What’s in a name?
In order to communicate to the nation’s politicians, energy organisations, and the Federal Government as a whole, that it has a legitimate interest in national as well as state-based energy policy, the Western Australian Sustainable Energy (WA SEA) will now be known as the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA).
“[The Association] changed its name to better represent the interests of its members and to reflect work that was in fact already established in WA SEA’s operations, including the national advocacy activities that WA SEA has undertaken on behalf of its members since our creation in 2002, a role that is embedded in our constitution” says Ray Wills, CEO of SEA.
Prof. Wills explains that when going by the title WA SEA, the Association was not seen as a body that could represent national interests. Being known by the former title also made it difficult on some occasions to form relationships with Federal Government agencies and to gain representation on Federal Government committees, Prof. Wills says.Article continues below…
There were many things for the Association to consider when embarking upon the name change, not least assuring its Western Australian-based members that their unique interests would still be taken care of by SEA.
As WA is not part of the National Energy Market and most of its energy distribution is remote and off-grid, the Association has focused a large amount of attention on addressing issues relating to these factors.
This will not change, says Prof. Wills. WA is not the only state that has a large proportion of remote and off-grid energy distribution, he explains. This feature is shared with the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland, and as such, SEA has amended their constitution to specify that they are committed to representing interests that pertain to remote-grid and off-grid connections.
SEA – aims and actions
As well as inspiring the Association to strengthen particular commitments, the name change also evoked a reaffirmation of the Association’s core responsibility – to promote the development of sustainable energy across all sectors of Australia’s economy, in all regions of Australia.
To this end, SEA is currently embarking upon the establishment of a Co-operative Research Centre on electrified transport infrastructure, and preparing to host a conference in Perth that will draw together Australian and South-East Asian representatives to discuss sustainable energy project development.
Co-operative Research Centres are an initiative of the Federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research designed to link product researchers with end-users. The Sustainable Electric Transport Co-operative Research Centre (SET CRC) that SEA is bidding for would focus on establishing the energy networks and distribution required to support public and private electrified transport, as well as that for commercial, industrial and mining applications. Prof. Wills says that work on the SET CRC application will begin in February this year with the final submission due in August.
The ‘Energising South East Asia’ conference and exhibition SEA is hosting will be held from 23–26 March in Perth and will examine opportunities for growth within the clean technology sector in Australia and South-East Asia, and aspires to be the largest sustainable energy exhibition in Australia.
The SEA wish list
In August 2010, SEA (then known as WA SEA) released a list of 20 actions it would like to see initiated by the Federal Government to ensure strong growth if the Australian sustainable energy industry. The list included a national emissions trading scheme, investment in the transmission and distribution of renewable energy, introducing energy efficiency incentives and a 100 per cent Federal Government renewable energy procurement strategy by 2015. The latter, Prof. Wills explains, would see the Federal Government, and all of its nationally-dispersed agencies, committing to meeting all of their energy needs with renewable energy, thereby stimulating the renewable energy market.
“Governments as a collective are Australia’s largest single user of electricity and must provide leadership through the commitment to purchase 100 per cent renewable energy by 2015,” says Prof. Wills.
“Government procurement of renewable energy may result in modest increases in energy costs to the Government in the short term, but will create significant demand that will stimulate the market and yield new renewable energy projects – without the need for any legislation.”
Sticking to core values
While the name change from the Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association to the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia signals new scope for Association activities, the core goals have not altered. SEA remains committed to promoting the development and adoption of sustainable energy technologies and services that minimise the use of energy through sustainable energy practices, and maximise the use of energy from sustainable sources. The only difference being that now these goals can be pursued on behalf of the Association members on a much larger scale.