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The Australian Energy Storage Council, a new industry representative body has been launched for energy storage in Australia, backed and co-founded by the Australian Solar Council.

The Australian Energy Storage Council was formally launched this morning. The Australian Solar Council will back the new organisation with resources initially, with solar council chief executive John Grimes also acting as its head.

"It is important that energy utilities engage with the energy storage sector sooner rather than later,” said Grimes. "Too often the energy sector ignores emerging technology trends and is blindsided when they are deployed widely. That’s why one of the first things the Energy Storage Council will do is to focus on developing standards and protocols for embedding energy storage into the energy network."

The call for standardisation across the energy storage industry has been voiced by a wide cross section of parties, including academics and battery manufacturers.

The storage council will be a non-profit organisation, paid for by memberships, training activities and from hosting industry events. According to the council, it will seek to connect local members with global industry partners.

The new group joins other regional and international energy storage industry associations in the growing space, including the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA) and one of the earliest-formed organisations of its kind, the California Energy Storage Alliance, which according to CESA’s deputy head Chris Edgette, was influential in helping the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in drafting the recently issued mandate for utilities to install 1.3GW of storage by 2020.

Australian Energy Storage Council launched to bring together industry and promote standardisation

John Grimes of the Australian Solar Council will initially head the new organisation. Image: Australian Solar Council facebook page.

Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower, recently told PV Tech Storage that his company sees the Australian energy storage market as an attractive opportunity. He said that in addition to the compelling economics for replacing diesel generation at off-grid and remote locations such as mining operations with solar-plus-storage, the business case for storage looks particularly strong in Australia. SunPower has launched a pilot programme to install storage for residential customers in Australia, in addition to a similar scheme in California.

“You have great sunshine and you have an abundance of natural gas that could be shipped to the market in the Far East, at really good pricing, north of US$10 and that pricing equates to a high electricity price, so with good sunshine and a high cost of electricity you have a grat value proposition. When you add storage to that you solve the generation of solar during sunlight hours.”

Werner agreed with PV Tech Storage’s assertion that the economic case for storage could also bolster the case for increasing renewable energy capacity in the country. This was despite support for renewable energy at government level in Australia looking to be on shaky ground, with prime minister Tony Abbott seemingly sceptical of its benefits.

“Just as the policy environment is moving to an unfavourable position in Australia, the economics are getting favourable to the point where I think there’s still a value proposition in Australia that’s extremely interesting,” Werner said. “In fact [Australia] will be a pilot for the rest of the world.”

Tags: australia, sunpower, australian solar council, john grimes, policy environment, tom werner, cesa, california public utilities' commission, australian energy storage council