Energy Consumers Australia logo

Foresighting Forum

Our annual forum brings together the whole energy sector to work collaboratively on key issues affecting the long term interests of consumers.

2021 Forum information

Foresighting Forum 2021

Framing the future by learning from the shocks of 2020

Bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, the shocks of 2020-21 can in many ways be viewed as a microcosm of the energy transition – a time when old rules, ideas and practices were suddenly revealed as no longer stable or sufficient and Australians had to adjust their ideas of what was possible, what their needs and priorities were and how they live and work. There are important lessons to be learned from these events, how decision makers in the energy system responded to them and the subsequent adaptation of consumers and the system itself during what has been a convulsive and challenging 18 months. How might we use what we have collectively experienced to deliver a future in which consumer needs, expectations and values are central to decision making, energy is cleaner and more affordable and system security and reliability are delivered?

Our webinar series will examine these questions, applying this framing across three key aspects of a system that is itself undergoing rapid and convulsive transformation.

Social Practice and Consumer Behaviour

Date: July 1, 2021

Time: 10.30am-12.00pm

Panelists: Dr Helen Rogers, (Director, Household Surveys, Australian Bureau of Statistics) Prof Yolande Strengers, Dr Larissa Nicholls and Dr Kari Dahlgren (Digital Energy Futures, Monash University’s Emerging Technologies Research Lab)

Our first webinar featured invaluable insights into the changing needs and expectations of energy consumers as we explored how Australians are behaving and are likely to behave in the future.

What are these researchers learning? What about consumer practices and expectations has surprised them? And how well are we catering for these needs and expectations as we collectively work towards transforming our energy system? 

WATCH THE WEBINAR RECORDING HERE

System Resilience

Date: August 12, 2021

Time: 10.30am-12.00pm

Panelists: Nicola Hepenstall (The Insights Center), Luke Jenner (Essential Energy), Thomas Hallam (AusNet Services)

Nicola Hepenstall, Lead Researcher on the East Gippsland Community Listening Project will present her research into community attitudes and sentiment towards energy use around East Gippsland, an area that was devastated by fire in early 2020. Along with a member of the community she will discuss the energy experiences of people in the area, before, during and after the fire event. What about their experiences was positive and what was frustrating? How might we learn from this to better service such areas in the future and to better help such communities recover and thrive after catastrophic events, moving from a focus on dependency and rescue to one on resilience and empowerment?

Following this, representatives from networks AusNet Services and Essential Energy will speak about their experiences planning for and responding to crisis events in communities they service. How do they weigh the challenges of delivering electricity to remote, high-risk locations with the expectations and needs of the people living in them? How might they plan to respond when fires, floods or other events do happen so that they can “build back better” rather than rebuilding the same infrastructure that may not meet community needs and will likely be subject to the same ongoing vulnerability to future crisis events?

REGISTER NOW

System Design

Date: September 7, 2021

Time: 10.30am-12.00pm

Panelists: Andrew Nance (Chair ISP Consumer Panel), Mark Byrne (Total Environment Centre), Brian Spak, (CSIRO Leader Grids and Renewable Energy)

This webinar will explore how we, as collaborative and future-focused system leaders, can position ourselves to envision and co-create the whole-of-system change consumers want and need. Creating change at a system level is hard and requires the ability to see the totality of the thing you are working towards – the desired future state – and agree on a shared vision for its transformation.

Andrew Nance will talk about the importance of placing consumer needs at the centre of system design, while Brian Spak and Mark Byrne will discuss how rethinking what the future system might look like could lead to better outcomes.

Finding new ways to imagine the system could produce significant rewards, allowing us to move from relying on investment in long-lived generation, network and storage assets to a future system where we unlock flexibility at scale by rewarding when and how consumers use, generate and store energy at a local level.

What structural, attitudinal or other changes might help us collectively increase our ambitions for the future system and meet the challenge of imagining, visualizing and working towards towards a preferred future?

REGISTER NOW

Further Webinar Insights

Webinar One: Social Practice and Consumer Behaviour  

To create a future energy system that meets the needs of consumers safely, securelyreliably and at the lowest possible cost requires deep understanding of how Australians will useproduce, store and share electricity, now and into the future.

Our first Foresighting Forum webinar revealed the essential emerging consumer trends that leaders in the sector need to be aware of to forecast and plan for the energy transitionWhat developments in how everyday Australians think about and use energy have implications for the future system? How do the ways consumers imagine their future energy use differ from some of the common industry assumptions that we see? And how can we work together to make sure we better understand changing social practices and make space for genuine engagement with consumers? 

System flexibility, security and fitness for purpose are not primarily about technical or regulatory responses – they are about people and their social practices. It is inherently risky to make assumptions about what consumers need or how they will behave in the future unless you engage deeply to examine real-life experience and understand the drivers underlying certain behaviours across a variety of conditions. How do we integrate this kind of work into our plan for the transition?

WATCH OUR WEBINAR RECORDING HERE NOW

Webinar Two: System Resilience

Our second webinar will explore how empowered communities and citizens at a local level are critical for surviving and recovering from shocks and crisis events and moving towards a more resilient future. We will use new research that we conducted in East Gippsland over the course of a year after the catastrophic bushfires of 2019/20 as the basis for a discussion around how we can and we should better serve communities and respond to their needs, in times of crisis, recovery and beyond as part of a resilient future system.

Resilience experts speak of the need to “build back better” rather than simply replacing what was in place before a destructive event occurred. This involves a smarter approach to infrastructure but also things that are more intangible: community connection, understanding the needs and aspirations of local people and the things they need to live their lives. It also involves a level of ongoing planning and engagement from energy system participants so that best-practice responses can be deployed when crisis events suddenly occur.

Why you should join us:

Attendees will be exposed to a generative discussion around the importance of moving beyond emergency response and recovery based on hardening infrastructure and towards a model of resilience that is more about resilient communities and resilient people. How can different system participants provide tools, support and engagement that positions them well to deliver better experiences for people and communities during times of unfolding crisis, knowing that extreme weather events are likely to play an increasing role going forward? When can this be integrated into the plan for the future energy system?

REGISTER NOW

Webinar Three: System Design

Covid-19 highlighted the limits of our ability to see the fullness of the future from current vantage points and via ‘business as usual’ processes. As a society we had lost our preparedness for a global pandemic because we could no longer imagine one happening. Then it did. The current situation with our energy transition contains striking similarities.

This webinar will explore how we, as collaborative and future-focused system leaders, can position ourselves to envision and co-create the whole-of-system change consumers want and need. Creating change at a system level is hard and requires the ability to see the totality of the thing you are working towards – the desired future state – and agree on a shared vision for its transformation.

If we can find new ways to imagine the system the rewards will be significant, allowing us to move from relying on investment in long-lived generation, network and storage assets to a future system where we unlock flexibility at scale by rewarding when and how consumers use, generate and store energy at a local level.

At present, the way our energy system is set up makes this extremely difficult. As the Energy Security Board prepares to wind down Australia has market bodies responsible for rule framing and rule enforcement, system and network operation and maintenance. It has an Integrated Systems Plan that makes medium term assessments of what infrastructure will be needed and where.

No single actor in the current system possesses all the tools, information or capability to see and address the whole of the system and the whole of the challenge. New and radical forms of collaboration will be needed to move beyond the necessary and important, but ultimately insufficient, work of incremental improvement.

What structural, attitudinal or other changes might help us collectively increase our ambitions for the future system and meet the challenge of being imagining, visualizing and working towards towards a preferred future?

Why you should join us:

This will be the start of a much-needed conversation. How can we push the limits of our current system to allow more radical foresighting? How can we create processes, forums and even new actors who can see the whole of the necessary change and catalyse others in that direction? How can we work across jurisdictions, organisations, roles and responsibilities to think more ambitiously — changing our ideas about what is possible and breaking the shackles of convention to deliver something better?

REGISTER NOW

Join us on the journey

 The aim of our webinar series is to embark on a journey, starting conversations and driving action to showcase the many benefits of ensuring the energy system we are transitioning to is consumer-centric. As we wrap on our last webinar we hope to be in a good position for a COVID safe return of our face-to-face Foresighting Forum in February 2022, where we will examine the “End State”; what will the energy future actually look like in the year 2040, and the pathways to working backwards from there to achieve the affordable, abundant and clean energy future consumers tell us they expect.

Foresighting Forum 2022

February 16 and 17

Venue TBC

Foresighting Forum 2020: Presentations

Previous Foresighting Forum resource pages

Foresighting Forum 2020
Foresighting Forum 2019
Foresighting Forum 2018
Foresighting Forum 2017
Foresighting Forum 2016