Academics and industry banking on renewable energy storage

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The University of Adelaide has been awarded project funding to better understand the use of battery energy storage in Australian conditions, which has major implications for the future use of renewable energy.

The project – valued at more than $3 million – is expected to benefit industry, government and the community, and places the university at the forefront of energy storage expertise.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $1.4 million in support for the project, to be led by Associate Professor Nesimi Ertugrul in the University’s Centre for Energy Technology and School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Associate Professor Ertugrul, who has 30 years of research experience in power electronics, will develop a mobile testing unit with his team that can travel around Australia to test the technical performance of battery energy storage systems under real and simulated electrical load conditions.

As part of the project, the team will also develop a publicly accessible database for Australian energy storage expertise.

“Our mobile testing unit, about the size of a shipping container, will be able to go on-site to test how battery operated systems are performing and integrating with energy infrastructure both on-grid and off-grid,” Associate Professor Ertugrul said.

“It is expected battery storage technologies will become the major industry in the next five-10 years, offering solutions from small domestic to very large scale applications.

“Therefore, this unique test system will allow us to understand the technology under real operating conditions in Australian environments. It will give us the potential to create a knowledge base for industry and system developers, while also providing advanced training facilities for the nation. Energy storage technology developers, installers, electricity infrastructure operators and energy users all stand to gain from the project.”

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project demonstrates ARENA’s commitment to funding knowledge sharing activities and will play a key role advancing Australia’s energy storage market both on and off the grid.

“Reliable, cost-effective storage has a vital role to play in smoothing out energy supply and increasing the amount of renewable energy used in Australia,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This project is set to build industry confidence in energy storage technologies and has the potential to accelerate investment in grid connected and remote locations, particularly where there are high levels of renewable energy generation.”

The South Australian Government, SA Power Networks, the Energy Networks Association and South Australian company Solar Storage are providing a total of $650,000 in funding towards the project. Further in-kind support will be contributed by those companies as well as ZEN Energy Systems and Power and Drive Solutions, bringing the total value of the project to more than $3.1 million.

The Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis said the University of Adelaide should be congratulated on a commercial research proposition, which has strong private sector support and fosters the state’s advanced manufacturing expertise.

“Innovations like this also directly contribute to South Australia’s economic priority of unlocking the full potential of our resources, energy and renewable assets and supports our commitment towards Adelaide becoming a carbon neutral city,” he said.

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