Grid-scale battery storage proposed as solution to electricity market woes

A leading Australian energy policy expert has called for the adoption of grid-scale battery storage on Australia’s National Electricity Market, as an “immediate” solution to bringing increasing amounts renewables onto the grid.

In an opinion piece published in the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday, economist and policy advisor Ross Garnaut – who currently chairs the IIG Solar Fund – said the recent South Australian “energy crisis” had highlighted the need for urgent energy market reforms.

In particular, he said, a solution was needed to stabilise the short-term variations in supply frequency and price.

“An immediate answer is grid-scale batteries, which are being deployed in other developed countries to balance increasing volumes of wind and solar energy,” Garnaut wrote.

“Batteries can respond to the need to add or absorb power in less than a second – much more quickly than gas generators,” he said.

“If optimised to maximise value in provision of grid stability services, the battery can store surplus power from excess generation from the midday sun or overnight wind for use in the evening and morning peaks at total costs that are lower than the prices of wholesale hedge contracts, or than exposure to the wholesale market at these times.

Garnaut also said that the application of grid-scale solar and battery storage solutions could be of particular benefit to major industrials, to lower total costs of power and hedge against future price spikes.

“While solving their own power problems in this way, they would incidentally reduce peak and general demand and therefore lower power price and volatility for all other energy users in the state,” he said.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd