Australia in line to drive renewable energy storage demand

Australia has been named one country that could drive demand for renewable energy storage innovations, which may also influence manufacturing activity in this industry.

The US scientist who developed liquid metal batteries, which can store the energy generated through solar and wind power initiatives, spoke in Canberra this month about Australia's future in renewable energies. Professor Donald Sadoway, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is an international expert on energy storage, after inventing a battery that can solve one of the key problems for renewable energy initiatives.

In the past, solutions like solar and wind power were limited to only providing users with energy while the sun was shining or the air was moving. A lack of electricity storage meant that many renewable energy systems had to still be connected to power grids in order to deliver consistent and sustainable services to consumers.

"There is a growing need for sustainable sources of electricity and storage is the missing piece," Professor Sadoway told RenewEconomy this year.

With liquid metal batteries, energy from renewable sources could be stored in order for use after dark or on calm days. This breakthrough is making waves around the world, with Australia in line to benefit.

Professor Sadoway met with researchers in Canberra to establish a development relationship with the Australian National University (ANU). It is his belief that by working together, MIT and ANU can address the energy issues that may affect the country's renewable energy targets.

Additionally, a $50 million manufacturing plant could be on the cards in the ACT, to help the state reach a 90 per cent renewable energy plan. According to Professor Sadoway, the batteries would be best developed in the country where they will receive the greatest use, and Australia is the obvious choice.

From there, Professor Sadoway believes investment in this area could increase to billions of dollars. This estimate is largely influenced by the $45 billion the Australian networks have spent on grid upgrades and extensions over the past five years. 

With most states and territories reaching toward specific renewable energy targets over the next few years, it seems likely any developments that can improve efficiency and reduce the reliance on the grid will be welcome among council and government organisations.

If these plans come to fruition, both the manufacturing sector and the renewable energies industry should see the benefits, as international investments drive demand, innovation and activity in the creation of these important batteries.

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