The federal government has set a target for the substitution of 1000 megawatts of dispatchable power into the NSW grid in time for the Liddell closure, and has flagged the possibility of a taxpayer-funded investment in a gas-fired generation plant to achieve it.

The media reaction has been febrile as expected. So much so that the positive initiatives outlined in this announcement have been completely overshadowed.

Meanwhile, Australia’s market regulator, AEMO, has pointed to new forms of battery storage as being the most likely and most cost-effective transitional approach to guaranteeing energy availability during peak periods of demand – as explained in this article by EnergyOne Chairman, Andrew Bonwick. This will almost certainly make the politics of energy security divisive in the leadup to the next election.

The Australian Graphene Industry Association (AGIA) urges the Australian government to give immediate consideration to the development of new, large-scale battery and super-capacitor technologies – these are technologies that are nearing market readiness. The emergence of aluminium ion batteries is of particular importance due to three remarkable factors:

  • While the lithium ion supply chain is controlled by China, no such restrictions apply to aluminium ion technology. Australia could lead the world in the commercialisation of this technology and can supply all of the requisite components.
  • The energy density and charge rapidity of aluminium ion batteries and capacitors has a factorial benefit over current lithium ion technologies.
  • The materials involved in the production of aluminium ion batteries are more plentiful and less expensive than those required for lithium ion batteries.

A sunrise industry in the making, aluminium ion battery and super-capacitor technology could become globally significant for a plethora of applications – from devices, to automotive, to the grid. This technology is already delivering 3 times the battery life of the current market leader and is far less susceptible to becoming dangerously hot under charge or usage.

In recent tests of a technology developed by the University of Queensland and Graphene Manufacturing Group (GMG), with the support of the federal government, a zero-to-fully-charged time of 60 seconds has been demonstrated with almost total stability over thousands of charges and discharges.

With this kind of locally developed technology now proven, Australia has a clear and present opportunity to lead the world in the race towards the commercialisation of low-cost, high-capacity energy storage.

At a time where investments in fossil fuel generation are becoming politically contentious, the AGIA believes that the government’s admirable intention of securing energy supply can be most effectively and affordably achieved through new technologies that are on the verge of being commercially operable. It’s an approach that even the market regulator has flagged as the most likely to succeed.

For more information, contact AGIA General Manager, Leanne O’Connor.


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