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Renewable energy storage will require significant investment in the coming years and will be essential to Australia’s net zero transition, according to the latest roadmap released by the CSIRO.

The Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap shows that storage capacity must grow significantly over coming decades to keep pace with rapidly rising electricity demand, which is projected to increase as building and transport industries electrify.

The report indicates that the National Electricity Market (NEM) could require a ten to 14-fold increase in its electricity storage capacity between 2025-2050.

In response to common challenges around decarbonisation and technology readiness, the roadmap examines the role of storage for seven sectors, highlights specific challenges and technology options, and finds that individual sectors favour different storage technologies.

CSIRO Chief Executive, Larry Marshall, said new technologies would be needed to increase penetration of renewables and stabilise the grid while starting to build utility scale storage capacity.

“Over the long-term, storage will accelerate the integration of renewables, enhancing grid stability and reliability, and supporting decarbonisation of industries,” Mr Marshall said.

“There is no silver bullet for reaching net zero, so we need multiple shots on goal like renewables, batteries, hydrogen, thermal storage, pumped hydro, sustainable aviation fuels and a host of new science-driven technologies.

“Reaching net zero is a wicked challenge, we need a robust pipeline of projects that use diverse technologies supported by industry, government, research and community stakeholders to ensure that no industry and no Australian is left behind.”

The roadmap also said that while traditional storage technologies, such as batteries and pumped hydro, will continue to play a key role, all forms of energy storage must be considered to meet Australia’s growing demand across multiple sectors.

CSIRO Energy Director, Dietmar Tourbier, said the roadmap is a major step towards pinpointing fit-for-purpose solutions for energy storage.

“For example, batteries may be the best option for local and short duration storage of electricity, while thermal or heat energy, like steam, might be technology better suited for heat-intensive industries.

“Government and industry have recognised energy storage as a priority. However, significant knowledge gaps remain, requiring further investigation to support informed action.

“Co-investment is required across the system to accelerate technology commercialisation and scale up across a diverse portfolio of energy storage technologies,” Mr Tourbier said.

The roadmap builds on prior publications and scenarios to estimate storage demand across multiple use cases and Australian jurisdictions. It also extends the discussion to new technology areas, such as hydrogen and thermal energy storage, pointing out sector-specific requirements, technology summaries and recommendations for scale-up.

To inform the role of energy storage, report authors brought together government and industry stakeholders, alongside CSIRO modelling and analysis.

The Australian Solar Thermal Energy Association (AUSTELA) has supported the findings of the roadmap, which also outlines the significant role that concentrating solar thermal power (CSP or CST) will play in supplying industrial heat and long-duration storage.

AUSTELA spokesman Keith Lovegrove said the roadmap makes it clear that CSP technologies – in which solar power is captured and stored as heat – must play an important role in the grid and in industry’s efforts to decarbonise.

“The Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap is a significant contribution to the debate around the future of the energy market, outlining the vital role storage will play in reaching net zero,” Mr Lovegrove said.

“The roadmap highlights the role of CSP across multiple energy use sectors in the Australian economy, including power generation, transport, and manufacturing. It reveals how CSP will deliver heat to industrial processes, provide heat and power for renewable fuel production, and provide long-duration energy storage to our grid leading up to 2050.

“We must do more if we want to catch up with other countries and decarbonise our energy system. The CSIRO has recognised two difficult aspects of the decarbonisation challenge – long-duration storage and industrial process heat – and concluded that CSP is a cost-effective way to address those challenges.”

CSIRO said this report is a valuable distillation of the challenges with energy storage and is released ahead of the launch of theirRenewable Energy Powerhouse Mission and the Revolutionary Energy Storage Systems Future Science Platform. It is an important catalyst for discussions and actions in pursuing a robust, sustainable renewable energy economy, built on Australia’s critical minerals endowment.

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1 Comment
  1. Clive Blanchard 1 year ago

    I agree that one of the biggest challenges is long term storage. As this is ideally from summer to winter, it is important to minimise our winter heating energy use in southern Australia. This means 7star homes is only a starting point and we need to target significantly higher ratings.

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