The energy storage sector is on the crest of a wave and is now unstoppable, according to chief executive of the Energy Storage Council John Grimes.
The ESC hosted a summit at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday in partnership with the Parliamentary Alliance for Research and Innovation, with 34 companies from within the sector represented, in addition to MPs and senators from all major parties.
Mr Grimes said it was positive to hear federal Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg talking up the need for a bipartisan approach to renewable energy storage.
“He talked about putting power into the hands of consumers,” Mr Grimes said.
There was also a lot of interest around the benefits of storage for rural and remote communities, particularly from Nationals leader Warren Truss.
This topic was a core part of AllGrid Energy chief executive Raymond Pratt’s presentation, as the company has a strong focus on providing storage and solar systems for remote communities.
- See our story Aboriginal-owned energy company one-upping Tesla
Mr Pratt said storage offered a pathway to “energy independence” for these communities.
For those in urban settings, it gives residential energy customers the ability to achieve better reductions in power bills, because if people are working away from home all day and not using the power, and not gaining a good feed-in tariff, installing panels alone might not result in substantial savings.
“It’s an education process,” Mr Pratt said.
There were also discussions around who would end up paying for the grid if more people became self-reliant, Mr Grimes said.
“We just need a level playing field,” he said, though mentioned it was a very optimistic time for the storage sector. The price for storage is rapidly establishing itself as financially viable, just as the technology has proven itself to be reliable and effective.
Research the ESC has been involved in around the market for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles has shown that when the production capacity doubles, prices reduce by around 20 per cent.
Mr Grimes expects this will start to happen with storage for stationary applications, and said there was smart research and development happening in Australia around flow battery systems and lead acid batteries for stationary uses.
Demand coming from commercial property
He said there was expected to soon be major demand for combined solar and storage from the commercial property sector. The structure of tariffs that combine a capacity payment and then the charge for actual kilowatt-hours used meant that installing solar and storage – which can reduce the peak tariff capacity payment – could cut a significant amount from energy bills.
What is not so rosy, despite the positive words from Mr Frydenberg, is that the Turnbull Government has not removed the bills for abolishing ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from the Parliamentary notice papers.
Mr Grimes said a vote could be happen on those bills any day, and despite the fact Mr Turnbull could have dropped them off the papers, the more time that goes by where he hasn’t, the more concerned the industry gets.
There was also no mention of renewable energy combined with storage in the Infrastructure Plan.
“You have to make a choice about this stuff, and those choices have to be made early,” Mr Grimes said.
“Planners and governments ignore this stuff at their peril.”
He said the market would respond to the increasing availability and affordability of renewable energy and storage systems for it, because “the public want greater control” over their energy.
Other speakers included Mark Paterson, domain leader – grids & renewable energy integration, CSIRO Energy; Bruce Ebzery from Redflow Limited; Michelle Taylor, manager technology development, Ergon Energy; Luke Osborne, chief operating officer, Reposit Power; and managing director of Redback Technologies Philip Livingston.