There are several applications for battery energy storage from grid scale applications to commercial applications, remote community applications and microgrids. Several large projects are now active across Australia using storage as a solution in solving the energy issues experienced by various industries. Batteries can provide power services and quick response times. There are different chemistries suited to different applications, with most of the attention focused on lithium-ion, the type used in Tesla batteries. However, other types of batteries are better suited to some niche applications.

The potential for remote and regional areas of Australia to utilise off-grid solar and storage is now being considered for several remote communities. This also reduces the reliance on traditional diesel generators.

Energy storage has great potential to interact with the entire electricity sector. Some of these functions include;

  • customer use behind the meter
  • provision of network support services to increase reliability and network capacity
  • peak shaving during times of high demand to reduce stress on the network
  • use by generator in wholesale market

This challenges the design of the NEM and associated regulatory frameworks, which are based on a traditional energy system of generation, transmission, distribution and retail. – Technology drives regulatory reform but reform can also drive technology – an appropriate regulatory framework is essential to remove barriers to uptake and unlock revenue streams for new technology. – Regulatory reforms have been considered and implemented to facilitate the efficient integration of storage in the market, but further reforms are required.

The Clean Energy Council suggest that all battery installations be performed by qualified installers, that are certified under the Council’s accreditation scheme.

Trends in Utility Scale Storage

We are now seeing utility scale storage in the National Electricity Market with the world’s largest 100 MW Tesla battery recently installed in SA. This giant lithium ion battery can store enough energy to power 30,000 homes for over half an hour.

The SA Government will have access to some of the battery’s output to provide stability services to the grid. They will also have the right to tap the battery’s full output to prevent load shedding blackouts if supply runs low over summer months.

The battery is charged by the nearby Hornsdale windfarm when power is plentiful and cheap. The operators will then have the right to sell some of it back into the grid when the supply-demand balance is tighter, and prices are higher.

There are further proposals for more utility scale storage projects across the NEM and with the success of the SA project, this marks a significant change in the national grid. It is also a major step towards a modern network that will ultimately deliver cheaper, cleaner, smarter and more reliable energy.