As technology continues to transform the way we all work and live, exciting opportunities are emerging in the energy space. Developments across solar energy and storage, software, connected home and the Internet of Things are opening up ways to utilise renewable energy as well as make energy consumption more dynamic and efficient.

With our extensive national operations, including thousands of exchanges and a network of data centres and cables providing services to millions of consumers and businesses, Telstra is a reasonably heavy energy user. We have a longstanding program to deliver better environmental outcomes when it comes to energy. Last year, while the data loads carried over our network increased by 36%, our total carbon emissions decreased by 1.3% and our emissions intensity per terabyte of data fell by 27%. As an example of what we are doing to reduce emissions, our Operations team recently installed solar power systems at our Lyndhurst and Deer Park Exchanges in Victoria.

We are now establishing a dedicated project team to identify ways that technology can help improve our energy efficiency even further and to see what opportunities might exist to collaborate with other companies on energy initiatives.

Heading up this team will be Ben Burge, who is joining Telstra in the coming weeks from online renewable energy company Powershop. Ben will bring extensive experience in the energy and technology sectors and we are excited by the potential to combine his knowledge with our expertise in networks and connectivity.

As a company with a large portfolio of physical infrastructure across Australia, we see some real opportunities to use technology to become more efficient at managing our energy use. Solar energy and improvements in battery technology will be an area of particular focus, and we are looking at potential partnerships with energy and technology companies as well as our enterprise customers.

The home is another area where technology is creating opportunities in the energy sector.

Telstra connects more Australians to the things they love and enjoy than anyone else, and the number and diversity of things to connect is rapidly increasing. I attended CES in Las Vegas this year and saw everything from smart dishwashers that run themselves when energy costs are lowest, to an app integrating weather data with home thermostats, to the much publicised connected fridge.

Driven by these sorts of products, researchers have forecast the number of connected machines to increase to more than 10 billion by 2019. Energy related devices, such as smart meters, smart light bulbs and connected white goods, are helping drive compound annual growth for Connected Home devices of more than 25% over this period.

As part of being a world class technology company empowering people to connect, we are looking at the opportunities to help customers monitor and manage many different aspects of the home, including energy. This is all part of delivering what our customers want in an increasingly connected world.