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The Australian energy industry has gathered online for the Energy storage: leading the transition virtual conference, which was held on Thursday 2 July.

More than 700 delegates registered to attend the virtual conference, which was hosted by Energy Editor Laura Harvey. During the three-hour conference, speakers explored the transitioning energy market in Australia and the role that energy storage will need to play as we strive to increase the level of renewable energy in our national grid.

The conference commenced with a presentation from Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation (BotN) Project Director, Christopher Gwynne, who provided a very well received update on the BotN project.

Delegates were particularly interested in the concept of deep storage which Mr Gwynne introduced – storage with the ability to operate over many hours as an optimal, least-cost choice, a category which BotN falls into. 

“Up until recently storage was just storage, but recently we’ve started to point to big differences between what you might call shallow and deep storage,” Mr Gwynne said.

Shallow storage essentially is storage that is four to six hours worth of storage in terms of its duration. Deep storage has a longer duration, in the range of ten to twelve hours.

As the market transitions to having more input from renewable sources, forms of short, or shallow storage, are the ones we need in place first. But according to Mr Gwynne, most of the analysis that’s going on around the world is showing that as markets move further into their transformations, longer, deeper storage options will be required in order to maintain a stable and reliable power system.

“What this means is that by the mid to late ‘20s, we’re going to need some of these longer duration, deep storage assets to start to come into the market,” Mr Gwynne said.

“The value of this type of storage is in the fact that it’s better placed to manage longer term variations in supply, like what we might see during a wind drought, or a successive number of days of low solar output in the system.

“When dealing with these conditions, you’re going to need deep storage to help manage the reliability of the system.”

Next up, Matt Rennie, Energy Transition Lead Partner at EY, discussed storage opportunities in the evolving energy market.

Mr Rennie focused on two key points which he continually deals with in his daily working life – the emerging trends locally and globally when it comes to renewable energy and storage; and the tipping point for renewables which is starting to force new strategic imperatives for companies operating in the energy space.

Mr Rennie also discussed likely cases for scale batteries in the NEM, and he explained how we can take advantage of those opportunities as they arise.

Our next session was a panel discussion, where Scott Oster, Director, Projects, Clean Energy Transition, SA Department for Energy and Mining; Dr Julio Braslavsky, Principal Research Scientist, Power Systems and Controls, CSIRO Energy; Cathryn McDonald, Future Networks Engineer, SA Power Networks; and Matt Armitage, DER Demonstrations Lead, AEMO discussed distributed energy and solar and storage integration.

All four panellists have considerable expertise in the rollout and management of virtual power plants (VPPs), so unsurprisingly, this particular aspect of the energy storage conversation was a key focus for this discussion. The panel honed in on some of the things they’re seeing being done well when it comes to VPPs, and where they think the future lies with this technology, which does hold considerable potential in the Australian energy market.

The final presentation for the day came from Dr Lachlan Blackhall, Head of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU, who presented on the topic of a storage-led economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Blackhall focused particularly on the potential of community batteries to make a significant contribution to Australia’s energy future; and the need to focus on the needs of consumers in our development of the storage industry in Australia.

The virtual conference was very well attended by members of the Australian energy industry, and the level of engagement with speakers through interactive questioning was particularly strong.

For anyone who didn’t have a chance to watch the virtual conference live, the entire conference can be viewed on demand; and individual presentations can also be viewed online too.

If you’d like to listen to any of the presentations, click here to view them on demand.

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