Report highlights opportunity for low-carbon energy storage

The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) has released a report co-funded with the Office of the Chief Scientist that calls for the Australian government to ensure that appropriate policy settings are put in place to drive growth in energy storage technology and investment as part of the future low-carbon economy.

The report, The Role of Energy Storage in Australia's Future Energy Supply Mix, examines the scientific, technological, economic and social aspects of the role that energy storage can play in Australia’s transition to a low-carbon economy to 2030, and beyond.

It found that almost 60 per cent of people surveyed preferred a scenario comprised of a higher renewables mix in 2030, and nearly three-quarters of this group preferred energy storage, rather than coal and gas, to bolster grid reliability.

It also warns that without proper planning and investment in energy storage, electricity costs in Australia will continue to rise and electricity supply will become less reliable.

It identifies significant energy storage technology opportunities for Australia across global supply chains

“Australia has world-class resources of raw materials used in battery manufacturing, most notably lithium. Our raw materials, together with our world-class expertise in the development of energy storage solutions, including batteries, the design of software and hardware to optimise integration in smart energy systems, and expertise in the design and deployment of systems for off-grid energy supply and micro-grids, demonstrate that Australia has the potential to become a world leader.

“While the possibility of Australia becoming a manufacturer of existing battery technologies is highly unlikely, there is opportunity for manufacturing of next generation battery technologies. This is particularly true in niche markets such as situations where safety is paramount, defence applications, and for Australia’s high ambient temperature conditions.

“Given that current lithium-ion technology was not designed for stationary storage or electric vehicles, but for portable electronics, then an Australian technology that is purposed for a specific application (e.g. hot conditions or defence applications) could underpin the establishment and growth of a local manufacturing capability.

“There is a legitimate role for governments to ensure that the right policy settings are enacted to drive growth in energy storage. Policy leadership will result in innovation, investment, the establishment of new high technology industries, the growth of existing high technology industries and increased or new energy exports.

“A proactive approach will provide the opportunity for Australia to lead and facilitate re-skilling of workforces and the creation of jobs across all levels of the value chain from mining and manufacturing through to consumer spending.”

ACOLA President, Professor John Fitzgerald, said the report was the first of a series of ‘horizon scanning’ reports.

"By working closely with the Office of the Chief Scientist ACOLA aims to present evidence-based reports on key issues to the Prime Minister’s Commonwealth Science Council to inform policy making and identify opportunities,” he said.

The report is available here.

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