20:20 Visions – Flex your energy!

The City of Sydney launched its C40 Women4Climate Mentorship Program in May, with Mayor Clover Moore stating “Climate action is the City of Sydney’s top priority”, as reflected in the City’s 2030 Strategy and Climate Emergency declaration.

Ahead of the Global Climate Strike called for 20 September, the program’s 20 mentees are taking this opportunity to share the vision for each of their projects, and their view on climate activism. The outcomes of their projects will be presented at the global Women4Climate Conference in Sydney in April 2020.

Dani Alexander is a Research Principal at the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures

Dani Alexander is a Research Principal at the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures

 

Flex your energy!

MY VISION

My vision is where leaders of Australian businesses are empowered to “flex their energy”, taking the lead in reducing our nation’s emissions. I believe in a future where people can make their businesses energy positive, using 100% renewables in a way that cuts costs and stabilises the grid.

MY PROJECT

My project is a first step towards this vision. Flex Your Energy! is an initiative that seeks to answer this research question: how can established and emerging business leaders work together to promote a nimble, zero-cost approach to the energy transition?

Flexibility is the key principle that could underpin the global clean energy transition with least regret. Relying on ‘big engineering’ thinking to solve the energy transition is likely to lock out more efficient local solutions and future technology. It is tempting for some to cut the ribbon on big hydro, big batteries and big transmission infrastructure. However, these solutions are likely to increase energy bills by ignoring the revolution around smaller decentralised generation (like solar PV and batteries) and technologies that allow us to better control our energy use. We no longer need the same economies of scale that coal-fired generators required, or that large industrial users demanded – the ‘big grid’ thinking. Instead we need flexibility; we need to adopt new flexible technologies that are more nimble and more productive in a renewable energy future.

My project will test the feasibility of a local ‘energy flexing’ system for a set of sustainability leaders. The flexing system will consider the best technologies of today and the most prospective ones of tomorrow, to deliver an energy solution that benefits the consumer themselves as well as the electricity grid as a whole. Together we will develop a strong value proposition for energy flexibility that catalyses change.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CITIES

People who lead businesses in cities are in the unique position to drive this vision and be the change that will allow us to meet our global emissions reduction commitments.  By 2050, the United Nations expects that more than two-thirds of the population will live in cities. How those citizens choose to buy and use their energy will hugely influence our ability to decarbonise our economies. People in Australian cities are already demanding clean energy and business leaders have the ability to deliver it.

Climate chaos is bad for business. If the decision-makers in urban corporates champion energy flexibility to support the transition to renewables, they will simultaneously benefit from building a business that is a more profitable and more resilient to climate risk, while also winning the trust of the people that they serve.

MY SUPPORT FOR THE GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE

I will be on the street on 20 September to join the young strikers demanding climate justice for everyone. I will be there with my two-year old boy, for him and for the future generations he represents.

As a citizen, researcher, woman and mother I demand that we address this climate emergency now. More specifically, I call on the Australian Government to respond to this challenge with a clear and national energy policy that will meet our global emissions reduction commitment.

We can do this.

“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”

My photo from IKEA’s solar roof in Sydney, working with them on the ARENA-funded project, REALM for Business