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Affordable energy storage lacking

BusinessNZ Energy Council executive director Tina Schirr welcomes the release of the World Energy Council’s (WEC) Innovation Insights Brief - Five Steps to Energy Storage.

The brief suggests mainstream storage technologies are likely insufficient to meet future flexibility requirements resulting from further decentralisation and decarbonisation efforts.

A narrow focus on lithium-ion batteries is putting the development of more cost-effective alternative technologies at risk, WEC discovered after interviewing energy leaders from 17 countries.

"With major decarbonising efforts to remove thermal electric power generation and scale up renewable energies, the adoption of energy storage is a key focus the world and for New Zealand," Ms Schirr says.

"However, the brief shows affordable storage systems are a crucial missing link between intermittent renewable power and 24/7 reliability net-zero carbon scenario."

Ms Schirr says while there is visionary thinking in terms of energy storage, recent progress has focused on short-duration and battery-based energy storage for efficiency gains and ancillary services. Meanwhile, there has been limited progress in developing daily, weekly and even seasonal cost-effective solutions.

Ms Schirr says energy storage presents an opportunity for collaboration between sectors like mobility and industry and clean electricity. Different vectors of energy can be used, including heat, electricity and hydrogen.

"Breaking down these silos was also one of the key takeaways of our BEC2060 project that investigated two possible outcomes for New Zealand’s energy future."

Ms Schirr says the energy sector must adopt more aggressively technologies aligned with the end-goal: affordable clean energy for all.

Relying on investments by adjacent sectors such as the automotive sector is not enough. Future-proofing our energy systems means considering alternative solutions and ensuring technologies have equal market opportunities, Ms Schirr says.

WEC’s recommends five steps to energy storage:

1. enable a level playing field;

2. engage stakeholders in a conversation;

3. capture the full potential value provided by energy storage;

4. assess and adopt enabling mechanisms; and

5. share information and promote research and development.


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