More Renewable Wriggling: Don't say the 'C' word


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

What do you do if your catastrophic renewables policies cause power spot price spikes up to $14,000 / MWh ($14 / KWh)? What happens when your green pride is more important than providing affordable, reliable coal power to the people whose interests you claim to represent? You double down and throw more money at useless green technology, of course.

Adelaide charges ahead with world’s largest ‘virtual power plant’

AGL project to roll out 1,000 battery systems to homes and businesses will operate like a 5MW plant, and optimise energy produced from solar panels.

Adelaide will be home to the world’s largest “virtual power plant” – AGL is rolling out 1,000 battery systems to homes and businesses, with backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena).

AGL and Arena say the project will improve network security and dampen a volatile wholesale electricity price in South Australia. However, an energy expert says that at the current size, the system will have a minimal impact on network security or wholesale prices, but might pose a challenge to the revenues of companies that own the poles and wires.

Offered to homes and businesses with solar systems, the $20m AGL project, backed with $5m from Arena, will operate like a 5MW peaking power plant, providing power to homes and businesses during periods at optimal times.

The chief executive of AGL, Andy Vesey, told Guardian Australia: “The beauty of the project is it’s being done over 1,000 batteries, and that’s how we deliver an aggregate benefit to the grid itself.

“But for the consumer, it will have the value of the battery. And it’s being priced at a way that a good investment decision could be made. We’re viewing that the average savings for someone who has rooftop solar right now would be $500 a year. It’s really a way of optimising the energy produced out of their solar panel.”

The system will cost $3,500, and AGL estimates it will take about seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.

Dylan McConnell, from the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne, said that at 5MW, the project would not have a significant impact on the the state’s reliance on gas or on the interconnector.

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The net effect of this waste of $3.5 million is minimal protection for 1000 homes or businesses, from the intermittency of unreliable renewables.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 459,000 households in Adelaide in 2006. Using this number implies a cost of $1.6 billion to roll this scheme out to all households – without even considered the cost of protecting industrial users, some of whom are very heavy users of energy.

What will it take to restore energy sanity to Adelaide, and the South Australian Government? All this economic damage, financial waste and energy policy posturing is happening because the greens who run the South Australian government can’t bring themselves to admit their renewables policies have failed. They can’t bring themselves to admit they cannot live without gas backup, and they most definitely cannot live without the cheap Victorian coal power at the other end of that precious interstate interconnector.

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Philip Schaeffer
August 6, 2016 10:44 pm

If prices spiking briefly while scheduled maintenance on a link was performed counts as a catastrophe, then you and I must be using different definitions of the word.

Reply to  Philip Schaeffer
August 7, 2016 9:50 am

The link was to coal fired power. What on earth do you think will happen if States like Victoria and NSW follow dopey SA and mothball their fossil fuel power stations and there’s none to link to? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’ve been working long hours in order to pay your utility bills.

Reply to  observa
August 7, 2016 5:42 pm

The dopey Victorian government is trying to follow in the footsteps of South Australia. I actually want them to start shutting down Hazelwood as it will cause the South Australian grid to crash well before the Victorian grid is overly affected. The Heywood interconnector has become a vital crutch for the South Australian grid but the renewables pundits fail to see how this will be affected by Victoria reducing its spinning reserve.
The piddly 5MW/7MWh “virtual battery” is scheduled to be deployed over 18 months so it will be too small and too late to help over this summer.
But the denial is strong in the renewables camp so we need the crash for the general population to become aware of the lies and deception that they have been sold

August 6, 2016 10:51 pm

The only way it’s going to happen (getting them to admit it’s not working) is when the whole system goes down, and even then it will take a band of dedicated investigators to take the facts and figures and ram it down all the way down their throats. Preferably in a court room with a new brand of politician looking to lay the blame on someone. Watch what happens then – there won’t be a “climate scientist” or a greenie in sight, they’ll all be at the airport.

Reply to  A.D. Everard
August 7, 2016 5:25 am

No, I disagree, they will blame someone else like big oil and the MSM will carry their tune. That what has happened with all the other progressive failures.

Reply to  catcracking
August 7, 2016 8:56 am

That is as things are now, true, but the tide is turning.

Reply to  catcracking
August 7, 2016 1:40 pm

Nothing like a few days in a cold, dark house to wake people up to reality.

August 6, 2016 10:58 pm

It could be said that CO2 is the staff of life for the entire planet, yet these drongos think it is pollution. Andrew Bolt talks about sense and values. According to warmist values, CO2 is very bad. Yet how skewed must they be to adopt a planet killing maneuvre to lessen CO2.
Might be a few centuries of oil and coal left, but somehow they have lost faith our ability to develop technology to counter that.
Also they forget a basic lesson. We did not run out of horses when we changed to cars. We did not run out of slide rules when we changed to calculators. Better technology will come along. WIndmills are a rank failure. Solar is waiting for a breakthrough.
Meanwhile we know nuclear energy in whatever form, works.

Reply to  Jack
August 7, 2016 3:07 am

Solar is NOT waiting for any breakthrough, fact of the matter is that insolation on the ground peaks under 1 KW per square meter for a few hours a day. On Average you will get maybe 4-5 hours equivalent. Even if Solar panels were 100% efficient you still will NEVER get more than 200W per square meter on a 24 hour basis – when and only when the sun is shining. When it’s overcast the surface will only ever get around 200W per square metre, and therefore the maximum average power over 24 hours will be around 40W/square meter. From this you can see that even a 100% efficient solar panel can only be relied upon to generate 40W per square meter at anything approaching grid reliability.
Fact is that this can’t be changed, the energy delivered by the sun only comes during the day when the angle of incidence is high enough, and it peaks at 1KW on a sunny day and 100-200W on a dull day. You can’t rely on this energy sufficiently to reach grid reliability (99.5% reliable) without derating the systems so far as to be impractical. With current solar technology that means batteries and derating to 5W / square metre. This means for example that to power Singapore without fossil backup you need an area tiled with solar panels 13 times the size of Singapore, and with 100% efficient panels an area merely 3 times the area of Singapore – practical? You tell me?
These are the facts of solar power, sunlight is a very diffuse power source it requires huge areas to capture enough of it to be useful. Nothing lives in it’s shadow.

Reply to  bobl
August 7, 2016 4:27 am

Wind power might be unreliable, but in return wind turbines provide a new insight in the aerodynamics

Uncle Gus
Reply to  bobl
August 7, 2016 5:18 am

I’m thinking; miles and miles of bloody Africa, international power cables hundreds of yards thick, power storage facilities the size of the Hoover dam (and maybe working on the same principle).
Damned if I know if i it could work, but it might be a useful stop-gap until space-based solar comes on line.

Reply to  Uncle Gus
August 7, 2016 9:23 am

Uncle Gus

I’m thinking; miles and miles of bloody Africa, international power cables hundreds of yards thick, power storage facilities the size of the Hoover dam (and maybe working on the same principle).
Damned if I know if i it could work, but it might be a useful stop-gap until space-based solar comes on line.

No, it won’t work because in too many millions of sq kilometers across Africa there is NO inherent, culture-based morality and honesty that prevents the “innocent public” (aka local tribes and thugs leg by criminals and machete-wielding butchers who regularly slaughter their old enemies) from stealing the copper, the towers, the transformers and regulation equipment that in most 1st, second and even many 3rd world cultures leave alone and in service. The local African governments – all corrupt – will not maintain nor construct the infrastructure.
A dictatorship (China for example) maintains its power lines and sewage and gas liens intact by fear and by torture and by their own guns so they remain available to serve the state. “If the state cannot maintain power and fuel to its army/national guard, the state fails, and the dictatorship then is killed. Brutal economy of force in the absence of morality.
Even underground oil pipes in the old-producing areas are tapped off and destroyed. An overhead power line? Morality could only come at thepoint of a watchful, “honest” police force. Which has seldom been available.
Even in 2nd world, the power is stolen and tapped off illegally, not sold to provide maintenance dollars. We see in Brazil, in the mddleof the Olympics, the pervasive public crime.

Reply to  bobl
August 7, 2016 10:42 am

The Shockley/Queisser theoretical quantum efficiency limit for single junction silicon solar cells is ~31%. The best monocrystalline lab cells are now ~26%, and the best (and most expensive) full monocrystalline silicon commercial panels are ~22.5%. You cannot get much more.
Multijunctions (up to three) in GaAs are prohibitively expensive, but have achieved ~40% and are used on some spacecraft like the Jupiter probe.

Reply to  bobl
August 7, 2016 10:54 am

@vukcevic August 7, 2016 at 4:27 am
Great video, vuk! Hadn’t seen that one before. Notice that all the other turbines are not spinning. Maybe they are afraid the same thing will happen to them ;o)

Reply to  bobl
August 7, 2016 1:51 pm

I note – I think – increasing, something.
-22.5% Right.
Can you help us muppets without PhDs in jargon?

Reply to  bobl
August 7, 2016 3:28 pm

Hi Auto
If I understand you correctly it is not – (minus) sign, it is ~ (little wiggle, tilde) which is usually used to represent word approximately. (i.e. approximately 22.5%)
On the other hand you could have meant something totally different.

Reply to  Jack
August 7, 2016 7:16 am

somehow they have lost faith our ability to develop technology
Well, “The Greens” and other rent-seekers are not known for their faith in humanity, competence (outside of politicking and manipulation) or scientific knowledge and tend to believe in Bog Government Solutions, which just happen to also provide them with money, power, influence, status, etc (not to mention a great way to push around and punish their “enemies”).

Reply to  Jack
August 7, 2016 9:23 am

“Space based solar”
Maybe there is a new government funded Thermodynamics that I have not mastered, but I fail to see how bringing in more solar energy bypassing our protective atmospheric system is much different than the theoretical CO 2 blocking of the radiation of heat out.
Any extra energy we bring into the earth ( or burn from fossil fuels) via any means will ultimately end up as heat for our planet that must be radiated out to space to avoid “global warming”. All electricity generated from solar ends up heating the planet. Is the earth able to achieve equilibrium? CO 2 trapping radiation is not a one step process the energy goes back and forth continuously until gone?
What is worse, theoretical trapping of outgoing radiation or bypassing our protective layer and bringing more heat in?
Has anyone studied that? Also what is the net impact of trapping solar energy with a roof panel which ultimately ends up as heat that must be radiated out to space or will increase the earth temperature? Isn’t that basic thermodynamics?

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  catcracking
August 7, 2016 5:34 pm

The thermal dissipation from the actual power is trivial. This is certainly true if, as proposed, space-based power replaces other power sources.

george e. smith
Reply to  Jack
August 7, 2016 2:19 pm

I don’t know why you say that solar (PV ?) is waiting for a breakthrough.
Just what sort of a breakthrough were you anticipating ??
Maybe the TSI at TOA can be made to increase from 1362 Wm^-2 up to say 10,000 Wm^-2. That would be a breakthrough.
But it is not likely to happen.
Well it is not even unlikely to happen; it just can’t happen.
People have demonstrated about 43% solar to DC electric conversion efficiency, although I cannot say what the exact conditions for such a number happen to be. They don’t do a lot of describing what their presumed input spectrum of the ” solar ” radiation is.
That 43% number was for a certain triple band gap, triple junction solar cell, and researchers in that field say that 60% might be possible with some similar scheme.
Such cells are expensive to make and use exotic materials.
That’s ok, as they often can be operated at multiple sun input irradiances, using non-imaging optical collectors to concentrate a large area solar beam into a much smaller PV cell area. Such systems require three-D tracking of the ” antenna ” so they would generally be niche area applications.
But nobody considers that sort of thing to be a breakthrough.
PV solar will continue to gather momentum, but it is not the way to make massive base power available on a global basis.

August 6, 2016 11:05 pm

The policies have failed if you assume a result other than that achieved. It’s been plain that depopulation is the desire of many so-called greens. Causing economic decline amid high costs of living and taxation levels is a good way to discourage reproduction and foster supposed conditions for population “replacement” (genocide?). There is nothing in evidence to support use of the phrase “unintended consequences” here and these people should be afforded no benefit of the doubt, unless they are thought to be dim or deluded, or both. The voters deserve this, as someone – HLM – quipped in such situations, good and hard.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  jamesbbkk
August 7, 2016 2:13 am

No, it doesn’t discourage reproduction. Just the opposite. the greens not even get this. But otherwise you are right.

Reply to  Rainer Bensch
August 7, 2016 2:31 am

If you are arguing that Bombay would not be so crowded, I would respond that there is a difference between those that have known and lost prosperity in formerly productive societies with formerly light government yolks and those that have known only poverty amid corruption, sloth, and oppression. At least for a few generations. Learned people count the cost of raising productive children. All the same, shame on the people for having listened to scolds, the self-loathing, and ne’er-do-wells not to reproduce. It has likely brought the destruction of many ethnicities. Ecol. 101.

Reply to  Rainer Bensch
August 7, 2016 4:54 am

Er, formerly light government yokes.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Rainer Bensch
August 7, 2016 5:09 am

Rainer you are right. When the Portuguese government wanted to reduce the rate of population increase what did they give rural people? Electricity! When the lights and TV are on, people pretty much stop copulating.
The humorous part is that the power was provided by solar panels! Yup. PV and batteries but at a scale that worked.
For people who had nothing Solar was a step up. If you already have grid power, solar PV is a step down, at a high cost.
The comment in the article saying the cost was set to be attractive is inane. Costs are costs and hiding them doesn’t change that. The claim that reducing the amount paid somehow affects the cost shows how fiscally blank-minded they think the consumers are.

flyover bob
Reply to  Rainer Bensch
August 7, 2016 7:40 am

Crispin in Waterloo, I would like to point out to you that the number of blank minder consumers is currently quite high.

Mick In The Hills
August 6, 2016 11:13 pm

Let’s start using South Australia as the “gold standard” in renewables expectations, since they’re so ‘progressive’ down there in transition to ‘green’ energy.
The rest of the developing economies of the world need to know what they’re in for – becoming a mendicant state like SA.

Mike McMillan
August 6, 2016 11:19 pm

Seven years to recover the cost…
And replace the batteries at five.
Here’s 20 MW of flywheels magnetically suspended in vacuum containers. What’s to wear out?

George Tetley
Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 7, 2016 1:32 am

100% agree !
At work we have a battery system, 10 batteries of 24 volt, cost , 1 x 24 volt $8,565
after 6 years we replaced 2

Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 7, 2016 3:57 am

The quoted $3500 cost doesn’t include the $6500 (my estimate) government subsidy.

Reply to  AP
August 7, 2016 4:16 am

Just to clarify, the battery costs $3,500 – to the home owner. There is also an additional up-front cost (borne by AGL – presumably passed on to other customers, and the federal government) of $2,500 per battery. Then the remainder of the subsidy is in the over-priced electricity these things will feed into the grid (presumably?) over their life (say 7 years) which AGL quotes is worth $500 per year to the homeowner.

Reply to  AP
August 7, 2016 4:45 am

The government subsidy is not a problem.
It is financed by the fairies.
Fairy Nuff.

Reply to  AP
August 7, 2016 5:30 am

If the program cost $3.5 million for 1,000 installations, then the subsidy + overhead = $3,500 per unit. If each household consumed 20 KWh per day (600 KWh per month), then these units likely will not be capable of handling the diurnal periods of consumption during the 20 hrs when solar is producing virtually zero power. Not to mention the occasional period when weather causes solar to underperform for a week or four. Perhaps if each installation was made 4 times as large, and the subsidy increased x4 to $14,000 per household and if the subsidy were extended to every household and to every business and industry, and the subsidy was renewed every seven years, then you would begin to have a handle on the problem.
Unless of course there were any failures during the 7 year anticipated lifetime.

Reply to  AP
August 7, 2016 10:56 am

And btw, if you want to power most things in a modern home during the off-peak solar hours, then you may need 4 powerwalls because each is limited to 3.3 KW peak or 2 KW continuous. And forget electric on-demand water heating. How many of these items does your family use in the morning or evening?
Electric water heater, tank type : 4.5-5.5 KW
Electric water heater, tankless 4 gpm: 18 KW
Electric clothes dryer: 3.4 KW
Electric stove eye: 1.2-2.5 KW
Electric oven: 3-4 KW
Microwave: 0.6-1.5 KW
Toaster/Toaster Oven: 1-1.5 KW
Coffee maker: 1 KW
Hair dryer: 1 KW
Household A/C, 2 Ton: 3.3 KW

Reply to  Mike McMillan
August 7, 2016 10:46 am

MM, did you know that installation was for voltage regulation, not energy storage per se. And that Beacon went bankrupt shortly thereafter.

August 6, 2016 11:40 pm

…So the Solar Panels are now used to charge the battery, not the house ??

Reply to  Marcus
August 7, 2016 8:21 pm

Yes, with complementary charging and discharging losses – you know, details.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
August 6, 2016 11:44 pm

A couple of lessons from history they seem to be ignoring:
1) Several hundred years validating the reality of economies of scale.
2) The Chinese experience with the Great Leap Forward, especially concerning the backyard steel furnaces.
Producing reliable power sufficient to maintain a modern industrial society requires dedicated infrastructure and competent people to keep it running. The typical home / small business user has a much more limited vision, and can only be expected to care about his own personal power situation. And a collection of 1,000 such people does not magically become an industrial-scale enterprise.

August 6, 2016 11:51 pm

Sorry about interrupting an irrational essay followed by irrational agenda driven comments.
Energy investments with a 7 year payback period are very questionable. It is also questionable that batteries will last that long even with professional maintenance.
It is also questionable that customers can save $500 year. PV implies a mild climate. Heating bills in cold climates provides an opportunity to save. I replaced a 25 heat pump in a hot climate because it was old. The lowered power bill because new systems are more efficient.
However, it would be questionable if $500 savings are available.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 1:22 am

At $14/kWh? Easy.

Reply to  Hlaford
August 7, 2016 9:47 am

I never got an electric bill that said the rate was $14/kwh. More like $0.07/kwh. Still have to pay for transmission services.
Your an idiot for listening to Eric.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 4:46 am

Sorry about interrupting an irrational essay followed by irrational agenda driven comments.
You’re retired and still don’t know your SUV driving countrymen that vote politicians who have to promise saving the world from climate doom.
In retirement there’s time to think about.

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
August 7, 2016 9:51 am

I have time for sailing and camping in the mountains. Not worried about doom and gloom.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
August 8, 2016 4:06 am


Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 7:20 am

A seven-year payback? I wouldn’t refinance my house on such bad terms, much less make large scale investments. There are always increased costs and decreased benefits (let’s just say because designers are optimists). At a seven year payback, those hidden costs and reduced benefits are very likely to bring this down to a negative.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 11:51 am

What is a 25 heat pump?

Reply to  John Harmsworth
August 7, 2016 4:03 pm

25 year old heat pump

August 7, 2016 12:07 am

Even if you pretend that humans are able to tweak CO2 (plant food ) so as to adjust the earth temperature to someone’s liking who thinks they have the right to set the earth thermostat ? Would the people of China want the USA to set the world’s temperature or vice versa . Memo to China … We intend to reduce the earth’s temperature so pleased be advised those northern provinces will be under snow and ice an extra 2 months per year .As a result the extra 200,000 deaths per year is our gift to you .
Keep buying our never to be repaid treasuries and who knows we could drop the earth’s temperature a quarter of a degree .

Uncle Gus
Reply to  Amber
August 7, 2016 5:22 am

Never quite seen the irrealism of it all in quite those terms. Thank you!

August 7, 2016 12:34 am

If the day is cloudy and the batteries have to supply power for 24 hours then this plant is more like 300 kW than 5 MW. At $20M for 300 kW this project is an exceedingly expensive power supply.

August 7, 2016 12:35 am

Companies like AGL are investing in solar so that they don’t have to sign PPA’s with wind farms.

Reply to  greggg
August 8, 2016 6:48 pm

It may be that it would be better if they did have PPA’s with good clauses. The Current Leftist Alberta government is is a 2 billion dollar confrontation with power companies because of a pretty standard clause that allows the power companies to collect increased costs caused by changes in government legislation or to terminate the purchase agreement. The government claims the clause was secretive. That is bull squirt as I wrote engineering contracts for decades that had similar clauses. Anyone can go to public World Bank Sample contract clauses to see examples. But then politicians think they are above the law, and particularly contract law. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out because these clauses have been around for a long time.
The point is, sometimes it is better to have a well written PPA than to have none
The Government of Alberta could be on the hook for over 2 billion dollars in cancelled contracts as a direct result of their Carbon Tax.

Eugene WR Gallun
August 7, 2016 12:41 am

There is the “green world” and then there is the “real world”. Where the mind dwells determines your behaviors.
All throughout history the “fantasies” of leaders have lead nations to destruction. On the current world stage, “socialist Venezuela” is undoubtedly the best example of the end game of “fantasy”.
If it were just a question of pumping in endless government money, the green fantasy could go on forever — but green policies are having real world consequences. Australia is not North Korea where, if the policies of the government bring about mass starvation, the people are expected to stand up and cheer. Democracies do have this habit of tossing the bums out. When the “green pain” gets too great the “green fantasy” will get the boot. As funny as it sounds, the greens implementing their policies is the last stage of their existence.
Eugene WR Gallun

tony mcleod
Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
August 7, 2016 4:02 am

Oh the irony. ” the green fantasy could go on forever”.
You want to talk about endless fantasy, tell me about endless economic grow in a finite system,

Uncle Gus
Reply to  tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 5:29 am

Son, you know what? It’s *not* a finite system!
I live in what used to be the centre of the worlds production for a non-renewable resource. The place? England’s South Downs. The resource? Flint. The peak period of production? About 10,000 years ago.
The idea that civilization would fall without an adequate supply of mineral oil will one day seem as quaint as the pre-Copernican universe.

August 7, 2016 12:56 am

The problem will always remain. Replacing a 24/7, ON DEMAND, unlimited supply with a combination of 10am-4pm solar, random wind generation, overlayed with a costly battery support mechanism (batteries charged of course with the same 10am-4pm solar/intermittent wind generation)
………Giles Parkinson. ……….what could possibly go wrong?

August 7, 2016 12:59 am

Am I the only one having a problem with the term “virtual power plant”? (Think “virtual reality”)

Reply to  4TimesAYear
August 7, 2016 1:34 am

Considering the electrochemical losses, the net energy is less than without this madness. So power plant it is not.
Another thing that runs on batteries is an electric car. charging it is not a mission critical thing, so just by interrupting charging cycle you obtain a lot of power. Provided of course you burn enough coal to power all those soylent green cars.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Hlaford
August 7, 2016 5:20 am

that advanced car batteries.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Hlaford
August 7, 2016 5:28 am

On the other hand there’s home powerstations with used 4cyl ford motors running standby going by heat exchange from exhaust gas.
Cheap rent, maintenance incl.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Hlaford
August 7, 2016 5:42 am

Of course soot separator and 2000 liter diesel tanks.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Hlaford
August 7, 2016 6:55 am
Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Hlaford
August 8, 2016 2:59 am

Reply to  4TimesAYear
August 7, 2016 2:06 am

@ 4Times, Yes that caught my eye as well. Must be the new catch word because nothing else has worked for them so far and seeing that our children are being pushed into virtual “reality” ( an oxymoron in my eyes) by our “education” ( read indoctrination) system and “recreation” ( bread and games) system , I weep for their and our not so virtual future.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  4TimesAYear
August 7, 2016 5:17 am

Virtual power plant: that is an inappropriate name. It is not virtual. That would be a water heater switch off device to reduce demand by the whole system at peak.
It is a real power plant. It is also a very expensive power plant. Why spread them out? Far better to have one large installation professionally managed.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
August 7, 2016 10:46 am

Why spread them out? To give more people the illusion they’ve done something. Meanwhile, Socialism creeps onward. By the time the batteries fail, it will be too late to do anything

Martin A
August 7, 2016 1:33 am

The system will cost $3,500, and AGL estimates it will take about seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.
My computer batteries don’t last seven years.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Martin A
August 7, 2016 9:15 am

I have an AA battery in the “mouse.”
It quits several times each year, and at the most inappropriate times.

August 7, 2016 1:55 am

How do they think that 5 MW reserve power (during how many hours?) can regulate the power grid if they have some 1500 MW of installed windpower in South Australia? Windpower can drop from full capacity to zero in less than 15 minutes state-wide. You need the same capacity of fast gasturbines in large part in hot standby (that is running at operating temperature without delivering power) to give a fast enough response to such a drop in power delivery… That means double investments in capacity with worse yield and lots of gas waste, thanks to all that (not so) “green” power…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
August 7, 2016 3:58 am

thinking like that just makes you a “baseloader” to be sneered at, while we all know rainbows and unicorns will deliver reliable power in SA. Off to the education camp for you!

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
August 7, 2016 7:30 am

Grid storage is better at responding during the ramp down of solar or wind (which are perfectly predicatable)
(better than ramping up gas, that is)

Matt Bergin
Reply to  Griff
August 7, 2016 9:07 am

No it is better to skip the wind and solar then you won’t need to ramp the gas up and down so much. By the way Griff it is impossible to predict wind and solar output. Anyone that thinks they can is lying to themselves.

Ed Bo
Reply to  Griff
August 7, 2016 10:37 am

Griff – You forgot the /sarc tag…

Reply to  Griff
August 7, 2016 1:37 pm

Solar is more or less predictable and non-foreseen local/regional cloudiness in general is slowly setting in. That gives that changes in solar panels output can be captured by relative slow baseload power factories like STEG (combined steam and gas turbines), high efficiency coal and even nuclear plants. These have a “normal” ramp-up or -down of about 1% to maximum 2% per minute.
For wind, that is impossible: I have a windmeter on my roof and that shows drops of high speed to zero (often as the night falls in) within minutes. That can be expanded over a grid to maximum 10-15 minutes state wide. Responding to a drop of near 1500 MW as is the installed wind power in South Astralia is simply impossible with the installed baseload, thus you need an installed backup of at least a large part of ~1500 MW of high speed ramp-up gas turbines, which have worse efficiency and in part need to be in hot standby…

Reply to  Griff
August 8, 2016 11:37 am

“(which are perfectly predicatable)”
If you mean “predictable”, they are nothing of the kind, not even close.
You’re making stuff up again, your mummy will be cross.

Barry Sheridan
August 7, 2016 2:02 am

It makes no sense to blame those leading this disastrous policy, instead the fault lies squarely with those who elected them.

Reply to  Barry Sheridan
August 7, 2016 2:23 am

That is utter BS Barry.
We elected them on their now proven false promises. It used to be ( and I guess I am giving away my age) that we trusted the doctors, cops on the corner, your banker and so on. Not anymore. The electorate these days only has so much time ( not enough of it) to educate themselves about what is going on inside our group of elected officials because most of are too busy keeping our heads above the water. So we elect “sincere” people that we thought might stand up for us.
THAT is the mistake, and if you look around many of us are waking up.
Blaming it on the electorate is assinine

Steve R
Reply to  asybot
August 7, 2016 3:03 am

Asbot. Whether you feel the electorate deserves the blame is immaterial. For all intents and purposes, the citizens are indeed responsible for every decision made by those elected. If they start a war, your kids have to fight it. If they destroy your electrical grid, you have to fix it. If they spend into oblivion, you have to repay it. There is simply no escape from this truth. You cant evade this truth by claiming you voted for the other guy.

Reply to  asybot
August 7, 2016 3:03 am

How can you not hold the voters (winning voters at least) responsible for their choices? It’s not like the politicians weren’t clear enough about which were the lies and which were the reveals. To absolve them – the voters – is what makes no sense.

Reply to  asybot
August 7, 2016 4:48 am

Do not be so modest.
The electors are to blame.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  asybot
August 7, 2016 8:34 am

Blaming it on the electorate is assinine

Right you are, asybot, ….. asinine it tiz, …. and most everyone under 40 years old knows that to be a fact.
And that is because the Public School teachers have been “brainwashing” their students for the past 3 decades that it is “not their fault, no matter what they did or do”. Any problems or harm that they are directly associated with IS NOT the fault of their actions or inaction ….. because it is always the fault of another person or thing.
And, ……. “Houston, we have a serious problem with the electorate
And that serious problem has very little to nothing to do with the “promises” being claimed by a politician in exchange for the “vote” of said electorate. (With the exception of a few persons who were PROMISD employment for their support)
Vote casting by the electorate, here in the US, regardless of whether it is local, state or national, has pretty much completely “morphed into” a highly partisan Political Party “contest” ….. and/or ….. a highly partisan Popularity “contest” between the different candidates.
And the above noted “contests” has resulted in a far greater problem, which is, ….. the electorate doesn’t associate or correlate the “person” they voted for ….. with the “sworn duties” of the officeholder that the elected person is mandated to perform.
A highly partisan Popularity “contest” between abortionists and pro-lifers should not be a prerequisite for being elected POTUS. (How is it possible for a pro-lifer POTUS to defend the citizens from Islamic/Muslim radical terrorists that are hell-bent on killing American infidels?)
One can “vote” their personal likes and dislikes in the Primary Elections.
But they had better “vote” for the safety, wellbeing and future of their State and Nation in the General Elections.

Barry Sheridan
Reply to  asybot
August 7, 2016 12:07 pm

Barack Obama clearly promised to implement policies that would drive up the price of electricity yet was still elected. Indeed he never has been held even remotely accountable for the damage he has done to the US economy. Politicians are often quite clear, but people still do not listen. It is not all false promises, though I take your point about the general loss of trust towards most, if not all sectors. It is very sad.

ferd berple
Reply to  asybot
August 8, 2016 11:43 am

fault lies squarely with those who elected them.
I you or or make a promise and then fail to deliver, we can be held accountable in court. If a politician makes a promise and then fails to deliver, there is no legal consequence whatsoever.
make politicians legally liable for their promises, as is the electorate and we would see an immediate change in the style of government.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Barry Sheridan
August 7, 2016 4:05 am

Explain how you elect a government that doesn’t want to inflict this kind of stupidity on you when all parties are saying the same thing? The UK’s Climate Change Act that will close down our economy, unless the truth finally dawns on the idiot politicians, only had 3 MPs vote against it.

Steve R
Reply to  Gerry, England
August 7, 2016 7:14 am

Gerry, as reasonable as your comment seems, it still does not absolve you of the responsibility.

Reply to  Gerry, England
August 7, 2016 10:54 am

The best description of the British major parties: “Two cheeks of the same arse.”

Barry Sheridan
Reply to  Gerry, England
August 7, 2016 12:14 pm

Britain has some unique issues given the attachment most of its people have towards the BBC. As this body is reluctant to highlight the dangers implicit in reducing power generation capacity much of nation remains oblivious. They of course will not be should it become impossible to keep the lights on. The nation has been close during last winter, government preferred to persuade industry to reduce power consumption rather than hit domestic users. That attitude cannot be sustained given the damage to an already frail economy.

Reply to  Gerry, England
August 7, 2016 8:42 pm

Steve R, Can you state any kind of logical explanation of your claim?
How is it anything more than an empty slogan like the possibly catchy but meaningless things often printed on buttons and tee shirts?
If, as is true so very much more often than not, every politician is offering only slightly different versions of the same disaster, giving you not even one possible vote for something sensible, in what way would you exercise this responsibility you think you have?
If you think you are going to get something that a politician promises, so you vote for him, you might have some logical responsibility for the outcome. Otherwise your statement is like the brainwashing from many “don’t think it through, just feel it” corners that we are ALL responsible for things we can’t possibly effect.

Reply to  Gerry, England
August 8, 2016 11:41 am

You could always try voting UKIP, Gerry.

August 7, 2016 2:32 am

Putting aside all green follies and economics for a moment…
The fundamental flaw of these distributed battery schemes (including Tesla’s powerwall) is this: Currently, the responsibility for providing stable, uninterrupted power to every single home falls squarely on the electricity provider and the cost of this stability is included in their price (including surcharges due to volatile wind and solar). If you ask customers to pay for their own battery systems to increase grid availability, it partially transfers this responsibility to the electricity consumer. Which utility client agreed to this? Where are the 1000+ pages of legal document to be signed by every single client?

Steve R
Reply to  philipcolet
August 7, 2016 7:16 am

Well said!

Reply to  philipcolet
August 7, 2016 3:21 pm

How about if the customer has the ability to provide power, then the provider doesn’t have to provide power as reliably kind of like Venezuela.

Ed Zuiderwijk
August 7, 2016 2:45 am

The doctor: “This patient needs a financial bloodletting”
It doesn’t help, therefore:
The doctor: “This patient needs an even bigger financial bloodletting”.
Welcome back to the Dark Ages.

Steve R
August 7, 2016 2:54 am

There needs to be a law that forbids government from meddling with the electrical grid.

Reply to  Steve R
August 7, 2016 10:55 am

It’s a utility. That train left the station over a century ago.

August 7, 2016 2:58 am

We’re viewing that the average savings for someone who has rooftop solar right now would be $500 a year. It’s really a way of optimising the energy produced out of their solar panel.” The system will cost $3,500, and AGL estimates it will take about seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.
OK, there are two things completely wrong about this.
1) Assumes no maintenance and no wear on the batteries (also no additional insurance cost for risk of fire and no interest on loan).
2) Even if all the assumptions on 1) are true, On pretty much all rooftop solar contracts, the utility is obligated to buy all the power the client produces, at a fixed price (no matter how expensive) even if there is an power surplus on the grid (even when the grid-level price is zero or negative, sometimes forcing the utility to pay someone to waste power, a cost also passed on to consumers). This means that the additional revenue for the solar power system owner equipped with these batteries is 0$, not 500$. The revenue is actually negative, because the battery system does not have a 100% conversion efficiency

Reply to  philipcolet
August 7, 2016 3:06 am

The funny part is when they call a fiat obligation on the utilities to take and balance for this vanity power, a “market.” Knaves or dupes?

John Harmsworth
Reply to  philipcolet
August 7, 2016 12:19 pm

This is what is called “simple” payback. Besides maintenance and repair, it makes no allowance for the time value of the money invested. The payback might be 7 years with interest at 0%. At 6% it’s more like 9 years. Replacing batteries, fried inverter, damage from spikes on the grid. By the time this turkey is paid off it needs to be replaced. Please sir, can I have another subsidy?

August 7, 2016 3:49 am

‘The system will cost $3,500, and AGL estimates it will take about seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.’
They are as ignorant of finance as they are of energy production and distribution.

tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 3:57 am

Blaming the price spike on renewables has been shown to be a load rubbish, and has repeatedly been debunked. Google it. Unfortunately, these zombie memes are so useful for idealogues desperate to disparage anything that threatens carbon emission.

Reply to  tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 4:06 am

quite right Tony, the energy price spikes in SA because rainbows and unicorns. Nothing to do with over reliance on unreliable power and over reliance on spot power. Google it! seriously? of course you will turn up references rationalising what happens in SA exclusively on some evil external conspiracy against SA , rather than what SA is doing to itself. How about instead of just googling things and believing what you read , try gathering information and thinking through it logically, free of dogma and pre conceived ideas.

Reply to  tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 4:13 am

“Blaming the price spike on renewables has been shown to be a load rubbish.”
Would these price spikes have occurred is we were relying on Coal, Oil and Natural Gas? Absolutely not. Only when they tamper with the energy markets do you get spikes.Enron was the result of the insane tempering that does on in the energy markets…all in the name of the greater good. No matter how you look at it, Government Regulations are almost always the cause of energy spikes. Drill Baby Drill and Dig Baby Dig would solve all our energy problems.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 6:47 am

Actually, we don`t have an energy problem, we have an ideological problem and a corruption problem.

Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 10:40 am

Price spikes occur on every grid on every very hot and very cold night. Long before renewable energy. It a supply and demand thing.
ENRON did not cause price spikes in California in in 2000/2001.
It was a shortage of generating capacity. First it was a drought year, less hydro. It was a hot summer, more demand. A a large nuke plant wiped bearings at was off line. A large coal plant in Utah blew the main transformer. Gas fired power plants were off line for upgrades because the state was slow in issuing environmental permits. A gas pipeline to Southern Cali ruptured.
As a result 26 MWe of capacity was not available, more than 1/3 of the normal generating capacity.
Public power, namely the city of Los Angles, gouged the hell out of customers with private utilities.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 10:56 am

Retired Kit P
No, I’m going to disagree with you there. Insider Enron (Erroron ?) books and interviews do show that Enron “sales teams” DID use circuitous re-routing and deliberately inefficient “channeling” of power through certain limited capacity transmission lines into and inside of California to artificially drive up local demand, and local currents to spike down supplies and to spike up demand to drive the spot market. Higher demand (for a limited time) and limited supply) for a limited time was enough for the Enron re-sales teams to meet their monthly profit requirements to stave off bankruptcy and drive up stock market futures for a few more weeks.
Since total demand and total supply (because they were averaged over several hours and then reported later!) was consistent, the Enron teams got away with it by selectively reporting (and selectively being investigated by “impartial” but incompetent CA state power auditors and CA state bureaucrats!) for a longer time.

Reply to  tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 4:30 am

Yet you could not produce one link.

Reply to  jamesbbkk
August 7, 2016 4:49 am

Yet you could not produce one link.

Show may anywhere in the world where Coal and Natural Gas can be blamed for driving the cost of energy higher? Coal and Gas work great everywhere it is tried. Only when you tamper with that system do you get problems. It takes regulations and subsidies to make renewables work, it doesn’t take subsidies to make conventional energy sources work, that is why everyone uses them. If the energy market isn’t working, it is because someone is tampering with it…it is that simple. Energy is abundant until a regulation alters that dynamic.

Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 5:08 am

I would not seek to prove that. My response was to the price-spikes-due-to-renewables-claim-is-rubbish-Google-it post. Price spikes are due to inadequate supply always and everywhere. Failure to plan and provide reliable low-cost electricity supply results in inadequate supply, obviously. Renewables by PV and windmills are obviously unreliable and by capacity factor are still expensive, the current glut in equipment notwithstanding, and are poorly scalable. Reliance on imports is a risky bet. I am thinking we agree that coal and gas plants in sufficient capacity do not result in $14/kWh power at the purchase point.

Reply to  jamesbbkk
August 7, 2016 6:43 am

Look up Enron the smartest guys in the room. They have this on video on netflix.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 4:53 am

And while we’re at it… your suggestion to “google it” won’t help to reveal the truth of renewable costs. Google famously stacks the deck to lead searchers to the results that they would have you find, rather than what is out there to be learned. Nevermind that Google listened to their own engineers (and accountants) and abandoned their quest to power their business with renewables due to their unreliability and high and unprofitable costs. Google is happily helping to force the renewables boondoggle onto the rest of us.
How is it that you don’t know this, tony mcleod?

Reply to  tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 5:20 am

Blaming the price spike on renewables has been shown to be a load rubbish, and has repeatedly been debunked. Google it. Unfortunately, these zombie memes are so useful for idealogues desperate to disparage anything that threatens carbon emission.

According to MSNBC, the government loaned solar panel company Solyndra $535 million in 2009. The move was set to stimulate economic growth through environmentally friendly jobs. But Solyndra recently declared bankruptcy, laying off 1,100 workers. – See more at:
Google-Owned Solar Company Requests $540 Million Bailout To Help Pay $1.6 Billion Loan
Read more:
Pending Bankruptcy Of Largest Solar Company Puts Alternative Energy Industry Into Full Meltdown Mode
Total Failure: Debt-Ridden Spanish Solar Energy Company Files For Bankruptcy
SunEdison Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
Wind and solar are filling for bankrucy because the economics don’t work, Coal and Gas companies are filing for bankrupcy because the regulations don’t work. One viable industry is being bankrupted to promote a non-viable industry. The regulation state at its best.

Reply to  tony mcleod
August 7, 2016 11:00 am

No evidence, just hand-waving.

August 7, 2016 4:07 am

We should be promoting the use of the “C” word.
Climate Change Legislation causes:
Catastrophic energy price spikes
Catastrophic Brown and Black Outs
Catastrophic Unemployment
Catastrophic Low Economic Growth
Catastrophic Decline is Science Education
Catastrophic Debt
Catastrophic Waste
Catastrophic Mis-allocation of Resources
Catastrophic ignorance of how the climate really works
Catastrophic Deception, Deceit and Dishonesty
Catastrophic Mistrust in our most important institutions
Catastrophic Corruption and Crony Capitalism
Catastrophic Opportunity Costs

Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 8:32 am

I forgot:
Catastrophic Fraud Waste and Abuse.

August 7, 2016 4:17 am

What powers Washington DC? Wind? Nope. Solar? Nope. Good ole Coal. Until we power Washington DC with these renewables, we shouldn’t force anyone else to try to make this nonsense work.

Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 4:50 am

Washington DC has an excess of power.
Unfortunately it has no poles or wires.

stan stendera
Reply to  toorightmate
August 7, 2016 7:33 am


Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  toorightmate
August 7, 2016 9:05 am

HA, does that make Washington, DC the 2nd largest underground copper “deposit” in the world, ……. with NYC being the largest?

Eugene WR Gallun
Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 9:59 am

If you want to put a windmill on top the white house you need only move O’bummer to the roof. — Eugene WR Gallun

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 11:36 am

The NE USA runs on renewable hydro power from Québec.
Thanks for the cash.
[The Niagara Falls power plant operators may disagree with your assumed Quebec location. .mod]

Gerry, England
August 7, 2016 4:18 am

The article also mentions something that has arisen here before I think – the cost of grid connection. It is all well and good for those who have been able to generate enough power not to need to draw any from the grid but as soon as they have a problem they expect the grid to come to their rescue. The generators are losing income that pays to maintain the grid so a connection fee has been suggested.

DC Cowboy
August 7, 2016 4:20 am

I think there’s a flaw in the logic here. “seven years to recover the cost” .. of the initial set of batteries. They do realize that these batteries aren’t going to last forever, right? What is the useful life of the batteries the consumer is purchasing?
I think there’s a good probability that they are going to have to replace those batteries before they have ‘recovered’ their cost, thus they will never ‘recover’ the costs.

August 7, 2016 4:30 am

Utilities were precluded from entering into longer-term agreements that would have allowed them to hedge their energy purchases and mitigate day-to-day swings in prices due to transient supply disruptions and demand spikes from hot weather.[citation needed]
PG&E yard in San Francisco
Then, in 2000, wholesale prices were deregulated, but retail prices were regulated for the incumbents as part of a deal with the regulator, allowing the incumbent utilities to recover the cost of assets that would be stranded as a result of greater competition, based on the expectation that “frozen” rates would remain higher than wholesale prices. This assumption remained true from April 1998 through May 2000.[citation needed]
Energy deregulation put the three companies that distribute electricity into a tough situation. Energy deregulation policy froze or capped the existing price of energy that the three energy distributors could charge.[13] Deregulating the producers of energy did not lower the cost of energy. Deregulation did not encourage new producers to create more power and drive down prices. Instead, with increasing demand for electricity, the producers of energy charged more for electricity.[14] The producers used moments of spike energy production to inflate the price of energy.[14] In January 2001, energy producers began shutting down plants to increase prices.[14]
When electricity wholesale prices exceeded retail prices, end user demand was unaffected, but the incumbent utility companies still had to purchase power, albeit at a loss. This allowed independent producers to manipulate prices in the electricity market by withholding electricity generation, arbitraging the price between internal generation and imported (interstate) power, and causing artificial transmission constraints. This was a procedure referred to as “gaming the market.” In economic terms, the incumbents who were still subject to retail price caps were faced with inelastic demand (see also: Demand response).

The above describes the Energy Crisis of 2000 and 2001. Blame Enron all you want, but the real cause was the regulation. Anyone with a 2nd grade level of economics could have predicted what happened. The Guys at Enron simply followed the rules written by the regulators. The nit-wits deregulated only 1/2 of the market. Any fool should have understood what was going to be the result. The problem is that the liberals don’t even bother to try to understand how Free Markets work, and why should they, when things go wrong they just blame that darn FREE market.

Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 11:03 am

The above is BS. No plants were shut down to game the market. For example, one of the plants my company owned was shutdown in May 2000 to upgrade from 1000 MWe to 2000 MWe using the same amount of gas by installing CCGT.
The retro fit was schedule years earlier but California has broken permitting process.
It was 106 in San Francisco, the first week in June. On paper there was 2000 MWe available. As good as were were, you can not make electricity with turbines in the crate. My company did build CCGT is Texas and Massachusetts in time to avoid rolling blackout. We were responsible for 20% of the new CCGT being built at the time.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 11:40 am

Retired K
Thanks for that set of factlets. The real work is more complicated than any simple explanation. The doubling of output is a very impressive achievement.

August 7, 2016 4:40 am

Musk said in a quarterly earnings call on Tuesday said that demand for the batteries has been “crazy off the hook,” with 38,000 reservations for the Powerwall. While storing residential power with the Powerwall is still more expensive than grid power, he said, “that doesn’t mean people won’t buy it.” Demand for the new batteries, including those for businesses and utilities, has been so strong that the company may need to considerably expand its $5 billion battery factory that’s under construction in Nevada.
The Economic Case for Tesla’s New Battery Gets Worse
SolarCity is only offering the bigger Powerwall to customers buying new rooftop solar systems. Customers can prepay $5,000, everything included, to add a nine-year battery lease to their system or buy the Tesla battery outright outright for $7,140. The 10 kilowatt-hour backup battery is priced competitively, as far as batteries go, selling at half the price of some competing products.
But if its sole purpose is to provide backup power to a home, the juice it offers is but a sip. The model puts out just 2 kilowatts of continuous power, which could be pretty much maxed out by a single vacuum cleaner, hair drier, microwave oven or a clothes iron. The battery isn’t powerful enough to operate a pair of space heaters; an entire home facing a winter power outage would need much more. In sunnier climes, meanwhile, it provides just enough energy to run one or two small window A/C units.

This is what Bloomberg says about Elon Musk’s batteries. People just seem to be blind to the truth…and why not, they are spending other people’s money. There is no incentive for someone to say this in nonsense.

Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 4:53 am

That is now 13 quarters on the trot that Elon the Conman has delivered a loss.
The losses are increasing in magnitude.
I think Oh Bummer should give Elon the Conman another $5bn to waste – pronto.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 11:51 am

For the record it is fair to point out that the power from a battery pack can be best applied to a heating load powering a heat pump, not a resistive load like, for example, a hair dryer.
Heat pumps in above freezing ambient temperatures have a return of 10:1. That is 10 KWH gives 100 KWH of heating. I feel it is a bit unfair to the system not to reflect what can be done by a careful selection of matched technologies.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
August 8, 2016 8:06 pm

Crispin –
I don’t think that is right for heating unless new heat pumps are much better. My thirteen year old 3.5 kW water to water heat pump has only a 3.5 to 4 COP – ie for every KWH of electricity, I get 3.5 to 4 KWH of heat. (Input water temperature of ~42 degrees F, output 35 to 37- extracting 5 to 7 degrees depending on flow, plus hot water supply from compressor cooling)
I notice the manufacturer’s brochures often quote a EER of 10 or a SEER of 20 but may only have a COP of 3 or 4. Good advertising and EER/SEER required information in the US, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Very different results in warm and cold conditions. Manufacturers don’t always provide all the details. Energy Star ratings do give both EER and COP.
For example this heat pump has an EER of 19.5 but a COP of 3.5. The EER is generally for cooling, the COP is for heating. Not everything is as it seems.

Reply to  co2islife
August 8, 2016 12:17 pm

$7,140. The 10 kilowatt-hour backup battery … puts out just 2 kilowatts of continuous power
about the same energy as a $300 gas powered generator and a couple of gallons of gasoline.

August 7, 2016 4:43 am

The Capitol Power Plant is a fossil-fuel burning power plant which provides steam and chilled water for the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and 19 other buildings in the Capitol Complex. Located at 25 E St SE in southeast Washington, D.C., it is the only coal-burning power plant in the District of Columbia, though it mostly uses natural gas.[1][2] The plant has been serving the Capitol since 1910, and is under the administration of the Architect of the Capitol (see 2 U.S.C. § 2162). Though it was originally built to supply the Capitol complex with electricity as well, the plant has not produced electricity for the Capitol since 1952.[1] Electricity generation is now handled by the same power grid and local electrical utility (Pepco) that serves the rest of metropolitan Washington.[3]
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the facility released 118,851 tons of carbon dioxide in 2007.[4] In 2009 it switched to using natural gas, unless coal was needed for backup capacity. In 2013, it was announced that the Capitol Power Plant would add a Cogeneration Plant to the CPP that will use natural gas in a combustion turbine in order to efficiently generate both electricity and heat for steam, thus further reducing emissions.[2]

This is how the US Capital gets its power. Coal and Natural Gas is good enough for them, but not the rest of us.

Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 11:14 am

Would you like a list of all the nuke plants around DC?

Robert of Ottawa
August 7, 2016 4:54 am

Let`s see, off peak solar power is stored in the batteries … at night!
The system will pay for itself in seven years!

August 7, 2016 5:07 am

So the 1,368 W/m2 is reduced to an average of 342 W/m2 over the entire surface of our spherical planet.
There are physical limitations as to the amount of energy a solar panel can collect. During the day the most it can collect is around 684 W/m^2. Is that enough to power a house? How many Watts does an average house use in a day, and how much roof area is there?

Curious George
Reply to  co2islife
August 7, 2016 8:16 am

As usual, things are a little more complex. In subtropics and tropics your peak can be 1,368. Not in Germany, where the sun is never directly overhead. It gets worse as you go further North.

Johann Wundersamer
August 7, 2016 5:07 am

The big leap forward: now China is ahead in science and technology and it’s efficient workers need pulverized rhinoceros horns for medical use.
For social media thei’re somewhat, say, fenced.

Bruce Cobb
August 7, 2016 5:15 am

With Greenies you have to watch the pea. The MO is to shift costs elsewhere, onto the backs of ratepayers and taxpayers, and then pretend that those costs don’t exsist. But their dishonesty doesn’t stop there. Those who buy into their greenie schemes thinking they’ll save money, all while helping “save the planet” are being snookered as well.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 7, 2016 12:45 pm

This is exactly right. They justify the public investment because they say it’s good for the planet but then keep that money out of the conversation when talking about the costs. Apparently politicians lie! Who knew?

DC Cowboy
August 7, 2016 5:17 am

Individual home solar is a wonderful idea, it just doesn’t make economic sense yet and I’m not certain that it ever will, barring an unforeseen technological breakthrough. I’d love to have solar on my roof, but when I ran the numbers it makes no sense economically.
I live in central Florida, my home faces north and is located in an area devoid of large trees (I back up to the 5th green of a 9 hole golf course). My roof has sufficient space facing south to easily accommodate a 5KW rated set of solar panels and I would get a good bit of power from them, maybe enough to run the home from say 11am – 3pm with a significant contribution during other daylight hours. I think it would actually accommodate a set of 10KW panels but that’s probably far too much for me to use – hey, maybe I could offer my neighbors some of the excess power during the day – for a small fee, I could be come my own energy company ;). The installed cost of a 5KW set of panels locally is somewhere between $15-18K. If I were to want a battery storage system, like the Tesla 7KW PowerWall, $3000 system (they’ve already dropped the 10KW $3,500 system (system only, installation is ‘extra’ – Solar City will install the 7KW system for $5000) due to ‘misreading the demand’ and AFAIK they haven’t delivered any of the 7KW systems yet). There are other battery ‘storage’ systems available but they are entirely too awkward and I’m not overly enthused about keeping a large set of lead-acid batteries (and the ensuing maintenance requirement implied plus the small issue of the H2S emitted during charging). Not that I’m overly enthused about the increased fire risk a set of Lithium ion batteries implies either (plus the fact that I would have to cool the garage where these things would be housed as well, garages in Florida in the summer can reach temps around 120-130F during the day and the Tesla Powerwall system temp range tops out at 110F – not that you’d probably want to operate it at the maximum temp range). Also, lets just say my homeowners insurance company was less than enthusiastic about insuring the entire setup at the same premium price I now pay. They seemed to think there was an increased risk of wind damage to the solar panels and roof in one of the most active thunderstorm/tornado/hurricane areas in the country and that the batteries posed an additional fire risk … go figure. So they decided that I was well within my rights to install this stuff, but, they wouldn’t cover it nor any damages to the rest of the house if it should happen to rip the roof off in a storm or catch fire, or damage appliances if there was a problem with load that could be traced to the equipment/batteries.
Right now my electric bill runs an average of about $150/mo, so, if you add up the costs of the panels, inverters, battery systems, maintenance & repair, additional risk of the uninsured system and factor in whatever ‘savings’ I get from the power generated, I think I would be in a negative revenue position overall before I factor in replacement costs for the battery storage system.
Costs are 14-16K for the 7KW panels, $3500 for the Powerwall, $5000 for the installation of said power wall — total around $22-24K. It just doesn’t make economic sense.

Reply to  DC Cowboy
August 7, 2016 5:41 am

And then the hurricane comes through and takes the panels off your roof.

Reply to  DC Cowboy
August 7, 2016 7:32 am

But it will… sooner, rather than later.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Griff
August 7, 2016 8:32 am

Yes, and pigs will fly too.

David Smith
Reply to  Griff
August 7, 2016 1:58 pm

No it won’t.

Reply to  Griff
August 8, 2016 11:48 am

Still making stuff up, Grifter?
That’s naughty!

Curious George
Reply to  DC Cowboy
August 7, 2016 8:20 am

Get the Powerwall. Lead-acid batteries are too heavy for your walls. 🙂

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  DC Cowboy
August 7, 2016 7:49 pm

In Kitchener, next door to Waterloo, there are new ‘net zero’ houses for sale. The net zero part of course refers to the power generation on the roof. Everything considered, the add-on is worth CDN$52,000.
You can never save that back.

August 7, 2016 5:30 am

The graphic should show Australian currency, not US.

August 7, 2016 5:46 am

What about the danger of installing such battery systems in a house…..?….
What is the cost and the efficiency of the safety measurement that such installments require, especially when so widely applied in hoses with children and elders around……….?
Is the insurance premium for such houses with these kind of systems going a be “safe” or with time increasing as by default as the risk increases?
How does this play with the numbers of cost-efficiency for such as?
As far as I can tell and know, such installed systems require a high maintenance and safety procedures and extra supportive expertise and equipment.
Unless someone has no means to have a serf electrician employed in his house service, or the means to afford a regular periodic electrical checkup-maintenance service, then the safety for such as systems is only an illusion……
Is this included in the cost-efficiency assessment?
What actually the risk v profit is in this case?

Bill Illis
Reply to  whiten
August 7, 2016 7:32 am

The most efficient battery systems are lithium-ion and they can catch fire.
If you want one of the lithium-ion systems, it needs to be a weather safe mechanical box at least 20 feet from the house or other buildings. Of course, homeowners are not told this by the companies selling them or by the green gangs and they are getting installed against the house or in basements etc.
There are also some carbon gel systems that are safer but they are nearly as efficient.

Curious George
Reply to  Bill Illis
August 7, 2016 8:25 am

According to Wikipedia, the lithium battery efficiency tops at 90%, durability up to 1200 cycles. Lead acid battery efficiency tops at 95%, durability 800 cycles. Do your homework.

Reply to  Bill Illis
August 7, 2016 11:35 am

1200 cycles !!!!
Less than 4 years – oh dear!

Reply to  Bill Illis
August 7, 2016 12:41 pm

Bill Illis
August 7, 2016 at 7:32 am
Thanks for your reply Bill.
But if only it was that thing about the safety.
You see there is another thing about the battery systems installed in houses.
It is an energy source inside the house, where the relation between it and the load is in a “one to one”,
The probable current surges during the usage of that energy due to faults and errors will have maximal impact and a high damage to equipment and installation with a very high risk and collateral damages.
You see, the power supplied to any house by the network comes from an energy source miles away, perhaps 100 of miles away, through a network.where the relation with any particular house is not in a “one.
to one”…….and the impact of surges due to problems, faults and errors with the load will have a minimal impact as the source of the energy will not bounce back as it is far away with a huge network in between damping down and absorbing most of the effect.
Is a better safety in numbers….
Also even in the case of a surge in the network, due to faults and problems in the network, it, the surge and the effect will be damped down and absorbed more efficiently by the network itself, without causing any high risk impact to the load.
Bigger and wider the network, more stable it is. Besides such networks are operated, maintained, serviced and repaired by highly skilled professionals…..7/11
So bigger the power supply by the battery systems installed in houses, higher is the risk and bigger the possible damages, it comes to a point that it really becomes very high risk.
No matter how good and modern such systems could be, still can not fix that essential problem “the one to one relation” between the energy source and the load.
The only one profiting in such schemes is only the salesman…….

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Bill Illis
August 7, 2016 7:55 pm

Deep cycle lead acid batteries are reliable for far more than 1000 cycles. Tubular cells. Amazing and used as traction batteries for good reason. Lead plate cells are pointless. Float applications only.
The discharge on the tubular cells (voltage minimum) must be carefully controlled. Best to disconnect at 10.7 volts. Below that they suffer mechanical problems.
BTW long life batteries have more space under the bottom of the rods/plates. That means it takes longer for the debris to short them out. Open the shorted battery, clean out the lead gunk and they work again. This is a routine maintenance task in the Caribbean Islands where batteries are hard to come by. For a fixed application lead-acid is a far better choice.
[The mods question the wisdom of the average and below-average CAGW-inspired liberal voter to work underneath gallons of sulfuric acid, around charged electrical batteries releasing hydrogen and sulfuric acid requiring weekly and monthly maintenance; with lead, copper, cadmium, and hydrogen in open-topped containers on flimsy basement shelves …. .mod]

Leo G
August 7, 2016 5:51 am

Do I have this right? The project costs $25,000 per household installed, the household is charged $3,500, for an annual savings in energy from the grid of $500 and each expects to break even on that basis after 7 years (provided the real discount rate remains 2.4%, the householder continues residence, and the battery system lasts)
So some entity loses about $21,500 for each household installed. Would that explain why the scheme isn’t being rolled out to the remaining 458,000+ households in the state?

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Leo G
August 7, 2016 1:01 pm

It has been determined that you either have dangerous, mutant mathematical abilities or a calculator enabled by dangerous, mutant, analytical thought processes. All have been determined as threatening to our green utopian vision and the perpetuation of our benevolent, green government. Please remain mute and motionless and agents of our glorious green state will be by shortly to pick you up. You will be processed into soylent green for the many, many starving people.

Reply to  Leo G
August 7, 2016 1:36 pm

The interest on the $25,000 at a low 5% takes it to $35,000, the householder loses any bonus rebate they currently receive as the power is stored and use off-peak, add another $500-$1500 pa.
Win,win,win for the battery company the financiers and the people who receive a kickback for proposing it.
Lose, lose lose for everyone else.

August 7, 2016 6:31 am

This is how we end up with this mess:

August 7, 2016 6:59 am
Reply to  john
August 7, 2016 7:14 am

Wow, I can’t believe somebody was standing halfway up the tower while it was burning…You can see him fall when it explodes at 5:43…

August 7, 2016 7:15 am

“… seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.” And the battery life is about seven years.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Tomer D. Tamarkin
August 7, 2016 7:34 am

And soon after, the government will contract with a “battery leasing company” who will install (paid for by the government), maintain and service (paid by a monthly fee from the homeowner) these batteries. The contracts will go out to someone who is related to whoever runs the granting authority and government subsidies and monthly leasing fees will increase annually. Once a majority of people are comfortable with that, it will never go away.

August 7, 2016 7:15 am


August 7, 2016 7:32 am

The Molten Salt Reactor is the way forward for 24×7 emission free energy (CO2 is plant food and more the merrier). Nuclear energy is 3-5 Million times the energy density of solar and wind. Why the Sierra Club and Save the Earth types want nature killing RE that chops birds, bats and vistas or broils birds and insects covering vast tracts of land is beyond me.

August 7, 2016 7:41 am

Thermalization blocks any significant influence CO2 might have on climate. Increasing water vapor is countering the expected global temperature decline from blank sun & decline in net ocean cycle temperature.
Changing from coal to natural gas adds water vapor.

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
August 7, 2016 8:19 am

“Changing from coal to natural gas adds water vapor.”
That is too rich, I love it. These environmentalists are the biggest threat to the earth. What a group of nit-wits.

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
August 7, 2016 8:31 am

This is a wonderful article, and helps explain a few of the issues that are misunderstood, expecially the “thermailization” of the energy. I never quite completely understood the path heat took out of the atmosphere, or that big dip at 15&micron;. If the CO2 energy is thermalized, that IR dip at 15&micron; isn’t trapped heat, it is thermalized energy. The energy is simply transfered to other wavelengths and/or converted in form, keeping with the conservation of energy.

August 7, 2016 8:19 am

So according to the ecoloons in the DPR SA, we can have all this great renewable power on only one condition: That DPR SA have a sufficiently thick interconnect to someone who can feed in coal power for up to 100% of DPR SA’s needs when the wind is off.
It shouldn’t be hard to find a categorical quote.
As such, it shouldn’t be hard to lead an ecoloon into arguing that since Oz cannot have an interconnect with anyone else (unlike Denmark) we can’t build a renewable grid.

August 7, 2016 8:29 am

Even after all the blackouts and brownouts in California in the early 2000’s, there was no replacement of the politicians who created the situation. They had Enron to blame, and did, and remained in place.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 7, 2016 11:26 am

Governor Grey Davis was recalled.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 12:18 pm

Energy policy was not a major issue in the recall. It was mostly Davis trading favors for campaign contributions.

Steve Oregon
August 7, 2016 8:38 am

No no no. There’s no problem with the policies. Renewables, power supply, cost and math are just getting a bad rap from the perpetual resistance by naysaying critics.
If they were silenced the resulting uniform optimism would strengthen the weaknesses and iron out the wrinkles.
It’s vital that everyone become believers and get on board.
That sort of buy in is necessary to move beyond fossil fuel use and avoid catastrophe.

August 7, 2016 9:20 am

Government Whoring is a first-order cause of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Economic Misalignments. To compensate, there will be progressive debt, creative destruction, and redistributive change.

August 7, 2016 9:36 am

“Whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.”
Prepare to duck.

August 7, 2016 10:02 am

“that advanced car batteries”
Is that code for more expensive that do not work any better?

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 8:35 pm

This may be too obvious but you don’t select a battery type based on portability for a fixed installation! Car batteries are crafted for high energy density per unit of mass. Mass is irrelevant if it is sitting on your garage floor.
The big lithium battery bolts onto the wall? What the heck for? Why stick a honking great battery on the wall when it can sit on the floor under a bench?
If you want to store a lot of power buy a second hand submarine battery. I once talked to a HAM operator in the Congo who ran his whole house on one (1) such battery.
You don’t build a fixed-in-place peak load battery system on technology developed for drones. Get real!

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
August 8, 2016 8:37 pm

On the farm in the 50’s we had a whole shed full or lead acid batteries charged from an old diesel generator. Very little demand. Refrigerator was cut lake ice under sawdust and a root cellar. Heat was wood. Lighting was mostly kerosene lamps or naptha lanterns and candles. Electricity use was minimal, and generally when company was about. Seems like we are going backwards by 60+ years.

August 7, 2016 10:11 am

“On the other hand there’s home powerstations with used 4cyl ford motors running standby going by heat exchange from exhaust gas.”
That what I do with my big block Chevy V-8 in the motor home. Going down the road in winter, my home and hot water is heated off the radiator.
Of course it is not economical.

Harry Passfield
August 7, 2016 10:53 am

I’ll wager that chief executive of AGL, Andy Vesey, will see a huge benefit to his income is less than seven years.

August 7, 2016 1:05 pm

We’re viewing that the average savings for someone who has rooftop solar right now would be $500 a year.
How? Any excess peak power is now paid at a bonus rate over the normal rate and generating income for the solar owner, if this power is diverted into a battery it will be used during the normal and off-peak period costing the owner money.

August 7, 2016 4:57 pm

“No, I’m going to disagree with you there. ”
So you are saying there was excess generating capacity? Did you watch the situation on a daily basis while working for a company doing or did you get your info from wiki?
The Cali energy czar pointing a finger at companies investing in Cali was S. David Freeman, GM of LA dept of water and power. Before that he was GM of Sacramento Municipal Utility District closing their nuke plant. The man is a very slick liar.
Who had excess power to sell, how much did the sell for into the CAISO? The biggest gouger was S. David Freeman and LADWP.
I did not work for ENRON. I worked for a competitor. Our volume was much smaller but our EBIT was about the same. We made a profit by carefully selecting projects and delivering value to customers.
The nuclear and engineering services part of the company I worked for was sold so I ended up with my career with a different company. As a matter of disclosure, a significant part of my retirement portfolio is in stock of the original company.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
August 7, 2016 6:01 pm

No, not “excess” generating power. There was not enough.
ENRON made the problem WORSE by using that restriction in generation capacity to artificially FORCE (reroute) large and unpredictable current loads through transmission lines restrictions and switchyards. THAT created local underloads, overloads, and shortages. THAT then played the spot market for electrical power across the region. BUT, because Enron controlled the switchyards and transmission lines, they could predict ahead of time where the spot market was going to durge (have higher short term prices) and where it would drop – have more power than was locally needed (and so have locally lower prices than the average reginoal market.
Buy low (below the average market price for electricity) and create a market where you can instanteously take that sudden surplus of the same product and “sell high”? That is how they made their money – by the reslling of the local surplus markets to the local shortages.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 7, 2016 10:27 pm

What you described is / was not a “market.” Blaming Enron operators for the massive failure (or rather revelation) of CA deregulation (anything but) and grid mismanagement is much like blaming bankers for the massive failures (or rather revelations) occurring in 2007-08 (and before) under the constant scrutiny of central bankers and scads of agencies with hundreds of thousands of agents, employees, and contractors.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 8, 2016 1:44 pm

“BUT, because Enron controlled the switchyards and transmission lines,”
RACook could you be more specific?
ENRON was not a California utility. CA ISO controlled the controlled the California grid, BPA in in the PNW.
My experience interfacing with grid is before deregulation. Sometimes we would need the load dispatchers permission to run a test. Load dispatchers would interface with other utility load dispatchers.
Later, I worked for one of the largest US utilities (built more nuke plant than the entire state of California). I had to very accurate weather forecasts. Power companies did not predict load changes by calling the flake at the local TV station. We designed and built our own nuke and coal plants. Because of deregulation we bought a large natural gas company Like ENRON because that industry had already been deregulated. Moving natural gas around would be a big part of competing the power industry. We controlled the power plants, transmission lines, gas pipelines, built 40% of new CCGT power plants and captured 50% of GE’s CCGT production line. We also cofounded a marketing trading exchange. We had cell tower business lines, internet business lines, and water treatment system business lines. All those things utilities do.
The point is that it is very complicated.
ENRON was a natural gas pipeline company. They bought a small Oregon utility to get into the power marketing business. Epic failure.
One reason for failure is ethics. Power is a public service. We are making electricity for our neighbors. Deregulation may increase the number of neighbors you have but violating trust is bad for business. Second is experience, my company had been excelling at building and operating power plants for a hundred years.
Third is picking new markets. California was ripe because it was easy to do a better job than California utilities except ENRON did not have that experience. My CEO was asked at a company meeting why were were not building power plants in some of the big markets in other countries. He tacked fully said that uncertainty in the legal systems for enforcing contracts was good reason to go slow. ENRON lost billions.
At the time, I did not jump up and ask what we were doing in California. Next time California has an emergency of their own making and needs power, there will be a chorus of show us the money. The only winner in the Cali energy crisis were the lawyers. My company did not do too bad because just like we are better operating power plants, our lawyers are better too. However, we left California because we like making power more than fighting in court.
My point is that I think ENRON was small potatoes and was just an easy target.
On a personal note, I got a call about partnering with ENRON on the Stateline wind farm which would have been the second and biggest wind farm in the PNW. I advised against it and we did not participate. ENRON shareholders paid for it, and two VP scammed it as a small business selling renewable energy to a military base in California. Both served time in a federal prison.
RACook would win a debate based on what is reported by journalists. My opinions on this are based on random observations and analysis. ENRON did not control the grid.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
August 8, 2016 8:51 pm

Retired Kit
With deregulation it is even more complicated. With grid inter-ties the complexity is an order of magnitude greater as each utility is constantly looking for the lowest priced power. Highly computerized and beyond my limited comprehension.
British Columbia, for example, is often a net importer of power because it can buy power cheaper than it can produce it even though it has lots of capacity. Sometimes while BC is buying cheap power from south of the border, they export power to Alberta and make money on the differential. Many industries have also discovered they can produce power cheaper than buying it by using their waste streams (sawmills, pulp and paper, wood processing, petrochemical plants). Utilities are buying some industries excess power. So instead of industry being a power demand, some have become a power source.

Patrick MJD
August 7, 2016 9:13 pm

South Australia; The home of the person who caused Australia’s worst IT disaster.

August 8, 2016 2:53 am

The watermelons are getting more desperate by the day and using any means they can to shut down their critics-
Bodies like ACMA are typically stacked with the usual suspects nowadays and although they knew enough not to get into an ugly debate over the facts, they nevertheless took the opportunity to slime Bolty to justify themselves to their watermelon fan base. US readers with an enshrined Constitutional right to free speech would be rightly disgusted that an anonymous complainant can effect that sort of Kangaroo Court, all on the taxpayer dime. They can hide behind their infiltrated institutions in this manner with their dodgy science, but in the long run their prescriptions like SA ‘s increasing reliance on wind energy will find them out. Just a matter of the other States following their lead and exposing their lunar fallacy of composition.

Peter S
August 8, 2016 5:01 am

I was involved inan AGL focus groupon this policy. What was clear was that AGL was not going to pay for the batteries. They were looking for suckers who would.

August 8, 2016 12:55 pm

seven years for solar customers to recover the costs.
Yeah, right. And I have some swampland to sell……

Reply to  beng135
August 8, 2016 1:29 pm

Provided that aren’t taxpayers too.

August 8, 2016 1:28 pm

Well, they could always try pump storage in the Outback.

August 8, 2016 10:11 pm

“British Columbia, for example, is often a net importer of power because it can buy power cheaper than it can produce it even though it has lots of capacity.”
I am a little surprised by that considering the amount of hydro in BC. It would not surprise me if coal generated power goes north to BC in the winter.

August 9, 2016 8:50 pm

South Australia sails close to the wind again-
Notice how the southern State capitals of Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart (plus Canberra) are all sharing similar winter temps as the top of the winter Antarctic lows track across the bottom of the continent from West to East and lotsa folks are belting their reverse cycle aircons.

August 9, 2016 8:52 pm
August 11, 2016 11:57 am

@ Retired Kit P
“British Columbia, for example, is often a net importer of power because it can buy power cheaper than it can produce it even though it has lots of capacity.”
I am a little surprised by that considering the amount of hydro in BC. It would not surprise me if coal generated power goes north to BC in the winter.”
You may not see this as the page is dated, but since 2001, BC is a net import of power about 50% of the time.
There are detailed explanations of this on one of the regulatory sites that I don’t have at hand at the moment but if I recall correctly, it has a lot to do with the spot price of electricity which is a constantly moving target.
Maybe I’ll repost next time I see your name.
Things are not always what they seem.

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