Australia can be a world leader in the rollout of residential battery storage – provided governments work with industry to realise the “massive potential” of this technology, says the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

A new policy paper entitled Accelerating the Uptake of Battery Storage released by the CEC says a “collaborative partnership” between the home battery storage sector and governments across the country would drive down costs and accelerate the benefits available to consumers.

CEC Chief Executive Kane Thornton said battery storage represented one of the biggest innovations in the energy sector since the invention of electricity.

According to the paper, the initiatives required to unlock the full benefits of energy storage for consumers fall into five categories: changes to the current electricity pricing structures in some states, smart regulation that overcomes the barriers to storage technology, a framework to ensure safety and integrity of the industry, better information for consumers and support for demonstration projects.

“Battery storage has massive potential in Australia to help Australian consumers better manage their own electricity use, alleviate the pressures on the electricity network, and maximise the advantage of the more than 1.5 million solar systems already installed on homes,” Mr Thornton said.

“But there is a global race on to attract investors and technology innovation in the sector, and Australia cannot afford to be complacent. There is a lot to do and it is important that industry and governments work together to unlock this exciting innovation in the energy sector.”

Mr Thornton said it was important to acknowledge that battery systems were not zero-risk for consumers, and that governments, regulators and industry needed to work together on an appropriate safety and integrity framework.

“While subsidies are not required to encourage the adoption of storage technology by households, there is a clear role for government and industry to work together so Australia can be a world leader in the roll-out of battery storage solutions,” he said.

A summary of the key elements are as follows:

Unlock the full value of storage. Ensure that network distribution tariffs are designed in a way that allows customers to realise the full value of installing storage and that future structural changes to tariffs are not at the detriment of these consumer investments.

Integrity and safety. Householders and businesses who purchase battery storage systems must have confidence in the performance, quality and safety of these systems. Products should meet Australian Standards and be installed by a qualified professional. Governments must play a role to ensure that an appropriate and nation-wide regulatory framework is established.

Consumer Information. Consumers need access to better information to empower them to make decisions that best meet their circumstances, and to guide the appropriate installation and ongoing operation of battery systems.

Support demonstration projects. While the long-term business case for battery storage is compelling, doing anything for the first time is difficult, time-consuming and often expensive. Government support for demonstration battery storage projects can identify barriers, growing confidence and familiarity with battery storage solutions, finding innovative business and financing models, and building capability and capacity within the industry.

Ensure supportive regulations. There are a range of regulations relating to building codes, planning regimes, fire and environmental safety or electrical and network regulation that were designed long before battery storage was anticipated. It is important these regulators work with the storage sector to identify and overcome these barriers.