Energy storage in Australia: The challenges and opportunities

Australia energy storage

As long as there has been an electric grid, companies have sought ways to safely and efficiently store energy so that it can be consumed on demand, output can be meticulously controlled, and the exact frequency of the energy distributed can be tightly regulated. In Australia, the emergence of cost effective distributed energy storage is a game changer in the electricity sector. It has transformed how electricity is being generated, transported and traded by enabling self-sufficient end user micro grids, fully utilized distributed networks and eliminating wholesale price hikes.

The cost of energy storage has been the cause of this increment. The role of enabling technologies such as energy storage is becoming more important as Australia moves toward higher penetrations of intermittent renewable generation such as solar and wind power. In order for Australia to have renewable market efficiency and lower the costs, it is important to support the development of new markets for enabling technologies.

Energy storage is perhaps the most significant enabling technology, providing the ability to both smooth and shift renewable generation to match demands. Residential Energy Storage system in Australia is giving the Australians a leeway to this problem.

Natural Advantages of Renewable Energy Storage

• When frequency needs to be lowered, this is traditionally done through generators ready to disconnect (i.e. withholding energy), or loads ready to connect (i.e. consuming energy), at short notice. In the case of storage, energy is neither consumed nor withheld – it is stored, and can be discharged at a later time in order to raise the frequency (or for any other purpose). Effectively, storage can be paid twice, an option not available to other providers

• Most storage technologies can operate at partial output levels relatively efficiently, and can respond to signals from the market operator very quickly compared to most other types of conventional generation.

• A single storage device can be used effectively for both frequency raising as load increases and frequency lowering as load decreases; conventional providers can usually only offer one service or the other.

• The volume of energy storage required would be well beyond what existing or foreseeable storage technology could offer.

• Providing the service would require always having stored, i.e. undischargable energy, at hand, which would effectively reduce the storage device’s available capacity to every other application to which it might be put.

RELATED: New lithium battery now shipping throughout Australia, New Zealand 

Australia’s energy storage devices

One of Australia’s made energy storage device developer is Magellan Power. It is a WA-based developer of power electronics with a focus on distributed energy systems such as grid connected rooftop solar panels. They provide solar smoothing and solar export control devices and several lines of energy storage devices for home and businesses that are well suited specifically for Austrian conditions.

This is the RES1 and RES3. They are approved for use anywhere in Australia. The RES1 offers 9.2 kWh of energy storage capacity for homes, while RES3 provides 13.8 kWh. Both of them are designed and built in Australia with Australian conditions in mind and can be installed anywhere including a garage, shed or even outside. Apart from the Magellan Power, Solari Energy’s SolaGRID Energy Storage System (ESS) is a stand alone energy storage system suitable for any sized solar energy installation. It comes with audible alarm safety device in case of faults.

There are several commercial energy storage solutions available in Australia. One of them is the CESS. Commercial energy storages helps businesses reduce their reliance on the electricity grid, thus allowing them time allows to continue running appliances in the event of a power outage. CESS has a storage capacity of between 50-500 kwh.

Australia’s renewable energy storage target

Australia’s renewable energy storage target is split into two divides: Large scale (LRET), which is set at 41,000 GWh y 2020, and small scale (SRES) with no set limit. LRET covers large scale renewable energy projects such as wind farms, commercial scale solar and geothermal. It is to deliver the majority of the 2020 target and includes legislated annual targets. The SRES covers small generation units like small scale photovaltic, small wind turbines and micro hydroelectric systems and solar heaters, which can create small technology certificates (STCs). PV systems up to 100 kWh can claim up to 15 years worth of STCs up front up to 2016, but each year from then on will receive one year less deeming, in line with the RET completion date of 2030

Economic issues on energy storage in Australia

They range from incentives and vested interests in nature, lack of transparency/ asymmetric information, market signals and distortions, and competitiveness of storage.

Click 2 for a deep dive into the economic issues as well as some potential solutions

— Solar Builder magazine







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