2022: the year we embraced ‘Future Energy’

Image from Canva for Wattwatchers blog post on the future energy path

GAVIN DIETZ: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, WATTWATCHERS

Finally a sometimes momentous, often challenging year which we can look back on, reflect, and celebrate unprecedented progress for the clean energy transition.

When we get to 2030, and surprise ourselves with how close we’ll get to 100% renewable power and the electrification of nearly everything, I’m tipping we’ll see 2022 as the tipping point.

I’m not suggesting we’ve solved the climate crisis, far from it, but we can now put years of delay, confusion, procrastination and outright denialism behind us.

There’s a clear, technology-enabled ‘Future Energy’ path to a better place – economically, socially and environmentally – and Australia is leading the world in important ways.

Crucially, Australia is a global testbed for electricity grids dominated by solar and wind power, with high levels of consumer energy resources (CERs) like rooftop PV, home batteries, heat pumps and most recently electric vehicles (EVs).

Strong drivers for positive change

Here are the drivers for real and ongoing change that my team at Wattwatchers are seeing:

  • Net Zero and decarbonisation
  • ESG, impact and sustainability
  • Sustained high energy prices
  • Electrification led by EVs and de-gasification
  • Renewables and CERs proliferating further (also often called distributed energy resources, or DERs)
  • Improved political climate with appetite for positive action at local, state/territory and national levels
  • Powerful fresh voices and influencers in the public arena who are championing renewables and electrification (and taking on the once dominant gas lobby) 

More challenges to be overcome

Of course many barriers and challenges remain to Australia going past 80%-plus renewables by 2030, and 100% by 2032, while making the electricity system more reliable, affordable and customer-centric.

These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Phasing out gas in homes and small businesses as an immediate priority
  • Integrating EVs into our electricity grids, with vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid bidirectional charging becoming widely available by 2025
  • On-shoring and dramatically expanding smart energy manufacturing
  • Developing effective data strategy that balances the challenges of security, privacy and cybersecurity with the opportunities for system transformation, consumer choice and data-driven solutions

We’re still going to face many push-backs and pitfalls, but the wall of resistance to a ‘Future Energy’ transformation has been breached in 2022, and pent-up solutions – many of them homegrown Australian solutions – are flowing through.

Gavin Dietz has been CEO of Sydney-based Wattwatchers since 2016.