There is a lot of focus on the ability of battery storage to shift peaks and store energy for hours, or even days. But energy systems with high renewables penetration will need longer term solutions – hydrogen, compressed air, pumped hydro are three technologies being looked at in Australia and elsewhere.
Networks are facing the biggest challenge to their business model since poles and wires were first erected a century ago. It will need new concepts such as a ‘thin pipe’ model to control costs, retain customers and avoid having stranded assets. Otherwise, they will fall victim to solar ‘guerrillas’.
Which suburb, or town, will be the first to take itself off-grid in Australia? It’s now a serious question, driven by the plunging cost of solar and the arrival of battery storage. ARENA, meanwhile, is looking at novel ways to ensure rooftop solar is available to the lowest income households, renters, and apartment dwellers.
Ergon Energy, which operates the sprawling regional electricity network that covers 97 per cent of Queensland, says ‘times are changing’ and renewables and battery storage may soon be cheaper for domestic consumers than grid power. But it warns that current subsidies are delaying innovation and investment.
Australia has the opportunity to revolutionise electricity supplies, but is stuck in a policy vacuum. Solar ‘s attraction will never be realised without storage.
The CEO of New Zealand network operator Vector intends to broaden the rollout of its solar storage leasing package, and expects up to a third of all consumers will generate and store their own electricity. He says too many networks are locked in an old paradigm, shovelling “dumb capital” into legacy assets and passing the cost on to consumers.
Big things are happening in both the cost and innovation of energy storage and energy management. The solar revolution has only just begun.
More on why UBS says solar PV is becoming a “no-brainer” for households in some European countries, and why battery storage will be the second major game changer. We look deeper at the numbers, and what this means for utilities – just as more fossil fuel plant closures were foreshadowed in Germany because of the rise in solar.
GM and ABB have found a use for old EV batteries – an energy storage system that can support solar PV and provide emergency backup power.
Horizon Power now requires solar smoothing devices for PV installations on parts of their network. Another step forward to storage.