Long-Duration Energy Storage Challenge Launched by Australian Mining Consortium

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Initiated and led a consortium of five Australian mining companies to launch a challenge for long-duration energy storage technology providers

The Australian mining industry has long been essential to the country’s economy, contributing billions of dollars each year. Recently, a consortium of five Australian mining companies has launched a challenge for energy storage technology providers to develop solutions that can store energy for extended periods.

The need for long-duration energy storage is increasing apparently as the world moves toward a low-carbon future. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are intermittent, meaning they only produce power when the wind blows or the sun shines. This makes them unreliable as a sole power source and necessitates using other forms of energy generation (such as natural gas) to supplement them.

However, natural gas is a fossil fuel and emits greenhouse gases when burned. This makes it incompatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Long-duration energy storage would enable renewable energy to be stored and used when needed, making it a viable option as a sole power source.

The consortium, made up of BHP, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Anglo American, and Fortescue Metals Group, has challenged technology providers to develop solutions that can store energy for at least 12 hours. The winner of the challenge will receive a A$1 million (US$700,000) prize.

This is not the mining industry’s first investment in innovative technologies. In 2015, BHP and Rio Tinto invested in a joint venture to develop autonomous trucks. And last year, Rio Tinto announced, “We would invest US$5 million in a new research and development centre focused on developing artificial intelligence and machine learning technology for the mining industry.”

The consortium’s challenge is recognising energy storage’s role in the mining industry’s future. The need for long-duration energy storage will only grow as the world moves towards a low-carbon future. The consortium’s challenge is essential in finding solutions to this problem.

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