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Big names Zooming in for Otago Energy Research Centre symposium

Wednesday 18 November 2020 11:47am

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The 14th Otago Research Centre Symposium is being held on 19 and 20 November.

Attracting big names with zero carbon footprint is a win-win for the Otago Energy Research Centre.

Their 2020 annual symposium will see two high-profile keynote speakers zooming in without even stepping on a plane: Dr Rod Carr, Chair of the Climate Change Commission and former Deputy Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Christophe McGlade of the International Energy Agency - who’ll join from Paris, plus Professor Frank Jotzo, Director of the Centre for Climate and Energy, Australia National University.

In pre-COVID days of symposiums flying-in speakers, luring such significant players would have been difficult. The growing adoption of online conferencing and meetings has helped organisers confirm significant speakers, plus allowed access to more people interested in attending.

Co-Convenor of the Otago Energy Research Centre, Dr Michael Jack, says shifting their outreach events online has seen increasing numbers and variety of attendees.

“Before COVID, a good result for our monthly research seminars would be presenting to a group of a dozen or maybe 20 people, who were usually form our network within the University. We’re now seeing people Zoom in from all over New Zealand, and internationally. It’s a good result especially as nobody actually produced significant carbon emissions travelling to the seminars,” Dr Jack says.

Organisers are hoping the trend continues given the caliber of the speakers on offer at the OERC symposium on November 19 and 20.

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Co-Convenor of the Otago Energy Research Centre Dr Michael Jack.

“Having Dr McGlade speak from Paris is a big win for us. The International Energy Agency have their finger on the pulse of the worldwide energy system. Their World Energy Outlook 2020 publication has taken the exceptional circumstances of 2020 into account and will look at the impacts and opportunities forced by COVID. Likewise, the Australian perspective on how to best approach the energy transition post-COVID from Professor Frank Jotzo will be very interesting.

“Dr Rod Carr will also bring expert insights from the Climate Change Commission. Dr Carr’s role is an extremely important one for New Zealand’s transition to a low-carbon economy. His thoughts on New Zealand’s response to Climate Change, and our future energy production will be particularly interesting to hear about,” Dr Jack says.

Local energy systems will also be a major focus, with a handful of local energy leaders taking part in a panel discussion examining Dunedin and Otago’s energy future.

Representatives from the New Dunedin Hospital, Dunedin City Council, Enviroschools, Architype (energy-efficient house architects), Aurora Energy, and Energy Link will discuss pressing issues and opportunities for the energy sector in the south.

“Hearing about the options for the New Dunedin Hospital will be particularly interesting. It is the biggest infrastructure build in the city’s history, and the decisions made about how to heat the New Hospital will have an important impact on Dunedin’s carbon emissions and the city’s heating infrastructure which is currently shared with the University” Dr Jack says.

Public are welcome to attend. The symposium is run over two days, with the keynote speakers sparking each day off at 9am. Background, venue, timings and registration can be found at this link.

14th annual Otago Energy Research Centre Symposium 2020 - 19–20 November 2020

The theme for this year's symposium is New Energy Futures Post-COVID-19.

COVID-19 has turned all aspects of our world upside down and energy systems have been significantly affected.

Industrial and commercial electricity demand has been significantly reduced and the demand for transport fuel has shrunk dramatically.

As we shift our thinking towards the future, it is critical to question what our experiences during the pandemic might mean for how we re-imagine and reconstruct our future ‘new normal’.

In this OERC symposium we invite speakers from industry, academics, community groups and government to reflect on what lessons we can draw from the COVID-19 pandemic that might help to accelerate a transition to a zero-carbon energy future in New Zealand.

Panel discussion - Friday 20 November

Panel members will briefly share their perspective of key local energy and reflect on what it means to think about energy transitions and different practices and approaches in the Dunedin Context followed by a facilitated discussion with other panel members before the discussion is opened up to the wider audience.

Scott Willis - Blueskin Energy Ltd
Mike Barns - New Dunedin Hospital
Jim O'Malley - DCC Councillor, Infrastructure Services Committee
Robyn Zink - Enviroschools
Tim Ross - Architype (lead of Co-housing development)
Dougal McQueen - Aurora Energy
Greg Sise - Energy Link Ltd (TBC)

The symposium will take place at the University of Otago Dunedin campus in Room 1.17 Otago Business School, 60 Clyde St, Dunedin.
All sessions will be available on Zoom for those unable to attend in person. The zoom link is here. Password: 752376