Energy Business Transformation & Climate System Alleviation

Energy Business Transformation & Climate System Alleviation

Wednesday, 21 September 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

An energy transition at a pace consistent with climate science requirements is not occurring due to lock-in dynamics at the social and industrial complex level. This work presents an analysis showing how the profit-maximization purpose of the energy business system (EBS) may significantly decreases the chances of achieving international climate targets and thus increase the loss of resilience at an Earth system level. Using an interdisciplinary approach, applying concepts of biology, corporate law, and combining major theories of large-scale societal and ecological transitions, this work introduces a framework based on tracing the energy business metabolism. This seminar argues that in order to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change and avoid maladaptive lock-ins in the future, society must consider running the energy business as a ‘social enterprise’ rather than as a conventional for-profit.

This is a presentation of a work-in-progress paper intended for peer revision and performed in collaboration with researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Event Location: 
Seminar room, Carlton Connect
700 Swanston st
Carlton , VIC

Martin Wainstein is Innovator-in-Residence at Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale. He is also a research associate at the Yale department of Electrical Engineering, and a research affiliate at the Digital Currency Initiative of the MIT Media Lab. Martin completed his PhD at the Australian-German Climate & Energy College at the University of Melbourne.

Martin studied Biological Sciences at The University of Southern California where he specialized in Astro and Geomicrobiology and later worked on Microbial Fuel Cells at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla. Martin then returned to Argentina, his home country, to pursue social entrepreneurship and establish businesses within the clean energy sector. As an entrepreneur, Martin has developed projects in renewable energies for the built environment, biofuel projects for large agriculture farms, forest conservation initiatives, marketing and corporate social responsibility campaigns for multinationals, and established a network of sustainable architecture to tackle social innovation projects.

PhD Project:  Searching for Disruptive Social Business Models in the Energy Sector: The role of social innovation in aggregating prosumers with Virtual Power Plants

At the Australian-German, Martin channels his multiple interests into an interdisciplinary PhD that develops and tests disruptive innovations. His research proposes that business models that can combine Internet and energy management developments such as peer-to-peer platforms and Virtual Power Plants, in order to collectively manage distributed energy resources, are ideal systems for socially innovative firms to achieve scale and replication. Socially innovative firms, which can address an environmental problem with a market-based approach, are theorised as critical developments that can influence business direction and flexibility to the carbon lock-in. The project entails the design and simulation of an urban social electricity-trading network using a City of Melbourne case study to propose how this systemic change would come about.


Case study analysis of business model innovation in the electricity sector with a multi-level perspective on sociotechnical transitions (niche, regime and landscape levels). Content literature on the intersection of the collaborative economy/ PCP platforms with electricity networks.

Design and develop technical and economic simulations of Virtual Power Plants composed of a portfolio with multiple prosumers and other DERs. 

Supervisors: Dr. Roger Dargaville, Prof. John Wiseman, A/Prof Chris Ryan, Dr. Adam Bumpus

Start Date: March 2014    Completion: 2018


Additional Information

Web tools and Projects we developed

  • Open-NEM

    The live tracker of the Australian electricity market.

  • Paris Equity Check

    This website is based on a Nature Climate Change study that compares Nationally Determined Contributions with equitable national emissions trajectories in line with the five categories of equity outlined by the IPCC.

  • liveMAGICC Climate Model

    Run one of the most popular reduced-complexity climate carbon cycle models online. Used by IPCC, UNEP GAP reports and numerous scientific publications.

  • NDC & INDC Factsheets

    Check out our analysis of all the post-2020 targets that countries announced under the Paris Agreement.