Innovative energy storage technologies on show


Tuesday, 15 May, 2018


Innovative energy storage technologies on show

More than 60 companies in the Australian and global energy storage industry will come together at the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition (AES 2018), held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 23–24 May, to explore the innovative energy storage technologies currently in the market and look at what’s next for the sector.

Australia’s energy industry is in the middle of a huge transformation, as government and industry seek solutions to issues surrounding reliability, affordability and a move to more renewable sources. Energy storage technologies have a critical role to play in these changes, making it essential for industry to explore the potential of these technologies to determine which ones will be the best fit for certain areas and applications.

Attendees at AES 2018 will be able to take a look at the most groundbreaking of these technologies, including lithium batteries, flow batteries, hydrogen, silicon thermal storage, compressed air storage, flywheel energy, inverters, lead acid, pumped hydro, system providers and energy management. Attendees will also hear from both local and international companies to see where their technologies are headed.

Businessman Sanjeev Gupta will be a keynote speaker at the event, presenting his case for how solar and energy storage will revolutionise energy consumption globally. Gupta is no stranger to the energy industry, serving as Executive Chairman of the GFG Alliance, the majority shareholder of SIMEC ZEN Energy and the founder of Liberty House Group. In the last year, his company won a contract to supply at least 80% of the South Australian Government’s energy needs until 2020, announced plans to build the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in South Australia and partnered with Neoen to deliver solar power to Victoria’s Laverton Steelworks.

Gupta said he believes in the transition of energy consumption to renewables, but noted that with intermittency a key challenge, having alternative solutions for energy is important. “There are various ways of doing that, and we’re working on many of those,” he said.

“Like different types of storage actually, if you want to call it that. So pumped hydro is one big part of that initiative, using empty mine pits which we own, and there’s obviously plenty of those in Australia. Using them as reservoirs for energy and running them to generate power during times of high electricity [demand], or no electricity through other means like solar, is one way.

“Then there are other ways. Using waste and biomass is another big way, which we’re doing in the UK, which we’ll bring to Australia eventually. In between that, there are batteries, because batteries are not competitive as a storage medium today, but they will be in our view, in the long term. The same way as solar prices and wind prices came down, battery prices will come down as well.”

In comparison to the rest of the world, Gupta said there is a disconnect in Australia between energy prices and resources, but with any industry problem there are also new opportunities.

“It is a real, crying shame that Australia, despite being probably the best resource-rich country in every type of power — whether it’s renewable or traditional — is now one of the highest priced energy markets in the world. So there is a massive disconnect, which needs to be fixed,” he said.

“It also has a flip side — it’s also a very big opportunity. The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. So this means that the transition will perhaps happen faster here than it would have ordinarily. Which in the long term maybe is a good thing, although it’s had short-term consequences.”

When looking to the future of energy in Australia, Gupta strongly believes storage technologies will change the future of energy in Australia, particularly once it becomes competitive and can be married with solar.

“You can have energy being consumed in a very different way to how it is traditionally,” he said. “It’s what mobile phones did for telephony. It will be a huge revolution in terms of how energy is consumed globally, especially in countries like Australia where solar radiation is at the maximum compared to anywhere else in the world.

“It is expensive, but it’s going to get cheaper and cheaper. We’ll play our own role in trying to make it more competitive. I think we should also definitely invest in production of batteries, because we’ve got all the mining raw materials to support that as well. We’re examining that as well, and we’re going to try to participate in that. So it’s an exciting future.”

Sanjeev Gupta.

To hear Gupta’s keynote presentation as part of the conference, or check out the free exhibition, members of the energy sector are encouraged to register at www.australianenergystorage.com.au/register.

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