Powering the Future

What are the scientific challenges of creating sustainable management plans for our country? To answer this question, the Geological Society of Australia will present a public forum in August as part of the Sydney Science Festival tp ask whether Sydney is ready to tackle alternative energy. Building upon the success of its first Public Forum held in Newcastle in 2014 at Australian Earth Sciences Convention, the Geological Society of Australia’s second Forum is entitled Powering Sydney into the Future: the Science of Alternative Energy.

‘It is the right time to engage the broader community by presenting the latest science in alternative energy possibilities, including ‘clean’ coal, small thorium reactors and algal farms for biofuels,’ said Professor Martin Van Kranendonk, a member of the Geological Society of Australia’s organising committee.

‘Part of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 goals include the establishment of an advanced waste master plan that will deliver ‘energy from waste’. It is a plan that needs greater input from the geological sector as well as the wider community,’ Professor Van Kranendonk said.

To discuss these important issues for the future of Sydney, the Geological Society of Australia has secured highly respected ABC science journalist and broadcaster, Robyn Williams, who will moderate a discussion between a panel of leading scientists and engineers representing a cross section of industry experts in their particular field of sustainable energy and development.


  • Prof. Mary O’Kane, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer. In 2013 Prof. O’Kane was directed by the then Premier of NSW, Barry O’Farrell to conduct a comprehensive review of CSG-related activities, focusing on the human health and environment impacts. That report was handed down in late 2014.
  • Prof. Ben Hankamer, University of Queensland, founding director of the Solar Biofuels Consortium which is developing high-efficiency micro algal biofuel production systems.
  • Dr Gary EllemTom Farrell Institute, University of Newcastle. His recent work has focussed on modelling and analysis of the scale and economics of alternative energy, sequestration and land management systems, as well as the development of innovative biomass technologies such as microalgae.
  • Tony Irwin, Technical Director SNR Nuclear Technology, with over 40 years of experience with nuclear reactors. He is currently the Chairman of Engineers Australia Nuclear Engineering Panel and a visiting lecturer for the Masters of Nuclear Science course at Australian National University.
  • Prof. Deo Prasad, Director of the UNSW Centre for a Sustainable Built Environment. He is an international authority on sustainable buildings and cities and among the leading advocates for sustainability in Australia

All are encouraged to suggest questions to be submitted to the panel on the night. Those whose questions are accepted will be notified and given the opportunity to ask their questions in person on the night. Please submit your question to gsapublicforum@applebysolutions.com including your full name and contact mobile phone and email address.

DATE: Monday 17th August
TIME: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
LOCATION: The Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt Street, Sydney
COST: $15 per person, $40 for a family (2 adults and 2 children)
Discounts are available for school groups on request. Call 0417 498881

Tickets available through Eventbrite.

Written by Ruth Appleby.