Alan Finkel pushes for more energy storage to keep bills down and maintain reliability

Alan Finkel pushes for more energy storage to keep bills down and maintain reliability

Alan Finkel pushes for more energy storage to keep bills down and maintain reliability

Updated 20 November 2017, 13:40 AEDT

Power bills will go up and energy supply will be less reliable unless Australia develops better storage systems, according to Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

A new report from Dr Finkel's office and the Australian Council of Learned Academics (ACOLA) warns planning and investment are needed to prevent power costs continuing to rise and to shore up reliability.

The reliability of renewable energy depends on energy storage, particularly on days when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow.

Storing the energy captured from renewable sources like solar and wind means suppliers are able to meet electrical energy demand at all times of the day.

Dr Finkel has recommended in the past that all large-scale wind and solar generators in Australia should have energy storage capacity.

In addition to battery storage, which today's report said was the most cost-effective way to strengthen energy security, it also listed alternatives including fast-start gas turbines, spinning reserves in wind turbines, demand response and load shedding measures.

"As we have more and more penetration of variable renewable energy, solar and wind, then we're going to need storage to be a very important component of having a stable, secure and reliable grid," the report's lead author Bruce Godfrey said.

"[That will also help to] enable the environmental benefits that come from low-emissions sources."

The report estimates Australia will need to spend about $11 billion on storage before 2030 in order to provide a secure energy supply.

But more money may need to be spent to ensure power supply is reliable as Australia makes the transition to renewable energy.

Dr Finkel said Australia had a "long way to go" on storage, and predicted future storage projects would dwarf those already being developed.

"The challenge is to manage the transition from here to there. We are going to be moving to a new future, it's happening around the world, it's inevitable," Dr Finkel said.

"What this report shows is that if storage is used effectively, we can manage that transition as smoothly at the lowest possible price."

The report has been released ahead of a meeting of state and federal energy ministers to discuss the Turnbull Government's National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

Under the NEG 28 to 36 per cent of power generation is projected to come from renewables by 2030.

Climate Council modelling shows that means Australia will miss out on between 6,000 and 20,000 new jobs that would have otherwise been created.

Andrew Stock, who has decades of experience in the energy sector and sits on the council, says at least 50 per cent of power generation should be renewable by 2030.

"The current aspiration level that the Federal Government is talking about, that's way too short of what's required, so we need more aspirational plans for electricity. That will bring more jobs, up to 20,000 more jobs in this sector," he told AM.

The Chief Scientist's report said this target could be easily met without risking reliability or requiring further significant investment in energy storage.