Australia’s renewable sector has gone from niche to mainstream, resulting in cost reduction and a reduced need for government funding, according to Australian Renewable Energy Agency chief financial officer Ian Kay.

Kay specialises in the investment of infrastructure development and delivery of renewable energy projects. He says Australia is seeing a massive transformation in the renewable energy sector and there have been great strides in cost reduction in solar PV and wind projects.

“The sector has reached the stage where it has gone from being relatively niche and needing significant support to being mainstream, where if you are looking to add additional generation in the system the generation that’s provided by the renewable sector is actually cheaper than building new fossil fuel generation,” Kay says.

ARENA chief financial officer Ian Kay says storage will become an important factor in large-scale clean energy projects.

“Because of the relative pricing of wind and solar PV versus other forms of generation, we expect to see those to continue and probably be the dominant sources of generation.

“The really big change is going to be the role of storage in its many forms, where storage is going to be required in an increasing capability to help balance the ability of generation.”

The energy industry is in a period of disruption but adopters of renewable energy projects and technologies, including energy storage, are in a strong position.

Ahead of his upcoming presentation at the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition 2017, running June 14-15 in Sydney, Kay says one of the challenges is to encourage more projects to implement new technologies.

“There are a couple of challenges. One is to get early adopters to have a look at and try out new technologies in pilot projects or in smaller scale projects, so the market gets used to working with the new technologies,” says Kay, who has been working in renewable energy for 15 years.

“The second challenge is in the energy sector. Most energy devices or projects use big pieces of equipment; they’re capital-intensive so the cost of capital is a very important driver in a project.

“In terms of the opportunities, we’ve got some great innovators in Australia, both at the research level and companies that are prepared to try new things, and these companies are doing really interesting things.”

The Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition 2017 is on June 14 and 15 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. With a theme of Investing in Australia’s Energy Storage Future, the conference will feature more than 50 Australian and international speakers presenting on the possibilities of energy storage.

Free exhibition registration is now open. To purchase conference passes, register for the free exhibition or for more information, visit http://www.australianenergystorage.com.au.

Read the full interview with Ian Kay at the Australian Energy Storage website.