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Coalition deepens interest in battery storage

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The federal government has again shown its support for battery storage technology as a key player in Australia’s future energy mix, with a strong presence at an Energy Storage Summit in Canberra on Wednesday.

The Federal Parliament Energy Storage Summit, which was to focus on the support and promotion of local research and innovation in battery storage in Australia, kicked off with a keynote address by federal resources minister, Josh Frydenberg, and was attended by some of the more conservative members of the Coalition, including former deputy PM Warren Truss and WA Liberal MP Dennis Jensen.

The ESC’s John Grimes told RenewEconomy that Frydenberg’s “off the cuff” speech was refreshingly supportive and positive about the role of battery storage in the Australian energy landscape, and stressed the importance of a bipartisan approach to policy to support its roll-out.

Grimes said Frydenberg was also supportive of the fact that battery storage would empower individuals and consumers, in particular, in the energy market, allowing them to maximise the benefits of their rooftop solar generation.simpliphi-power-oes-2-6-smart-tech-battery-array-install-600-600

Frydenberg’s upbeat comments gel with those made by federal environment minister Greg Hunt late last year, in an interview with ABC TV’s Lateline.

In the interview, Hunt said it was inevitable that significant numbers of consumers would use battery storage to leave the grid in coming years, and repeated his vow to help accelerate the deployment of battery technology.

“Increasingly we will see the adoption of battery storage, which is the key thing to enable people to go off the grid. This is clearly the future,” Hunt said.

“The debate is how long it takes and the task for government is to help bring that forward.”

Whether or not Hunt acts on this observation, battery storage is rapidly getting more and more accessible to consumers. Among the battery storage and energy industry representatives at the Summit – which ranged from battery makers Redflow, Redback and Allgrid Energy to a representative from Queensland utility Ergon Energy – the talk focused on the changing economy for residential battery systems, which were seeing pay-back periods shrink to as little as 5 years in some cases.

At the network level, Grimes said there was still “a bit of a hang up” about who would pay for the grid, as more and more rooftop solar plus battery systems took households behind the meter.

And on the subject of large-scale energy storage, the message was that networks were still struggling to find a way to monetise these investments.


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  • JeffJL

    Remember that this is a government which does not walk the public talk.

    They have plenty of practice at saying what looks good and then doing something that works against it. Look at their supportive comments re domestic violence and then their removal of funding for bodies which are working to reduce domestic violence.

    • solarguy

      To right Jeff!
      I implore anyone to look between the lines with what the say. There full of BS. They know what should happen but will do nothing because the FF industry is in the pockets.

  • Governments were not able to stop the “Kodak” moment or the uptake of mobile/cell phones.Technology and the market will win the day!

  • solarguy

    Reback only sells inverter/chargers, their not in the battery business. And 5yrs payback on hybrid systems is a laugh in most cases.

    • Jo

      “5yrs payback on hybrid systems is a laugh in most cases.”
      Meaning?

      • solarguy

        Meaning that for most, $12k will be about the cheapest price for 6kwh of storage. That’s not possible to save $2,400/yr to get the ROI in that short a period.

  • SM

    Batteries at the consumer level may support the installation of larger solar systems but as a retrofit they’re just for gaming tariffs and do not result in any additional renewable energy. In fact as batteries are not 100% efficient they’re potentially adding to demand.

    • solarguy

      Well you do get additional RE, by way of saving it for night periods, where otherwise it’s going to the grid for SFA and your buying grid power in peak for 50 cents/kwh. PV isn’t adding to the demand regardless of a battery’s efficientcy.

      • SM

        Batteries don’t create energy they just allow it to be stored for later use a service that the grid provides more efficiently … e.g. a little of your excess daytime solar energy that could have been 100% used by your neighbor if you’d put it into the grid is wasted by the losses in your storage system. Point is It all comes down to tariff structures, cost and individual preferences.
        The government’s attraction to batteries is because they’re pale green but don’t compete directly with FF generation unlike wind and solar i.e. more of the same.
        Getting much more wind and solar onto the grid will require the grid companies not individuals to put batteries into the network for services other than just shifting energy … a trend I’m not observing in Australia.

        • solarguy

          Well of course batteries don’t make energy, but they save it don’t they.

        • Alistair Spong

          While i think your right about tariffs etc ,you miss the point that in doing so this further reduces peak demands on the grid in the evenings. This should be a positive for grid reliability and further lower wholesale electricity prices.

  • Ian

    Coal is only competitive if it’s power stations run 24/7. It can churn out electricity constantly. Solar and wind tend to supply power at times when demand is highest, in the day. Coal is thus relegated to supplying power when it is not really needed. Batteries can soak up the electricity generated and release it at other times – perfect for restoring the demand for coal generated power. This must be the motivation behind the government and their network handlers for supporting battery storage. We should embrace this support for batteries while it lasts. Why would they not support pumped hydro? That’s storage on a large scale, and relatively cheap.

    It’s got to be said: ‘ Batteries restore balance to the force, they do.’