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The challenge

Heating up the conversation around solar technology

To ensure access to affordable and stable energy for every Australian, we need to turn up the heat on solar technology and get a conversation started to engage industry, stakeholders and everyday energy consumers on what an energy efficient future will look like and how to achieve it. But how do we do this dynamically to cultivate the way we do business in a contemporary, fast-paced setting? And how do we attract some of the brightest minds in Australia to create the solutions of tomorrow?

Our response

Driving innovation in less than a day

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears on screen: CSIRO Hackathon shines light on solar technology]

[Images flash through of people walking through a door, name tags on a table, a female with a piece of paper, a male signing in and a registration desk]

[Image changes to show Dr. Glenn Platt talking to an audience]

Dr. Glenn Platt: Good evening everyone.  Welcome to CSIRO. 

[Text appears: Hack the sun]

[Images flash through of a female writing, various people talking together, a handshake, people in the audience and Dr. Glenn Platt]

Tonight and tomorrow is about having an incredible number of collisions with just the right people.  Amazing things will happen.  Work hard, have fun and we might just change the world.

[Image changes to show two people walking into the CSIRO Energy Centre and then images flash through of a group of participants in the Hackathon, a female talking to her group and then writing on a whiteboard]

Female: These are all their problems. This is how we solve them and this is how they benefit.

[Image changes to show Rhett Morson talking to the camera and text appears: Rhett Morson, Managing Director, Da Vinci Capital]

Rhett Morson: There’s a really good energy down there. 

[Image changes and the camera pans over the groups of participants and then the camera zooms in on a male writing on a whiteboard]

They’re looking like they’re making some really fast progress.  They’ve got a lot of charts up and a lot of computers open and coding and business plans it seems. 

[Image changes to show a computer screen display and then the image changes to show participants at a table working on laptops]

It looks like they’re achieving quite a lot in a small time frame. 

[Image changes to show Brad Sparkes and then the image changes to show mentors talking to the participants and text appears: Brad Sparkes, Grids and Energy Efficiency Program, CSIRO]

A couple of groups have been working on their idea for a couple of hours and the mentors have come around and they’ve taken some really interesting pivots. 

[Music plays]

[Images flash through of the outside of the CSIRO Energy Centre, participants working inside the building, a male talking to the camera and a female writing on a whiteboard]

Male 1: The Solar Hackathon’s been really interesting in that we’ve come in with kind of a few ideas and different ideas but some are out of the conversations that occur here.  We’ve now come up with an entirely new idea.

[Images flash through of participants working and then the image changes to show Chris Selwood talking to the camera and text appears: Chris Selwood, Event Director World Solar Challenge]

Chris Selwood: What we have here today, we have young people who understand that we need to have disruptive technologies to change the old ways of doing things.  This is where it’s at.  This is the stuff.

[Image changes to show participants writing on paper, talking and working at computers and then the image changes to show Chris Selwood]

It could excite... should excite us as human beings that we’ve got a future, that we’ve got these young people who are here to make a difference, solve the problems, identify the problems, solve the problems and carry us forward

[Image changes to show a male at a computer and then the camera pans along the window]

We’ve got one hour to go. 

[Images flash through of participants working and then the image changes to show Dr. Glenn Platt and text appears: Dr Glenn Platt, Energy Research Director, CSIRO]

Everyone’s really intense in there now.  They’re head down, you go in and you go near them and they’re like “Oh get out of here, I’ve just got to get it done”.  One hour to go. They’ve got a pitch and then they’ll find out about the amazing ideas.

[Images flash through of participants working and then the image changes to show Renate Egan and text appears: Commercial Director, Solar Analytics]

Renate Egan: We actually need to bring expertise in from outside.  We need the people who have knowledge and know how in areas outside of solar to really grow the business and to grow the industry.

[Image changes to show participants taking their seats and then the camera zooms in on Dr. Greg Wilson and text appears: Dr. Greg Wilson, Solar Energy Systems, CSIRO]

Dr. Greg Wilson: So have we all had a very exciting day?  I think that’s the main thing isn’t it?  You’ve enjoyed yourselves, you’ve learnt something.  You’ve come a little bit further.

[Image changes to show Male 2 talking to the audience and then the camera zooms out to show the power point showing PowerFlow]

Male 2: So what if I told you that together we can save 1,000,000 kilograms of carbon emissions per annum today, introducing PowerFlow, the coolest solar around.

[Image changes to show Male 3 talking to the audience]

Male 3: So how we’re going to do that is we want to build a competitive online social platform that tracks real time consumption and power generation and allows you to compare with other users on the platform.

[Image changes to show Male 4 talking to the audience]

Male 4: In this case, Harry uses the most and his financial benefit is redistributed to everybody.

[Image changes to show Dr. Greg Wilson talking to the audience]

Dr. Greg Wilson: Exciting times, exciting times ahead for our judges who have got the next big task.

[Image changes to show Rhett Morson talking to the audience]

Rhett Morson: I think you’ve got a very small amount of time to put together some... and convey some pretty technical ideas and I think they all did a fantastic job actually.

[Image changes to show Michelle Taylor talking into the microphone and text appears: Michelle Taylor, Technology Development Manager, Ergon Energy]

Michelle Taylor: What a smart bunch of people.  Wow.  I just wish we could have all of you working for me.  It’s great. 

[Image changes to show the judges around a table and then the camera zooms in on their faces and the paper they are working on and then the image changes to show Dr. Glenn Platt at the podium]

Dr. Glenn Platt:  With a one point lead, first place was “Take Charge”.

[Sounds of clapping and applause]

[Images flash through of the Take Charge group accepting their prize, the three males holding a $4,000 prize cheque for a photo, Dr. Glenn Platt and then participants working]

 Guys, we really can change the world.  Get out there.  Do it. 

[Image changes to show Dr. Glenn Platt]

Thank you and good night.

[Image changes to show the three males holding the $4,000 prize cheque and talking to the camera]

Male 5: How about that, we won.  That’s crazy isn’t it.

Male 6: Yeah, we won “Take Charge”, that’s pretty awesome, right.

Male 5: Didn’t expect that, but I guess yeah, lots of awesome ideas.

Male 6: One awesome experience, would recommend.  Ten out of ten, would do it again.

Male5: Definitely, that was very cool.

Text appears: www.csiro/au/energy#hackthesun]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: Big ideas start here]

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CSIRO's first Solar Hackathon in April 2016 brought 16 teams together to create real solar technology and applications all in less than 12 hours! With a mix of gurus in software development, coding, research, marketing, finance and business development, #hackthesun encouraged innovative and creative ways of thinking to produce real solutions facing the solar industry today. It provided a platform to shape and foster new clean-tech business opportunities through fast-paced development.

Hack the Sun encouraged a broad range of solutions ranging from identifying a low-cost cleaning solution for large numbers of tightly packed solar PV systems to heliostats, to creating a creative marketing campaign to increase public awareness of the benefits of solar energy.

The results

Solar solutions for a brighter future

Eyeing a $10,000 prize pool, each team had to pitch their ideas to a judging panel comprising solar industry leaders, and the solutions created were phenomenal to say the least. Some of the winning and cutting-edge solutions included incentivising smarter energy use through a competitive platform, a decentralised electricity market for developing countries, and funding for large solar schemes through smaller investors.

Take Charge won first prize for their hot solar idea

Team 'Take Charge' took out first prize for creating an engaging online tool to help consumers better understand their energy behaviour and participate in demand-side management. The online community platform ranks and educates the everyday Australian on how much and when they are using their energy, leveraging people's competitive nature to encourage energy saving and the maximisation of solar usage.

The hackers tackled some of the biggest challenges we face for a better integrated energy future, including how this will impact everyday Australians, and industry. The solutions have the potential to change the energy landscape for the better and we aim to transform the ideas created at the hackathon into real and successful business opportunities. View the full list of winners and submissions.

Watch this space for future hackathon opportunities.

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