South Australia Embraces a Command Economy to Fix Green Energy Woes

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Instead of coming clean on policy failures, South Australia, the world’s renewable energy crash test dummy, has announced a decision to ditch free markets and assume direct government control of the electricity grid, in an effort to stabilise their self inflicted renewable energy nightmare.

SA power: Energy Minister to be given more control in state’s $500m plan to secure future

By political reporters Nick Harmsen and Angelique Donnellan

The South Australian Government has announced it will spend more than $500 million to build a new gas-fired power plant and Australia’s largest battery as it moves to secure the state’s energy supplies.

The government will build, own and operate a new $360 million, 250-megawatt gas-fired power plant

Australia’s largest battery will be built before next summer, by the private sector, and be funded from a $150 million renewable technology fund

SA’s energy minister will have the power to order a generator to be switched on if more supply is needed (a power held by the AEMO)

Announcing the energy plan in the wake of blackouts and load-shedding, SA Premier Jay Weatherill said his government would take control by ensuring the energy minister was given powers to direct the market.

The plan would involve building, owning and operating a $360 million, 250-megawatt gas-fired plant to provide power grid stability and for emergency power needs.

The private sector would build Australia’s largest battery before next summer, with a 100MW output, Mr Weatherill told a news conference.

The venture would be funded from a new $150 million renewable technology fund, he said.

“We think that a secure energy system should have multiple sources. It is a question of speed as well,” he said.

“A battery could be delivered quickly, we are advised, but we want multiple sources of redundancy, if you like, in our electricity system so that we have got more service efficiency.

“The other thing with a battery, which is attractive, is that it can be done quite economically. The battery can become essentially a player in the market and, to some degree, pay for itself.”

Gas-fired plant for emergency use

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the gas-fired power plant could be turned on “in an emergency” if an electricity shortfall was forecast.

Read more:

By seizing direct control of the grid, South Australian authorities are also assuming total responsibility for its stability. There will be nowhere to hide, next time their unreliable electric supply nightmare collapses.

313 thoughts on “South Australia Embraces a Command Economy to Fix Green Energy Woes

  1. The South Australian madness to continue to rely on Musk’s batteries and leave the gas plant for emergency only. Madness!

    And quite clearly, not admitting the very same politicians created the mess.

    • Appears to be two-year-old child delusional thinking and policy directives based on urban myths, catch-phrases, cliches, and propaganda, glued together for a power plan. Apparently things like engineering are not part of their work schedule any more. Wait, I have an idea. Just incredible. Hook together 1 billion 9-volt rechargable radio batteries for emergency power. The delusion of a battery world is a core part of greenthink for some reason. A sort of holy grail or shangrila to be found in the nearby mountains.

      • It’s humanity’s introduction to a three-tiered as yet-to-be unleashed sun-wind-battery trifecta scam!

        Rube Goldberg lives!

        Suckers are being born every second now!

        Tell me this is an early April Fool’s joke?

        Yo, Tesla, stop trying to dig out of your grave. These savants buried you face down.

      • Consider, the chief advantage of a battery isn’t the storage, it’s the portability. That’s what makes them worth their often hazardous components and the Thermo2 tax to charge them up.

        Making a battery too big to carry defeats the purpose. 😐

      • So, will the first Grid Scale 100MW Tesla Battery “Melt Down” spell the end of renewables?

      • Well, let’s see. 100 MWh is 360 GJ. The heat of detonation of TNT is about 4 MJ/kg, so this is equivalent to 90 tonnes of TNT. Of course, one will not get 100% efficiency. But, I still think I would like to be farther than 100 feet back. Maybe 100 yards. In a bunker.

      • In what way is a massive Musk battery “renewable” ? Because it needs to “renewed” every 5 or ten years?

      • “South Australia, the world’s renewable energy crash test dummy”

        Well, I suppose the whole point of having a crash test dummy is to drive it into a wall. Thanks to South Australia for volunteering to further our understanding of the problems of state scale renewable power generation.

      • That’s $150 million worth of toxic waste batteries that have to be renewed every 5 to 10 years. The renewal will not be in discounted prices.

      • Greg:

        In what way is a massive Musk battery “renewable” ? Because it needs to “renewed” every 5 or ten years?

        For Musk, it looks like a “renewable” source of revenue.

      • A $150,000,000 battery? Really, that’s what they think the grid needs, is a battery, and a gas fired power plant that will just sit there in case of an emergency where they will simply “turn it on”.

        A 20 MW battery will supply stability on a grid with 20 GW of power? That’s cute.

      • RWturner: Clearly, the battery is just the distraction so that people will not see that the gas generator is in fact a capitulation. They have realized that there is no reliable replacement for fossil fuels, and so are building a new gas power plant to stabilize their grid. But by also building this massive battery, they are making it look like they are still committed to ‘renewables’.

      • The battery is to provide electricity while the gas plant is powering up.
        The thing they don’t mention is that not only do they have to pay to build both the battery pack and the power plant, but they are going to have to pay to keep the power plant manned in case it’s needed. Won’t be enough to time to call the workers to come in from home.

      • So the Gas Generation Plant will only be fired up in case of Emergency…seeing as SA is in a constant state of emergency, the Gas powered Generator will be constantly fired up and On Line

      • “Well, I suppose the whole point of having a crash test dummy is to drive it into a wall.”

        That’s funny, Greg! To everyone but those poor souls who live in South Australia. At least we will have an example to point to of what not to do in the future.

      • How much carbon “pollution” will be emitted in building this megabattery? I weep for the trans-gender baby polar bears.

      • @MarkW The battery is to provide electricity while the gas plant is powering up.
        The thing they don’t mention is that not only do they have to pay to build both the battery pack and the power plant, but they are going to have to pay to keep the power plant manned in case it’s needed. Won’t be enough to time to call the workers to come in from home.

        Power generation is the only industry where labor is considered a fixed expense. Two or three people can easily run that plant, Belle River Power Plant is run by 3 people during the night shift, not counting security and has 2 coal units and 3 gas turbines with a Nameplate capacity 1,664 MWe.

    • With power bills surging, dwindling and dodgy power supply, highest unemployment in the land, industry shutting down or moving interstate and an alarmist Premier as mad as, you’d think there’d be no better time to be the Opposition Leader. Who’s that, you ask? Exactly. Last I heard he/she was trapped in a paper bag.

      • Why the hell would you want to be a political leader in a basket case state like Sth Australia.
        Unfortunately the rest of Australia will end up bailing them out as usual via subsidised GST payments and more submarine projects.
        Time they were made to stand on their own 2 feet.

      • Forget the battery red herring. South Australia is the canary in the renewables pipeline and it has expired. It’s dead. No longer on its perch. A lesson and a warning to other states who may wish to follow the clean, green and stupid machine agenda.

      • @ Tim March 14, 2017 at 6:37 am

        “Forget the battery red herring. South Australia is the canary in the renewables pipeline and it has expired. It’s dead. No longer on its perch. A lesson and a warning to other states who may wish to follow the clean, green and stupid machine agenda.”

        That canary’s not dead, its just resting…with apologies to Monte Python.

    • Batteries are an enormously important invention as a way to store electrons for future use. They are in every nook and cranny of our lives…toys, flashlights, power tools, automobiles, computer back-up, emergency power, medical devices, etc. They are indispensable and we would experience a tremendous loss without them.
      Now they are being tried on a much larger scale to store excess power from renewables and provide valuable load-leveling technology primarily due to the existence of renewable power. To pooh-pooh battery storage is to deny the forward march of technology and all the variables new technology brings. Large battery storage definitely is a new and exciting experiment and is one of the only relatively fast and compact ways of storing excess electrons we currently have. The storage densities are constantly improving, the chemistries are improving and the costs are coming down rather quickly.
      We are going to have renewables going forward in the future and we are going to have to figure out ways to store excess electrons to be used at a future time. Batteries (of all kinds) are one option. Experiments need to happen. Data needs to be gathered. Money needs to be spent. We should be looking forward to the results and not predicting eminent failure before results are in. We already know the advantages and disadvantages of fossil fuel energy. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of future energy systems with the same scientific process.

      • Money needs to be spent.
        The simple question is this. Why should the taxpayers be on the hook to smooth out the renewable energy spikes? They never had to do this for coal or gas fired plants.

        Shouldn’t the wind and solar plants be responsible to pay for their own battery and gas fired backup, so that they can deliver reliable power? Why pay premium prices for wind and solar, when they are delivering an inferior (unreliable) power.

      • Nobody denies that batteries exist and in certain limited areas, they are useful.
        We are poo-pooing batteries because they are incapable of performing this function and are way too expensive to boot.
        Regardless, your claim that we are going to have renewables is also laughable.

        PS: If you want to spend your own money on these “experiments”, be my guess. But we both know that you are dreaming about spending other people’s money.

      • Batteries ARE getting better all the time, and a lot of money is being spent to accomplish that. But we’re still a long way from a battery that is compact, very efficient, dirt cheap, charges quickly, discharges quickly, works from say -50 to +50C, won’t catch fire, can be cycled thousands of times, etc,etc, etc.

        My opinion is that non-dispatchable energy sources have very limited utility without batteries that don’t exist today and probably won’t exist for about three decades. When batteries are finally available that allow wind, solar, and other non-dispatchable generators to play nicely on a power grid, it’ll be a game changer. But until then, it seems a bit retarded to pretend that the problems with those sources don’t exist.

      • “JJ, too. March 14, 2017 at 5:17 am
        To pooh-pooh battery storage is to deny the forward march of technology and all the variables new technology brings. Large battery storage definitely is a new and exciting experiment and is one of the only relatively fast and compact ways of storing excess electrons we currently have. The storage densities are constantly improving, the chemistries are improving and the costs are coming down rather quickly.”

        • Forget the scientific process?
        • Forget establishing progressive tests proving any alleged benefits of massive battery storage?
        • Ignore lifecycle costs? Including old battery disposal?
        • Bypass proof of concept?
        • Bypass proof of benefits under private, not public, financial investments?
        • Ignore the costs/losses to convert line voltage into battery DC voltage?
        • Ignore the costs/losses to convert battery DC voltage back into line voltage?

        • How long do your phone batteries last?
        • How long do your computer batteries last?
        • How many disposable batteries do you dispose of yearly?
        • If you use rechargeable common use batteries, how long does a charge last?
        • If you’ve purchased a large backup power system for your personal system yet, have you replaced the batteries yet? There are lots of relatively cheap backup UPS systems on the market, only needing new batteries.

        Amazing how the allegedly progressive mind thinks.
        Throw huge sums of public tax money at problems.
        Assume central control for absolute power.
        Condemn and vilify critics.

        Sounds remarkably like tyranny’s foothold in Australia.

      • “and, to some degree, pay for itself.”

        Oh? To precisely what degree? To the degree that it does NOT pay for itself, the poor S. Australians will have yet another rate hike, only this one will be hidden in their tax bill by the magical thinking, Utopian politicians.

        What those beleaguered people need right now is some sane, practical thinking. Build the gas plant. Turn it on. Leave it on. Better yet, build 10 or 20 gas and coal plants and let Australians have what they need, cheap and reliable electricity.

      • This also assumes that the Renewable Generation will create sufficient excess power to supply for Back-up Battery Recharging, otherwise the battery is being recharged from the Gas Generation

      • j.j

        I am an electrical engineer with a deep interest in renewable energy and grid issues.

        You are a naive idealistic idiot.

        do a degree in electrical engineering before you spout any more tripe.

      • “Eminent failure”! I think that’s inadvertent but absolutely correct! Hilarious!

      • How did our otherwise successful society become infested with people like you, who can’t do the most basic math, even on a conceptual level. Batteries cost money. They store energy that is not needed at the time it is produced. So first, you pay for the generating capacity. Then, you pay for the storage. 1 for the price of 2! Wait! We’re not done paying yet. There can and will be times when the “green” energy is not being produced and the battery storage is depleted. What are we to do? I know! Build a fossil fuel power plant so we can actually have some damn power to use reliably. 1 for the price of 3! If it’s so great-put a system like this in your own house and stop telling me that I have to pay for it!

      • “…to store electrons for future use..”

        That must be one of the most idiotic statements I have ever read.

      • II Too: Your hopes are noble, but unfortunately, renewables suffer from four fatal flaws, and the battery solution is an attempt to answer just one of them: “dispachability”. With renewables, (wind in this case), you’ve got a mismatch between grid supply and demand. The apparent solution is storage of electrons. Even if it works, you’ve just piled another inefficiency on top of all the others (Betz limit: 60% maximum capture of wind kinetic energy, power loss due to storage in/retrieval from batteries, extra transmission lines and distance from windy areas to consumption areas, etc.). It all adds up. I wish it wasn’t so, but the laws of physics are pretty cruel. I’m witnessing the folly of renewable energy in next door Ontario (17 cents KWH, sale of power shedding electrons to New York State for 2 cents/KWH).

      • “excess power from renewables”

        Now that’s funny, I don’t care who you are.

        “store electrons for future use”

        You have absolutely no idea how electricity works, do you?

      • Batteries are toxic. How will the materials be recycled or stored and how much will it cost.? Nothing wrong with research but wasting hundreds of millions to further a failed agenda for political and egotistical reasons is a scandalous waste of taxpayers money. As far as I am concerned it is theft.

      • South Australian Government to the rescue . . yay.

        But let’s not forget that the first big outage in September (?) last year, they blamed the towers falling over.
        I don’t see how batteries will help unless they’re used to prop up the towers.

      • It may or may not get you 4 hours. Duration is usually based on a rate of discharge of C/10 or C/20, so if you have a capacity of 100 MWhr that 4 hour duration would be a discharge rate of 5 or 10 MW. However, you can’t control the rate of discharge since that depends on what your customers are pulling at the time. Notice that Ferd’s example has a max discharge rate that’s only 1/4 of the storage capacity.

      • “Duration is usually based on a rate of discharge of C/10 or C/20”

        I would guess that Musk is thinking in terms of 7400 Solar City Powercell 2.0 units. That’d be 99.9 MWhr capacity. Max continuous output 37Mw.(for 2hr and 42 min). Seems a bit marginal for powering a state with a population of 1.67 million people. But what the hell do I know?

        The sticker price for the 7400 units at $5000 (US) would only be $37M US fob Reno(?)

        And maybe there’s a volume discount or free shipping (The units likely weigh about 100 kg each) or something.

        Feel free to check my arithmetic. It’s probably wrong.

      • Notice the inverter is 40% of the total cost. Good luck getting thousands of those phase locked. It’s one thing to deliver them, but it’s quite another to actually get them installed and working as intended.

    • In first job, I worked in a computer room with battery backup. The computer room was maybe 30ft by 50ft. The battery room was maybe 10 by 15. The room was filled with floor to ceiling racks of batteries with barely enough room to walk between them.
      These batteries were rated to power the computers for about 15 minutes. Enough time for the back-up generator to kick in.

      If it took a 10×15 room to power a small computer center for just 15 minutes. How many batteries would it take to keep an aluminum smelter going for half a day?

      The very idea that you can use batteries to level out the unpredictability of wind and solar is laughable, and only someone with no connection to reality would propose it.

      • Mark,
        A reasonable person would not make the leap to a situation that batteries are going to keep a smelter in operation on it’s own. Despite your comments, however, batteries ARE being used to help level out the unpredictability of wind and solar. They are an expensive option, but they work quite well for this purpose. Ten years ago there were almost no load-leveling battery storage systems. Now there are scores of them.
        Wind energy can be so plentiful at times that current wind farms in Texas need to be taken off-line to avoid too many electrons in the system. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to store some of that excess energy to be used later? Batteries are one option. Hydrogen production is another. Pumped storage is another.
        It is not reasonable to assume that we are not going to have more wind farms or solar farms in our future. I don’t see any path leading in that direction. Fossil fuel will continue to provide a major source of energy for decades to come…especially for smelters and massive energy point consumers. But it is naïve to think that wind/solar will not grow strongly as well.
        What do you propose we do with excess AE generation when it happens? Turn it off? Shunt it to ground? Or save it for later?

      • They had better be able to carry that smelter all on their own until the backup power can come on line. Otherwise the smelter has to shut down, at great cost.
        Taking an already uneconomical system and making it cost twice as much.
        There’s a game winner for you.

      • @JJ
        Scores, eh? Name 3 grid scale battery installations, not used for private purposes only.

      • The aluminum smelter in SA is currently partially disabled. Something about one of their melts losing power recently and the melt solidifying.

        Shortly after the cut in power occurred, the refinery estimated a six month recovery time. In early February, the estimated recovery time was still six months as the refinery was still negotiating with SA over the recovery costs and the refinery’s need for consistent quality power without interruptions. That last bit, being the sticking problem.

        “JJ, too. March 14, 2017 at 7:30 am
        Wind energy can be so plentiful at times that current wind farms in Texas need to be taken off-line to avoid too many electrons in the system.”

        Such wise use of expensive wind turbines and the real estate they monopolize.
        Unwise unhealthy irresponsible bird and bat chomping giant machines that rarely achieve their alleged output are being turned off, because on some days wind is strong over long periods.

        “Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to store some of that excess energy to be used later? Batteries are one option.”

        The first is a problem in search of a solution.
        The alleged battery option is a solution in search of a problem; given that batteries have yet to prove themselves cost efficient and capable enough.

        Tax payers should not suffer because zealots are impatient.

        “Hydrogen production is another.”

        At what power losses?
        Where do propose locating immense hydrogen fire risks?

        “Pumped storage is another.”

        Talk about hand waving!
        Where is pumped storage a legitimate solution?
        Potable water supplies are in short supply and now zealots imply that pumping water uphill is a legitimate use of water already in short supply. Or do you propose to build absurdly large water towers along the coasts and using salt water?

        “It is not reasonable to assume that we are not going to have more wind farms or solar farms in our future. I don’t see any path leading in that direction.”

        Make up your mind.
        Large installations of wind and solar are inefficient and are demonstrably massive destroyers of wildlife.
        From any logical position, the wind and solar alleged renewable options, are completely dependent upon taxpayer grants and subsidies; a practice that must be stopped.

        “But it is naïve to think that wind/solar will not grow strongly as well.”

        Indeed!? Naiveté is rampant amongst those who push for renewables.

      • They had better be able to carry that smelter all on their own until the backup power can come on line. Otherwise the smelter has to shut down, at great cost.

        Already happened even without renewables.

        Alcoa’s Portland smelter in Victoria was severely damaged last year when two thirds of the melting pots froze after a power outage. Obviously, two thirds of the 600 staff were laid off as a result.

        That’s now costing Alcoa about $1 million a day.
        I haven’t kept up with the situation, but with the Victorian Govt. closing down their supplier, Hazelwood power station in a few weeks, who knows.

      • DJ Hawkins…
        Scores, eh? Name 3 grid scale battery installations, not used for private purposes only.

        I’m surprised you asked such a question given that a few minutes on Google would have shown how little you are seemingly aware of…
        Several California utilities
        Several Canadian utilities
        Several Japan utilities
        A couple South Korean utilities
        Over 100 battery storage utility scale facilities in Germany
        Puerto Rico
        New York
        New Hampshire
        Etc. x 10
        All kinds of batteries from lithium to sodium sulfur to lead acid to chloride to vanadium flow to iron chromium to zinc bromide.
        All kinds of uses by utilities to manage unreliable power, stabilize frequency, provide emergency power and provide peak shaving.
        I think most of you on this board are not fully up to date in how many places utility scale storage batteries are currently in use and how huge of a plan is in place to install thousands more MW in the next 20 years. I highly recommend you review your negative bias on battery storage technology until you are caught up on the subject.
        Expensive? Yes, but coming down rapidly. Useful to utilities? Absolutely. Here to stay? The literature says yes for the next several decades anyway. Better than hydrogen production and storage? Not yet known. Better than compressed air or pumped storage? Jury still out. But if you need a large storage facility in a hurry, batteries are the only answer for now.

      • “I’m surprised you asked such a question given that a few minutes on Google would have shown how little you are seemingly aware of…”

        Excellent, well done!

        For your next trick, which of those can run an aluminium smelter for – say – six hours?

    • 100Mwhr of expensive storage hardly seems sufficient to stabilize a region with potentially 3Gw maximum load, 51% non-dispatchable generation and only 660 Mw of capacity on it’s interconnects to the East Coast. (Numbers gleaned from a quick scan of the 2016 South Australia Energy Report)

      But it can’t hurt.

      • 3Gw maximum load
        So, you are going to need a battery with potentially 1 Gw current capacity. The 100Mwh battery can supply this for less than 6 minutes, but it is probably going to melt drawing power out that rapidly.

  2. This battery thing has me confused! I’m not sure what was offered by Musk, or what SA are intending to install? Is it a battery system that has a storage capacity of 100MW, or one that is able to deliver 100MW/H? They are two vastly different animals! If it is a capacity of 100MW, what is the actual output in MWH? 20 or maybe 25 MWH? So maybe 4 or 5 hours of supply? And then how long will it take to be recharged? I’m assuming this would be by renewables, so wind and/or solar. If wind, they would need excess, and solar, well, have to wait til next day, if used during evening peak! In my mind, there are too many unanswered questions, and way too much spin! My cautionary mind tells me that these battery systems aren’t all they are cracked up to be!

    • Wind power in SA typically dies for around 5 hours on at least one day of a heatwave, so a 100 MW battery would need to store 500 MWh. SA wind power typically has a “capacity credit” of around 200 MW, but its a statistical thing, and it can sometimes produce only around 50 MW, at it did twice this summer, Christmas day and the recent heatwave. For wind power to be regarded as “dispatch-able” in SA, it really requires a 200 MW battery, with 1000 MWh of storage.

    • When the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine they will probably recharge the battery (AUD$150 million) with their gas fired emergency generator (AUD$350 million).

    • The article says “100 MW ‘output'” not capacity. I have no idea what the storage capacity of a battery system would have to be to be able to provide 100MW output on demand. Of course, that begs the question of where the energy that is stored in the humongous battery system is going to come from. Surely they don’t think of the battery system as a power source? Are they going to run the gas plant until the batteries are charged, then shut it down until the batteries bleed out enough energy to need a re-charge?

      • @Bill: Amen. They really are thin on the physics of the problem, aren’t they? Equating instantaneous power output with capacity. Silly small minded munchkins, with smaller minds looking on. World Math.

    • I have not done the calculation myself, but I have seen a number of commentators on various sites suggesting that the battery pack would deliver only about 4 minutes of peak power demand.

      Further, one must appreciate that the battery loses efficiency over time, perhaps say by about 2 to 3% each year

      • The only “Mega-Watt” electrically rechargeable “storage battery” that functions efficiently without any degrading of said efficiency over time, ……. and which is low-maintenance and also capable of providing electrical power at a moment’s notice ………is called a “water storage reservoir”.

        Like so:

        Read more @

      • Sure does loose efficiency. I have to replace my all my rechargable batteries, car, power tools, phone, every 4-5 years because they cecome 100% inefficient. 😆

      • There’s also a the problem of sediment being deposited. Even streams that look pristine have some sediment in the water, plus there’s airborne dust, bird droppings, whatever.

      • about 2 to 3% each year
        a lot more than that if the battery is actually used.
        Figure 1: Capacity drop as part of cycling. Eleven new Li-ion were tested on a Cadex C7400 battery analyzer. All packs started at a capacity of 88–94% and decreased to 73–84% after 250 full discharge cycles. The 1500mAh pouch packs are used in mobile phones.
        Courtesy of Cadex

      • “I have not done the calculation myself, but I have seen a number of commentators on various sites suggesting that the battery pack would deliver only about 4 minutes of peak power demand.”

        Sounds about right. (0.1Gwhr capacity / 3 Gw maximum load) * 60 min/hr = 2 minutes. Gonna need some mighty big wires. In reality of course, there will be circuit breakers as there are on all generators to prevent self destruction. And they will trip long before the load on the battery reaches 3Gw. What happens during massive power failures is that power sources drop off line when their limits are exceeded, thereby increasing the load on the remaining power sources, which promptly drop off the grid increasing the load on the rest of the sources. Until no sources are left.

      • Evaporation can be countered simply by enclosing the structure so the surface isn’t exposed to atmospheric influences

      • I’ve heard numbers ranging from 12 minutes to 30 odd minutes.
        But could the battery system even discharge in that time?

      • Expensive yes. A lot more expensive than doing nothing at all. But not more expensive than the overly large concrete swimming pool in the image Samuel provided, and after the initial expense of construction is completed, the only additional expenditure is maintenance

      • Aussie – “So the DC from the batteries becomes AC via what process?”

        Musk – “Oh, that’s the ‘optional extra’ for another $500m – did we forget to mention that?”

      • Here ya go, …… no concrete walls needed, …… caused they just gouged out a “man-made” lake on top of a mountain for their “storage battery”.

        So, let’s now see what all you “faultfinders” ……. find about this Pumped Storage Power Project that you consider dastardly faulty, to wit:

        The Catskill Mountains are home to a special type of hydroelectric facility that serves as a giant energy-storage device—the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project. Nestled beneath 2,000-foot-tall Brown Mountain, this project generates more than one million kilowatts of electricity in peak demand periods by drawing water from Schoharie Creek and recycling it between two huge reservoirs.

        Blenheim-Gilboa serves two vital functions. It saves money for New York consumers by providing low-cost electricity when they need it most. And it stores water for emergency power production. If necessary, this project can be up and running within two minutes. It can “pinch hit” if another plant or line suddenly goes out of service.
        Read more @

    • What I think they are proposing is using wind and solar and the like for the bulk of their energy. But when the wind stops or the sun clouds up or goes down the natural gas plant comes on line. That takes a bit of time depending if it is a gas turbine plant or boilers. The batteries using inverters pick up the load until the natural gas plant can come on line. Peaker plants have been used traditionally for this application for peak load issues. The problem with peaker plants is that they are inefficient, costly and generally pollute more.

      • Wind/solar is already way more expensive than traditional power sources, now they want to double the cost by adding battery backup.

  3. 100MW output is all very well, but for how long, ie what is the energy capacity in MWh?

    From all I’ve read, nobody seems to understand this fundamental aspect of batteries, and keeps talking in power output which is not a good indication of actual capacity.

    • And for billionaire trough-feeders like Musk who should very well know the difference if anyone does, it’s bordering on criminal to obfuscate this issue!

    • Lack of ability to store excess power in good times in order to compensate for those periods when they are underperforming, has long been an Achilles heel of renewables. The idea of a battery to even this out therefore appears sensible. However, as others have pointed out, whether this proposal is economic or will have the right capacity to perform correctly seems debatable. Are there cost effective precedents elsewhere in the world?

      With only 15 comments as yet I will wait to see those responses by others more knowledgeable on the subject than me.


      • The Alaska battery in 2010 could provide 26 MW for 15 minutes but could be expanded with more batteries to provide 40 MW for 15 minutes. It was for ~ 100K people in an area of 2,200 sq. miles. For comparison, South Australia is 1.6 million people (16X more) over 380,000 sq. mi. (~170 times more).

      • “billw1984 March 14, 2017 at 4:24 am”

        Some people simply do not understand how big Australia is. SA is more than 3 times the size of the UK, and some, like Griff, says that is a problem for renewables. We never had a problem with power until renewables arrived.

      • Let me put it this way. Australia is ten times the size of Texas (2.7 M sq mi vs 268 k sq mi), and has about the same number of people (23.8 million vs 27.5 million). Having that low a population density makes for some very different infrastructure requirements.

      • Here’s a link to an article about a plausible sounding grid scale battery backup system in Presdio TX.

        In their case, the problem isn’t renewables, but a rickety 60 mile transmission line to civilization (Assuming that Marfa, TX qualifies as civilization). So, what they have is a 24Mwhr Sodium Sulfur battery (NaS) that can deliver 4Mw to the town of 4500 or so for 8 hours until their transmission line is fixed or they can arrange to get power from Mexico. Cost = $25M USD.

        (And no, the numbers don’t seem to quite work. 24Mwhr at 4 Mw load is 6 hours, not 8.)

    • It doesn’t matter Jerome. Just trust Musk!!!! What could go wrong???

      You and your engineering thingamabibs!! This is a policy announcement issue, and you get all excited about sciency stuff…..

      • Australia’s largest battery will be built before next summer, by the private sector, and be funded from a $150 million renewable technology fund.
        “funded from a $ 150 million dollar renewable technology fund” ie the tax payers.
        What??? The “private ” sector sure looks like there is no private $$ of their own going in. Otherwise they wouldn’t even stick out a finger, ( except for the middle one)

  4. Meddling in electricity generation is irresistible for govt, but it has to live with the consequences, which is that the old factory model (private companies paying for power stations themselves) has to be replaced with a public infrastructure model (private companies bid to build and operate parts of a centrally planned system). But for gawd sake get some proper electricity systems engineers to do the central planning, not green fairies.

  5. Due to a poor election vote for Liberals in Western Australia Turnbull is going to discuss energy security in a meeting with minister tomorrow. Wow! Gas reserves of 10-12% of gas extraction to stay an be sold in Australia. So, after creating this problem, and in an attempt at saving their ads by doing the right thing, like ensuring we have energy security.

    This is what people have been saying for decades! Left leaning politicians better start learning fast!

  6. Oh no! When the political ‘elite’ take control of something they do not understand, you know it is time to get your own generator.

    The worst nine words in the English language spring to mind: “I’m from the Government. I’m here to help you”

  7. Essential utilities need to be provided. If the private sector fails then a minimum standard needs to be set. It’s not like the customers can switch their house cables to a different supplier. The anarchy can’t be allowed to continue forever.

    Having said that, I would love to see the fire brgade’s risk assessment for that battery in the case of a wild fire.

    • Yeah I think the state govt will legislate a get out of jail free card for the risk assessment , nothing to see here it’s just a battery , how bad could it be ?

      • If safety is a concern, perhaps they should put the battery in the basement of Parliament House in Adelaide. That should preclude skimping on safety features or underfunding maintenance.

    • Yes, that was my initial thought, a battery that size will make a splendid world-class bonfire.

      • The only reason why the public sector would ever fail is because of insufficient tax revenue.
        Easily fixed by raising other people’s taxes.

    • M Courtney,
      The private sector has not failed, the problems are the result of government regulations that subsidizes renewables and forces the utility to engage them while penalizing traditional coal and gas fired power generation. The only anarchy in this situation is the government.

      • How it failed is open to debate.
        But if you think this is a success then you need to read up on it more. I’m sure you don’t.
        So the question remains, what do we do from here?
        A failed marketplace like this needs to be fixed. But the outcome for those who rely on the energy cannot be left up to luck while things settle towards a new stability – whatever is done.

      • “… what do we do from here?”

        Depends on the goals. If the goal is control, then continue to create more regs so the minimum standard cannot be met, thus ensuring an excuse for common complaint & government takeover specific sectors. If the goal is energy availability and security, then reduce impediments (existing regulations) and then get the hell out of the way.

        What was/is the impetus of the “failed marketplace” that you see. That question needs to be addressed, honestly, before prior to jumping into “what do we do from here?”

      • “A failed marketplace like this needs to be fixed.”

        Never let a crisis go to waste, eh, comrade?

        Particularly not when it’s one you created yourself.

      • M Courtney, nobody has declared this a success. The issue is why it failed.
        You are eager to blame the free market and to declare that the solution is more government.
        In reality there is no free market in power generation, and it is failed government regulations that are causing the problem.

      • DonM: One you leftist once told me that there is pure communism, and everything else is a form of capitalism.

      • “A failed marketplace like this needs to be fixed.”

        The marketplace didn’t fail, nor did the private sector.

        What failed was the government’s massively ill-conceived interference in the marketplace in order to burnish the virtue-signalling “Green” credentials of a bunch of totally uninformed “Progressive” Lefties.

        Until the “Greens” stuck their oar in, the private sector aas doing perfectly all rightm, thank you very much.

        And the more the control freak Lefties (is there any other sort?) interfere with it with ever-increasing , the worse it will get.

        The last thing it needs is the sort of fixing beloved of the Loony Left.

  8. The decision makers for Australian electrical energy as a group, not just Sth Aust, seem to be obsessed by the thought that storage will rescue renewables in the immediate term.
    The policies seem designed to continue to emphasise renewables, with whatever stop gap is needed to get them over the line with storage by batteries, or carbon capture and storage couple to a gas plant, or by swapping reserves with the generation systems of other connected states, such as hydro from Tasmania by interconnectors.
    The deadly missing links are twofold.
    First, there is as yet no suitable storage method being used routinely anywhere in the world. It is all experimental and deamtime stuff.
    Second, even if a backup method can be found, and in time, it remains that the renewable cost of generation is 2-3 times that of old ff competitors and that is before distribution of existing backup costs for the no sun/no wind times.
    Our personal, domestic electricity use billing has increased by 11% p.a. over the last 10 years of near-constant use. We are in Victoria, next door to Sth Aust, but I can sense that we will be next to go through an exercise in stupidity like SA are doing now. Why? Why not have Governments vacate the markets they are mismanaging, open the door wide to unfettered private enterprise and watch the votes roll in as energy consumption prices halve.

    • Geoff: You say:

      First, there is as yet no suitable storage method being used routinely anywhere in the world

      Do you discount Dinorwig in the UK? Or did you mean electrical storage? Not that I favour either, the losses, electrical, mechanical, financial are just too great.

      • But a lot of places do not have the natural topography, or geology, required to make such a solution an economically viable option.

      • pumped storage can work in its place and sensibly costed. Dinorwig saved an extra coal or nuclear plant, cost similar and used no fuel.

        It is there to cover short term peak in demand. Not balance unreliable renewables. Nothing does hat efficiently.

    • “First, there is as yet no suitable storage method being used routinely anywhere in the world. It is all experimental and deamtime stuff.”

      Actually, there’s quite a bit of pumped storage around the world. For example, Niagara-Mohawk has at least two pumped storage facilities used to buffer the nightime power output from the power plant at Niagara Falls for delivery during high demand periods. The facility at Gilboa-Blenheim SW of Albany Can deliver 1Gw continuously for 17Hrs. But it would also cost something like 500M USD to replicate. It also has a decent water source and a convenient place to put an upper pool reservoir 300 meters (1000 feet actually) above the lower pool. Yes, it’s storage costs are cheap, but only because its used on a daily basis. Use it only a few times a month and the cost would be beyond prohibitive. Not all that many places have the water, topography, and business case to make pumped storage practical.

      • Don K,
        I used the word ‘suitable’ to try to cover the need for pumped hydro to have the required local geography within reach.
        No argument that pumped hydro is useful.

  9. Marvellous, they screw up the system and make it unprofitable for the private sector to build gas plants by spending millions of public money subsidising unreliables. Then when the inevitable consequences arise, they spend yet more public money to build a gas plant themselves. I never thought I’d end up living in the Age of Unreason

    • South Australia is Utopia – I know, I live here. Socialists do not need advice in Utopia because they know everything and can do no wrong. In their minds this problem is now solved and no further correspondence will be entered into. The $2 billion hospital with no patients is another shining example of their creative genius. The scary thing is the vacuous opposition party all of whom seem to be just waiting for their unearned pensions which is why they won’t risk saying anything about anything.

      • “4 Eyes March 14, 2017 at 4:21 am

        The scary thing is the vacuous opposition party all of whom seem to be just waiting for their unearned pensions…”


    • In his 1941 novel “Methuselah’s Children,” author Robert A. Heinlein described what he called “The Crazy Years,” around 1970, when unreason ruled, just before society’s complete collapse. He wrote a few supposed headlines from the times to demonstrate the madness:

      2-year toddler youngest winner $1,000,000 TV jackpot
      White House phones congrats


      “Available for draft for President” she announces while starting tour to show her qualifications

      “Higher Pay, Shorter Hours, No Homework — We Demand Our Right to Elect Teachers, Coaches.”

      I’d say we’ve blown well past his definition of “crazy.”

  10. It is good that the battery system will be tried. It will, or will not, work and the economic and technical truths will be laid out for all to see. What I expect to hear is something like: “It will work, we just need more time and money to sort out the details.”

    Greenies are never wrong because they have an infinite supply of excuses. Of course the people realize that they are being deceived and do something rash like electing Donald Trump. 🙂

      • I dread what’s going to happen in this country if interest rates ever return to historically “normal” levels.
        The cost of servicing the debt would increase, possibly doubling over just a few years.

    • Actually, you’re right. It should be a good test if someone can convince them to keep accurate, detailed records. If the early/initial failure rate is low you can bet they will be touting the beauties of battery back-up If it is high they will use the “we just need time and money to sort it out” excuse. A lot will depend on actual battery life in that application. It could take maybe 5 or 10 years before the batteries start failing in droves or they learn how to replace them on a PM (i.e., preventive maintenance) schedule. If there is much time between the ‘sort it out’ phase and the ‘replacement’ phase they might be able to skate on responsibility and claim success before they bail out and some else takes the fall. They do sound an awful lot like a manager I had years ago who’s approach to system design was: “Don’t tell why it won’t work, tell me how to make it work.”

  11. Meanwhile in nearby state of Victoria, onshore conventional and unconventional gas exploration has recently been banned, to ‘protect our farmer’s water and food security’, despite gas exploration and development never having had any effect on ‘water and food security’, and despite looming gas shortages and plenty of undeveloped gas. Biggest load of nonsense one might ever hear.

  12. Without knowing the power requirements of South Australia, and their actual wind capacity, it’s hard to judge what they might need. Currently batteries arrayed simply for storage at a fixed locale probably cost around $150 per kWhr. Assuming that $150 million mentioned will all go for batteries, that would provide a battery pack probably with a 1 million kWhr storage capacity, or 1,000 Mwhrs.
    At a discharge rate of 100MW, the battery could provide power for 10 hours. I suspect that the batteries exist in order to give the gas fired power plant time to power up, or if not much power is required to stablilize the grid. Of course, if you are using battery power you will need to restore that reserve fairly quickly, which may require the gas plant be operated for that purpose. If it’s a closed cycle plant (uses gas to boil water to drive turbines) is will take a lot longer than an open cycle turbine gas plant, which can power up very quickly, but which consumes a lot more fuel to operate. Open cycle plants are usually used for peak demand requirements or to back up wind power.
    Here we see the lengths at which the grid must go in order to accept wind power to any meaningful extent. These are the costly side effects of using unreliable power sources. I’m waiting for some politician to tell the public : “Listen, our goal of lowering CO2 emissions can wait the several years until molten salt nuclear reactors, which NO SANE person can object to, come online and prove very cheap, emission free power (whose nuclear wastes can be sent to Finland, which has gotten into the nuclear waste storage business) and which can operate in a load following manner, avoiding the need for fossil fueled mid level demand power, etc. ” Never happen.

    • I’m very sane and I object to nuclear power. If given the choice between coal and experimental nuclear I choose coal.

      • Building plants to burn garbage cleanly and produce power would be as close to sustainable as necessary and much safer, as well as cheaper and scaleable to to the size of the fuel supply.
        No NRC licensing is needed and construction much quicker.
        That said, I have no fear of nuclear power either. I even live 100 mi. from Ameren’s Callaway NPP.
        I am more anxious about the vulnerabilities of the grid and particularly protection from Carrington-class CMEs. A long term failure of the grid translates into a nuclear meltdown threat.

      • “Building plants to burn garbage cleanly and produce power would be as close to sustainable as necessary and much safer, as well as cheaper and scaleable to to the size of the fuel supply.”

        And the fuel supply is unfortunately relatively minimal. This is done on a very large scale in Sweden (as a matter of fact so large that we import huge quantities of garbage). Technically it works quite well and provides slightly less than 5 % of all electrical power.

    • Do you realize that batteries are not rated the way you say? I think you and many others are being conned.

    • Is that $150/kWhr for just the batteries themselves, or does it include the building and other infra-structure?

    • the proposed system is actually a 100MWh system which will deliver 25 MW for 4 hours. In a hot day the load is around 3000MW so having 25MW to add is trivial.

      Also, it is assuming the batteries are fully charged. If the private owners are trying to make a profit by storing when wholesale prices are cheap and discharging when they are high, it’s possible that the batteries could be discharged when needed.

      • Way back in 1981 I was working for Sony and they introduced a personal computer with a built in battery backup – it was good for all of 7 seconds. We called it the “Oh shit” backup. Sounds like they just bought the same system.

      • That’s not going to work well. With a C/4 discharge rate, they’ll never get the nominal 100 MWhr out of that array. Not to mention that draining the batteries to nil is a good way to kill them. Do that 4 or 5 times and you’ll be replacing the lot of them.

  13. By talking about the need for battery storage at least the government are now acknowledging their renewables experiment in South Australia has major problems.

    But the problem is much bigger. South Australia is only able to meet current demand by regularly drawing power from the neighbouring state (Victoria) through an interconnect. Victoria is governed by a socialist regime that is about to turn off the Hazelwood 1,600Mw baseload coal-fired station to appease their green voters. Thats 25% of the baseload power for the state of Victoria.

    What comes next is …….disconnecting the interconnet.

    For South Australia its welcome to the third world!

  14. These people are truly frightening. When they find themselves in a hole, they just ask for a bigger shovel. The free market fails, so their solution is the government will fix it? Really? The Government creates a crisis, and then it steps in to solve it? Reagan said it best. “If it moves, tax it, if it keeps moving regulate it, if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

    BTW, have you ever looked at the long term thermometer records? None of them show any real warming, none, and that is according to Phil Jones.

      • Correction, the government created a situation where they could decietful claim the free market system failed, so they could justify it with a government takeover. Here in the US Obamacare was designed to fail so they could justify a single payer System. The end result is always greater government control, less individual freedom.

  15. The SA government creates free market failure thru bad legislation and when it all turns to s###, the government still ignores coal as the answer to their stupidity. What investor, home or abroad would consider SA as an investment opportunity after this brain fart of an idea?

  16. WOW! It’s past 8pm in Aus and and just past 9am in the UK, and no posts from Griff and Tony McLeod about how this is good news for unreliables?

  17. Willard and Craig have been at it over at Jonova, Tony gave Willard a bitch slapping and he’s gone a running , Craig was only a one post wonder .

  18. “Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the gas-fired power plant could be turned on “in an emergency” if an electricity shortfall was forecast.”

    What they failed to forecast last September, was extra gusts during wind farms peak output tripped an entire farm from max output to zero virtually instantaneously.

    That fatally destabilised their grid & let to the blackout.

    At least the new gas fired power station will be capable of black start.

  19. Listening to the Green Left ABC Radio news this afternoon, scared me badly. Their blind faith in renewables led them to hail S. Australia’s move as forward thinking.
    But even their ‘experts’ from ‘clean energy bodies’ were smart enough to sound reluctant about the prospects of success of this venture… the ABC reporters themselves however were fully behind the idea…they even finished the news with a report on ‘black lung’ disease amongst coal workers!

    Defund the ABC.

  20. OK. Iv’e read the comments above and, for goodness sake, no one has mentioned the elephant in the battery. Batteries store electrical charge and supply that as DC current. The efficiency loss to convert the required current to AC is significant. The inverter would have to be huge. I’m an Aussie and have been involved in the Victorian electrical generation industry for most of my life and what stands out is that very few people have a grasp of electrical generation and transmission. Small scale household DC storage and inverter systems are getting more efficient and could end up being a necessary addition to every home the way the government is going.

    • Geoff, when I was in the air force I remember servicing old VHF Tx/Rx sets which used valves(!!). The sets ran from the aircraft’s 24 V batteries. So, in order to provide 240V AC for the valves the sets had a small DC motor/generator installed (about the size of a brick). I guess that that technology would still be valid – but on a larger scale – today?

      • I owned an ex-military LandRover 109 V8 FFR (Fitted For Radio). It was installed with 2 12v 400a/h batteries in series and all the engine bay electrics were heavily shielded. One feature was a hand throttle which was used to raise the engine to about 3000rpm to keep the batteries charged while the radio was in use. Batteries are next to useless on larger scale deployments.

    • The efficiency loss to convert the required current to AC is significant.

      For long lines, DC is much more efficient than AC and is standard practice. link The converters are capable of efficiencies up to 98%. link

      The more important problem is the round trip efficiency of the batteries which ranges between 75% and 90%. link Actually, in my experience, long term storage efficiency can be much worse because of self discharge.

      • Pumped storage is about 80% efficient. And it doesn’t deteriorate with cycling and has vastly longer lifetime than batteries.

      • tty March 14, 2017 at 10:09 am

        Pumped storage …

        Unlike all kinds of other electricity storage schemes, pumped storage is proven, practical, and has been used all over the world for many years.

        On the other hand, pumped storage is not going to be the ultimate solution for the whole country. Someone has done the math. It’s daunting.

    • power inverters today have efficiencies in the high 80s minimum – probably 90% or more. Otherwise undersea DC cables wouldn’t be cost effective.

  21. South Australia already has the highest power prices in Australia, if not the world. How much is an additional $550 million dollar investment going to add to the monthly power bill?

    Holden has left and Coke Cola has given notice of closing down. How many more companies are going to follow the lead of Holden and Coke and leave South Australia based solely on the high power charges? No manufacturer or power intensive industry is ever going to move to South Australia. And as high power users drift away more high cost renewable power will supplant reliable low cost fossil fuel power due to the renewable mandates. Raising power charges and putting even more pressure on manufacturers to leave.

    Those hurt most by the move to unsustainable renewable power are the low wage earners. Power bills are a regressive tax/charge that unfairly burdens those who need the most relief. Jay Weatherills Labour government is screwing its citizens and somehow manages the claim the high ground. Both the ABC and the Advertizer are going to give lots of cover as they don’t have a clue as to what is really happening.

    South Australia is screwed and others need to heed the lesson that has been presented by the unwarranted need to move to renewables.

      • That’s because Amp/hours is a measure of how much power the battery can deliver over a time period, which is the correct way to frame energy delivery for a storage device. However, since the energy sources, like the gas plant, are framed in Watts (power) I think they had to frame the battery system in Watts as well. You can ‘convert’ amps to watts, but or vice versa, but it requires more information than the article provides.

        Showing the battery as ‘100MW output’ adds to the misconception that it is a power source, not a storage system.

    • That is what is being “sold” to the public, and the public has no idea what it means.

      • Big green conned the world, big education has left the West credulous, gullible and unable to critically think. Big government, filled with credulous gullible people panders to the big green con. Batteries generate nothing. They store energy. They are rated in amp hours. They lose efficiency when they are charged. They lose energy when they store power. They lose energy when they discharge and their DC output is converted to usable current.

    • its a battery with 100MW output Presumably before it emulates a small atomic bomb

      i.e a car battery is typically around about 5kW before it explodes.
      it takes a couple of bhp – 1.5kW – to start a car….

  22. So the South Australian politicians are spending 500 million from the taxpayers to try to insure their re-election on 17 March 2018? Assuming a little more than half of the population are of voting age, that works out to the voters paying about 500 dollars for the privilege to vote these folks back into office.
    Are SA Aussies going to accept this?

    • “cedarhill March 14, 2017 at 1:57 am”

      South Australians aren’t the sharpest tools in the box in my experience. In fact one South Australian I knew once caused the biggest IT disaster in Australia on July 26th 2012, and I had to clean up his “mistake”.

      • Politicians in general are good at manipulating people. That’s the only skill they really need. Everything else is just fluff.

  23. $150 million into Elron Musk’s pocket for batteries.

    That guy has to be one of the world’s top CON-MEN !!

    And the SA politician’s among the world’s most GULLIBLE.

  24. Energy minister says…

    “but we want multiple sources of redundancy”

    Yep.. we notice that you are trying to make South Australia TOTALLY REDUNDANT !!!

  25. I hate to disparage one of my favorite places/peoples (I visited Australia in the mid 70’s as part of a Marine Battalion operating with the Aussie Army and LOVED the place and the folks), but, are they out of their minds?

    Great to have a ‘battery system’ that can deliver 100MW, but how long would it be able to do so and what is the expected life of the batteries it is made of (I’m assuming it will be multiple batteries in a system rather than one huge honking battery even though they refer to it as a ‘battery’)? Will SA taxpayers have to fork over $150 million every 7-10 years?

    Why does the energy Minister refer to the ‘battery system’ as an ‘energy source’ as if it’s producing the energy it delivers? Why are they spending $300 million on a system that will only be used ‘in an emergency’?

    • Australia is a very different place now than then. Liberal rot set in late 70’s early 80’s…

      • Sorry to hear that. I remember Sydney. It was great. Post Viet Nam in the US, the military was still being ‘shunned’ by the civilian population, not so in Australia. We made out troops wear uniforms, thinking it would help us keep them in line more easily. 1st night of liberty there was much bitching about having to wear uniforms because it was not wise to do so in the US at the time. That was before we found out that the Aussies still remembered US Marines from WWII fondly. Walk into a bar in Sydney in marine uniform and we were almost universally greeted with, “A Yank Marine! – have a drink, mate” and our money was no good the rest of the night. One restaurant owner, a handsome older lady who apparently dated Marines in WWII, even went so far as to set me and my 4 buddies up with dates w her waitresses and free meals at other restaurants in Sydney. Fond memories for me

      • If you walked in to a bar in uniform these days, you would probably be spat at and/or sworn at. Now, if you dressed in drag and did same, you’d be sweet as for the night *WINK*!

    • The cell is the unit of the electrochemical package. A battery is a “battery” of cells in the military sense of the term. What Tesla proposes is a collection of their 25KW batteries. You can correctly call that collection a battery. Yes, I am a nerd.

  26. The problems in SA are down to severe weather and bad management – not renewables.

    The gas plant is redundant…

    Grid battery storage is much quicker at responding on frequency response/black start. That will solve the problems (along with setting the wind farms not to trip: standard practice in Germnay since 2008)

    • You’ll be the last one voting for them, mate. And you will be happy it is by pencil and paper.

      The new name for South Australia: “East Germany”

    • So you need a $300 million ‘redundant’ gas plant to account for ‘severe weather’ and ‘bad management’? Maybe you could improve the management instead?

    • “Griff March 14, 2017 at 2:27 am

      The problems in SA are down to severe weather and bad management – not renewables.

      The gas plant is redundant…

      Grid battery storage is much quicker at responding on frequency response/black start. That will solve the problems…”

      Problems CREATED by renewables.

      • What I find fascinating is Griff’s belief that they are going to install enough batteries so that no matter how long the wind doesn’t blow, they won’t need that back up gas power plant.

    • Funny I never heard of SA having trouble with electricity in recent times since the switch to electricity .
      You mention the storms but not what effect high wind had on the windfarms or the cloud cover blocking out the solar panels .

    • Hey Griff, how come they never had problems with bad weather prior to the renewables being installed.
      1) How much does this grid storage add to the already ridiculously high cost of renewable power?
      2) How much grid storage. The way you talk one gets the impression that you have no idea how many batteries are going to be needed. You just invoke the magic words, grid storage, and all problems are solved.
      3) If you don’t set the wind mills to trip when the wind is too strong, you end up with broken windmills. That’s why they set them to trip in the first place.

    • “Setting the wind farms not to trip”? That would be for over current situations, Griff. The alternative would be watching them catch fire and turn to gobs of metal!Congratulations! your record is intact! 0 for whatever? A few hundred?

      • The windmills in question tripped because the wind got too strong. They wouldn’t melt down, instead the blades would rip off with big heavy pieces travelling several miles.

    • “The problems in SA are down to severe weather and bad management – not renewables.”


      That has been thoroughly debunked over and over and over again.

      Why do you keep posting downright lies, even when they have been demonstrated to be so?

      Ah, I forgot. You’re paid to, aren’t you?

      Have you apologised for lying about Dr. Crockford yet?

    • WOW Griff so South Australia just suddenly started having severe weather events just this last two years. Severe weather events never ever happened for the previous 50 years.

      Then you want to claim the Gas plant is redundant shows you are a complete fool, the power station is the actual solution but whether they can get it built in time is going to interesting.

      Think before you post about places you don’t live and don’t have a clue about because your nonsense becomes tiresome.

      Where do you actually live Griff because you don’t have the slightest clue about Australia?

  27. When the battery plant catches on fire, make sure you are not too close.

    And have your generator ready because the first of these large plants are likely to teach us some lessons about battery fire risks until the technology is perfected when the 50th plant is built.

    Should provide for some interesting video however so if someone wants to try it without using my money, go for it.

  28. As a resident of Victoria, I have already enacted my contingency plan: I have installed a wood fired heater for heat and cooking, a five year supply of firewood, a diesel generator, and a 250 gallon fuel tank.
    While this won’t save me in the long run, it will help me over the hump when the riots and civil war breaks out. I also have ensured that my friends Smith and Wesson have taken up residence, along with a large supply of their favourite lead based aperatives.
    We are in for interesting times.

    • Serial, only if the footy is not on TV and the beer is warm…which could happen if this madness continues.

      • tty March 14, 2017 at 10:19 am
        ” “The linked article says that 20MWh system can supply the energy needs of 15,000 homes for 4 hours, or 2,500 homes for 24 hours.”

        That comes to 330 W/home. I hope nobody is going to do nasty things like cooking or running washing machines.”


        If you have high energy prices like here in Germany, the only thing you can do ist to use electricity more efficient.

        Or washing machine runs with 40 °C, our dishwasher with 50°C, and are fed from solar thermal heater, etc. Ironing we mostly have skipped (being lazy people). Everybody has a computer, but changed to efficient power use. So our average load of our house of seven person, 3000 sqft, is less than 500 Watt.

        Heating is done with a high efficiency gasifying wastewood burner, costing us 300 € per year – and some work.

        This keeps our bill below 100€ per month.

  29. Tesla pledges to fix Australian state’s power woes

    Lyndon Rive, co-founder of Solar City and head of Tesla’s energy division, believes that his company could fix an Australian state’s energy woes in just 100 days. Rive was talking to Australia’s Financial Review, claiming that Tesla could build between 100-300MWh of battery storage in that short a time. It’s a bet that his cousin (and boss) Elon Musk was eager to take up, later tweeting that Tesla would do the work for free if it missed that deadline.

    • Intriguing that the article you linked says that the California system has 80MWh capacity but the link to the article says it is 20MWh, not 80.

      The linked article says that 20MWh system can supply the energy needs of 15,000 homes for 4 hours, or 2,500 homes for 24 hours. That would mean a similar system at 300MWh would supply the energy for 225,000 homes for 4 hours. What’s the population of the SA area and what are the power requirements for the businesses & industry there?

      • green numbers.. you can never pin them down. one minute they are powering the state, the next they are only powering the local industrial park.

        i think average power usage per household a day is 20KWh, well it is around my area, which would make 20MWh = 1000 homes for a day out of the what 900,000 houses. hmm dont see any problem there. so all we need is about $10B worth of batteries every 5 or so years to power the state for a single day, without recharge of course. haha, there have been days without wind or enough solar to help things along, so i would say at least a few days storage would be required. lets make that 30B oh and you still need the gas backup.

        what a joke.. i would like to thank the people of SA for taking on that crash test dummy role, heroic jesture it is, knowing full well that that brick wall is fast coming their way. renewables (r.i.p. to the word renewable) all remind me of that mr risky insurance ad. they are ready, intrepid and utterly progressive and soon to come to greif, yet only mr risky and his entourage seem to not see what is going to happen in the near future. fun to watch, but not so fun if you are stung by the incompetence much like the point of the ad.

      • “The linked article says that 20MWh system can supply the energy needs of 15,000 homes for 4 hours, or 2,500 homes for 24 hours.”

        That comes to 330 W/home. I hope nobody is going to do nasty things like cooking or running washing machines.

  30. The only answer to too much bureaucracy is more bureaucracy.

    Being in the UK, I am glad this one is the other side of the globe. We have already been the demonstrator for wood pellet idiocy.

  31. The same guys who have squandered vast sums of South Australian tax payer money are now going to be in charge of the fix. What could go wrong with that?

  32. LOL @ how many watt-hours per resident of the DPR SA those batteries will store next time the grid goes dark. Especially since there will be no 50Hz power to synchronise to.

  33. And then there is the other monster elephant in the room, that the EROI of the gas plant plus wind generators plus battery storage must approach a record tiny number. Did the ABC reporters get that? Or they are ignoring that as well? The biggest problem is that the majority of voters are fed a mono green diet, and are rubbing their hands together at this world first. They just don’t know a first of a major energy crash. Coal=cheaper =less CO2 (even if that doesn’t matter anyway).

    Fantastically stupid. I feel proud to be a part of it all.

  34. After California went through its series of blackouts some years ago, the political purges went essentially nowhere. The shiny object of Enron was paraded about as the evil actor causing all those shortages and price spikes. No one really got to the point of how the system got so screwed up that one minor player was able to do such damage, and the idealistic politicians/incompetent green ideologues (choose one) stayed in office in most lower political offices.

  35. Haha. The idea that burocrats can run the energy supply better than the engineers. Priceless.
    The educational system down under must have gone completely down the drain. They have clearly never heard of the soviet union.

  36. SA is one step from a erecting a giant wind powered spotlight aiming at a solar powered fan, for dreamers this is the goal.

  37. I like this bit: “we want multiple sources of redundancy, if you like,”
    Well, yes, a lot of people will eventually be fired for incompetency on a grand scale for this, so just keep going and you will achieve your aim.

    • There is a strong resistance to sack Gov’t employees in Australia, especially if they are “permanent”. They are usually promoted for their incompetence because it is cheaper than sacking and paying them out, until they qualify for their guilt edged pensions, for life!

    • Errr, you cannot ‘run’ a desalination plant on batteries. You sort of need a power station to do that. You know – big lumps of coal burning….

      Unless the desalination plant is like a child’s Christmas toy, and you throw it away when the battery is flat. That would suit green economics very nicely.


  38. Just thinking.
    Have the greenies considered this?
    Port Augusta Power Station, fired by coal from Leigh Creek, produced a Class C fly ash. Class C was the most useful fly ash due to it’s cement replacement capacity. Fly ash is incorporated in blended cements, pre-mixed concrete and concrete products. Do our little green mates realise that by de-commissioning the coal-fired plant, the SA Commissars have removed a low energy cement alternative from the market which may now require additional cement in concrete etc. in locations where transport costs prohibit the use of fly ash from other sources (other coal-fired power stations, or blast furnace slag) ?
    Just thinking.

  39. Notwithstanding the fact that SA are insane in the first place for insisting on uber expensive and completely unnecessary renewables driven electricity and given the fact that they are fully committed to this insanity the currently proposed safeguards don’t seem all that unreasonable. I know of no fundamental economic law which states that the free market will always provide services such as sanitation, transport and power distribution at optimal performance so government intervention to ensure basic utilities is not something which should necessarily be regarded as unusual, ill-advised or catastrophic.

    Secondly what is being proposed does not seem to be in principle unreasonable. It is effectively what many people do on boats. I run mostly off solar and the excess keeps a battery bank topped up. When the sun goes down the inverter then pulls charge from the batteries. The difference is my battery bank is generally large enough to satisfy demand until the sun rises again. If I had large power needs and/or a small battery then I would arrange for an alarm as soon as the solar was no longer keeping up with demand and the limited battery capacity would give me time to fire up a generator without incurring power interruptions.

    This seems to be functionally identical with what the SA government are proposing and so long as they have done the sums right – as all of us renewables users have to do – then all should be well. Insofar as the situation of scaling from a boat to a state is a sensible proposition in the first place – which it obviously is not.

    • While it is true that the free market isn’t perfect. (Nothing in this world will ever be) It’s also true that government is ALWAYS further from perfect than the free market.
      The idea that you can improve something by handing it over to the government has been disproven so many times that I’m surprised that anyone still believes in it.

      The issue is not, will it work. The issue is, at what cost.

    • You left out the part that your boat has no where near the power draw of a typical house. How often do you replace your batteries?

    • How much power intensive industry do you operate on your boat? Regardless, much like South Australia, boats are a hole in the ocean you pour money into!

  40. To a leftist, the solution to a problem caused by government interference is always more government interference.

  41. “There will be nowhere to hide, next time their unreliable electric supply nightmare collapses.”
    You are way too optimistic.

  42. Instead of a $360 million, 250-megawatt gas-fired power plant, why not spend the entire $500 million on an approximately 350-megawatt gas-fired power plant?

    Just askin’.

  43. This is the liberal way. Mess with part of a system. Muck it up. Mess with more of it. Muck it up even more.

    Two choices from that point:

    1. Stop mucking it up and return to what was working before.
    2. Claim the result is someone else’s fault and cut them out completely by taking total control.

    Reasonable people choose option one.
    Progressives/liberals always choose option two. Always. (Until they’re defeated at the ballot box or on the battlefield–they never yield control over others in any other way.)

  44. A grid-significant size battery? This would be a CHEMICAL battery? Get ready for a whole new type of mega-explosive poison-inferno-producing human-made disaster.

  45. I thought that one of the main problems that caused the S.A. blackout, was frequency instability. But with batteries being DC and having to synch into the S.A. grid the same as windelecs (wind turbines) do, they are not going to enhance frequency stability.

    Also, this battery unit appears to be rather small (I am assuming 100 mwhr, because that is what it said in my newspaper). The UK’s largest ‘battery’ backup system is Dinorwig, which has a capacity of 10,000 mwhr. Yet Dinorwig still struggles to smooth out UK electrical demand peaks, and has no capacity to smooth out supply peaks. Smoothing out UK renewable supply peaks would need at least another ten Dinorwigs.

    (Is ‘one Dinorwig’ a unit of measure? 😉 )


      • Not sure, but that is what the report indicated. Perhaps it is more difficult when the input frequency is fluctuating all over the place because of the wind.


      • I thought we were talking about converting DC from batteries. Keeping a physical object weighing tons synched up is a whole different ball game. And a much tougher one.

  46. Comments on this thread reflect a general confusion. It is normal in the first days after a major catastrophe. More details will emerge later.

  47. Their renewable program has hurt local businesses (forcing some to leave), made everything more expensive and resulted in a govt. ownership of a utility they condemned when done by the private sector.

    I don’t think people realize that to liberals, this is called progressive.

  48. Any way I try to rotate this to the possible outcomes, as far as I am able to, the conclusion is all the same.
    According to the info in this blog post, the SA is investing in building a “bomb”, a 100MW one, and connect it to their power grid… an attempt to solve some thing that is not solvable…

    The chain is as strong as it’s weakest link…..and by the very attempt in this one, the weakest link is identified and accepted to be the wind power in the SA grid..

    When considering a 100mw battery system, there could be many designs considered, in some way different from each other.
    There could be designs of such systems, when a 100MW system can deliver from a 1mwhr to 2mwhr range continuously up to its terminal capacity, or systems with a 10mwhr to 20mwhr range of supply up to the terminal capacity.
    Such battery systems can be built to be resilient and strong enough to operate for good amount of time in heavy and hazardous condition, like when the demand from the grid this systems are connected to, could be up to 10 times higher than the out put nominal designed range of such systems, and the systems can still deliver up to a point continuously by still maintaining the designed range of normal operation.

    For as much as I can say considering this 100MW battery system venture of SA, none of this kind of designs seams to make sense. None of such as make any difference, or expected in any way to do in the case of SA grid.

    Considering their actual problem in their power grid, the wind power and it’s handicap, the only conclusion I get to, is that the battery system in question that is about to be build and connected to their grid is going a be designed and operated in a way that I my self call it a “bomb” status operation….
    Where the upper range of the power supply can reach and is allowed to operate at the or very near the terminal capacity, where a 100MW battery system is build to operate up to a maximal output “surge” of 100MWhour or very near to it….if demand requires it to….for a very short while anyway. (seconds to minutes)
    This kind of systems are required to be very resilient and highly withstanding, robust and “very strong”, otherwise a 100mw battery systems ends up very easy to be just a “bomb” in waiting….A very very expensive system, where the cost of building such a system is really peanuts when compared to the cost of maintenance over time, if such systems subjected to what they can do best….

    The other thing is, that I see no any “benefit” or return in this particular case…
    Trying to invest in a battery system such as this in the expectation that it could compensate and cover for the main devastating handicap of the wind power, as per the SA grid, is one thing, but expecting for it to deliver and be “successful” at that, is entirely another thing…..I would say completely impossible…..

    Hopefully it will not be built near urban or residential areas……hopefully…….hopefully it will be built in and on a wind farm territory…….

    could still go on further with this and in more detail……but is still a long comment for up to this point, and also I may just be getting all this wrong…..


  49. When considering a 100mw battery system, there could be many designs considered, in some way different from each other.
    There could be designs of such systems, when a 100MW system can deliver from a 1mwhr to 2mwhr range continuously up to its terminal capacity, or systems with a 10mwhr to 20mwhr range of supply up to the terminal capacity.

    There are Megawatts – MW, because Watt was a bloke,and there are milliwatts and milliwatt hours – mW and mWh.

    There is no mwh or mwhr

    a 10mWh battery is a potato and a couple of nails…

    • Oh thorry Leo, mea culpa….you are right with your criticism… hopefully you still get the meaning of my comment..:)
      Sorry to mister Watt to……no mischief intended…

      thanks for your reply.


    • How much for one of these “Green beauties”, mate? Does Elon know he’s got competition?

  50. South Australian voters need to enlarge their genetic pool or check their water for lead. How is a government like this sustainable? Australia, home to the largest pool of climate scientists and already a study for climate blues disorder, is already an object of derision. Do they know the rest of the world is abandoning the Paris Agreement now and new governments in Europe after Brexit and Trump’s America are putting an end to the brain lesion called CAGW science? Did they take your pitchforks away from you? Com’on, lets hear from South Australians.

  51. South Australia needs to look at Ontario Canada” s cluster F energy /environmental train wreck to learn what not to do . It was stupid ideological socialism that created the mess in the first place . Now what a double down lead by government ? Ditch any carbon taxes to start with .

    • It would be so interesting to have the minds that are discussing this matter, take a look at the ridiculous situation we have in Ontario.

  52. The primary function of a grid connected battery (as a source/generator) will be to replace spinning reserve. The secondary function will be storage of excess “free” generation such as when windy days provide more generation than demand. The 2 functions are not really compatible. For reliable use as a substitute for spinning reserve the battery needs to be kept fully charged. For economic(ish) use as storage of “excess electrons” (love that phrase-it’s a keeper!!) the battery needs to be empty and regularly cycled. To decide in advance which function, primary or secondary, is what you are going to need tomorrow might require the employment of a whole committee of clairvoyants.

    Perhaps we need TWO battery packs, keep one fully charged and the other generally empty and cycled.

    /s (unless you are Elon in which case…)

  53. The whole continent of Australia has suffered badly this year due to climate change related heat waves and floods. Too many people turning on air conditioners trying to escape the unrelenting heat waves caused havoc with electric grids across the nation.

    Climate change has arrived big time down under!

  54. Earlier in the thread this link was posted:

    It is a good read on how a large scale battery system is built and used.

    Points to note:
    It uses 13,760 Saft SBH 920 nickel-cadmium cells giving 3,680 Ah capacity.
    It produces 5000V DC.
    Converters work both ways – DC > AC, and AC – DC to discharge and charge as necessary.
    The complete battery weighs some 1,300 tons and its building measures 120 x 26 m.
    Supplies 40 MW for 15 minutes.
    Guaranteed for 20 years.
    It provides spinning reserve to the grid.

    To scale it up to cover South Australia would cost a lot, would it be worth it?

    Only SA taxpayers can decide….

  55. Have government create a huge problem in the private sector by solving an non-existant problem. Then perform a centralized bureaucratic takeover to fix the artificially created problem thereby making things worse. Demand more money to fix the escalating problem.

    At this rate Australia will go the way of USSR which collapsed from the overwhelming burden of incompetent bureaucracy and blind idealogy.

  56. Just had a workup done on our household for a battery system, we have a 5kw, inverter with 20 solar panels, they provide our daytime power with some left over which goes back to the grid.
    We get paid the grand sum of 6 cents per Kw for that leftover power, so we are only looking at night time power.
    I explained very carefully we are not huge users of power, TV, and maybe a laptop running, reverse cycle air-conditioner if it is very hot or cold.
    Quote came back, we will need to change your inverter as your two year old inverter will not work, and the cost over $10k, for about $150.00 a quarter savings, and how long will the batteries last I asked, oh about 10 years.
    So $150.00 x 4 = $600.00, then $600.00 X 10 years, $6000.00, he assured me my savings would pay for my batteries, and I would have no power bills, I told him to feel free to install my battery system,he had my bills, never heard from salesman again, so even salesmen can calculate, what do you know.
    Very much doubt govt ministers and premiers can calculate.

  57. The Elon Musk Battery proposal would supply a small town for two hours after a supply breakage. The batteries will last 5-10 years and then need to be replaced. The wind turbines will las 15 years and need rebuilding. Just exactly where is the ‘Renewable” in all that. I cab see the downside, but not the ‘renewable’.

  58. Never fear, the next power source will be taxpayers running on hampster wheels as reliable ecofriendly night time power.
    After all, if taxpayers are so placid to permit the ongoing enslavement that our Kleptocratic Class are gifting us with, why not reintroduce slavery?

    You know, “It is justifiable to allow these miscreants to pay their debt to society”.
    In South Australia and Ontario Canada’s case, that debt being the monthly power bill from the government monopoly.

    While I know no cure for stupid, the cost of stupid and clueless being in positions of power,are being demonstrated world wide.

  59. I have a sneaking feeling that, in due course, they are going to discover how the economics of this emergency gas-fired generator look much rosier if they just keep it running all the time. Of course there won’t be any big public announcements about it…

  60. One of the most modern and efficient (over 60%) Gas power plants in Irsching, Bavaria, Germany is shut down.

    The reason is that subisdised renewables are now cheaper at the spot market, so that running it is not feasible.

    However, the German Government did not allow them to close it completely. As the nuclear power plants nearby are closed down for good, the gas power plant is cosindered as system relevant and by law has to be kept as a “warm reserve”, which means it has to run idle to start as soon additional power is needed.

    Of course, this has to be paid for and the cost are added to our electricity bill.

  61. Seems batteries are not all they are cracked up to be! This one was installed in March16, and touted to be the largest in the country! And the spin is evident here, too! No real info on capacity, power output, time of available power etc!
    And as of January this year, it is still not operational!
    Methinks we already have best energy storage, perfectly provided by nature, at minimal cost!
    It’s called coal!
    Can be used in any weather condition, and is easily throttled for energy demands. What could be better than that?

    • You can build a reliable system from un-reliable components, you just need tons of redundancy and the ability to do hot swaps quickly.

  62. “The private sector would build Australia’s largest battery before next summer, with a 100MW output, Mr Weatherill told a news conference.”

    With only 100MW these batteries are inadequate for major failures such as the Heywood interconnector between Victoria and South Australia (SA). Since the interconnector has a nominal capacity of 460MW any battery system should be designed to match that capacity and supply power for the time it takes to bring up the backup gnerators.

  63. “The other thing with a battery, which is attractive, is that it can be done quite economically. The battery can become essentially a player in the market and, to some degree, pay for itself.”

    Not so much. Detailed analysis of PG&E battery trial shows why batteries are fundamentally different from generation and represent far less value to the grid. Real-word operation of how two utility-scale battery arrays could not reach financial break-even trying to bid for every possible ancillary service in the CAISO market ( ).

    Best application of utility-scale battery storage is co-located with intermittent solar or wind, to package the whole project as a dispatchable RE resource. Of course, that makes the RE power far from competitive with even on-site diesel generation, let alone grid electricity.

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