Prof. Graeme Samuel AC (OW1963) launched the 15th Annual Business Breakfast at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins on Thursday 16 September.

An audience of more than 250 alumni, parents and friends enjoyed an insightful discussion by our outstanding panel of guests on 'Australia's Energy Future: The transition from fossil fuels.'

Our panel of experts included:

  • Dr Alan Finkel AC - Former Chief Scientist of Australia
  • Prof. Rachel Webster AO - Head of Astrophysics at the University of Melbourne and President of the Wesley College Council
  • Kelly O’Shanassy - CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation
  • Sarah Barker - Partner at MinterEllison, and leader of MinterEllison's international Climate Change and Sustainability Risk Governance team
  • Eytan Lenko (OW1993) - Technology entrepreneur and CEO of Boundless

Drawing on references to the recently launched book Power Up: Unleashing the clean energy supply chain by panellist and past parent, Dr. Alan Finkel AC, Graeme challenged all attendees to think deeply about the entire ecosystem of energy in Australia.

Sarah Barker, partner at Minter Ellison, extended the thinking to a far wider scope, noting the progress being made in the EU, where the onus is on businesses to consider their supply chains in much the same way they are required to consider privacy compliance.

College Council Chair, astrophysicist and geo-thermal advocate, Prof. Rachel Webster AO, shared the benefits of renewables from sun, wind, wave and heat generated by the earth’s core, but noted the real opportunity presented by generation as close to the source of consumption as possible. While solar is Australia’s greatest local opportunity, there remains considerable complexity in the network and distribution systems for energy that require innovation and new investments.

This opportunity gives rise to environment and biodiversity challenges which Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, reframed as the need to protect nature as we look for next-generation solutions to our insatiable appetite for energy in everyday life. Kelly shared the urgent need for improved planning to better coordinate policy, legislative and practical solutions to ensure that incentives exist to support changes in the short and long term.

Despite Australia’s historic dependence upon fossil fuels, panellists advocated for the enormous opportunity presented by household solar and the transformative impact of electric vehicles. Eytan Lenko (OW1993), CEO of Boundless, discussed his organisation’s efforts to accelerate Australia’s move toward decarbonisation, citing initiatives such as the National EV Summit and The Careers for Net Zero Fair as evidence of the burgeoning opportunities in the new energy sector.

Alan’s sobering summary was that global warming is undeniable and that we need only look at the temperatures recorded in the second half of 2023 to know that time is of the essence. Graeme showed us, once again, that the Wesley community can wrestle with complex issues and come away energised to contribute to positive impacts far beyond our own community.

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