The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is backing the development of a national energy storage “knowledge bank”, based out of the University of Adelaide, as part of an important next step in the research and development of what is fast becoming a major new industry.
ARENA said on Tuesday it was providing $1.4 million towards the collaborative project that would develop an online energy storage R&D hub as well as a mobile energy storage test facility.
Also backing the project will be South Australian network operator, SA Power Networks, the Energy Networks Association, Solar Storage Australia and the South Australian government, with a combined contribution of $650,000.
“Reliable, cost effective storage has a vital role to play in smoothing out energy supply and increasing the amount of renewable energy used in Australia,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht in a statement on Wednesday.
“The new knowledge bank will act as a central repository of energy storage expertise, bringing together reports and case studies, along with information on regulation, reliability, safety, operation and performance of energy storage systems in Australia.
The mobile energy storage facility, said Frischknecht, would be able to conduct independent simulated and field testing of a range of technologies and generate high resolution data for the knowledge bank.
“This project is set to build industry confidence in energy storage technologies and has the potential to accelerate investment in grid connected and remote locations, particularly where there are high levels of renewable energy generation,” he said.
“It demonstrates ARENA’s commitment to funding knowledge sharing activities and will play a key role advancing Australia’s energy storage market both on and off the grid.”
University of Adelaide Associate Professor Nesimi Ertugrul – a leader of the project – said industry participation would be critical to its success.
“We expect battery storage to become a major industry over the next five to 10 years, offering solutions from small domestic to very large-scale applications,” he said.
“The University of Adelaide is pleased to be leading this project that will provide technology developers with valuable resources and assist electricity infrastructure operators to better manage the integration of renewable energy into power systems.”
Integration specialists Power and Drive Solutions and ZEN Energy Systems are providing in-kind expertise and support to build the test facility, which is scheduled for deployment at the first site on the SA Power Networks grid by early 2016.