Australia’s energy markets are becoming more complex due to battery storage and rooftop solar, and diversifying the mix of energy sources can ensure the grid remains resilient, says Carnegie Clean Energy CEO and managing director Dr Michael Ottaviano.

For the past decade Carnegie Energy has been developing utility-scale solar power, wave energy and battery storage, as well as creating off-grid solar-battery-diesel microgrid systems through its acquisition of Energy Made Clean.

“Over the past ten years we’ve seen the business case for renewables mature in Australia, from simply being a threat to power incumbents and dismissed as an unnecessary cost, to one where renewables are finally being seen as a solution to high energy costs and able to be part of a reliable, integrated and sustainable future energy solution,” Dr Ottaviano says.

In his upcoming presentation Magnifying Opportunity through the Diversification of Energy, which will take place at the Australian Energy Storage Conference on 14-15 June, Dr Ottaviano will discuss the opportunities that diversification can present, as well as an update on the progress of the Energy Made Clean-LendLease EPC Joint Venture and other recently delivered remote power projects.

Energy diversification leads to energy resilience

Energy markets across Australia are in a period of disruption and change, he says, and that the way forward is to diversify our energy sources.

“All power markets are, by definition, complex systems consisting of many generation sources, loads and interconnections. Our energy markets are becoming more complex with the advent of distributed rooftop solar PV and the emerging residential battery market,” he says.

“It stands to reason, that a more diverse energy mix, distributed across the network, will lead to a more resilient grid and more choice for consumers.

“The challenge is for the system to emerge in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. The historical approach of centralised planning for a network with centralised power generation is no longer sustainable.”

A focus on innovation

The emergence of utility scale, on-grid energy storage is particularly exciting, he says, as it’s a market that didn’t exist six months ago.

“Yet in less than 12 months we will have between 100MW and 200MW of utility batteries on the National Electricity Market. This is in addition to the residential-scale storage that will see similar growth over the next one to two years.”

Carnegie Clean Energy is at the forefront of Australia’s budding microgrid market, which Dr Ottaviano says is one way of diversifying that is creating successful outcomes.

“The so-called ‘energy trilemma’ – the inability to reconcile energy decarbonisation with cost and reliability – doesn’t exist when you leave the grid,” he says.

“It is possible to have cheaper, cleaner and more reliable power by moving from 100% off-grid diesel systems to high renewable energy penetration solar-battery-diesel systems.”

Flexibility is key in any rapidly developing market place, and this is especially true for Australia’s energy markets. Dr Ottaviano believes market rules and planning processes need to be rethought to account not only for today’s energy mix but to anticipate what tomorrow’s technologies will be.

“The ability to make quick decisions and learn from mistakes quickly, is probably the most important capability you can have in such a market.”

Dr Michael Ottaviano will be exploring these issues and more in his presentation Magnifying Opportunity through the Diversification of Energy at the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition 2017, from 14-15 June at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.