Entura experts reflect on the Symphony of the Renewables World Wind Energy Conference 2023

November 22, 2023

Experts and thought leaders from Australia and overseas came together this month for the 21st World Wind Energy Conference (WWEC), held in Hobart, Tasmania.

This year’s theme was ‘Symphony of the Renewables’, highlighting the advantages of integrating wind power with other renewable energy sources and storage solutions. It was the first WWEC held in Australia since 2005.

As an avid player in the wind power sector, Entura was represented at the conference by our Director, Strategy, Sales and Commercial, Dr Amanda Ashworth, and Senior Principal, Renewables and Energy Storage, Dr Andrew Wright. Our Principal Renewable Energy Engineer, Ray Massie, was also in attendance, giving a presentation on ‘The rapid growth in off-grid hybrid systems in Australia and Pacific’.

“When Hydro Tasmania started deploying renewables into remote off-grid power systems, there were few if any prior examples to turn to, so we were pioneers,” said Ray.

“When we started this journey there were many questions around system reliability and availability, power quality, protection system and operational complexity, to name a few. We pushed through the technical challenges to create world-leading examples of how zero-diesel operations can be achieved in remote locations.

“It’s exciting to see the progress that has been achieved since those first forays, and to see off-grid hybrid systems at large scale now being deployed on a fully commercial basis.”

King Island Renewable Energy Hub, one of Hydro Tasmania’s first off-grid renewables systems.

Entura’s parent company, Hydro Tasmania, also had a presence at the event, with CEO Ian Brooksbank and Executive General Manager Strategy, Erin van Maanen, both among the 25 keynote speakers.

“Sitting in that room made me proud to be part of Entura, and the wider Hydro Tasmania,” Amanda reflected. “Our people are incredibly talented and have made a significant contribution to renewable energy projects in Australia and internationally. It’s a testament to the expertise we’ve developed and shared between both businesses.”

“It also made me proud to be a Tasmanian,” she added. “Several of the keynote speakers were people who had once been involved with Hydro Tasmania in some way, or were fellow Tasmanians. Some of the first wind farm developments in Australia – King Island, Flinders Island, Woolnorth – happened in Tasmania. We’re a state that’s already achieved net-zero, and have been fully powered by renewable energy thanks to our hydro-electricity and wind projects.

“It’s a special thing to share everything we’ve learned over this journey with others in the industry, and demonstrates what’s achievable when we all invest in the right areas.”

The conference provided opportunities for discussions around integration, talent pipeline, and what’s needed to phase out coal generation in favour of renewable energy sources. The magnitude of the task was laid out clearly, with social and environmental considerations, transmission challenges, and workforce challenges, however, the benefits of investing in wind power for a net-zero future are paramount.  

“One of the things that stood out to me during the conference was the enormity of the mission to replace coal,” said Amanda. “The task can feel paralysing and overwhelming, but the reminder was – as this year’s theme makes clear – it can be achieved if we integrate these renewable energy sources and storage solutions.”

“Achieving net-zero won’t fall to just one type of clean energy investment – it will require a mix of technologies, skilled people, and harnessing the right opportunities as they arise. And we must do so with environment, social, and governance principles in mind and ensure we engage with stakeholders in a meaningful way,” she said. 

“There are concerns in the industry around the time it can take to develop and commission a renewable energy project and, while there is an imperative to support a faster transition, we absolutely need to ensure sustainability and active community engagement.”

Andrew also explored the opportunities and challenges for the energy industry following the conference. Putting his musings in a thought leadership article, he outlined the need for a collaborative, industry-wide approach rather than a zero-sum project-vs-project approach, to meet ambitious renewable energy targets.

Additionally, acknowledging the costs of the net-zero mission, he emphasised: “this is a once-in-a-lifetime rebuilding of our electricity system into something that is more reliable than we currently have, ready for the future, and cleaner and better for our towns and communities and the wider world”.