Renewables Out-generating Fossils

THE CONFERENCE CALLER: Delegates at the Paydirt 2018 Battery Minerals Conference in Perth heard that investment in renewable generation has eclipsed investment on fossil fuel generation in recent years.

Speaking on day one of the Paydirt 2018 Battery Minerals Conference, Future Smart Strategies managing director, Professor Ray Wills, told punters that since 2016, additions of renewable capacity in the power sector has been higher than coal, gas, oil and nuclear combined.

“Rapid, non-linear developments in and uptake of clean technologies – and even more rapid reductions in technology pricing – mean the nature of the global energy market, and in particular the electricity market, is changing both off-grid and on-grid around the world,” Professor Wills said.

“We are also seeing revolutionary shifts in how we do planning, project financing, and engineering for energy – and downstream into network and energy system management.

“A core difference to the technology now being deployed is its ability to be built quickly – and now more cheaply – than any other source of electricity generation.

“Add ever-increasing digitisation and integration for mobile applications – not just phones and tablets, but also power tools and gaming devices, and for personal mobility – also boosts demand for energy storage.”

According to Wills, the arrival of cost-competitive stationary storage offering network services as well as stored energy can deliver on-demand power provision from renewables.

He said a feature of mobile devices needing power is a perpetual pursuit of both energy efficiency in devices to prolong battery life, and battery density improvements to carry more solar and efficient appliances.

This includes lighting and storage that will demand smart energy management utilising AI and machine learning.

As battery technology improves so too does the falls in battery cost reductions, which continue to be consistently demonstrated with a high probability to continue.

Will said the emergence of electric vehicles, and the batteries that power them, has seen the automotive industry move from a “headline a year” to a “headline a day” in the car industry.

“Beyond the basics of all vehicles going electric, there are so many elements changing in the car industry – part of global mega trends in mobility and connectivity and autonomy and the internet of things,” he said.

“From the point of view of minerals for the storage revolution, it is crucial that action is taken quickly so Australia takes a share of the many new jobs (skilled and semi-skilled) in this two trillion-dollar value chain – an opportunity that might just double Australia’s GDP from a single new industry sector.

“In the age of a digital economy, Australia’s next major growth phase can be delivered by down-streaming and value-adding Australia’s lithium and other energy storage related resources.

“The key change with the new trends is that we have moved on from predicting what might happen in the future to measuring it, seeing it happen.

“The only question is just how fast the growth trend is – fast, very fast – or ludicrous?”