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Energy storage uses a chemical process or a pumped hydro system to store electrical energy so that it can be used at a later time.

Energy storage will dramatically transform the way the world uses energy in the near future. As well as offering more flexible, reliable and efficient energy use for consumers, storage is an effective way to smooth out the supply of variable forms of renewable energy such as solar and wind power. It gives consumers greater control over their power use and enables them to take full advantage of the solar energy that they generate themselves.

Energy storage in Australia

Battery storage continued to make progress in 2018, with a number of utility-scale batteries connecting to the grid, including the 30 MWh Ballarat Energy Storage System in Victoria, the 30 MW/8 MWh Dalrymple Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration in South Australia, the 25 MW/50 MWh Gannawarra Energy Storage System in Victoria and the 5 MW Alice Springs Battery Energy Storage System in the Northern Territory.

These new batteries joined the 100 MW/129 MWh Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, which remains the world's largest battery. The benefits of the Hornsdale Power Reserve were made clear in 2018, with the battery found to have reduced frequency control ancillary services costs by up to $50 million.

Pumped hydro also took some notable steps forward in 2018. Snowy 2.0 got the official go-ahead from the Snowy Hydro board in December 2018, and the Federal Government gave its final approval for the project in February 2019. Upon completion in 2024-25, the 2000 MW project will increase the capacity of the Snowy Hydro Scheme by 50 per cent, pumping 350,000 MWh of on-demand generation into the National Electricity Market.

Tasmania's Battery of the Nation project also continues to inch closer to reality. In February 2019, Hydro Tasmania announced it will invest up to $30 million to take the first phase of the project to the investment stage and the Federal Government provided $56 million towards the construction of a second interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland, which is critical to the success of the pumped hydro project.

Annual residential energy storage system installations*

    The future of energy storage

    A number of new government initiatives to increase the uptake of residential battery storage were introduced in 2018, including a $180 million home battery scheme by the South Australian Government and Federal Labor promising to support the installation of 100,000 household batteries if it is elected. This commitment is part of the party's target to have 1 million Australian households with batteries by 2025.

    This government support is expected to result in the number of Australian households with batteries tripling to 70,000 in 2019, which means that Australia would account for 30 per cent of the global household battery market by the end of the year.

    A number of companies are also either building or examining the prospects of new pumped hydro facilities, including Genex Power's project at Kidston near Townsville in North Queensland and Tilt Renewables' pumped hydro plant project at a decommissioned quarry north of Adelaide.

    In May 2017, the Clean Energy Council developed a policy paper outlining a package of targeted reforms to support the increased roll out of energy storage projects at residential, commercial and grid scales. You can download the paper below.

    * Source: SunWiz, 2018 Battery Market Report, March 2018
    Top image credit: Tesla


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