The Clean Energy Council has upped the campaign against “heavy-handed regulation” by state and federal authorities, warning that the Australian home energy storage industry could be crippled even before it gets going.
The issue was first raised by RenewEconomy last month when we revealed that Standards Australia was about to unveil proposals that would effectively ban some lithium-ion technologies from being installed inside homes and garages.
But the risk of a ban has widened since Queensland regulators released standards that targeted not just lithium-ion, but all battery storage technologies, recommending they be installed only in a separate fire-proof enclosure.
The industry has reacted with horror. Zen Energy has branded the proposals as “ridiculous”, independent analyst David Leitch has called them “bullsh**”) and major local and international manufacturers have vowed to fight them.
Many have questioned why battery storage devices should be banned, when laptops, electric vehicles and liquid fuels are not.
Two of the main industry bodies, the CEC and the Australian Energy Council, are also campaigning against them, having each rolled out their own guidelines in the past six months.
CEC chief executive Kane Thornton on Friday said the proposals would throw up unnecessary barriers and red tape around an industry which is poised to make a big contribution to energy security across the country.
“Requiring home energy storage units to be installed in a contained unit on the outside of a house is unnecessarily restrictive, as long as they meet strong international standards and are installed by an accredited installer to clear guidelines,” he said in a statement.
“Obviously a clear, robust framework towards regulating home batteries is essential, but an over-zealous approach to regulation will simply put this technology out of reach of many households.
“This is an exciting technology and we should be doing everything we can to encourage more widespread use rather than putting on the brakes before it properly gets going.”
Thornton later told RenewEconomy that he hopes “common sense will prevail”, but the CEC wanted to make sure that no other state made unnecessary pre-emptive strikes against the technology.
“We just don’t want regulators to jump at shadows and over-reach,” he said.
He pointed to a CSIRO a year ago, which recommended that batteries be properly installed, and away from living areas, but did not go so far as to recommend a separate enclosure.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.