A new report into energy storage commissioned by chief scientist Alan Finkel highlights the enormous opportunities for storage in Australia, but underlines how little is actually needed over the short to medium term, even at relatively high levels of wind and solar.
The report, The role of Energy Storage in Australia’s Future Energy Supply Mix, funded by Finkel’s office and the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), says the required investment in energy security and reliability over the next 5-10 years will be minimal (see graph above), even if wind and solar deployment moves far beyond levels contemplated by the Energy Security Board.
The contrast with the ESB modelling – and the attempts by Coalition parties at state and federal level to dismiss high levels of renewable energy as “reckless’ – could not be more pronounced.
While the ESB, in arguing for a National Energy Guarantee, speaks of the system threats and urgency to act with a level of “variable” renewables accounting for between 18 and 24 per cent of total generation, this new report says surprising little storage may be needed with 35 per cent to 50 per cent wind and solar.
Even in the 50 per cent variable renewable energy scenario – more than double that contemplated at the high end by the ESB – the new report suggests enough battery storage may be available “behind the meter” – households and businesses – to meet the storage needs.
“The modelling provides reassurance that both reliability and security requirements may be met with readily available technologies,” it says.
“Nationally and regionally, the electricity system can reach penetrations of renewable energy close to 50 per cent without significant requirements for energy reliability storage.
“Reliability problems, such as those that recently occurred in South Australia and New South Wales, can be responded to quickly and effectively with appropriate storage.”
In one of the most detailed reports into energy storage, the authors point to the huge potential of battery and energy storage in Australia – both in core mineral resources, manufacturing of battery storage, R&D, deployment, and even renewable hydrogen.
At the same time, the report also warns that Australia needs to develop a recycling strategy for battery storage, and also needs to take into account other social aspects, such as the origins of lithium and cobalt.