More than 50 per cent of Australia's coal fleet will be over 40 years old by 2030, and the Australian electricity grid - along with these ageing fossil fuelled power stations - are increasingly vulnerable to worsening extreme weather events.
If we are to reach zero carbon pollution well before 2050 in order to effectively tackle climate change, we need to increase our reliance on renewable energy. But did you know Australia could reach 50 per cent renewables by 2030 - without significant new energy storage?
The Climate Council's latest report on renewable energy and battery storage in Australia points out a range of factors that have helped us reach the cusp of a future where energy production is sustainable - and reliable.
The Fully Charged: Renewables and Storage Powering Australia report reveals over 20,000 new household lituim-ion batteries - used for renewable energy storage - were installed in 2017. That's up from 6,750 in the previous year. Over the last eight years, the cost of lithium-ion batteries fell by 80 per cent. By 2025, the cost will halve again.
"Australia's renewables and battery storage boom will keep the nation's power grid fully charged, especially during extreme weather events, such as summer heatwaves," said Climate Councillor and energy expert Professor Andrew Stock. "We live in one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, so pairing affordable renewables with energy storage like batteries, pumped hydro and heat storage just makes economic sense."
Professor Stock says clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology now accounts for 16 per cent of Australia's total electricity supply. And there are dozens more projects under construction or in the pipeline this year alone.
In terms of support, Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory governments are investing in grid scale battery storage technology, while Federal, Queensland and Tasmanian governments are looking at the development of pumped hydro projects.
Climate Councillor and former BP President Greg Bourne said this latest report confirms Australian households and businesses are embracing the nation's transition to a 21st Century energy grid.
"Clean energy storage is gaining momentum across the nation, from the world's most powerful battery, solar thermal storage and virtual power plants in South Australia to plans for grid scale batteries in Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory too," Bourne said.
With states and territories taking the lead in Australia's renewables race, Bourne said the Federal Government was missing in action over credible and coherent federal energy and climate policy.
"The lack of ambition in the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) places the renewables and storage boom at risk of grinding to a halt, while failing to adequately cut rising pollution levels and tackle climate change" Bourne asserts. "The transition to renewable energy and storage is inevitable and is happening now. The only thing putting this at risk is the Federal Government's lack of credible climate and energy policy."
Bourne points out that the strongest test of good climate and energy policy is whether it cuts Australia's rising pollution levels and tackles intensifying climate change - through supporting the rollout of renewable energy and storage technologies, along with the retirement of ageing, polluting and inefficient coal fired power stations.