13 July 2017
“Our current energy transition – one of the great challenges,” Minister Frydenberg noted. Photo: Global Change Institute
“Our current energy transition – one of the great challenges,” Minister Frydenberg noted. Photo: Global Change Institute

Almost 400 guests assembled to hear what the Australian Environment and Energy Minister had to say about energy, last night at UQ.

Although Josh Frydenberg has only held his dual portfolio since September 2016, the level of detailed knowledge the 45-year-old former assistant treasurer brought to the podium impressed many of those present.

His academic qualifications – BEc (Hons), LLB (Hons) (Monash), MPhil (Oxford), MPA (Harvard) – didn’t fail to impress either.

Minister Frydenberg stood confidently before the UQ audience, more as a man among peers than a politician promoting a party line.

He set the tone early by highlighting the apparent contradiction of Australia experiencing an energy crisis amid an abundance of energy – in all its myriad forms.

His central argument was that Australia faces a trilemma on the issues surrounding energy security, energy affordability, and lower emissions.

These challenges amounted to a ‘wicked problem’, he warned, of which no single solution or technology would ever address.

Touching briefly on South Australia’s recent and controversial energy woes, he said it would always be difficult for utilities to juggle a source of energy that could provide as much as 50 per cent of demand one day, and virtually zero the next.

One solution to this problem, he suggested, was for the Australian energy market regulator to set more stringent storage requirements for utility scale renewable energy projects.

And while he predicted pumped-hydro would be part of the future storage mix for renewable energy in Australia, the two  examples he cited included Queensland’s 3.1 megalitre Wivenhoe Dam (commissioned in 1984) and the Australian Government’s recently announced Snowy Mountains scheme V. 2.0 – which is currently undergoing a feasibility study.

Quizzed by one audience member about the possibility of funding more coastal marine regeneration projects to encourage carbon uptake, Mr Frydenberg diplomatically suggested there would always be room for multiple responses to the challenge of reducing atmospheric carbon.

The minister said coal-mining companies had failed to invest in carbon capture and storage projects, which his government had hoped would make a significant dent in Australia’s carbon footprint.

After the event, the minister said via his Twitter account that it had been 'his privilege' to deliver the Challenge of Change Lecture at UQ.

“Our current energy transition – one of the great challenges,” he tweeted.

Hashtag at GCI's Challenge of Change lecture on 12 July was #COCenergy

Event Photos

Missed attending our recent Challenge of Change Lecture by the Australian Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, on 12 July 2017?

Explore this memorable night with our collection of terrific photos taken by eventphotography.com.  Please note: all images (C) UQ Global Change Institute.

UQ’s Global Change Institute traditionally invites high-profile speakers to address the challenge of change at a public lecture. Previous guests have included business journalist Alan Kohler, Ambassador Peter Woolcott, and former Governor of Queensland and diplomat Ms Penelope Wensley.

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