Over 2 million Australian households and businesses have now installed solar panels on their rooftops, with a total capacity of more than double that of Australia’s largest coal power station. In December 2018 alone, over 22,000 small-scale (household) solar systems were installed. One third of all households in South Australia and Queensland now have rooftop solar.
There is a wide range of energy storage technologies – pumped hydro, batteries, heat storage, flywheels and compressed air amongst others – which can be paired with renewable energy to produce reliable and clean electricity 24/7. Storage technologies will enable Australia to transition to very high levels of wind and solar while ensuring that electricity supply remains secure and reliable.
Energy storage technologies can provide a range of services to the electricity grid. These include:
- Storing excess renewable energy during the middle of the day and discharging it in the evenings, reducing pressure on the grid.
- Providing frequency control services to maintain the stability of the grid and the security of electricity supply.
- Smoothing out minor variations in renewable energy output.
- Covering the missing supply from fossil fuel generators when they experience outages.
Careful deployment of energy storage across Australia’s electricity system, together with higher levels of renewable energy, will reduce greenhouse gas pollution from the electricity sector and ensure the security and reliability of the electricity system.
Household Battery Storage
Australia is expected to be one of the largest markets for household battery storage due to the high cost of electricity, the large number of households with solar panels and Australia’s excellent solar resources. In 2017, more than 20,000 Australian households installed a household battery storage system, more than three times as many as were installed in 2016.
Large-scale Battery Storage
Australia is also becoming home to large-scale batteries, which can be built alongside large wind and solar farms. There are a range of projects planned or under construction in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
Australia’s first and largest battery has already started working. In South Australia, the most powerful lithium-ion battery in the world began operating in late 2017, less than 6 months after construction began.
Since then another five batteries have begun operating including two in Victoria, one in the Northern Territory, one in Queensland and another one in South Australia. Another four big batteries are under construction.