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Energy storage market predicted to hit 3,000 MW by 2030

1st Feb 2013

A new report from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has revealed that the electricity market could be in for a shock due to the increasing affordability and sense of implementing energy storage systems.

Energy Storage in Australia, prepared by Marchment Hill Consulting and released yesterday (January 31), reveals that the amount of commercial electricity storage deployed in Australia by 2030 could total approximately 3,000 MW.

CEC strategic policy manager Tim Sonnreich says that residential energy storage systems won't be far off either.

He predicts that families will rely on the combination of rooftop solar panels and batteries to "say goodbye to electricity bills".

We're not there yet though, and for various reasons. For starters, storage is not yet affordable enough for anyone hoping for a financial return on their investment.

The report reveals that this could soon change. Its most optimistic prediction sees the cost of energy storage halving by 2020. Even a more conservative scenario sees prices falling from $800 to $550 per kilowatt-hour over this period.

Another barrier is summed up in one particularly insightful sentence found in the report: "The financial incentives of electricity distributors are not necessarily aligned with the interests of their customers, in situations where energy storage could be advantageous."

What does that mean? Well, essentially, utilities don't see what's in it for them.

The report says that the electricity industry is structured in such a way that no single party stands to capture all the benefits of storage.

As the value that energy storage provides "cannot easily be captured by the party that incurs their costs", it is predicted that under-investment in the technology will be a consequence.

Mr Sonnreich says it will take time for these and other issues to be sorted out, but momentum is already building for this promising technology.

"Australia's electricity system is only able to store very modest amounts of power, but this is already beginning to change," said Mr Sonnreich in a statement.

He notes that electricity storage is already being implemented where it is most economical to do so - in remote areas.

In these places, he says that storage and solar power systems work in tandem to save hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel. That's the sort of thing that makes a dent in the fuel bill.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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