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Pearcey Foundation Launches its Australia 4.0 Communiqué

Announcement posted by Pearcey Foundation 22 Apr 2024

Seminal document released to spark collaboration between the energy and ICT sectors in Australia’s transition to net zero

Today, the Pearcey Foundation launched its Australia 4.0 Communiqué, which examines the challenges and opportunities Australia's energy networks face as the nation transitions to a net zero economy.

Australia 4.0 is a Pearcey Foundation initiative to spark collaboration between the energy and ICT sectors to help Australia move towards a net zero energy system.

Speakers at the event held at the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Head Office in Sydney included Wayne Fitzsimmons OAM, Chair, Pearcey Foundation; Dr Ian Oppermann, Chair, Australia 4.0 Committee; Jennifer George, CEO, Strategic Commercialisation Australia; Helen McHugh, President, ACS; Lynne Gallagher, Board Member, AER; Michael Bradley, Executive General Manager, Strategic Projects, AEMC; Bill Lilley, Chief Research Officer, RACE 2030; Jamie Burrage, General Manager, Sydney Division, Engineers Australia; and Terry Lampard, President, Electric Energy Society of Australia.

In a video to officially launch the Communiqué, the Honourable Ed Husic MP, Minister for Industry and Science said, "Australia is currently at a turning point. The transition to net zero requires a profound transformation of our electricity infrastructure, policy landscape and modes of operating. There are enormous opportunities for Australian innovators, service providers and manufacturers to play a part in creating solutions for a successful energy transition - and that definitely includes the digital and ICT sector."

The Communiqué was produced from the input of multiple industry experts and thought leaders who participated in Pearcey Foundation's Australia 4.0 discussion series in 2023.

"The transition to net zero requires the ability to share and use network and individual household level data at scale whilst simultaneously preserving individual privacy and doing so in a secure way. Data is the way of seeing and understanding the network and AI gives us the ability to make sense of and optimise future networks," said Dr Oppermann.

Industry Challenges

These panel discussions have been synthesised into 10 key challenges for the industry:

  • To lead the world in a renewable energy transition, Australia will need to achieve excellence in engineering and collaboration.
  • The energy transition will require a greater level of analysis, design and planning.
  • Coordinating and regulating the future grid in a multi-stakeholder environment will be difficult.
  • The complexity of the future electric grid will require more sophisticated grid management.
  • Customers will need the ability to engage with the new grid and to benefit from the change.
  • Increased storage, especially batteries and electric vehicles, will be a major change to the network.
  • A significant skill shortage impacts both current operations and future needs.
  • The grid transformation will require an unprecedented level of research, development and commercialisation of new solutions.
  • Cybersecurity risks are increasing with the evolving complexity of the grid and associated services.
  • Optimal use of new digital technologies requires access to data from existing and new sources.

Pilot Projects

The Communiqué outlines five proposed pilot projects to accelerate progress towards the ultimate goal of a net zero energy system for Australia:

  • Energy Advisory Service - provide an online advisory service based on a Generative Knowledge Base (GKB) that incorporates qualified information on the future electric grid moderated by a collaborative network of specialists. The key goal will be to improve consumer trust through simple plain English around the quality of data, using such tools as generative AI to develop an easy-to-use digital interface.
  • Energy Information Decoded - remove market uncertainty by using generative AI to identify ways that our growing store of energy information can be used multiple times over to create secondary market value. By collecting and integrating the information above into the GKB, and utilising further GenAI tools, information can be delivered in multiple ways, increasing its value and greatly improve the cost ratio of information creation.
  • Open Data Architecture - conduct a landscape review of data sources and their use in distributed energy resources (DER) with a view to developing a coherent data architecture that would guide the development of open data policies, practices, and standards. A more open data architecture would enable better ICT solutions to be developed for many energy industry segments.
  • Energy and Digital Skills Adoption - take a 'one engineering community' approach where new training sessions are developed with industry partners to create targeted training for subject matter experts (SMEs), final year students, new immigrants, and the new skilled workers. This will improve Australia's future prosperity and productivity growth by increasing advanced digital adoption in SMEs and upskilling Australian workers in the usage of these technologies.
  • Building a Cyber-physical-transactional Network - set up an expert working group to develop a systems engineering architecture for a cross-industry/cross-community system-of-systems model that can be used to support the development of the future DER. The new grid will become exponentially more complex and the ICT sector could make a significant contribution to supporting the power sector with a deeper focus on architectural thinking.

"Australia 4.0 has been a representation of the enormity of the challenge, and this collaborative effort has been a wonderful development for our nation," said the Pearcey Foundation chair, Wayne Fitzsimmons OAM. "We look forward to working with industry as together we start to address the challenges outlined in the transition to net zero. That needs to start now! We've got some momentum and people want to be involved; now we need the collective efforts and mindsets of everybody to contribute."


About the Pearcey Foundation

The Pearcey Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organisation established in 1998 to raise the profile of the Australian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry and profession. It was created in the memory of one of the greatest pioneers of the Australian ICT industry, Dr Trevor Pearcey. By celebrating the heroes in our industry, past, present and future, the Foundation is looking to attract and encourage young Australians into this most exciting of global, high technology sectors of our nation.

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