Energy Australia says that the best way for the federal government to invest in the future of the power market and help economic recovery from COVID-10 is by subsidising battery installations.

Head of consumer markets Mark Collette has made calls for a greater focus on accelerating the national transition to renewables to keep up with the recent rooftop solar panels boom by installing household and commercial batteries, to store excess energy created during the day.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s continued heavy focus on gas as the solution to fill the gap during overcast and windless periods when conditions for renewables are unfavourable has reignited debate about the best path for Australia’s transition, and fuelled concerns from environmentalists and some business leaders who believe stimulus funding would be better spent on expanding clean energy rather than carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

Former Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull said this week that renewable-led economic stimulus would be much more effective than concentrating on gas.

Mr Collette said “Solar energy is now quite economic without government subsidy, it’s probably a train that moves without any support.  I think the case for action around batteries and different support mechanisms that might help on storage could be stronger because it helps some of the emerging challenges across the grid”.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has this week named as one of the five technologies that the government will prioritise, including a stretch goal for cutting energy storage costs.  The other priorities include clean hydrogen, carbon capture and storage soil carbon sequestration, and low-emissions steel and aluminium production.

There is a common understanding amongst power industry leaders that gas will have a role to play in the future as a transition fuel to bridge the gap between coal and renewable energy, however they foresee that batteries will be pivotal, turning homes and businesses into virtual power plants that can soak up surplus power from solar and wind farms and dispense it at later times when needed.