An eye-opener to energy realities

16 Mar 2020

University of Queensland student Dylan Hem has just commenced the Master of Sustainable Energy. The program was kicked off with an energy field trip for students to experience different energy infrastructures in Queensland, and it also gave the new students a great opportunity to get to know each other before their first week-intensive course on campus.

“The field trip was a real eye-opener in terms of energy realities. Seeing these facilities gave us an understanding of energy efficiency, power system security, materials usage, the current potential of technologies and their limitations. I was in particular fascinated with the innovative processes learned from day-to-day operations,” Dylan said.

Master of Sustainable Energy students visiting UQ's research station on Heron Island

The students visited the NRG Gladstone coal power station and the LNG facility on Curtis Island, and they experienced an aluminium smelter in Yarwun and a micro-grid on Heron Island, which is UQ’s research station run mainly on solar power by the Great Barrier Reef.

“The vastness of operations at the LNG facility on Curtis Island and the reduction in diesel usage at Heron Island were surprising aspects of the trip. I was certainly not expecting to see that diesel generators still make sense in a microgrid with all of the progress that has been made in the battery and PV sectors.”

Dylan was impressed with the passionate staff at the Gladstone power station in the face of social and political adversity.

I thought it was encouraging that there are environmentally aware people working at the coal power plant - too often these global issues are oversimplified as we search for a panacea.”

“The numbers associated with energy transitions are staggering. Only modest reductions in emissions have been achieved in the past few decades, which is why we need to approach the future with fully pragmatic solutions,” he said.

Dylan has a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering with work experience that spans across the energy sector. He is currently working as a power engineer at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) while studying part-time at UQ.

His end goal with the Master of Sustainable Energy is to acquire a future-proof degree. He is confident that the program will pay dividends in the years to come, not only in the form of education but also access to industry partners and energy leaders.

 “The Master of Sustainable Energy provides me insight into two missing pieces of the puzzle in my quest to tackle the energy trilemma of affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all: law and economics.”

“My grounding in engineering sets the foundation, but I must learn how to implement my ideas affordably and in an equitable manner. I feel my path and the energy transition will reveal itself in due course, and I intend to enjoy the journey,” he said.

Find out more about UQ’s Master of Sustainable Energy.