Life of the association

CIGRE Australia - Cairns Symposium was a blast

Cairns, Australia
4-7 September 2023

CIGRE Cairns Symposium has been a success by any measure; over 1300 attendees, over 50 sponsors and exhibitors, 240 presentations, 12 tutorials and workshops and 51 meetings of committees and working groups.

We all made the trek to Cairns for the event, and to take in the sights of the Australian Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rain Forest and the other events.

The Australian National Committee conceived and orchestrated a fantastic event — actually three coordinated events — an international Symposium with 11 Study Committees, the Australian Conference on Integrating DER (CIDER) and the South East Asia conference on Protecion and Controal (SEAPAC).

Delegates and authors had four days of lunches, teas and dinners to connect, discuss and interact.  Morning and afternoon teas, and lunches, were provided in the Arena, which housed the exhibitors and there was plenty of space to catch up with colleagues and the exhibitors.

… CIGRE Cairns symposium was a total blast! 🚀 #Connect with colleagues and friends from around the globe, getting an inside look at awesome power system engineering practices worldwide

The symposium combined formal sessions with time to connect and discuss the issues

Feedback from the attendees

There are many  testaments on LinkedIn and other social media recording people’s enjoyment of this event — see the some quotes above — and we have received many emails from delegates. 

What an incredible experience CIGRE 2023 has been! The 4-day International Symposium in Cairns has left me both enriched with knowledge and connected with amazing professionals in the field.

22% of the attendees responded to our survey and 82% of them rated the Symposium as better or much better than expected with  Ninety-four percent of them saying the Symposium was very good or excellent.

Asked for the standout aspects of the conference, attendees noted the quality and variety of the papers, the breadth and number of attendees and the opportunties for meetings and interactions.

I was very excited to have the opportunity to present on my work at the CIGRE Symposium in Cairns last week. The conference was incredible and there were so many exceptional presentations.

Congratulations to those that made the Symposium a success

Congratulations for the success of the event must go to:

  • Phil Southwell, the event chair, and the Steering Committee
  • Terry Killen, the CEO of the ANC and who conceived and project managed the event, together with:
    • Deb Haddock, the unflappable conference organiser with her team of supporters and volunteers
    • Brendan Watterson, who coordinated the AV with his team
    • Kerry Domann (Nigel), MC, comedian and magician who provided the entertainment during the week.
  • Alex Cruickshank, who co-ordinated the technical paper selection and co-chaired the TOC with Jayme Darriba Macêdo, who coordinated preparation of the proceedings.  Both worked with the Technical Organising Committee, which included the other 9 Study Committee chairs, to deliver the papers, tutorials, workshops and presentations.
  • Ray Brown and SC C6 for organising the papers and presentations for CIDER
  • Peter Bishop and SC B5 for organising the presentations for SEAPAC
  • The authors and presenters, as well as the reviewers, for their efforts and contributions to the event.
  • Andrew Halley of TasNetworks, for arranging the technical tours.

Opening session

The Symposium opening saw a Welcome to Country from the Minjil people, the local Aborigines, who welcomed the attendees and peformed traditional dances and the Wiwin (a traditional gift giving ceremony).

The session was then opened by Australian Chairman Dr. Sean McGoldrick and saw presentations from Keynote Speakers Mr David Shankey, Deputy Director Energy for the Queensland Government and Mr Adam Middleton, VP Western Europe, Siemens Energy. 

We also had addresses from Mr Michel Augonnet, President of CIGRE, Mr Philippe Adam, Secretary General, Mr Marcio Szechtman, Chair of the Technical Council and Mr Phil Southwell, the chair of the Symposium. 

I was honoured to be asked to speak at the CIGRE Cairns 2023 Symposium as one of the keynote presenters.
For me, helping our industry to take practical and substantial steps on the energy transition and its growth on an industrial scale is core to my responsibilities.
The event in Cairns, with over 1300 delegates, was an important step in sharing best practices and setting new challenges on how we move our industry and society forward.

CIGRE Learning Program — some statistics

The Symposium was part of the CIGRE knowledge programme and attracted 339 synopses from 35 countries and over 1,000 authors. The 11 Study Committees and their review panels — 184 reviewers in total — conducted 1,561 reviews, including providing guidance to authors.  This resulted in 243 papers from 30 Countries being accepted. During the Symposium 240 of these papers were presented by the authors or colleagues.  Of thse papers

  • 119 were from Australia or New Zealand
  • 29 were from Japan, the next highest contributing country

There were also 10 tutorials and 2 workshops presented by the Study Committees.

The Symposium was conducted in parallel to two biennical Australian conferences:

  • Conference on the Integration of Distributed Energy Resources. There were 32  presentations at CIDER, including 11 papers that were selected via the Symposium process
  • South East Asia Protection and Automation Conference. There were 31 presentations at SEAPAC

Importantly, there were also 51 meetings of Study Committees, advisory & working groups and Australian panels during the period from Saturday 2 September to Friday 8 September, using the Cairns Conference Centre as well as much of the facilities of the Pullman International Hotel. 

The Technical Council met on the Friday and the eleven  Study Committees held their meetings and SAG/WG meetings during the week.

All of these meetings were able to include remote attendees, although the time zone differences no doubt reduced remote attendance. 

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Symposium proceedings

The proceedings of the Symposium, comprising the papers, presentations and summaries of the discussions will be available to delegates that attended the symposium, via links mailed to them.

In addition, the proceedings of the Symposium and the recordings of the tutorials will be available from e‑CIGRE.

The best papers from each Study Committee are to be published in Electra CSE.  With so many quality papers, the SC Chairs are  having difficulty selecting just one per SC.

CLICK HERE to View all Photos and Videos from the event

Antonio Iliceto with a Koala

Participants ready for a "Duck" tour of the rainforest.  The DUKW,   pronounced “duck”, is an amphibious vehicle from WW2


One of the features of the Cairns Symposium was CIGRE Chat.  This was an informal news type one-on-one interview held in the main exhibition hall.  The keynote speakers as well as some sponsors and CIGRE executive took the opportunity to be interviewed and to discuss their product and/or the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition from their perspectives.  These interviews are available free on the CIGRE Australia You Tube channel.

Preparation for the event


One of the key reasons the Cairns Symposium was so successful is that it was the culmination of a very detailed planning and organisation process which spanned 5 years.  This ramped up during the last 18 months including a significant marketing and promotion stand at the 2022 Paris Session.

We only had a relatively small team of four core people, however each team member had defined and agreed areas of responsbility and were supported to deliver the results required in their area of expertise.  The core team was augmented for the final preparation phase and the conference by a number of volunteers. Each aspect of the symposium was workshopped and potential issues addressed.

The core team conducted an on-site review of the facilities in June, running through the physical steps for each day.  The team and volunteers then arrived some days ahead of the Symposium to prepare the materials for each attendee:

  • 1,300 Lanyards, name tags and indivualised packets containing relevant passes to the events.  This was a small team on the Thursday and Friday prior to the Symposium.
  • 1,300 bags that had to be made up from over 50,000 individual items that had been delivered in boxes and pallets to the centre.  That took a team of about 20 people most of Saturday!

Closing remarks

It seems the Cairns23 Symposium has broken many CIGRE records, from the most number of delegates, number of exhibitors and the number of presentations and papers delivered.  Overall the Symposium was well received and enjoyed by delegates and provided not only the expert broad technical opinion and input that CIGRE is known for, but also provided a platform for renewal of old acquaintances and development of new regional and global technical contacts which will no doubt serve delegates for many years.

The Local organising Committee is proud to have been able to present the Symposium and to have it recognised as a global success and again thanks all those involved in its organisation, the sponsors exhibitors, presenters and of course the delegates for their support and attendance.

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