Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, has named battery and energy storage as one of Australia’s biggest economic and innovation opportunities as the electricity grid shifts to renewable energy generation and consumer expectations evolve.
In his delivery of the Zunz Lecture at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum on Thursday night, Finkel said energy storage was “one of the big opportunities” he saw on Australia’s horizon; and one of the questions the National Electricity Market review would have to consider.
“While the NEM has served us well, it is nevertheless under pressure from technologies and expectations that are a giant leap from what existed when it was designed,” he said in a speech titled Electric Future: Wiring for Progress.
Finkel said energy storage of all types – including batteries, pumped hydroelectricity and potentially even hydrogen storage – would be the focus of the first in series of new “horizon-scanning reports” commissioned by the Commonwealth Science Council, in an effort to gain insight into the scope of the opportunities presented by the burgeoning sector.
“With good will and time on our side, electricity generation can be decarbonised. Whether it’s hydroelectric dams, or solar and wind, there are many viable technology paths to cutting emissions,” Finkel said.
“There are challenges in bringing them online, but over time, the solutions will come – just as we have learned to harness new technologies before. Our electricity generation mix is changing, and will continue to change. Ultimately, it is the market and the science that will decide.”