New Opportunities For Energy Resiliency. How Energy Storage Is The Key To Australia’S Secure, Sustainable Energy Future

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December 11th, 2019

Imagine a military or medical base that could remain completely operational for days – even weeks – in the event of a power outage or cyber-attack that cut off access to the electric grid. Long-duration storage offers new opportunities for remote mining, military & medical  as well as residential & commercial sites.

Australia’s renewable energy sector is growing fast, gradually replacing the fossil fuel-based energy sources. 2017 saw 17 per cent of Australia’s energy generated from renewable sources and this figure is expected to significantly increase with record investment in new wind and large-scale solar installations during 2018. The Australian National University recently stated that Australia could reach the equivalent of 100 percent renewables by 2032.

Beside reducing carbon emissions, the growing share of renewables comes with new opportunities for energy resiliency, especially within the industrial, mining, defence, & medical sectors. Manufacturing facilities, military bases, mining sites and hospitals now have the chance to become self-sufficient with the help of small-scale renewables coupled with battery storage.

In its essence, self-sufficiency is not new for hospitals and defence bases that have long used energy backups via Diesel-Generators. But as environmental concerns grow, the need for cleaner alternative points towards battery storage. Immense progress has been achieved in battery technologies over the past few decades, with many of them being commercially viable solutions for residential and industrial areas. The most rapidly deployed storage technology are Lithium-ion batteries, with a large market demand in Australia. However, banks of Lithium-Ion batteries can only be relied on for a short period of time in the event of a power loss. This can be problematic in cases of extreme weather conditions, wide-spread fires or military attacks that can cut the energy supply for long periods of time. Medical and defences facilities therefore need a long-term storage alternative to continue providing critical services. The solution could lie in anew storage technology -  flow batteries (Redox flow batteries & Hybrid flow batteries) that open up new opportunities allowing for long-duration storage. Flow batteries, coupled with renewables in micro-grids can provide from six to 24 hours of power. This is a critical feature that other battery technologies cannot provide economically. Plus, flow batteries can perform full charge-discharge cycles without degradation, offering reliability other batteries, such as lithium-ion, cannot provide. [KH1] Adding a flow battery as part of a medical &/or military micro-grid ensures that energy is captured and dispatchable at virtually any time, thus keeping critical operations running when they are needed most.

Note: Information relating to this article is derived from Defence Connect, The Australian National University, Chalmers University Sweden