ARENA still has $700m to spend, to bring down cost of storage | RenewEconomy

ARENA still has $700m to spend, to bring down cost of storage

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ARENA says much of its remaining $700m-plus could be could be directed towards large-scale energy storage projects, to bring down costs as it has done with large-scale solar.

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AES battery storage.The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has tipped 2018 to be the year of large-scale energy storage, as it focuses its efforts and remaining funds on integrating large-scale solar and wind into the national grid.

In an address to the Large Scale Solar and Storage conference, co-hosted by RenewEconomy in Sydney on Monday, ARENA investment director Dan Sturrock said that the agency had more than $700 million in its kitty to spend on accelerating the integration of renewable energy technology in Australia.

Much of this, he suggested, could be directed towards large-scale energy storage projects, including pumped hydro and battery storage projects, as ARENA worked to bring down costs in the same way it has already done with large-scale solar.

“As we sit here today, we still have more than $700 million to spend over the next few years,” he said.

“In the same sort of way that we (used ARENA) funds to bring down the costs of large-scale solar PV, we hope to do the same for other technologies, including storage, in particular.”

Sturrock said that ARENA’s large-scale solar funding rounds had shown “very quickly” how the program took the industry from being two-thirds subsidised to the point where it was now building some of the cheapest new generation capacity without any subsidy at all.

“We saw what was achieved in large-scale solar – that surprised many. Battery storage can do the same, but it’s a bit more complex.”

ARENAbatterychartARENAbattery chart2

Sturrock said ARENA had so far tipped a total of $20 million into three large batteries projects, including $12m for a 30MW/8MWh lithium-ion battery in South Australia – part of the Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration (ESCRI) project.

But he again stressed that taking energy storage technologies down the cost curve could be a more complex challenge than it was for large-scale solar, particularly against the backdrop of continued policy uncertainty around the proposed National Energy Guarantee.

“2018 could also be the year of the review,” Sturrock said, noting the number of consultation papers currently in the works, and of course the ongoing negotiations around the federal government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee.

“It’s a very complex technology, it’s a very flexible technology, but… the business case (for energy storage) is also quite complex and very challenging to get it to stack up,” Sturrock said.

“There are a number of financial opportunities and challenges, and ARENA working on all of these, he said,” pointing to the NEG’s reliability obligation as an example.

“This changes things for PV, and raises opportunities for storage.”

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  1. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    I reckon Lord Howe Island could get a bit of that. Even in the short term, they could use their diesel generators to charge up the batteries, until a better renewable solution came along. It would probably cut fuel use in half, and it would be a quieter place with less noise pollution.

    • Joe 3 years ago

      The Frydenberg there are no words with his LHI decision. But then again he doesn’t believe in RE so no real surprise there I guess. LHI is stuck with its diesel power situation until Labor wins the next election..

      • mick 3 years ago

        gday mate agree totally turdball is nearly extinct hopefully we get an absolute nazi so populace wake up and wipe them out im having a quiet chuckle about the tar pit escapies in banana land but to get to the point arena should spend every penny asap before gorgeous george or like ilk do something silly

  2. George Michaelson 3 years ago

    They invest for return, or return at risk? Is this money which keeps on giving or would profits wind up back paying down debt? Grants are one thing, investment another.

  3. juxx0r 3 years ago

    From what I’m seeing the best way for ARENA to drop the cost of storage is to pack up it’s bags and go home and let a competitive market take over.

    The other way is to put the whole damn lot into R&D for integration and sell boxes of smarts to integrate already cheap solar, wind and storage with the other stuff.

  4. RobertO 3 years ago

    Hi All, ARENA often spends its money on risky projects just to prove they are viable in Australia. Their history is extremely good (most of the time) with the fringe RE projects that banks will not under right, because the banks do not understand the risks. When they started they were able to provide grants to do projects (from a small amount up to about 50% of the costs. The COALition has changed the rules and they now have to get a refund of the money over time on most projects, which defeats the aims of ARENA, i.e. promoting RE in Australia

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