Little storage needed for 35-50% renewables: new Finkel report

A new report commissioned by chief scientist Alan Finkel, The role of Energy Storage in Australia’s Future Energy Supply Mix, says the required investment in energy security and reliability over the next five-10 years will be minimal, even if wind and solar deployment moves far beyond levels contemplated by the Energy Security Board.

“At an aggregated national level, Australia can reach penetrations of 50 per cent renewable energy without a significant requirement for storage to support energy reliability

The contrast with ESB modelling – and the attempts by Coalition parties at state and federal level to dismiss high levels of renewable energy as “reckless” – could not be more pronounced.

While the ESB, in arguing for a National Energy Guarantee, speaks of the system threats and urgency to act with a level of “variable” renewables accounting for between 18 and 24 per cent of total generation, this new report says surprisingly little storage may be needed with 35 per cent to 50 per cent wind and solar.

Even in the 50 per cent variable renewable energy scenario – more than double that contemplated at the high end by the ESB – the new report suggests enough battery storage may be available “behind the meter,” households and businesses, to meet the storage needs.

Pointedly, the study models levels of “variable”renewable energy – wind and solar” that are far higher than that contemplated by the ESB in its argument for an “urgent” reliability option.

The new study’s “low renewable” share – 35 per cent – is twice the amount of wind and solar modeled by the ESB for 2030, at just 18-24 per cent, and yet it sees little need for a lot of added storage.

The study’s medium renewables scenario aims at 50 per cent share of variable renewbles by 2030, while its “high” share models 75 per cent wind and solar penetration.

It even contemplates what is needed for a 100 per cent renewable energy in South Australia – a scenario that looks increasingly possible given the huge range of projects in the pipeline, many with storage of some sort, including pumped hydro, solar thermal, and batteries.

See the summary from reneweconomy: