Structural Change and Social Vulnerability in Energy Producing Regions – Vulnerability Assessment Options in the Hunter Valley

Mr Warrick Jordan1

1International Centre for Balanced Land Use, University Of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia


Global energy market change is accelerating and energy production exhibits considerable regional concentration. Consequently, specific regions and populations are disproportionately exposed to the supply-side socioeconomic impacts of energy shifts. This has prompted discussion on the obligations of government, industry and other actors to ensure ‘Just Transitions’ (provision of decent work on a pathway to societally-determined sustainable development outcomes) and equitable structural adjustment (assistance for those severely exposed or impacted). To be effective, affordable, and perceived as fair, such response measures require targeting to ‘vulnerable’ areas, communities and individuals. However, fine-grained assessment of the distribution of ‘vulnerability’ in energy regions is limited. Identifying vulnerable groups is challenging. For example, there are a variety of competing and overlapping conceptual definitions. Among other challenges, there are also gaps between the information types typically used for policy decisions and resource prioritisation on one hand, and those that adequately capture local circumstances and needs. Approaches to identifying the vulnerable in energy producing regions are explored through a specific example (the Hunter Valley, New South Wales).


Warrick Jordan is a PhD Candidate at the University of Newcastle with an interest in the social impact and management of economic change in regions. He is actively involved in the transition process for the Liddell Power Station in the Hunter Valley, has a background in natural resource management, and completed his undergraduate studies in Geography at the University of Tasmania in 2010.

Making the most of energy efficiency upgrade programs in social and Indigenous housing

Dr Theresa Harada1, Dr Dan Daly, Professor Gordon Waitt, Professor Paul Cooper

1University Of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia


Household energy practices and infrastructures have become a key government policy theme. In light of the need to encourage adaptive behaviours to address the potential threats from climate change, governments have increasingly focused on the household as a site for improving energy efficiency and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. This includes schemes that target improving the thermal performance of buildings by installation of insulation, improving the air-tightness of building shells, upgrading appliances to more energy efficient models, replacing existing storage hot water systems with newer heat pumps, and the coupling of Solar PV with reverse cycle air conditioning. In this paper, we present some results from a project funded by CRC centre for low carbon living that addressed energy efficiency in social and indigenous housing in NSW. It points to the way that one-size-fits-all solutions are unlikely to achieve optimal outcomes because of the socio-technical interface. We discuss the implementation of a range of energy efficiency upgrades across different climatic zones, the barriers that were encountered and the experiences and behaviours of tenants. The results indicate that there must be attention given to the institutional organisation and implementation of the projects and acknowledgment of the significance of tenant behaviour and practices.


Theresa Harada, PhD Human Geography, Research, Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space at University of Wollongong. Theresa works as an ethnographer using social science methods to investigate everyday practices and the implications for how we understand and respond to the imperatives of climate change adaptation.

Is bigger better? Community energy modelling in Australia

Dr Hedda Ransan-cooper1

1ANU, Canerra, Australia


While community led distribute energy has exploded in Australia in recent years, there has been very little in-depth analysis into how best to support or facilitate community energy.This paper will explore some preliminary analysis from an ARENA funded project into distributed community energy models. The project aims to provide a thorough analysis of community energy models from a technical, financial, regulatory, social and logistical perspective. Through the analysis capabilities developed in this project it will be possible to demonstrate the value of community energy models, for customers, retailers and distribution networks and the mechanism by which community energy models increase the hosting capacity of renewable energy in our electricity grid.


Dr Ransan-Cooper is a Research Fellow at the newly established Battery Storage and Grid Integration Research Program at ANU. Her research in this role is focused broadly on the the social dimensions of renewables energy transitions. Her current project is ARENA funded, and working with colleagues from other disciplines to analyse community energy models from a technical, financial, regulatory, social and logistical perspective

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