Batteries, Geothermal, Hydrogen, Pumped hydro, Renewables, Storage

CSIRO roadmap: Energy storage key to net-zero ambitions

The CSIRO has released its latest roadmap in Australia’s transition to net-zero emissions, which identifies the storage of renewable energy as essential to a cleaner and greener future, writes Gareth Pye.

The “Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap” report from Australia’s national science agency states the nation’s storage capacity must significantly increase from current levels to keep pace with the nation’s rapidly rising electricity demand.

According to the report, the National Electricity Market (NEM) will require a 10 to 14-fold increase in its electricity storage capacity between 2025 and 2050, especially as the building and transport industries fully electrify.

Existing storage technologies such as batteries and pumped hydro have been identified as playing key roles in upscaled forms, although emerging technologies must also be considered.

“Over the long-term, storage will accelerate the integration of renewables, enhancing grid stability and reliability, and supporting decarbonisation of industries,” says CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.

“There is no silver bullet for reaching net zero so we need multiple shots on goal, like from renewables, batteries, hydrogen, thermal storage, pumped hydro, sustainable aviation fuels and a host of new science-driven technologies.

“Reaching net zero is a wicked challenge. We need a robust pipeline of projects that use diverse technologies supported by industry, government, research and community stakeholders to ensure no industry and no Australian is left behind.”

With different sectors requiring fit-for-purpose energy storage solutions, the CSIRO roadmap aids future planning across industries.

“For example, batteries may be the best option for local and short duration storage of electricity, while thermal or heat energy – such as steam – might be technology better suited for heat-intensive industries,” says CSIRO energy director Dr Dietmar Tourbier.

“Government and industry have recognised energy storage as a priority. However, significant knowledge gaps remain, requiring further investigation to support informed action.

“Co-investment is required across the system to accelerate technology commercialisation and upscale across a diverse portfolio of energy storage technologies.”

In compiling the CSIRO roadmap, the report authors combined the science agency’s modelling and analysis, with consultation from government and industry stakeholders.

“The roadmap indicates there is no one dominant energy storage technology and that an integrated mix of storage technologies will be required across, and within, different sectors of the Australian economy,” says Dominic Zaal, director, Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute.

“It identifies renewable-based thermal energy storage (TES) as a relatively low-cost solution with multiple end-use applications, including utility scale power generation, renewable fuel production, and industrial process heat.”

Malcolm Rushin, Australian future energy leader for global engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services company GHD says the report is a positive step in identifying energy storage as pivotal in achieving net zero.

“GHD has long recognised the pivotal role energy storage will play in accelerating the energy transition and the scale of investment required to meet Australia’s net-zero ambition, so [the company] is pleased to support the CSIRO’s roadmap,” he says.

“Short-term storage deployment using batteries is accelerating and scaling at an encouraging pace, however the same is not yet true for medium-term and long-term storage. There’s a clear need to accelerate the deployment of pumped hydro technology and focus is needed on de-risking the investment in these projects to stimulate deployment to the levels needed.

“The roadmap also outlines some emerging technologies that offer potential for lower-cost deeper storage, which is the missing piece in the reliable power supply puzzle.”

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