Efficiency Insight - September 2020

Efficiency Insight is the Energy Efficiency Council's monthly energy management update for members, partners and stakeholders.

Video update from the Council's CEO, Luke Menzel

The health crisis in Victoria rolls on, as do the impacts on individuals, families and businesses. Our hearts go out to everyone  affected, especially those that have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

In this month's short video update I focus on what I'm hearing from EEC members grappling with the economic fallout from the crisis, and what industry needs to get through to the other side.

Today is R U OK Day. As I have written before, mental health is the other health impact of COVID-19. If you've been meaning to check in with a friend or a colleague to see how they are doing – wherever they are in Australia or around the world – today would be a great day to do so. 

Stay safe,

Luke Menzel
Chief Executive Officer
Energy Efficiency Council

Connect with Luke on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Policy update

From First Fuel: Building energy epidemiology

Efficiency Leaders with Geoff Andrews of Genesis Now

Energy efficiency is a jobs machine - and local governments can start it up

Applied M&V: Planning in practice as part of a Certified Energy Saver Verifier (CESV) accreditation

Energy Efficency Expo program launch

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Policy update 

Rob Murray-Leach, Head of Policy, Energy Efficiency Council

COVID-19 remains the most significant issue for the energy management sector. Economic activity has been returning in much of the country, with data from the Housing Industry Association showing a major jump in new home sales, which were 64.4 per cent higher in June and July 2020 compared to April and May 2020. While part of this jump probably reflects deferred sales from March to May, stimulus from various governments are likely also having an impact.

However, significant restrictions are still in place in Victoria. On 6 September the Victorian Premier released a roadmap for reducing restrictions in Victoria, which vary between Melbourne and the regions. In Melbourne:

  • From 13 September social restrictions will be slightly eased but workplace restrictions will essentially remain the same as they are now.
  • From 28 September (or when the 14-day average number of new cases is under 50 - whichever comes later) the government is likely to loosen the restrictions on some types of work. 
  • From 26 October (or when the 14-day average number of new cases is under 5 – whichever comes later) restrictions on upgrading the energy efficiency of homes and businesses will be significantly loosened.
  • From 23 November (or when there have been no new cases for 14 days) workplace restrictions will be substantially cut back, although businesses will still need COVIDsafe work plans.

The Victorian Government is putting the health of the population first and the limited information available suggests that, generally, this approach leads to better economic outcomes. However, it is possible that some business restrictions could be lifted faster while retaining sufficient controls to manage community transmission.

While staff in the Victorian Government have made genuine efforts to engage with us about the details of restrictions in the energy efficiency sector, the broad directions of the restrictions have been set by Cabinet on the advice of senior officials.

The EEC is writing to relevant Ministers to encourage them to consider the serious impacts that these restrictions are having on the energy efficiency sector and encourage them to reduce restrictions on activities that involve low risks of transmission.

In related news, we expect that the governments around the country will announce further stimulus measures in the next month. Several governments will release their 2020 budgets in October – while we don’t know what these will contain, we do think that it’s very likely that these budgets will include more stimulus, especially in Victoria.

The Queensland state election takes place on 31 October, and the Queensland Government won’t release its budget until after the election. On 7 September the Government released a pre-budget COVID-19 Fiscal and Economic Review, and announced an additional $1 billion in stimulus, which consists of a $500 million Renewable Energy Fund to build publicly-owned wind and solar PV projects and a $500 million Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund to support local businesses that seeking capital to expand or restructure operations.

We anticipate that the Queensland government and opposition will release the rest of their election promises in the next four weeks, a little earlier than usual due to more people casting their votes earlier through the post. While the content of these policies are unknown, we have been in close contact with both major parties in Queensland.

Energy market reform

On 7 September the Energy Security Board released the consultation paper for its ‘Post 2025 Energy Market Design’ project. The aim of the project is to consider major changes to the energy market that may not be implemented in the next couple of years, but would be progressively implemented from the middle of this decade. The project is looking at a wide range of issues, including seven workstreams:

  • Resource adequacy mechanisms (RAMs);
  • Ageing thermal generation strategy;
  • Essential system services;
  • Scheduling and ahead mechanisms'
  • Two sided markets;
  • Valuing demand flexibility and integrating Distributed Energy Resources; and
  • Transmission access and the coordination of generation and transmission investment.

Some of the key issues from this landmark report include:

  • Over 60 per cent of thermal generation in the National Electricity Market (NEM) is expected to close in the next two decades. The loss of generation is not an issue, but the loss of large blocks of supply is;
  • Currently solar PV and energy efficiency are rewarded on relatively flat tariffs, and energy is charged at relatively flat rates, despite the availability and cost of energy changing significantly through the day;
  • The NEM’s relies heavily on high prices during times of scarcity to drive investment in the market, and does not have separate price signals for capacity or reliability. The paper considers a wide range of measures, such as an Operating Reserve Mechanism; and
  • The introduction of measures to indicate the need for resources in the energy system ahead of time.

Energy management, especially flexible demand, form a central part of the report, especially the chapter on two-sided markets (page 84). The EEC’s Energy Market Task Group will consider this paper and the EEC will consult with members on a draft submission responding to this report.

NSW report on decarbonisation

The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer has issued a new report on ‘Opportunities for prosperity in a decarbonised and resilient NSW’. The report identifies opportunities that are technically feasible based on current and foreseeable technologies, are economically feasible and have the potential to boost productivity and create jobs.

The report looks at six sectors – services, electricity, industry, built environment, land and transport. Energy management  features in most of these sectors (especially pages 45-46, 56-57 and 78-79) and it is gratifying to see them quote extensively from the EEC’s submission and our First Fuel report.

Our CEO Luke Menzel discusses this report with Meg McDonald, a member of the Expert Panel that oversaw its development on this week’s episode of out podcast, First Fuel; the episode will be up on Friday.

Certificate schemes

Work is continuing on the reform to the South Australian Retailer Energy Efficiency Scheme, and we anticipate that their next consultation document will be released shortly. A lack of clarity about transition between the 2020 version of the scheme and the 2021 version of the scheme is currently caused significant disruption, and we are engaging with the South Australian Government to raise our concerns about this. 

We anticipate that the next consultation paper associated with reforms to the NSW Energy Efficiency Scheme will be released quite a bit later this year, although work is absolutely proceeding on this project.  

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From First Fuel: Building energy epidemiology

Recently on our podcast, First Fuel, Energy Efficiency Council CEO Luke Menzel was joined by two guests: Paul Ruyssevelt, Professor of Energy and Building Performance at University College London’s Energy Institute, and Carlos Flores, Director of the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS). 

Luke, Paul and Carlos chatted about the role of the International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme in driving global collaboration on high performance buildings. Along the way they cover the new field of building energy epidemiology and the prospects for demand response in commercial buildings.

Read on for the portion of the interview in which Luke and Paul discuss the the genesis of building energy epidemiology; to hear the entire interview and subscribe to future episode of First Fuel click here.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Luke: We do really need to unpack the role of the International Energy Agency's Energy in Buildings and Communities programme – it's really one of the engine rooms for global collaboration on high performance buildings, and we at the Energy Efficiency Council are big fans of the IEA EBC network – we’ve co-hosted our national conference with the IEA EBC not once but twice over the last few years. One of the key research areas for the EBC is the new field of building energy epidemiology; Paul can you tell us a bit about it?

Paul:That's right, yes, yeah annex 70 - that's a topic that we kind of introduced to the EBC from University College London, we’ve been working on it for a little while. In fact, it was actually one of our colleagues in Australia that came up with the idea, thinking about the way that we developed research in the energy field through demonstration projects and all that sort of stuff, and he was chatting to his wife one evening - she’s an epidemiologist - and she said “…well that's kind of like epidemiology, but you don’t do it very well!”


“…it sounds like all of your demonstration projects are heavily biased” 

Luke: Are you willing to dob in who had this Eureka moment?

Paul: Yes, a chap called Alex Summerfield. He’s based up in Brisbane – he used to work with us here in London and moved back to Australia.

Luke: Ok well I guess the interest of all our listeners will now be piqued Paul, so you better explain what building energy epidemiology actually is!

Paul: OK, well epidemiology is essentially the study of what is upon the people – that is the literal origins of the word – but obviously it’s had its strongest association in recent times with health, it's essentially a tool that can be used to try and understand things like how viruses spread, how diseases spread-

Luke: …just to pick a random example…

Paul: Yes precisely. The father of epidemiology went to University College London – you might know him of course: Jon Snow.  Back in the mid-19th century he was a very famous chap who identified the source of the Cholera epidemic in London and he nailed it down to a particular water pump in the centre of Soho. 

He did this by using some classic epidemiological techniques. At the time it was thought to be spread though something called ‘miasma’ in the air, he didn’t trust that theory so he started to do his own research. He surveyed people for what sort of things they had in common, what they didn’t have in common, and what he discovered was that all the people in Soho drank water from the same water pump, but there were a couple of exceptions: there was a small brewery in the middle of Soho and none of the brewery workers had fallen ill, and that’s because they drank the beer. The beer effectively purified the water through the process of producing beer. And then there was a couple of people who were outside the area who actually contracted the disease, and what he discovered was that these people’s maids had been going to this particular water pump which was a little bit further away and bringing the water back to their houses. 

He very famously went along to the pump and took the handle off it, and within a few months the disease started to die away. That was genesis of epedimiology; understanding what's happening in the population, understanding outliers, and putting together a story. 

What we recognised was that in the field of energy, there wasn’t a lot of rigour around research that we were doing in order to understand, say, the impact or the design of the buildings. We were very much looking at things in an anecdotal way. Studies were  set up to find out what we expected to find rather than what we didn’t expect to find. And a lot of the research that produced unhelpful information – in terms of people’s reputations and things like that – was often not published, and buried. 

From the 90s onwards I was involved in the first attempt to change that by setting up a series of probe studies where we went into buildings and carried out a systematic process of analysis and then published the results of those in the journal alongside the original articles which hailed the buildings to be super energy efficient or whatever it was. 

We managed to do that without losing too many friends and without getting sued, and it was one of the things that paved the way towards a more serious approach, a more methodological approach to energy research. We’re not there yet, but I think now the whole process of understanding energy performance in the population of buildings rather than just individual buildings is being recognised now as something we need to take more seriously at the national and sub-national level. 

Luke: So you've taken an idea that an Australian academic and his wife had on a couch, that's made its way to University College London and then it's been translated into the space of the IEA EBC, and I understand Paul that that means that you've effectively had researchers from around the globe engaged in this process of formalising some of those methodologies and the way that we get the data and the way that we communicate data back into the into the community of building professionals. Is that kind of a good way of characterising that journey? 

Paul: Yeah that's pretty much it, and of course it’s not just data, it’s models as well, looking at the way that data comes and is used in models and then the results of those models are used in making policies.


First Fuel podcast

The Energy Efficiency Council's podcast, First Fuel, brings you the latest perspectives on energy efficiency, energy management and demand response from Australia and around the world. An episode is recorded every week.

For more information, click here.

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Efficiency Leaders with Geoff Andrews, Managing Director of Genesis Now

The energy management sector is made up of many passionate professionals – and it’s about time we heard from them! In a new monthly feature, the Energy Efficiency Council will profile a current or emerging industry leader.

This month we’re profiling Geoff Andrews, Managing Director and founder of Genesis Now. 

What company do you work for?

I work for Genesis Now, a company I started in 1991 specifically to implement energy efficiency improvements.

I am also the co-founder and Board Chair of Capricorn Power, which is commercialising a patented heat engine to generate renewable electricity continuously and affordably at local scale (behind the meter, and decentralised community power).

What is your role?

Genesis Now is a small team, so I am involved in all aspects of energy efficiency, from initial client contact, to information gathering, analysis, energy efficiency opportunity identification and evaluation, and working with clients to approve / fund and implement those opportunities.

What did you do prior to your current role?

Prior to 1991 I was an energy efficiency engineer at Enersonics, a pioneer in energy efficiency consulting, and before that I was a RAAF Engineer Officer, working in the maintenance of ground equipment and aircraft.

What is your company’s role in the energy management market and Australia’s energy transition?

We focus on industrial energy efficiency, and in order to do that well we endeavour to ‘get inside’ the manufacturing process and to achieve a profound improvement in the core processes. This is obviously a challenge, but necessary in order to not limit energy efficiency improvements to the services common to most industrial sites (e.g. lighting, compressed air, hot water and steam).

What do you enjoy about working for your company?

I enjoy the same aspects of energy efficiency today as I did when I was first attracted to it as a part-time role in the RAAF in 1982.  I enjoy the challenges of understanding how energy systems are working, and of finding better ways of providing a better energy service with less energy.  I enjoy the challenge of working with people and organisations to implement change, despite the risks and uncertainties involved.

I know that energy efficiency is one of the ways we can help businesses to improve their effectiveness and profitability and reduce stress on their people.  We can cut business costs while creating employment, rather than destroying it.

I embrace the challenge of working to reduce climate change and to buy the world and all its inhabitants a bit more time.  This is a challenge which is technical, financial, and social, and a personal challenge not to be disheartened or overwhelmed by the size of the challenge or the stone-in-the-shoe irritation of dealing with deliberate ignorance and misinformation from anti-science commentators and politicians.

How do you stay connected with your team when you aren’t in the office?

I have a daily phone (sometimes video) catch up for about 10 minutes, on a list of topics prepared by them.

How do you champion energy efficiency in your own home?

We selected a small (100 m²) house facing North (though South would have been at least as good), and retrofitted insulation to the walls, roof and underfloor. About 30 years ago we installed high efficiency instantaneous gas not water and non-ducted heating. Of course, now we are looking to ditch gas, so that’s another project for the to-do list. In 2012 we installed solar PV, and our typical electricity bill is about $30 (about equal to the supply charge). 

Do you now work from home, and if so, what is something you enjoy about working from home?

I worked from home for the first five years of running Genesis Now, and enjoyed seeing my sons at home (the eldest was 15 months old when I started). When we employed staff we moved the office out of home. Now I try not to work from home, as I find I am more productive in the office and away from distractions. 

When not immersed in Australia’s energy transition, what do you do for fun?

I like to jog to get the blood flowing and to get outside, and I find this helps with thinking and sleeping and general health.

I’m a tenor in a community choir; singing exercises a part of the brain quite different to that required for engineering, and I think quite primal.   I also get to meet and share with people I wouldn’t meet through work.

A bit of gardening is also satisfying; seeing things grow and being reminded of the wonder of the natural world.

What are you currently excited about in the energy world?

I am hopeful that Covid and the more visible effects of climate change has encouraged more people to take notice of science and experts, and that they will throw their efforts into the huge challenge we are in the midst of.  In 1991 when I started Genesis Now, I was pleased if I could get 30 people to an energy event (but dismayed by the comparison that a football match could attract 100,000 people).  1991 is also the year that energy consumption in Australia started falling below the growth in GDP, i.e. a ‘decoupling’.  We achieve that decoupling with a very small number of pioneers. Imagine what we can achieve with the majority of the population doing something and demanding that our governments at all levels do much more.

Why do you value being a member of the Energy Efficiency Council?

I really value the advocacy with government and the community and corralling other business groups to the cause of energy efficiency.  This is an essential activity which I know I should be involved in but would never get to.

Where do you see Australia’s energy and energy management markets in 2030?

I would like to see: much greater self-sufficiency in transport energy, 100% greenhouse gas-free electricity, greater diversity in electricity supply, electrification for of most heating, and Australia seen as a leader in energy efficiency services and energy efficient equipment, and renewable energy.

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Local government can lead on energy efficiency jobs

Holly Taylor, Senior Manager, Projects and Partnerships, Energy Efficiency Council

There's been a lot of talk recently about how to kickstart Australia's economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the energy sector.

The momentum towards renewables is unstoppable. However, there is another, often unsung, side to the energy transition: how efficiently and productively we use our energy. It isn't as sexy as solar panels on roofs, or as obvious as wind turbines sitting on rolling hills. But it is crucial, and importantly it is a real jobs machine.

At its heart, energy efficiency is the art of making buildings healthier, cheaper to run and more comfortable. The data shows that a major drive to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and industry across the nation could deliver more than 120,000 job-years of employment.

Efficiency retrofits and new builds consistently top the charts in comprehensive analyses of energy-related stimulus options by organisations such as the International Energy Agency, the International Monetary Fund and Australia's own Beyond Zero Emissions and Climate Council. A major push to upgrade Australia's buildings has been backed in by everyone from the Australian Council of Social Service to the Business Council of Australia - not two organisations that you often see on the same page.

But wait, there's more. As energy efficient buildings are more comfortable, people are healthier and happier. And as industry is more productive, businesses are more competitive. Plus, energy efficiency saves money, making our companies more resilient to economic shocks.

So, what's not to like? Nothing. I've been working in this space for a while, and I've seen the potential for local councils to drive the energy efficiency revolution.

When I worked for Salix Finance in the United Kingdom, I supported councils in rolling out their energy efficiency programs, including street lighting LED upgrades that cut electricity bills in half.

In Australia, Orange City Council is leading the way. It is about to save $170,000 in annual electricity costs, as well as $34,000 in maintenance costs, just by upgrading to LED lighting in all of its buildings.

So, if the savings are so significant, how can councils get their ratepayers onside for investments in super sensible - but not very sexy - upgrades to light bulbs, appliances and insulation? The key is to turn the invisible, visible.

Many councils in the UK use the energy savings to upgrade parks, playgrounds and other public facilities, helping attract new businesses and jobs to the area. Some councils also use savings to support local businesses and households to improve their own energy use, making them more resilient to economic upheaval and easing the horrible phenomenon known as "bill shock". Indeed, the most effective council-wide energy efficiency strategies are the ones that combine both council facilities upgrades and programs to support local businesses and households.

CitySwitch is a great way to do this. This national program, spearheaded by Australian capital cities, represents more than 600 organisations, 16 per cent of Australia's office space, a million people and $1 billion of spending power. Businesses signing up to CitySwitch agree to an energy rating assessment that allows them and their tenants to see their energy consumption. They can also receive advice on behaviour change and simple upgrades.

The COVID-19 pandemic, while devastating, has also provided us with a circuit breaker. We have a chance to rethink our priorities, and the future we need to build to be able to thrive.

It may not be high profile and exciting, but investing in energy efficiency will get us back to work quickly, and help secure our economic future.

I recently made a pitch for more councils to drive energy efficiency at the Cities Power Partnership's Re-energise Australia event. Find the recording here

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Applied M&V: Planning in practice – the next step for measurement and verification

Many factors influence how much energy a facility uses, such as technology, weather and the number of staff using a site. As a result, working out how much energy an energy efficiency upgrade is saving requires more than just metering.

Energy professionals, such as accredited Certified Measurement and Verification Professionals (CMVPs), need to use accurate measurement and a repeatable methodology, known as a measurement and verification (M&V) protocol. M&V methods and processes are used to measure and verify, in a consistent, defined and transparent way, the energy savings resulting from planned changes to all or part of a specific facility or a group of specific facilities.

M&V undertaken in accordance with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) plays an important role as the ‘cash register’ of energy efficiency projects, recording the evidence and calculating the effectiveness and value of actions taken to reduce energy usage. 

New to M&V? Learn more here.

However, the IPMVP is not a cook-book with tried and true recipes that can be rolled out the same way every time; rather, the framework needs to be carefully applied to manage the individual complexities of each project.

Preparing an IPMVP-adherent M&V plan is key to the metering of energy savings with precision, accuracy and consistency. The CMVP accreditation course is a significant step towards becoming an experienced M&V professional and provides crucial training in the fundamentals of M&V. However, it is focused largely on the theoretical underpinnings of measurement and verification and includes only an introduction to its practical application in real-world situations.

The next step for M&V

The Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO) is therefore pleased to announce a new, more practical and hands-on certification course to build on the fundamentals of M&V and further develop and enhance the expertise of energy professionals in applying the IPMVP in real-world scenarios.

Applied M&V: Planning in Practice builds on the foundation of the CMVP program by going in depth on the practical preparation of the core activity of measurement and verification: preparing an M&V plan. This certification program was developed with reference to IPMVP Core Concepts 2016 and is targeted to those who have completed the CMVP fundamentals training course and who wish to improve their ability to prepare, apply and scrutinize M&V plans. It has a strong focus on M&V calculations, particularly statistics, and is intended to further strengthen the capabilities of M&V practitioners. Importantly, this course also looks at the common challenges of real-life M&V and how best to overcome them.

The practical nature of the new course extends to the examination, which requires the preparation of an M&V plan in a four-hour exam setting which is then assessed by an EVO instructor.

Longer term, EVO is developing the Certified Energy Saving Verifier (CESV) program, which recognizes energy professionals who have demonstrated their technical competence to independently verify the estimated and achieved savings of energy efficiency projects. The CESV program is a response to the needs of the changing energy efficiency market place and will aim at recognizing the competencies of energy savings verifiers, and build on the successful knowledge-based training program which leads to the CMVP certification. The CESV program has great potential as a vehicle for global capacity building, and it will be deployed worldwide. CESV accreditation, and will be granted to those who have demonstrated skills in two main areas, one of which is the preparation of M&V plans.

Applied M&V: Planning in Practice is a critical component of the CESV program and is a recognised pathway to the pending CESV accreditation. To achieve the accreditation, prospective CESVs must pass a rigorous examination that demonstrates their ability to evaluate and certify that the pre-installed estimated energy savings are correct. They must also verify that the pre-installed M&V plan complies with the generally accepted principles of IPMVP and, that the post-installed reported energy savings were calculated according to the pre-installed M&V plan and that they reflect the actual savings achieved.

The program provides a scalable solution for facility owners, utilities, government agencies, and financial institutions to have confidence in estimated energy efficiency project savings being realized, adequately measured, and verified. It contributes to removing the barrier of energy efficiency projects not being funded due to a lack of confidence in savings being achieved.

To make another analogy, M&V is the ‘meter’ for energy savings. Preparing an IPMVP adherent M&V plan is key to adequate “metering” of energy savings with relative precision and accuracy. This is why Applied M&V: Planning in Practice is a critical component of the CESV program, which ultimately provides confidence in claimed energy savings as well as addressing scalability gaps.

Interested? Learn more in our free webinar

To get a taster of what you can expect from Applied M&V: Planning in Practice, join us for a free, one hour webinar on 24 September at 2.30PM where EEC CEO Luke Menzel and trainer Bruce Rowse will discuss the crucial role of a robust M&V plan and answer your questions.

This webinar is valid for 0.2 AEE credits of CPD.

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Energy Efficiency Expo goes virtual

In 2019 the Energy Efficiency Council partnered with Reed Exhibitions to run the first Energy Efficiency Expo alongside All Energy Australia.

Along with many other events this year, the second Energy Efficiency Expo has moved online. The virtual conference will be taking place from 6 October to 27 October 2020 with free-to-attend sessions designed to help businesses take control of their energy costs and build greater resilience during these unprecedented times. 

The conference program is now available, featuring more than 30 expert speakers and 9 high-calibre sessions with topics such as the digital transformation within energy management, behind the meter applications of demand response, and opportunities for office tenants and energy-intensive industries.

The opening, joint plenary for All Energy Australia and Energy Efficiency Expo will feature EEC CEO Luke Menzel and Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton, exploring the role of clean energy and energy efficiency in the rebound post COVID-19.

We encourage you to check out the program but we're especially excited about two sessions: Navigating a dynamic energy landscape and Energy management leaders: sector spotlight on manufacturers.

Navigating a dynamic energy landscape will be held on Tuesday, 20 October 2020 from 11:00am – 12:30pm AEST. 

The Energy Efficiency Council's flagship energy briefing engagement activities support Australian businesses with managing the risks and capturing of the opportunities of the energy transition. Hear from leading energy experts on how businesses can achieve this. The session will be chaired by Energy Efficiency Council CEO Luke Menzel. 

Register for the session here.

Energy management leaders: sector spotlight on manufacturers will be held on Tuesday, 20 October 2020 from 2:00pm – 3:15pm AEST. 

The Energy Efficiency Council's flagship energy briefing engagement activities support Australian businesses with managing the risks and capturing of the opportunities of the energy transition. Hear from leading manufacturers on what they're doing to successfully navigate Australia's dynamic energy landscape. The session will be chaired by Energy Efficiency Council Senior Manager, Projects & Partnerships, Holly Taylor.

Register for the session here

Find the full program here

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