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How batteries produced in Queensland will charge-up our renewable energy grid

How batteries produced in Queensland will charge-up our renewable energy grid

Our renewable energy grid is going to require batteries, and we have a plan to build them right here in Queensland.

In Queensland, we’re on our way to reaching our target of 70% renewable energy by 2032. But as well as generating renewable energy, we need to store it. And to store it, we’re going to need batteries. Big batteries.

While we’re investing in other systems like pumped hydro to store some of our renewable energy, batteries will play a large part in the success of Queensland’s renewable energy grid. By using our critical minerals to manufacture batteries right here in Queensland, we can grow an industry that will help meet global energy storage demand and create jobs for Queenslanders.

So, how are we going to make these batteries, how will they work and how will they benefit Queenslanders? Read on to learn all about Queensland’s battery landscape.

Why do we need batteries for renewable energy?

We need batteries attached to our energy grid so that we don’t waste renewable energy generated on bumper days when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Batteries will allow us to have access to energy at times when generation is lower, like at night-time, or on still, cloudy days.

Our energy use peaks (usually between 4pm and 8pm when a lot of people are at home) and there are times of lower demand. Energy storage will allow our grid to release more energy when it’s needed at peak times and store the extra energy generated at off-peak times.

Our current energy grid was built to use the outputs of fossil fuel power plants. As we transition to renewables, long-term energy storage like batteries will be the key to keeping our energy supply stable.

What kind of batteries can be used for storing renewable energy?

We can’t store our renewable energy for the grid on your typical household batteries, like AAs; they’re way too small.

At the moment, a lot of the batteries used for storing renewable energy generated are lithium-ion batteries. If that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you likely use lithium-ion batteries all the time.

Lithium-ion batteries are used in smartphones, cameras, and laptops, as well as in electric cars and are the type of batteries used for home solar storage. The lithium-ion batteries we use for grid energy storage are much, much larger than personal-use ones.

But lithium-ion isn't the only technology that we have to store our energy. Queensland already has a diverse ecosystem of battery technology entrepreneurs who are leading the way in developing new chemistries and formats that deliver longer duration storage or higher energy density. The Queensland Government is playing an important role in supporting industry too – we're investing in battery technologies like vanadium redox flow which use the minerals that we have here in our state.

Can batteries used to store renewable energy be made in Queensland?

The batteries used for Queensland’s renewable energy grid won’t just contribute to our decarbonisation targets. We’re gearing up to build a battery industry that will create new jobs for Queenslanders and boost our economy.

Queensland has some of the richest deposits of the minerals we need to make batteries in the world, including vanadium. Currently, most of Queensland’s critical minerals go straight from the mine pit to the port, exported all over the world to create products that we import back to our state.

We’re investing in the battery industry in Queensland so that we can not only mine critical minerals here but process them and turn them into batteries to support our energy transformation. For example, Maryborough will soon be home to Australia’s first large-scale iron flow battery manufacturing facility. This will create hundreds of jobs across the region, with an expected 500 employees and contractors working in highly skilled roles when the facilities are operational.

Queensland’s role to play in battery testing

There’s still a lot of room for innovation in the battery sector, and Queensland is at the centre of this exciting field.

In 2021, the National Battery Testing Centre (NBTC) opened in Banyo. The Centre operates at the Queensland University of Technology and was funded by the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre.

With the technology to test multiple types and sizes of battery in real-world conditions, the NBTC will play an important part in developing new battery technologies that will make our energy grid more efficient and effective.

In 2022, the Queensland Government announced $15 million to expand testing and commercialisation support to ramp up battery manufacturing in the state. This investment will see the establishment of QUEST Hub which will be co-located with the NBTC. The QUEST Hub will bring together university researchers and Queensland industry to advance the commercialisation of new battery technologies and materials. This collaborative approach not only secures Queensland’s future battery industry but puts us in a prime position to become a world leader in battery technology.

Why we can’t just use batteries to store Queensland’s renewable energy

Powering a state as large as Queensland on renewable energy is a complex task. Just like we’re going to use a mix of different methods to create the energy we need (wind, solar, hydrogen, hydro), we’ll need to use a mix of different technologies to store our energy supply.

In some instances, we’re planning to use pumped hydro systems to store our renewable energy. The race is on across the world to find and test other ways to store renewable energy, and it’s possible we’ll incorporate them into Queensland’s renewable grid, alongside pumped hydro and batteries.

Learn more about Queensland’s growing battery industry

Want to know more about the future of Queensland’s battery industry? You can read about how Queensland vanadium is turned into batteries, hear our scientists talk about Queensland’s battery capabilities, and see the steps involved in the battery supply chain.

Want to get the big picture? Check out the work we are doing to power Queensland’s battery industry through initiatives such as the Queensland battery industry strategy and the Queensland new-industry development strategy. By working with industry, universities and the community we can the most of the decarbonisation opportunity for the benefit of all Queenslanders.

Last updated: 26 Feb 2024