It would appear that a tipping point is close when it comes to the fledgling battery industry. As the need for greater control over carbon emissions and off-grid capabilities intertwines, the need for batteries is becoming bigger than ever.
This is more noticeable in Australia compared to many other countries, and state by state there is a growing feeling that battery technology can help to solve many of the issues federal regions are facing currently.
As grid power is especially hard to arrange in rural areas, and often costs more than it is worth, it is those areas which are pushing for it to happen the quickest. This has led to Western Australia (WA) confirming they are in the process of developing a new strategy to try and speed up the adoption of battery storage infrastructure.
Named the Future Battery Industry Strategy (FBIS), WA is looking to bring in a host of new investment vehicles to help to increase the liquidity of the market and get the ball rolling faster. There is considered to be a relatively finite window in which the costs are affordable and the level of benefit can be maximized.
Batteries are expected to be one of the dominant players in the energy market by 2030, and there is a sentiment that if this opportunity can be introduced quickly enough, it can put WA on a more stable footing financially.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said the FBIS ‘will drive the development of the Western Australian battery materials industry that will create local jobs, contribute to skills development and economic diversification, and maximize benefits to regional communities.’
Australia is also considered to be in an advantageous position because of the natural mineral deposits it has. Since it would not need to ship so much in from overseas, it is believed the nation has 90% of the materials needed to create these batteries, which means it can boost the mining industry and grow the sector off the back of a solid downstream supply chain.
The federal government has put its weight behind such ideas, acknowledging the potential for the battery industry to become one of the key outlets for the economy in regard to the energy industry, and also to become one of the ways it can cut its carbon emissions without losing out in terms of revenue streams.
WA’s openness to development in the sector means more projects are getting the green light in the region, something which seems to be happening with increasing regularity in the last couple of years as they make the investment potential clear. Part of the FBIS is to start addressing the gaps in skills both now and in the future, so the process can begin and continue to expand a few years down the line.
There is also a hope that if the move is successful, there may well be scope to start finding ways to export these batteries round the world, which would likely help to secure more investment once such a proposition begins to be supported by a strong business case.
Calling on capital investment and businesses to get behind the initiative, McGowan said ‘the unprecedented growth of the future battery industry represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ for the state, and it seems that if they are able to generate anything like the scale they are aiming for, it could have a significant effect on the development of the state in general.