The National Energy Essay Competition (NEEC) arose from the increasing interest by the community in the inter-related issues of energy generation and usage, sustainability, carbon dioxide emissions and associated costs, all at a time of increasing awareness of the finite nature of global fossil fuel resources and forecast needs for very deep cuts in emissions.
The Warren Centre (TWC), which maintains close contact with industry, academe and the community wanted to encourage informed debate. TWC felt that young Australian minds should be encouraged to address what will be their energy future, given the time perspective of technological change in the creation and usage of patterns of energy since the industrial revolution.
TWC sensed a need to introduce a rigorous and disciplined level of information into the public arena, in layman’s terms. The objective was to catalyse debate on the next phase of primary energy generation needed to meet the needs of Australia’s established and developing energy networks. These needs will be influenced by:
- societal and technological changes,
- population location,
- living patterns,
- transport tasks and technologies,
- existing and emerging industrial processes and
- other yet to emerge impacts.
The concept of a national essay competition, restricted to the younger age group who will be the future leaders, innovators and providers to the energy sector, was thought to be a way of stimulating young minds, while at the same time attracting the interest of the established market, the media and the public at large.
To this end a two-part essay topic was created. The first and major part draws on the contestant’s knowledge and conceptual abilities with reference to tried and proven technologies and the Australian energy scene from today through to 2050. The second part aimed to explore the contestant’s knowledge and understanding of promising research trends in energy creation and usage. They were encouraged to mix this with innovative thinking and ideas telling the reader how they see energy creation and usage scenarios evolving over the period 2050 to 2100.
The emphasis of the competition was on quality of the ideas and contestants’ ability to express them concisely and lucidly in everyday terms, referencing all material statements.
Contestants were permitted to lodge essays as sole author or in a team with a maximum of three, thus encouraged inter-disciplinary input and group working.