Life today for most Australians would be very different without personal electronic devices like mobile phones and laptop computers.
These are power hungry devices whose ability to get through the day is made possible by small but powerful lithium-ion batteries.
The challenge for policymakers is to replicate that small battery flexibility and reliability at scale: to put storage at the heart of a smarter electricity grid.
Today, batteries, pumped hydro and other energy storage technologies make up a fraction of the installed capacity of global energy networks. Tomorrow, energy analysts expect to see energy storage deployed on a grand scale: supporting the transition to renewable generation sources, helping to match energy supply to energy demand, and empowering consumers to manage their costs.
In that transition, Australia has much to gain.
Grid-scale batteries are entering the Australian electricity market, and consumer interest in home and business-scale battery systems is rising. Ambitious pumped hydro projects, including an expansion of the iconic Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme, are planned or in construction. Demonstration projects using hydrogen as an energy storage medium have been announced. At the same time, Australian companies are positioning themselves to supply raw materials and technology expertise for the global storage boom ahead.
This paper summarises the evidence gathered by an expert working group of the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) on the energy storage horizon of opportunity, commissioned by the Commonwealth Science Council and presented in 2017.