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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 of their power use and enables them to take full advantage of the solar energy that they generate themselves.

Energy storage in Australia

Energy storage took a considerable leap forward in 2017, with the construction and commissioning of the world's biggest lithium-ion battery in South Australia and the announcement of the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro expansion.

On the household storage front, approximately 20,789 energy storage systems were installed in 2017, a three-fold increase on the 6750 installed in 2016. In addition, 12 per cent of the 172,000 PV installations in 2017 included a battery, up from 5 per cent in 2016. This brings the total number of battery systems installed across Australia to 28,000.

Virtual power plants and other battery storage initiatives by various state governments are helping to drive demand at the consumer level, improving ROI on battery unit prices as costs fall.

Annual residential energy storage system installations*

    The future of energy storage

    Following the overwhelming success of the Hornsdale Power Reserve, a number of other grid-scale batteries are being constructed, including a 30 MW/30 MWh battery at the Ballarat Terminal Station, a 25 MW/50 MWh battery at the Gannawarra Solar Farm and a 20 MW/34 MWh battery at the Bulgana Wind Farm.

    In March 2017, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced plans for Snowy Hydro 2.0, which would expand the original scheme to include 2000 MW of pumped hydro storage. A feasibility study has also been announced into the expansion of Tasmania's hydro power network to include up to 2500 MW of pumped hydro.

    A number of companies are also either exploring or actively planning to build 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 2018, it is predicted that 300 MWh of distributed systems will be built across 33,000 installations, along with 136 MWh of projects. This would more than double the number of storage systems currently installed.

    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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