In collaboration with OCTA (The Office of Culture, Technology and Architecture), we developed these artefacts for our White Night event. These artefacts are in a retrospective exhibition set in an imagined future and highlight some of the social effects of energy, consumption and production from the past, present and future.

At Flow Power. we ask “What if?” every day. We look for ways to revolutionise the market. We are disruptors.  These artefacts look back at the ways in which Flow Power has helped to transform the power industry, today and into the future.

Wind Farm, early 2000’s –Video outtakes from YouTubes storage archive
In the early 21st century wind farms began to scatter the Australian
landscape. The image of wind turbines on the horizon began to symbolise
a future of renewable energy in Australia’s collective consciousness. A
study uncovered from 2016 states that in that year 5.3% of Australia’s total
electricity demand was accounted for by wind power – a significantly smaller
percentage than the years that followed. In the early era of wind power, the
abundance and relatively low cost of fossil fuels meant that wind turbines
were less viable in this period. With the reducing costs of turbines and
solar panels an increased supply of renewables in the market early forms
of renewable energy – such as wind power – began to penetrate our energy
system.
One early and prolific example was Flow Power’s deal with Ararat Windfarm
in 2017 which allowed Flow Power to connect Australian businesses to low
cost and clean power through corporate Power Purchasing Agreements
(PPA’s). Under these agreements customers leverage low cost power when
it’s available and reduce demand on the grid during peaks. This had the effect
of firming the output of the windfarm and supported the electricity grid.

Fossil Fuel, discontinued 2020’s- Coal rocks (carbon, hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen and nitrogen)
Finite energy sources, commonly referred to as ‘Fossil Fuels’, were a
dominant source of energy for a large part of modern history, creating a
stable ‘baseload power’ for the economies of the world. The Industrial
Revolution of the 19th century relied upon these fuels – such as these coal
rocks – to power the factories that restructured our settlement patterns and
relationship to work. Workers moved from the countryside to cities to find
employment in factories with machines powered by fuels such as coal.
Increasing recognition of the environmental cost of fossil fuels and its finite
nature, contributed to it being almost entirely discontinued by the 2020’s.

Live Power Price Monitor, manufactured 2017 -SMART Power Flow Controller
In the mid-to-late 2010’s on site electricity management devices became
readily available allowing electricity consumers to monitor and control their
electricity usage as part of the Internet of Things revolution. This came at a
time when consumers were re-connecting with the live price of power, finally
frustrated with inefficient fixed rate contracts. The devices also paved the
way for early Demand Response protocols, which are now integral to our
energy system’s operation. Previously, on site power price monitors were only
available for medium to large businesses. They have since been extended to
the individual energy user, across homes around the world.

Power Grid Board Game, designed 2004 – Printed board game base (paper, ink, cardboard substrate) & player tokens
Since the start of the 21st century the relationship between power producers,
power users and the power grid have undergone numerous changes. This
board game, designed in 2004 exemplifies the power grid and its systems of
exchange as they were in the early 2000’s; whereby coal fired power stations
feature as the dominant producer and therefore a valuable asset in the game.
Outdated processes transforming natural resources into commodities, create
the rules which form the foundation of the board game.
In 2017, the Finkel Review outlined three key problems in the market which
was in crisis: affordability, sustainability and reliability, known otherwise
as the trilemma. Solving the trilemma was achieved by reconnecting the
consumer to generation, up taking renewables and focussing on the needs
of the customer. Flow Power paved the way for this holistic approach in their
model in the 2010’s, which put the customer back into the equation.

Wine Bottles, manufactured 2043 -Auto-milled glass bottle & auto-printed biodegradable hybrid foil-cork
Many past predictions about the world’s future have resulted in Utopian
visions of everyday objects, paired with speculations about the energy used
to make them. Popular culture in 1960’s America, with the proliferation of
fibreglass and accessibility of oil, envisaged a future of seamless spaceshiplike
interiors and furniture. Speculations of the future often seemed to be
linked to a new, considered aesthetic; with less considered ideas about how
to navigate issues such as recyclability, labour and the embodied energy of
objects.
These wine bottles are produced from 100% renewable energy, 100%
recyclable content and 0% human labour – yet they appear visually identical
to those of the 20th century. Companies who partnered with Flow Power as
customers in the 2010’s were at the front of their industries. As the market
evolved, these early customers continued to pursue better uses of energy and
resources. An early example (amongst many other Flow Power customers)
are Idyll Wines, who paved the way for the wine bottles exhibited here.

Re-Makeable Shoe, released 2029 – Heat sensitive translucent bio-plastic
Acquired by V&A London
Throughout history, a consumers relationship to energy and the production
of their everyday objects has changed. Furthermore, what makes a product
‘sustainable’ has shifted, particularly in relation to energy. Once upon a
time, a sustainable product for producers and consumers was durable
and required little energy to make. With increases in the transferability and
accessibility of energy, products that required ongoing energy to remake
themselves became desirable to consumers; compared to less recyclable,
more durable products that didn’t need to be regularly remade.
The ‘Re-Makeable Shoe’, exemplifies this phenomenon, allowing the
consumer to remake and reset the durability of the product on a daily
basis, with the assistance of readily available remaking device. This model
highlights the closer, involved relationship that consumers developed with
their energy use throughout the 2020’s.

Demand Response For Kids, released 2027 – Electronic children’s book
At the beginning of the 21st century prior to the implementation of Demand
Response – and its uptake into society – information about energy production
and distribution was inaccessible to most people. Beyond increased
efficiencies in energy production technologies, historic changes in energy
took place with the introduction of new policy and financial initiatives after
2020, making the terms Demand Response and Wholesale (which were
formally technical terms specific to the energy sector) common concepts
of the everyday. This is a children’s electronic book which demonstrates
how the concepts of “buying wholesale” and “demand response” became
normalised and effected society and culture. Companies such as Flow Power
were pivotal in making this transition, making these concepts accessible to
their wider customer base early on. This electronic book along with many
other publications centred upon the implications of Demand Response and
the increased accessibility of wholesale power which took place in the 2010’s
and 2020’s.

Blockchain Mining Rig (Incomplete), built 2017 – Cooling fans, CPU, motherboard, power supply, risers & aluminium frame
Energy data from 2017 shows that the total energy required to mine Bitcoin
(the most prolific cryptocurrency of the time), exceeded the national energy
consumption of the Republic of Ireland. At the time 8% of the world’s energy
was created via the burning of fossil fuels. With accessible renewable energy
resources, and improved efficiencies in blockchain specific computing,
blockchain technology has had a different impact on our environment since
its adoption in the late 2010’s. Blockchain technology allowed users to
transfer excess energy to others outside of a mediating entity. It paved the
way for a new relationship between those that use and contribute to the
world’s energy resources. This device, built in 2017, could have contributed
to early blockchain energy initiatives (such as Power Ledger), which began an
initiative toward a decentralized, peer-to-peer exchange of energy.

Fixed Rate Energy Contract, discontinued 2020’s – Partly recycled paper & digitally printed ink
The 2010’s saw the decline of the fixed rate energy contract. Once upon
a time energy was almost entirely purchased through fixed rate contracts,
drawn up by utility companies. Consumers typically paid for their energy
in monthly or quarterly bills, which were stipulated in contracts that were
commonly twelve months to three years in length. Energy users were forced
to pay premium prices to cover the “chance” that the price would spike on the
market. This contractual system drove prices up, disadvantaging Australian
businesses. It also disconnected the consumer from who and what produced
the energy that they were using, as well as eliminating the incentives for
Demand Response initiatives. Alternatives to the fixed rate contract enabled
consumers to understand and decide how they use the world’s resources in
their everyday lives. As one of the first wholesale retailers, Flow Power were
pivotal in disrupting the acceptance of fixed rate contracts.