Three Perspectives on Energy Research

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Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 27 August 2019


Lecture Theatre 1.04 HC Coombs Extension Building 8 Fellows Road ANU
ANU Canberra


Dr Christian Downie, Dr José Alberto Hernández Ibarzábal, Michelle Lyons, David Gourley


School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)

In this panel three researchers affiliated with the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the ANU’s Grand Challenge: Zero Carbon Emissions in the Asia Pacific project will provide a snapshot of their research and reflect on the emerging energy challenges faced by Australia and Mexico.

About the speakers:

Dr Christian Downie is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2018-2021) at the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. He was previously a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New South Wales. Christian has worked as a foreign policy advisor to the Australian Government’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and a climate policy advisor to the Department of Climate Change. Christian holds a PhD in international relations and political science from the Australian National University, having graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in economics. He has spent time teaching or researching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Balsillie School of International Affairs among others, and he has worked in policy think tanks in Canberra and Washington D.C.

Christian is the author of more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters including publications in Global Environmental Politics, Energy Policy, Global Governance, International Affairs, and Third World Quarterly. His latest book, Business Battles in the U.S. Energy Sector, will be published in 2019.

Dr José Alberto Hernández Ibarzábal is a Visiting Fellow at RegNet ANU conducting postdoctoral research in the areas of socio-economic, governance and environmental challenges of unconventional gas development. His current focus is a research project on the Mexican case, which includes the lessons from unconventional gas development in Australia. He is a strong advocate for consulting with local communities, implementing best regulatory practice to lessening the environmental and human health impacts associated with fracking and creating an energy career civil service in Mexico. José has two doctoral degrees and has conducted qualitative research in natural gas regulation since 2005 in Australia, Sweden, Spain and Mexico. Generating knowledge in this area of study has been the main aim of his research, synthesised in six articles, a book chapter, two doctoral theses and one Diploma of Advanced Studies thesis.

José’s presentation will focus on Mexico’s energy policy under the 4T: Since December 2018 there has been a new government and a new energy policy in Mexico. This new government has vowed to represent the fourth historical transformation of the country, or “4T”, which includes implementing profound changes in energy policy. Some of these changes include fostering energy sovereignty by renewed oil production, the creation of the Dos Bocas Refinery, a fight against the illegal extraction of hydrocarbons, financial rescue of Pemex (Mexico’s state oil company) and non private (or non) development of unconventional gas. Although the objectives are relatively clear, the way in which decisions are being taken and policies implemented require greater transparency to strengthen certainty.

Michelle Lyons (Chell) joined the ANU’s Grand Challenge: Zero Carbon Emissions in the Asia Pacific in 2019 on secondment from the Department of the Environment and Energy as a recipient of the JW Land fellowship. Her research explores how international governance can support increased electricity trade in the Asia Pacific. She holds a Masters in Policy Studies and an Honours degree in Media and Communications from the University of New South Wales. Chell has spent the past decade working on climate change for the Australian Government, most recently examining international efforts to reduce emissions and their implications for Australia’s domestic climate change policies.

Michelle’s current research project is Governing Electricity Trade in the Asia Pacific:

The world is electrifying. The IEA forecasts that global electricity demand will increase 60% between 2017 and 2040 as countries move to decarbonise their economies and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Nearly 90% of the projected growth in electricity demand occurs in developing economies, with China and India accounting for half of global electricity demand growth to 2040. Numerous studies have shown that electricity trade across borders has many benefits; including increased grid reliability, reduced energy poverty and lower costs. However, despite these benefits, efforts to facilitate cross-border electricity trade in the Asia-Pacific have been largely unsuccessful to date. This paper seeks to map existing regional efforts to regulate cross-border electricity trade through an examination of multilateral institutions, multilateral development banks, bilateral agreements and public-private partnerships. Using a series of case studies, it will assess present efforts to regulate cross-border electricity trade and recommend governance priorities for these organisations to facilitate increased future electricity trade in the Asia-Pacific.

David Gourley joined the Energy Change Institute in 2019 as a Research Fellow on secondment from the Department of the Environment and Energy as a recipient of the JW Land fellowship. David’s research is associated with the Zero Carbon Energy for the Asia Pacific Grand Challenge and focuses on policy settings for renewable hydrogen exports. David holds a Master’s in Environmental Management and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland. David’s work at the Department of the Environment and Energy has focused on electricity markets and climate change policy.

David’s presentation will focus on “Green” hydrogen:

“Green” hydrogen – produced using renewable electricity to “split water” via electrolysis – is currently receiving international attention as a promising clean energy vector. Both Japan and South Korea have ambitious plans to become large users of hydrogen by the middle of the century as part of their efforts to achieve their Paris Agreement commitments. If a global market for hydrogen emerges, Australia’s renewable energy resources, expertise as an energy exporter and existing trade relationships with potential off-takers make it ideally placed to become a major exporter. However, to realise this potential, Australia will have to develop both a domestic production industry and export capabilities from scratch, and relatively expensive electrolysis production will have to undergo rapid cost reductions. David’s research seeks to identify the fiscal policies Australian governments could consider deploying to encourage the efficient growth of a green hydrogen export industry, taking as a starting point policies used to establish similar industries (e.g. renewable energy, LNG and high-tech exports), and considering their application to hydrogen.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet