Leading the charge for a battery-powered world

John_Martin_New_Energy_SolarJohn Martin21 September 2018

Last year, the uptake of battery storage in Australia increased threefold when compared to the year before,1 positioning the country as a global leader in this emerging market.2

As previously discussed, there was “extraordinary growth” in the Australian battery industry following 7,000 installations that occurred during the first half of 2017 (up from a total of 6,500 over the 2016 calendar year) – a number expected to increase again in 2018.3 According to the Australian Financial Review, Australia’s global lead in battery installations is “staggering” in a market that is only just beginning and has huge capacity for growth.4 In fact, a number of state governments have jumped on the battery bandwagon by committing funds to renewables in an effort to further battery installations and storage capacity across the country.

In September, the South Australian government confirmed it will roll out its Home Battery Scheme by allocating $180 million towards installing small-scale battery storage in 40,000 homes, as well as large-scale batteries and demand management schemes.5 Among other things, the proposal aims to facilitate the development of new storage technologies to address intermittency within the state’s energy system, as well as to help lower demand across the broader electricity network and place downward pressure on prices for consumers.6 Following this announcement, German battery storage business Sonnen then revealed plans to manufacture 10,000 battery storage units a year in Adelaide’s former Holden car factory.7 Dependent on the size of the batteries built, the next five years could see the creation of a “virtual power plant” with a capacity of between 150 megawatts (MW) and 250 MW – the equivalent of a gas-fired generator.8 According to Sonnen’s chief executive, Australia has become one of the most attractive markets for battery storage in the world due, in part, to its high retail electricity prices, excellent weather and uptake of rooftop solar.9

In the same month, the Victorian state government added to its suite of household energy incentives by announcing it would provide subsidies of up to $5,000 to help as many as 10,000 households install battery storage in their homes.10 This follows the government’s pledge to support six wind and solar farms, after an overwhelming response to Australia’s first (and largest) renewable energy auction.11 These measures could help support the state’s ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Target – an initiative that hopes to achieve 40% renewable energy by 2025.12

September also heralded news of three new solar farms and a large-scale battery storage system to be built in the Northern Territory, co-funded by the federal government’s $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.13 According to the territory government, the initiative could help the Northern Territory reach its target of 50% solar and renewable energy by 2030.14 Elsewhere, Tesla’s Powerpack batteries arrived in north Queensland for installation at the Kennedy Energy Hub, the world’s first grid-connected project combining large-scale wind, solar and battery storage.15 The hub has the potential for growth over time and will aim to not only demonstrate wind and solar complementarity, but how battery storage can play an important role in smoothing out and shifting supply.16 Meanwhile, Redflow – an Australian battery developer based in Queensland – has also attracted the attention of several Chinese energy players which could result in a joint venture, investment or licensing deal and pave the way for an entry into a significant growth market.17

Although the scrapping of both its Clean Energy Target and National Energy Guarantee indicates that the Australian Government is unlikely to settle on a solution for the country’s ongoing energy debate,18 the popularity of battery technology as an aid for energy consumers appears set to continue its momentum, marking an exciting time for the renewables sector and further securing Australia’s position as a leader in this space.

John joined New Energy Solar as Managing Director and CEO in May 2017. He brings a wealth of experience and capability to his role after more than two decades of hands-on experience in corporate advisory and investment banking, with a focus on the infrastructure, energy and utility sectors.

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