Chief Operating Officer at Starling Energy, presented the project that won the Energy Innovation of the Year” award in the Australian Institute of Energy, 2019 WA Energy Awards. 

The project was originally launched as the Dunsborough Community Energy Project last year during the pilot phase, but will now be implemented across the whole of WA as the Plico Energy project.

In a highly interactive session, with a very engaged audience, Mike gave an overview of the model, the benefits of signing up, and who would benefit most. In summary the project will:

Read more

Garry Baverstock : Architecture, Solar Design and Climate Change

Monday 10 June.

Architecture Maximizing Solar Design: Big Picture Implications for Addressing Climate Change

A long time advocate for progressing sustainable practices within the building industry and beyond, Garry presented an insight into his journey advocating for change in land development, building design, retrofit and embedding innovation into practice.  

Despite a myriad of initiatives in design support, changes in energy efficiency compliance in development and building licenses as well as exhaustive public education programs going for over 50 years now, to date, little has been achieved.

Despite the general inertia in the industry, Garry put forward a plan, while stressing the urgency, calling for a total systems change of thinking to maximize the potential for Green House Gas savings. Conservation of resources in this sector, with far more targeted scientific and innovative strategies, is needed, to deliver the outcomes. 

That the built environment constitutes the significant part of the GHG emissions footprint, the presentation stressed the reason for prioritising the building industry for restructuring, towards climate sensitive objectives.

Garry Baverstock was awarded the Order of Australia in 2006 for his ground breaking work in eco-architecture and in recognition of his significant contribution to Australian society. 

Further information can be found via Garry's website

Joint Special Event with IEEE

29 April 2019

Transforming the SWIS : Julius Susanto on the new AEMO modelling tools. 

Aware that the WA South West Interconnected System (SWIS) is increasingly accommodating a higher ratio of non-synchronous generators due to rapid and unprecedented uptake of solar PV and other distributed energy resources, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) took the decision to develop their own proprietary in-house modelling tools to identify where shortfalls in system security may lie and the needed system resources to offset system security risks in this area.

Here is the recording of the presentation.

Read more

In Conversation with Jay Weatherill

23 March 2019

Jay Weatherill, ex premier of South Australia joined Sustainable Energy Now, BDO and Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) for a discussion around energy transition, the role of government, challenges WA faces and the deal with Tesla. 

Jay provided some interesting insights to the series of circumstances that led to the lights going out in South Australia,  and gave a candid account of the "story" that was told in the media. He reflected that the move to renewable energy is inexorable and unstoppable, and being driven outside government by entities such as industry super funds. 

Jay pointed out that there are some advantages to the transition process in Western Australia, such as the fact that WA has ownership of some of the critical generation assets and the network, and that this state has a gas reservation policy. He also flagged some possibilities for the WA market, going forward. 

There was much to take away from the conversation.

Jay's presentation:


the QandA that followed:

Kimberley Clean Energy Roadmap

18 March 2019

Dr Rob Phillips presented the findings of The Kimberley Clean Energy Roadmap, commissioned by The Wilderness Society (WA), Environs Kimberley and the Lock the Gate Alliance. The study modelled and mapped a comprehensive, fully-costed Renewable Energy (RE) roadmap for the Kimberley.

Dr Phillips described the project and demonstrated that RE can provide a cleaner and cheaper energy future across the West Kimberley while providing much needed long term jobs. The presentation also discussed implementation and employment issues, demonstrating how a roll-out of RE across the Kimberley could result in 184 direct long term jobs for the Kimberley region and State of WA, including local indigenous employment opportunities. A link to the PowerPoint presentation is available here link.

A copy of the full report the Kimberley Clean Energy Roadmap is available here Report. A hard copy is available at the SEN Presents which are held every 6 weeks, as advertised on our Events Calendar page, or send an email to [email protected]

Research Insights from the UK Carbon Trust February 2019

Eloise Burnett, Manager Offshore Wind, Programmes and Innovations at the UK Carbon Trust, gave a very insightful presentation. 

The Carbon Trust is helping the move towards a sustainable, low carbon economy by innovating and developing the offshore wind renewable energy industry, and has. The Trust has been at the forefront of the offshore wind industry for the past decade, working closely with government, developers, supply chain, and innovators to inform policy, support technology designers, identify opportunities to reduce the cost of energy, and deliver innovation programmes to achieve cost reduction. 

Eloise provided insights on the UK experience and the learnings relevant to Western Australia. 

December 4 Panel and AGM

The final SEN Presents for the year featured  number of key influencers in the Western Australian Energy sector come together for a  lively panel discussion on the topic:

        Western Australian Electricity  Sector:

        Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward.

Our panelists included:

  Mark Paterson       General Manager of Horizon Power's Consumer Energy Division

  Jason Froud           Policy Manager with Synergy

  Seán Mc Goldrick   Exec Manager Asset Management at Western Power

  Cameron Parrotte  Exec General Manager at Australian Energy Market Operator WA

We were very appreciative of the calibre of the discussion, and the frankness of the responses. It was a most valuable and entertaining night.