Aurecon co-created the Network Vision with Powerlink to help drive its vision of low carbon energy future.

Projects

Powerlink Network Vision, Queensland, Australia

Aurecon co-creates a 30-year low carbon future vision with Queensland’s Powerlink

Australia is facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty across its energy networks with market disruption, changing customer needs and new technology. CSIRO predicts that homes and businesses could be powered by over 20 different energy sources and technologies by 2050.

Network operator and owner, Powerlink, is anticipating and navigating the challenges of the energy market with the release of its 30-year Network Vision, identifying a range of uncertainties, drivers and opportunities that will shape their future.

Powerlink’s future has implications for four million Queenslanders who rely on them to provide their electricity service today and into the future. Aurecon co-created a vision with Powerlink that will help guide it into the next 30 years with the 2050 Network Vision.

Scenario planning and strategic advice from Aurecon’s future energy team unlocked possibilities for Powerlink’s future services and sustainability of its business, including its role in the energy industry.

The Network Vision sets out a blueprint for supporting a transition to a low carbon economy, while ensuring access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for Powerlink’s customers.

Setting the scene for collaboration

The process began with a workshop between Aurecon’s project leaders and Powerlink’s Executive team, setting the scene for collaboration.

Design Wave exploration workshops with more than 200 stakeholders were then conducted to obtain input, insights and ideas for the Network Vision. Participants included Powerlink employees and customers, and energy industry representatives.

Workshops were playful with serious intent, offering participants something completely different to what they had previously experienced. In one activity, participants were asked to experience the future, one decade at a time, by moving to different physical spaces. Each decade’s activity was contained in a different room with unique elements that engaged the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch.

These senses were incorporated into bespoke settings for each decade, to elevate participants’ thinking and reinforce the progression of time. The different environments were intended to disconnect stakeholders from today’s energy environment and their pre-existing biases, so they would feel comfortable and creative to think about the future.

Applying a human-centred approach

Aurecon brought innovation to the co-creation process via its Design to Innovate framework as part of the human-centred design approach intended to align the understanding of Powerlink’s stakeholder group and provide a solid foundation to explore the risks and opportunities of the future.

This approach enabled workshop participants to make their own choices, empowering them to define the future, champion the strategy, its roll out and the organisation's transformation.

Uncertainties identified

Three key uncertainties relating to the future of the electricity system and Powerlink’s context were identified in the stakeholder workshops:

  1. Changing electricity consumption patterns
  2. Decarbonisation – transition to a lower emissions power sector
  3. Decentralisation – uptake of decentralised energy resources

Scenario planning

To consider the political, economic, social, technology, legal and environmental trends that will affect the industry and energy customers in the future, a series of scenarios were explored for the Network Vision in how external trends will affect Powerlink’s customers and network.

  1. Prosumer-led market: decentralised, lower-carbon, high overall electricity consumption
  2. Community-based power: decentralised, lower-carbon, low overall electricity consumption
  3. Renewable super grid: centralised, lower-carbon, high overall electricity consumption
  4. An evolving market: centralised, moderate to high carbon, high overall electricity consumption

The scenarios were a discussion tool to explore the possible range of services that Powerlink’s future customers may need over the next 30 years. They will help the business to identify new opportunities, manage future risks and generate strategic responses to possible future disruptions.

Insights, implications, drivers and opportunities

A strategy should not be imposed rather it should be fostered, and the stakeholder contributions combined with Powerlink’s ideation was refined into the Network Vision as a foundation for Powerlink’s future.

Aurecon co-created the Network Vision with Powerlink to help drive its vision of being customer focused and innovative by using design thinking as the basis of solving future uncertainty. It provides a systematic transition to a low carbon energy future.

The Powerlink 2050 Network Vision was recognised at the 2020 Good Design Awards for Design Strategy.

 

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