Campaign to Rebuild the Solar Energy Society in Western Australia

11 August 2010

Garry Baverstock AM
Interim President of AuSES- WA Branch

I joined ISES WA Group in 1978. It was a very important organization in those days.

After the Second World War many world leaders, including President Eisenhower of the USA, realized that fossil fuels would only last about 100 years for transport and we needed to project ahead and discover the alternatives for sustainable energy for planet earth. This happened in 1952 at an International Conference hosted by the Americans. The international body, ISES formed 2 years later and has continued for over 50 years.

Since then with the growing awareness of Climate Change caused mainly from coal fired power stations strengthens the original mandate. I believe that it is now even more important to have a society that moves the political, scientific and economic agenda forward. It provides a function that Industry Associations alone cannot do.

Renewable energy in all its forms as a derivative of solar energy is the eventual main answer to Climate Change. We simply must move forward and our community needs a high ground ethical basis from which to work. AuSES provides this.

A key function of our society has been education, public awareness and mentoring of our up and coming scientists, engineers and architects. Apart from providing the forum for this interaction through technical talks, and conferences, there has always been a high level of mentoring the during the early hay days of the society. I was fortunate to encounter people like the late Ron Brown, John Riley, Clarry Small and Dr Bob Lawrance (still alive) in the early days of my career and I learned a great deal. Interaction with Interstate and International members just expanded my knowledge further.

Unfortunately over the last 2 decades this important function has diminished and needs to be restored as our society in WA has existed in name only. I believe it has happened due to a lack of this very important ingredient of “mentorship”.

Dr Bill Parker and I have decided to do something about this. Apart from taking over the vacant positions of President and Treasurer as an interim position for a period of 12 months starting from 1st January, 2011, we plan to do a number of things:

1. Address uni students to join the society by providing encouragement and mentoring as part of a campaign
2. Increase membership by targeting key mature figures in the industries and professions, including uni lecturers to form the basis of the mentor group
3. Provide technical talks and social gatherings to create a healthy level of interaction.

Now, what do we need from you?:

1. Putting a commitment forward for yourself to act as a mentor in order to increase memberships from the younger members of our society.
2. Offer to contact a mature person to act as a mentor, not already a member, to become a member for that purpose.

We need generation change and a smooth transition. Activities will follow, but we must first put the horse before the cart. I hope you will put your hand up and support this approach. Recruit one new mentor and one young student each and we would have the most vibrant membership base in the country.

The future of this world is now at stake. Solar and renewable energy is no longer a nifty idea! We need to move on. There is a lot of innovation and action needed that the society can offer.

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