A-Lab Incubate 2019

The A-Lab Incubate 2019 instalment of ARENA’s project accelerator, A-Lab, took place over an intense three days in mid September.

The Royal Botanic Gardens venue in Sydney hosted seven teams for A-Lab Incubate 2019. The teams worked to develop world-leading projects and initiatives. The purpose was to help accelerate Australia’s transition to a clean energy future.

A-Lab Incubate was established to support teams of energy experts to advance project ideas that may be suitable for future ARENA funding. The A-Lab workshops build and accelerate project ideas while receiving feedback from other attendees, industry professionals and ARENA.

Projects at Incubate 2019 addressed a range of challenges and opportunities. This included:

  1. improving our ability to manage and integrate distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar and electric vehicles,
  2. empowering remote communities with hydrogen and
  3. finding ways to help industry use renewable energy and reduce emissions.

Day one and two

Day one saw teams grapple with the big “why” questions surrounding their projects. During this process, teams learnt how to articulate why an activity is so important to the future of the energy system. This can be the difference between success or failure.

External mentors provided support to the teams to help test the big questions on day two. Sector experts from the electricity, regulatory, finance, public interest, and government helped teams understand if their product or service was well-placed or needed further guidance.

With the insights in hand, our participants developed clear, articulate project plans and strategies focusing on all aspects of project design. This ranged from designing work packages, the timelines for delivery, through to the roles and who’s paying for it.

Day three

With time left to refine thinking on day three, the teams focused on their pitch ideas to the “Dolphin Tank”, a panel of experts friendlier than sharks! Comprising AEMO Chairman, Drew Clarke AO PSM; ARENA CEO Darren Miller; ARENA CFO Ian Kay; and ARENA Advisory Panel Member Susan Mallan, the esteemed ‘Dolphins’ offered valuable feedback and insights.

This year saw the return of Grant Stepa, an Advisor to Rheem, to support ARENA’s track record of 17 A-Lab events since 2016. Grant Stepa commented that the 2018 event allowed them to “compress about six months worth of work into three days.”

Transgrid’s Gareth Ridge noted that, “because of Incubate we now have a solid understanding of what it is our project intends to achieve and the application we want to put forward to ARENA. There’s no way we could have achieved this in three days without Incubate.”

ARENA looks forward to watching the project teams grow over the coming months as well as some well-crafted funding applications.

ARENA staff at A-Lab incubate 2019

Pictured: the A-Lab Incubate Team