Downstream 23
May 2, 2023

Ray Young

PSC’s sponsorship of the Downstream Conference, held during the week of March 28 in New Zealand, was well worth it. There were several influential decision-makers and leaders at the event, and with carbon-zero imperatives as a focus, it was obvious that some attendees were well on the road to achieving carbon-zero within their organizations. However, the pressure from the government on the industry to do more was evident.

The presentations contained the expected political banter and debate about addressing climate change and dealing with expected increases in electricity consumption as we move away from coal and fossil fuel energy options.

The issue of intermittency in renewable energy sources led to discussions about achieving local resilience across New Zealand. The aim is to store energy and time-shift its availability to smooth out the peaks and troughs between electricity consumption and generation capacity. There was a focus on lithium/cadmium-based batteries, hydrogen, and pumped hydro. Surprisingly, there was no mention of other options, such as compressed air.

One of the presentations with good feedback was from Dr Kavi Singh of PowerNet, who talked about site-specific solutions they had researched, planned, and implemented.  Dr Singh indicated that they had not been working in isolation but as a community of regional stakeholders, including electricity distributors, regional government, generation companies, and regional Iwi, to name just a few.

In alignment with the conference full of decision-makers, there was a strong push for diversity in leadership. It was good to see the topic get active discussion. The change toward diversity in leadership seems to be gaining momentum, especially in the last 5 to 10 years.

PSC had a corner stand that was shared with Harmonic Analytics, providing a focal place to talk with clients and take a moment away from circling the aisles. It was also a great place to relax and recharge while making those all-important connections with new people and business opportunities.

If there is an opportunity to attend the Downstream Conference next year, it is one of the events I will put on my to-do list.