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20/4/2021, 12-1:30pm (AEST)

This third ERICA webinar hosted by the Australian National University (ANU) Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions will explore the impact of extreme weather events on the electricity network.


The last six months have seen both California and Texas plunged into electricity blackouts. In California’s case, these blackouts have been intentional to avoid power infrastructure sparking fires in the drought-ridden region, and are expected to keep occurring in coming months and years. In the case of Texas, the blackout was due to an overloaded electricity system compromised by extremely cold weather.


As such weather events become more extreme and frequent under climate change, how can Australia learn from both these situations to avoid such blackouts here?


Join us to hear from experts discussing what went wrong in California and Texas, and what Australia can do to increase the resilience of its own energy infrastructure and supply.  Dr Fereidoon P. Sioshansi (President, Menlo Energy Economics) and Professor Ross Baldick (Emeritus Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Texas Austin) will present on the recent extreme weather events that affected electricity networks in their respective jurisdictions. It will be followed by a panel discussion with Dr Elizabeth Ratnam (Senior Lecturer, ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science) and Dr Anna Bruce (Senior Lecturer, School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, University of New South Wales).


Professor Kenneth Baldwin (Director, ANU Grand Challenge - Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific) will host the event. Associate Professor Ariel Liebman, Chair of ERICA will open the event.

Meet the host

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Professor Kenneth Baldwin

Director, ANU Grand Challenge: Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia Pacific


Professor Ken Baldwin is the Director of the ANU Grand Challenge: Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific. He is also an inaugural ANU Public Policy Fellow. The main focus of his work is to help drive the energy transition, particularly for Australia's future export industries based on renewable energy. He is a winner of the 2004 Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science, for his role in initiating and championing "Science meets Parliament". In 2007, he was awarded the W.H. Beattie Steele Medal, the highest honour of the Australian Optical Society. In 2010 he was awarded the Barry Inglis Medal by the National Measurement Institute for excellence in precision measurement. Professor Baldwin is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics (UK), the Optical Society of America and the Australian Institute of Physics.

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Meet the speakers

Dr Fereidoon Sioshansi

President of Menlo Energy Economics

Fereidoon Sioshansi is President of Menlo Energy Economics, a consulting firm based in San Francisco, California, with over 35 years of experience in the electric power sector. He advises clients on strategies to respond to the rapid transformation of the energy sector including utilities, energy intensive industry, innovators, start-ups and companies engaged in electricity delivery supply chain, regulators and policy makers. Dr Sioshansi is the editor and publisher of EEnergy Informer, a monthly newsletter with international circulation. His professional experience includes working at Southern California Edison Co. (SCE), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), NERA, and Global Energy Decisions.

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Emeritus Professor Ross Baldick

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Ross Baldick is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.  He has undergraduate degrees from the University of Sydney, Australia, and graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.  His current research involves optimization, economic theory, and statistical analysis applied to electric power systems, particularly in the context of increased renewables and transmission.  Dr Baldick is a Fellow of the IEEE and the recipient of the 2015 IEEE PES Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award.

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Dr Elizabeth Ratnam

Future Engineering Research Leader (FERL) Fellowship at ANU; Senior Lecturer in the ANU School of Engineering

Dr Ratnam earned the BEng (Hons I) degree in Electrical Engineering in 2006, and the PhD degree in Electrical Engineering in 2016, from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She subsequently held postdoctoral research positions with the Center for Energy Research at the University of California San Diego, and at the University of California Berkeley in the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE). During 2001–2012 she held various positions at Ausgrid, a utility that operates one of the largest electricity distribution networks in Australia. Dr Ratnam currently holds a Future Engineering Research Leader (FERL) Fellowship from the Australian National University (ANU) and she joined the Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering at ANU as a research fellow and lecturer in 2018. She also holds an ongoing affiliation with CIEE at UC Berkeley, and is a research leader in the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Group (BSGIP) at ANU. Her research interests are in developing new paradigms to control distribution networks with a strong focus on creating a resilient carbon neutral power grid.

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Dr Anna Bruce

Senior Lecturer, School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, University of New South Wales

Dr Anna Bruce is a lecturer in the school of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW, with research and teaching interests in energy policy, markets and regulation, renewable and distributed energy integration and energy system performance analysis and modelling. Anna is an Australian expert on the International Energy Agency's PV Power Systems programmes Task 13 (PV performance and Reliability) and Task 14 (High Penetration PV in electricity networks), and leads the Australian PV Institute's Solar Mapping project.

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