Carbon and Energy Professionals Conference 2024 wrap-up

The recent Carbon and Energy Professionals Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, brought together industry leaders, experts, and innovators to discuss the latest advancements and challenges in energy efficiency and sustainability. This wrap-up highlights the key takeaways from the event, featuring insights from notable presentations, experts, and speakers.

Dive into the significant developments in the energy sector and discover the collective efforts towards a sustainable and decarbonised future.

Global energy efficiency goals.

The IEA is committed to doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030, measuring ‘efficiency’ on a global scale by dividing GDP by the amount of energy used, directly tying sustainable energy use to economic success.

In the same way as we at BraveGen aim to integrate sustainability into every business’ performance, this new measure will promote thinking of energy efficiency as an inherent part of ‘doing well’ as a country (and as humans), not just an added nice-to-have.

Road Science’s decarbonisation success.

Road Science has successfully decarbonised its bitumen tanker operations, saving millions in fuel costs and reducing emissions through process optimisation and electrification.

What’s notable about their success is that it started with a back-to-basics look at process and heat loss. Initial strides in energy efficiency justified the investment, which then led to greater uptake and rollout across more sites.

The New Zealand concrete industry is also making significant progress in reducing emissions by using additives like fly ash from coal furnaces and slag from steel manufacturing. The resulting low-emission concrete products, with their long lifespan, offer a sustainable building solution if used correctly.

New Zealand: Land of Renewables.

New Zealand has a significant sustainable power profile, with 80% to 85% of electricity and power needs met by renewable generation. However, as the nation grows and power demands increase, utility providers are looking at new distribution methods, as well as general generation expansion.

Decentralising the grid and allowing price incentives for consumers were key topics. SolarZero demonstrated the concept of virtual power plants (VPP), in which consumers provided 30mWh back to the grid during a supply shortfall, showcasing the potential of decentralised energy solutions.

Meanwhile, Lodestone Energy is expanding solar energy in New Zealand, with multiple plants under construction. A 20-year supply agreement with The Warehouse Group highlights the potential for large-scale solar projects and supports renewable energy development.

Similarly, there was discussion around the opportunities for large-scale wind developments in New Zealand due to favourable wind speeds and sea bed depths. However, the high installation costs mean this may take time compared to other renewable energy sources. We hope that Aotearoa will choose to invest in the future.

IoT and technology in decarbonisation.

There was a clear theme of the crucial role that IoT and technology play in decarbonisation. Many speakers and attendees referred to the importance of:

  1. Understanding what you are trying to achieve;
  2. Having a clear, clean process that is written down and transferrable;
  3. Returning to that understanding as a guide to ensure you are maximising tools and software use.

EECA’s new focus.

Following the change in priorities from the New Zealand Government, EECA has explained that they are changing their focus in turn. They are shifting from funding projects directly (via the now-unavailable GIDI funding) to offering research and advice. One example is the development of the Regional Energy Transition Accelerator (RETA) documents to support specific regions and industries in their energy transitions.

Data centres and AI demand.

The growing energy demand from data centres driven by AI is significant. For example, an AI query consumes enough electricity to power a light bulb for 3 hours, whereas the same query in a standard Google search would power a light bulb for 3 seconds. This highlights the need for innovative solutions to manage this demand, particularly as AI demand increases. Data centres see the need to hyperscale power supply.

Memorable presentations.

Phoenix Recycling: Efforts to recycle a wide range of materials are crucial for sustainable building practices. Phoenix Recycling has made enormous strides in recycling construction debris, which often proves a significant challenge for many in the sector.

ICMVP: The new voluntary carbon credit market aims to be widely accepted and tradable with minimal required verification, creating a more viable tool for those industries where carbon credits offer the best opportunities for climate action.

Genesis: Huntly power station can transition to using biomass, but a supply chain in New Zealand needs to be developed. Batteries might be used as peaking plants instead of gas, which presents an exciting, more sustainable alternative to gas burn during periods of high demand.

BraveGen workshops and presentations

BraveGen hosted multiple workshops at the conference, focusing on the integration of technology in energy and emissions management. Highlights included:

  • Tech-powered efficiency: best practices in IoT software and data for energy and emissions. This workshop covered the role of IoT in enhancing energy efficiency, with practical examples and technology demonstrations. The session emphasised the importance of clear data collection strategies and continuous improvement.
  • Case study: ASB’s energy strategy: BraveGen presented a case study on ASB’s energy strategy, which involved installing time-of-use metering across 150 sites and launching the ‘switch it off’ campaign. This initiative pinpointed underperforming sites and addressed unseen energy waste, leading to significant energy savings.
  • Interactive workshop activities: Attendees participated in activities to identify new ideas for energy and emissions reduction, focusing on what to start, stop, and continue doing. This interactive session fostered engagement and practical takeaways for participants to implement in their own organisations.
  • Data management for waste minimisation: A case study on using BraveGen’s data management software to support waste minimisation highlighted the importance of a structured approach to data collection, management, and utilisation. This session demonstrated how effective data management can lead to improved sustainability outcomes.

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