Programme 2021: Day One

Click on each day to view the full programme:
Monday 29 March 2021 Tuesday 30 March 2021
Conference Day One Conference Day Two

Programme | Day One 




Registration and coffee in the Downstream Expo



Sponsored Breakfast (to be confirmed)



Welcome from the Chair



Mayoral welcome

A welcome to Lower Hutt from the Mayor and an update on the Council’s energy strategy and footprint across its range of Council Controlled Organisations, including Wellington Water and Urban Plus.  

Campbell Barry – Mayor, Lower Hutt


Views from the top




Leaders' panel

With 2020 being characterised by surprise government intervention, policy announcements and Covid-19, it is time to reassess the performance of the New Zealand energy industry and look to the future with the leaders of our largest asset owners.    

  • The Covid-19 effect, back to the bottom line  
  • Industry structure – sub-optimal?  
  • Retail pricing – back on the political agenda?  
  • Keeping coal in the mix at Huntly   
  • Solving the industrial heat question  
  • New generation build roadmap  
  • Managing dry year reserve and climate change effects  
  • Gas infrastructure – reinvestment risks, impact of industrial decline  

Nigel Barbour – Chief Executive, Powerco  
Neal Barclay – Chief Executive, Meridian Energy   
David Prentice – Chief Executive, Trustpower  

Toby Stevenson – Director, Sapere Research Group 



Ministerial address

The top priorities for the Energy and Resources Minister – under invitation



...for the long-term benefit of consumers

It has been 10 years since the Electricity Industry Participation Code came into effect and the Electricity Authority came into being. After 10 years as Chair of the Electricity Authority, one of the architects of the modern New Zealand Electricity Market (NZEM) is now leaving his influential role and passing the baton to others to continue the work.  

  • Features of a market delivering long-term benefit for electricity consumers  
  • The most important drivers of market change  
  • Successes, misfires and regrets  
  • Improving our electricity market over the next 10 years

Brent Layton



Morning break & networking within the Downstream Expo

Scheduled meetings using the Downstream Mobisite / App


Energy Security for New Zealand



Gas supply (and demand) outlook

The energy security of New Zealand and our very large energy consumers is underpinned by direct gas consumption and gas-fired generation. The future role of gas in New Zealand is not so certain, depending on who you talk to. Given New Zealand’s historical reliance and investment in natural gas and LPG infrastructure, developments in the gas market directly affect our energy security and have a significant impact on consumers. We review the current outlook and consider the specific commercial models and market mechanisms that compensate gas infrastructure investors for their contribution to energy security.

  • The nation’s forward gas supply curve for the next 10 years  
  • Gas field update: exploration and development activities   
  • New commercial models for gas generation  
  • Supporting increased renewable generation  
  • Demand trends for gas and LPG  
  • Pricing, liquidity and market performance  

John Kidd – Director, Head of Research, Enerlytica  



Lake Onslow (NZ Battery) – why does it matter?

In a surprising move, Cabinet allocated $30 million for the (initial) detailed investigation of possible energy storage solutions for New Zealand’s dry year electricity problem. One solution has been singled out for particular attention, the Lake Onslow pumped hydro project, and was also referenced by the Interim Climate Change Committee.

  • Nation-building/think-big versus small scale, local and distributed  
  • New Zealand energy problems this investigation can (or should) tackle  
  • The role of government in solving dry year reserve  
  • The benefits to New Zealand, and New Zealand consumers  
  • Unlocking a more sustainable future, meeting emissions targets  
  • Who should own and pay for a project like Lake Onslow 

Paul Goodeve – Chief Executive, Firstgas  
Earl Bardsley – Associate Professor, The University of Waikato

John Hancock –  Director, Signature Consulting



Lunch and networking within the Downstream Expo

Scheduled meetings using the Downstream Mobisite / App


Market structure and reform



International Perspective – Energy market design for post-2025  

The Energy Security Board of Australia recently published their market design paper for a post-2025 national electricity market. This is a roadmap for the challenge of market reform. Although our markets are different, the big issues are remarkably similar. The core market design initiatives are a key feature of the paper, and make for a useful test of and guide for the New Zealand energy markets, particularly.  

  • Resource adequacy mechanisms  
  • Essential system services  
  • Scheduling and ahead mechanisms  
  • Two-sided markets  
  • Distributed Energy Resource (DER) integration  
  • Transmission access reform  

Dr Kerry Schott AO – Chair, Energy Security Board of Australia 



A fit-for-future purpose market structure in New Zealand

When discussing New Zealand energy market structure there is often debate about the need for 29 electricity distribution companies, or the need to split generation and retail. Given the government’s priorities around decarbonisation and some tipping points being reached with distributed energy resources, it is timely to discuss the broader energy market structural opportunities including regulatory oversight and system operation.   

  • Effects from existing market structure issues   
  • Need for a Ministry of Energy  
  • Super regulator – merging some or all of our energy regulators  
  • Market information asymmetry and data access  
  • Ownership structures of key energy assets, incentives and outcomes  

Dr Alan Bollard – Chair, Infrastructure Commission
Luke Blincoe – Chief Executive, The Energy Collective 
Ralph Matthes – Executive Director, MEUG  



Afternoon break & networking within the Downstream Expo

Scheduled meetings using the Downstream Mobisite / App


Distribution networks and new platforms



A new system operator is coming – DSO  

There is widespread acceptance we will need a Distribution System Operator (DSO) function in New Zealand, and soon. There is a small window of opportunity to get our institutional arrangements right from the start and avoid the mistakes of the past where different systems and standards are developed across different networks. An optimal outcome for the market and consumers will include non-infrastructure solutions and procuring services from non-traditional participants.     

  • Who could, and should take the lead on this?  
  • Integration with the Transmission System Operator (TSO)  
  • Evaluating the right ‘model’ for New Zealand  
  • Successful international comparators  

David Reeve – Director, Sapere Research Group



Our future with Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

Many pundits are picking 2021 as the year when small-scale solar plus batteries reaches cost parity with grid energy (in some countries). The global amount of grid connected battery storage is predicted to grow by five times out to 2025. All the key DER trends are being mirrored in New Zealand. All the new money is focused on the network edge and behind the meter, which has the potential to attract some new faces to the New Zealand energy market who won’t be new to the investment opportunity that exists.    

  • The timing issue and developments such as the closure of Tiwai  
  • Readiness of the New Zealand market and regulatory systems   
  • The network management challenges posed, security and voltage management  
  • Contribution of DER to managing peak demand   
  • International trends in similar markets  
  • Deliverability of distributed versus grid scale solutions and outcomes  

Peter Armstrong – Chief Executive, Westpower  



Developing the New Energy Platform (NEP)  

An Internet-of-Things (IoT), machine learning and analytics solution which will help deliver more affordable, reliable and cleaner energy options to consumers. Sounds great, but how is this going to work exactly? The NEP will harness the power of data and facilitate smarter and more customer-centric decisions.  

  • Enabling tailored product and pricing solutions  
  • Better network management operations and planning  
  • Better investment decisions and improved reliability  
  • The benefits of 5-minute interval meter data processing  
  • Incentivising local, low emissions energy use, working to hit decarbonisation and transport electrification goals  

Simon McKenzie – Chief Executive, Vector



Closing remarks from the Chair



Networking Drinks within the Downstream Expo



The Downstream Dinner of the Decade  

Enjoy the best networking event of Downstream and join your peers to celebrate the milestone with some images and memorable moments from the last 10 years of Downstream.

Special guest under invitation: Grant Robertson – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance