GIPPSLAND: Leading the way in the new energy transition.

More than 500 people flocked to The Wedge Performing Arts Centre in Sale late last month to attend Australia’s largest regional-led energy conference.

More than 70 leaders from local and state government, industry and the local community came to share and learn about the latest developments in renewable and other forms of energy.

On Thursday, August 31, the formal proceedings began with an optimistic buzz in the room as people ushered themselves into the John Leslie Theatre to hear of the exciting energy prospects in the region.

Chief executive of the Gippsland Climate Change Network (GCCN) Darren McCubbin, was the master of ceremonies for the event, bringing his theatrical flair and some comedic relief to the conference.

The morning began with a warm welcome to country with Uncle Grattan Mullett Snr followed by a welcome from Wellington Shire Deputy Mayor John Tatterson.

Going green this year thanks to its sustainability partners, the conference could opt for compostable coffee cups, with handmade recycled show bags alongside many other renewable and recycled goods on display.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen provided the audience with a video message announcing offshore wind farms would not be built off the west coast of Wilsons Promontory.

The interim chief executive officer of the State Electricity Commission (SEC), Chris Miller, spoke on the need for collaboration between the public and private sector in accelerating the renewable transition.

Latrobe Valley Authority chief executive Chris Buckingham reflected on the changes affecting Gippsland over the past year.

The audience was engaged from the start, listening to the exciting opportunities and developments in Australia’s new and renewable energy hub, Gippsland.

Experts shared their knowledge on community engagement, circular economies, carbon capture and storage, geothermal use, the marine environment and the farming industry’s role.

More than 500 people attended the Gippsland New Energy Conference in Sale.
Photo: Zaida Glibanovic

Friday’s session proved just as informative as registered participants were taken on a tour of Elecsome’s solar panel ‘upcycling’ site in Kilmany.

State government representatives in Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, via video screen, and Victorian Minister for Regional Development and local Upper House MP, Harriet Shing, made an appearance.

The audience was treated to insights into regulating an Australian-first industry in offshore renewables with a presentation by executive Director at the Offshore Renewables Offshore Infrastructure Regulator (NOPSEMA), Owen Wilson.

Transmission and connecting the offshore farms has been a divisive topic, and chief executive officer of VicGrid Alistair Parker, spoke to the audience of its challenges, processes and future.

The day continued with presentations on social outcomes, transport connections, hydrogen as an opportunity and community engagement.

The second Gippsland New Energy Conference on all accounts was a huge success and with an added youth summit and a community day, the new energy and renewable transition reached a broader audience.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor, Ian Bye said this year’s conference provided greater insight into the regional projects underway with much visible enthusiasm.

“While last year’s event unlocked the potential of renewable energy in Gippsland, this year’s focus will provide greater insight about the projects, initiatives and policies established across the region and what we can expect to see delivered from some of the biggest global renewable energy project developers, and what that means for local communities on the ground,” Cr Bye said.