Imagine having a bank of clean energy at your fingertips. When the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing, you can rely on the power of renewables[Link will open in a new window].
Our Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap[Link will open in a new window] provides some bright solutions to the challenges of energy storage in the future.
Unlocking the power of renewables
Energy storage is a way of capturing energy that has been generated so that we can use it later, when and where it’s needed.
There are a number of ways to store energy, ranging from chemical, mechanical, thermal, and electrochemical. Our scientists found that we could need 10 to 14 times more energy storage capacity in the National Electricity Market by 2050 to ensure a reliable, sustainable and affordable energy system.
This is because storage is essential to the stability of our electricity grid. It can manage peaks in electricity supply and demand as we phase out fossil fuels and integrate more renewable energy into our grid.
In other words, storage gives us reliable access to clean energy, no matter the weather.
Storage also supports the energy transition for industries that are difficult to decarbonise. In Australia, many industries rely on natural gas to generate heat for industrial processes. These processes can be difficult to decarbonise through existing electrical options, but hydrogen and thermal storage technologies offer new approaches to lower emissions.
Storage also promotes energy independence, reducing reliance on the grid and minimising the impact of power outages. This is particularly important for Australia's remote industries and communities.
One technology won’t fit all needs
Meeting Australia’s energy needs is a complex challenge that we cannot solve with a single storage solution.
To find the right technology for every application, we must explore and leverage a large range of options. These include batteries, hydrogen, concentrated solar thermal, pumped hydro and an array of emerging innovations.
Establishing a robust pipeline of storage projects, supported by industry, government, research and the community, is vital to achieving steady progress to net zero.
But that’s easier said than done.
There’s an expected surge in energy demand as building and transport industries become electrified. To keep up with the surge, mature and emerging renewable storage technologies must overcome a multitude of challenges.
They must navigate significant knowledge gaps, while functioning in wildly diverse geographical locations and operating environments. So, what works for a food manufacturer relying on low or mid temperature process heat, may not be right for a remote off-grid mining operation
Anticipating future shifts in how energy is bought and sold, how we will connect with the electricity network and the cost of adopting new technologies is also essential.
Encouragingly, there are many technologies that we can already use. Plus Australia’s brightest scientific minds are innovating to transform the renewable energy storage of the future.
These technologies could revolutionise access to electricity in remote communities and support cost-effective decarbonisation in industry. Plus they could advance Australia into a green hydrogen export superpower.
Leading the charge
Now is the time for Australia to prioritise the investment and scale up of renewable energy storage to reach our net zero targets, while maintaining a reliable and affordable energy supply.
As Australia’s national science agency, we are uniquely equipped to connect, guide and accelerate our energy transition.
We've been at the forefront of energy storage research for more than 20 years. In that time we've been making strides in battery technology, ultracapacitors, hydrogen and renewable liquid fuels.
Our Renewable Energy Powerhouse Mission[Link will open in a new window] and Revolutionary Energy Storage Future Science Platform are establishing a collaborative network of partners and investing in next-generation storage technologies.
We have released the Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap in consultation with government and industry to ignite meaningful discussion on energy storage. It will help address uncertainties around net zero pathways and equip decision-makers with the tools to make informed decisions that will affect us all.