By Jason Deign
The pace of energy storage development in Australia has been underscored by three separate industry announcements in the last week.
Last Thursday, RenewEconomy revealed that US developer SolarReserve had tabled a bid to replace aging coal plants in Port Augusta, South Australia, with a solar-thermal-plus-molten-salt-storage combination.
The same day, news emerged that Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy was planning to pilot the world’s first microgrid combining wave and solar power with battery storage.
The headlines came days after government climate change review head Professor Ross Garnaut was profiled in the Sydney Morning Herald as the new chairman of ZEN Energy, a solar installer turned energy storage player.
They also follow hot on the heels of government plans to support storage tied to residential solar. Meanwhile, event organisers such as the Energy Storage World Forum have begun to add Australia to their conference destination lists.
All in all, it is clear energy storage is developing apace across Australia.
One reasons for this is that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which currently faces the threat of closure, has in the past dedicated significant effort and funding to energy storage.
As a result, Australia already boasts an enviable track record in energy storage innovation. Here are 10 projects that have benefited from ARENA cash and are helping Australia blaze a trail in the energy storage sector.
Ergon Retail’s pilot demonstration
ARENA has committed AUD$400,000 of a total project value of $2,620,000 towards this utility pilot of 33 systems across Cannonvale, Toowoomba and Townsville, in Queensland, which kicked off in August.
The project involves testing a commercial and operational model for providing grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage systems to residential customers.
Ergon Energy Retail will also explore how its solar PV and battery storage systems can achieve the greatest value on the grid, with a view to proceeding to a commercialisation phase and product launch.
University of Adelaide’s mobile energy storage test facility
The University of Adelaide, in South Australia, began in May to build a test centre plus an online database for Australian energy storage expertise.
These resources will provide industry and researchers with a capability to independently test entire energy storage systems and with a central source for existing and future knowledge.
IT Power’s battery analysis
Starting last March, Canberra-based IT Power embarked on a project to analyse the performance of six major lithium-ion battery brands.
The work includes comparing them to existing and advanced lead-acid battery technologies, to demonstrate how they could operate in large and small electricity grids.
Reposit’s battery storage control module
Reposit of Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory, has been working on a battery storage control module since December 2014.
The GridCredits battery storage control module allows consumers to monitor electricity usage and access their solar power overnight and at peak times, reducing their demand on the grid.
It also allows energy to be sold back into the grid by placing bids into the market, turning residential properties into micro power plants.
The Synergy Alkimos Beach energy retail model
Active since August 2014, the Alkimos Beach project in Western Australia involves developing, deploying and testing the commercial feasibility of a new energy retail model.
It combines community-scale battery energy storage, high penetration solar PV and energy management within a residential development, to deliver significant savings by reducing grid connection costs for new homes.
Hydro Tasmania’s Flinders Island project
Starting last February, the aim of this project was to use a combination of solar, wind, diesel, storage and enabling technologies, together with “a sophisticated control system,” to displace more than 60% of Flinders Island’s diesel energy.
According to ARENA, the project uses storage and dynamic resistors to smooth out the power generated from solar and wind, while the automated control systems ensure generation and enabling equipment perform when required.
AGL’s renewable integration storage project
AGL’s Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration project is examining the role of medium to large-scale (from 5MW to 30MW) energy storage assets in the integration of renewable energy into the electricity system.
The larger storage devices being explored may allow AGL to get more value from its renewable generators by delivering energy at times when demand is high.
Lord Howe Island’s hybrid renewable energy project
This project on Lord Howe Island, a heritage-listed site in New South Wales, began in June 2014 and involved adding a combined 1MW of renewable energy generation with storage to a small off-grid community.
The aim of the project was to cut the island’s diesel consumption by 70%.
Ecoult’s UltaBattery system
ARENA funding was instrumental in one of Australian energy storage’s biggest success stories: the UltraBattery, a hybrid ultra-capacitor and lead-acid battery technology that outperforms sealed lead-acid batteries by more than five times.
Ecoult, a much-admired Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) spinoff, got more than $553,000 from ARENA to help commercialise the UltraBattery in 2013.
Abengoa’s advanced solar thermal energy storage
This project involved CSIRO working with Spanish company Abengoa to find cost-effective ways to collect and store heat from solar thermal energy.
ARENA concluded: “In spite of operational limitations of the plant as installed, the project provided valuable insights into the challenges involved in storing solar thermal energy at high temperatures.”