I had set out to study community energy. It didn’t take me long to understand that I was interested in energy transitions and community energy was a useful lens because it reflected what communities were advocating for. By the time I reached Inverness, it dawned on me that I wanted to play in the ‘middle spaces’. To do that I needed to visualise the jigsaw of players in South Australia’s energy landscape in a way that helps everyone understand the work we need to do together.
I have compiled this record of my journey partly as a resource for myself and others, to document the wide variety of activities that are supporting our energy transitions across the globe. Much more reflection and research is required before I’ve finished learning from the interviews and experiences I’ve had.
Rather than draw final conclusions, I offer the following initial recommendations:
- Every place will have its own unique energy solutions – we need to do the work of understanding ours.
- Utilities and Governments ignore citizen requests for more renewable energy and local energy at their peril.
- The energy transition needs disruptive influences such as technology and community energy.
- The system also needs ‘middle spaces’ where actors across the energy landscape can work together toward understanding and designing changes for the energy system.
- Community energy builds political support and is our best chance of changing the goals of the system – a key step in changing the energy system paradigm.
- Incorporating smart grid and demand management technology still holds great promise but needs more work.
In taking my own advice to heart, my starting point will be to map South Australia’s energy landscape and start talking to the people in it about our energy future. I have no doubt that my work over the next 6 months will lead to further recommendations.