Rooftop solar has been the real engine of renewable energy growth – accounting for more than a quarter of total Australia renewable energy growth in 2022 – and is poised to grow further.

A report from Green Energy Markets has forecast rooftop solar will not only exceed the combined capacity of coal, gas and hydro, it would more than triple from current capacity of almost 20GW by 2054.

Needless to say, rooftop solar is expected to play key role in the company’s decarbonisation plans.

While this is undoubtedly good news for our progress towards net zero, there’s one niggling issue that prevents rooftop solar from being the magic bullet that will solve our energy woes.

Battery storage stumbling block

We speak of course about battery storage.

All the solar panels in the world will net you a big fat zero if the sun isn’t shining.

Funnily enough, the same point was brought up by Nationals leader David Littleproud, who is studying the potential for a future Coalition government to repurpose funding set aside for industrial-scale renewables and transmission into a household solar and battery scheme.

It certainly isn’t a bad idea to provide homeowners with the incentive to install a battery to go along with their solar panels as it will certainly reduce – rather substantially – the demands on the grid when the sun is down.

His comments are likely to face dissent from the Nationals’ pro-coal faction but they do highlight that rooftop solar can only really reach its full potential when paired with battery storage.

Providing incentives for homeowners to install batteries should be if not the leading policy then one of equal importance to policies favouring large-scale projects.

Queensland’s looking to lead Australia in batteries

Queensland seems to have seen the writing on the wall and has signed a non-exclusive agreement with three major companies to develop a complete manufacturing supply chain, from mining to energy storage for vanadium flow batteries.

While their qualities make them unsuitable for use in electric vehicles, vanadium flow batteries appear to be ideally suited for grid storage (and potentially home use).

Should they live up their promise, they will certainly help store the sun’s energy for use at night.

The Queensland state government has also unveiled a $570m investment into its Battery Industry Strategy to deliver clean economy jobs in battery technologies and manufacturing

This strategy seeks to bring together the state’s critical minerals resources, mining expertise, emerging business capability, and research and technology to further develop advanced manufacturing of battery materials, cells, pack assembly, installation, and recycling.