A well-known expert says Australia could become a powerhouse of renewable energy, but the companies that will make it happen are moving too slow.

Economist and climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut - architect of the former Labor Government's carbon pricing scheme – says Australia’s huge renewable energy potential makes it perfect for testing widespread application of renewable technology.

“We've got an unusually rich endowment of renewable energy resources - if we play our cards right, Australia can be a superpower of the low carbon world economy,” Mr Garnaut said at a recent energy conference in Perth.

But Professor Garnaut says Australia’s big energy companies have been too slow to react to the economic opportunity.

“We're a bit behind in the application of the technology - some other countries got out of the blocks faster than us and are running faster than us,” he said.

“The established Australian energy industry has been slow in the new technologies.

“But a very large number of small, innovative companies [are taking them up], some of which are successful and rapidly getting bigger, and that's often the way with the new technology.”

Louis Kent, senior manager at Australian-based carbon-reduction company Energetics, says the mining sector could exploit the renewable industry by reallocating its already highly skilled workforce.

“Australia does have a very good track record of developing the fundamental science that leads into these renewable technologies and clearly batteries are going to be a major component of the future energy mix,” Mr Kent told the ABC.

“Having Australian scientists working on those technologies is a great opportunity for us to develop the technologies, but then we need to turn that into manufacturing.

“What we want to do is position Australia to be a competitive and attractive place to make those investments.”

Western Australia in particular is set to become a testing site for new mass-storage technologies.

Global battery manufacturers like Tesla and BYD have already seen the potential in improving WA's enormous centralised energy grid.

“Tesla and other large battery manufacturers ... are keen to target Western Australia as being the leading edge to this change to our energy system,” Mr Kent said.