Which energy storage technology is going to power Australia’s future?

(Eco Business, 28 Jun 2019) Recent events in Australia indicate a growing appetite for renewable energy and energy storage in the energy sector. Pumped hydro, thermal energy storage, hydrogen—which form of storage will reign supreme Down Under?

New regulations and a growing share of renewables are changing the way the electricity market operates in Australia, opening up a playground for new energy storage technologies that could deliver a cleaner energy grid, said speakers at a conference in Sydney earlier this month.

New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary for Energy, Ben Franklin, told the audience: “Put simply, [people] want reliable, affordable power, and they expect action on climate change…We know that climate risk is impacting the design and future of electricity systems all over the world, with or without policy measures.”

As the cost of energy storage solutions like batteries slides down the cost curve, Australia has a chance to lead globally in the creation of large-scale electricity grids that can balance a high volume of renewable energy, Franklin said at the 2019 Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition.

The share of renewable in Australia’s energy mix has leapt from about 8.5 per cent to about 21 per cent since the early 2000s. In 2018, hydro power was 7.5 per cent of total power generation, with wind close behind at 7.1 per cent and small-scale solar power at 4.2 per cent, according to the Clean Energy Council.

But the intermittency of wind or solar energy—that is, power generation that is inconstant and depends on the weather—is proving to be a stumbling block in scaling up clean energy.  

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Eco Business, 28 Jun 2019: Which energy storage technology is going to power Australia’s future?