“Good change is coming”: Energy Storage Summit

Australia’s first Energy Storage Summit was held in Brisbane yesterday.

The Queensland Energy Storage Summit brought together Australia’s leading energy companies, industry experts and researchers to discuss how the battery storage revolution is taking hold in Australia.

John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian Energy Storage Council, the peak body for the energy storage industry and Summit host, said Queensland is quickly becoming the global hotspot for energy storage.

“The great news is Queensland families are investing in solar and energy storage and taking control of their energy use,” he said.

“Queensland based companies like Redflow, Redback Technologies, All-Grid Energy, Sunverge and Octillion are building Queensland’s smart economy of the future. Global energy storage powerhouses are actively looking at establishing headquarters in Queensland.”

Some of the speakers, however, did address lingering uncertainty about whether consumers will actually be saving money in the short-term.

Speaking at a session on residential solar and storage hybrid systems, Redback Technologies managing director Philip Livingston said battery technology is exciting, but industry needs to talk about the broader issue.

“People have been sold a lot of solar in Australia, it’s amazing and it’s only expanding,” he told ABC Radio.

“But fundamentally, for residential consumers, there’s a problem with self-consumption. Consumers only consumer about 20-30 per cent of the energy they generate, and that means 70 per cent of that value gets exported to the grid. Batteries provide a technical solution for self-consumption to capture some of that excess flow.”

Mr Livingston said it was important consumers begin to understand self-consumption, because there are other means to get return on investment with their existing systems or new systems, rather than relying on batteries alone.

“The price of batteries are falling, but they are still expensive. Lithium technologies won’t be cheap enough for residential owners for another two to three years,” he said.

“It’s not long, but fundamentally, some of the latest software and technology developments, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), will see a better return on investment. This is cutting edge stuff we’re doing with the University of Queensland. We’re in the start-up space, and it’s a fast moving race.”