Irony Can Be So Ironic! Grid Storage Increases Carbon Emissions!

Guest ROTFLMAO! by David Middleton

Vox’s David Roberts has a green epiphany…

Batteries have a dirty secret

Energy storage is considered a green technology. But it actually increases carbon emissions.

By David Roberts  Jul 21, 2018

 

Energy storage (batteries and other ways of storing electricity, like pumped water, compressed air, or molten salt) has generally been hailed as a “green” technology, key to enabling more renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But energy storage has a dirty secret. The way it’s typically used in the US today, it enables more fossil-fueled energy and higher carbon emissions. Emissions are higher today than they would have been if no storage had ever been deployed in the US.

[…]

In and of itself, energy storage is neither clean nor dirty — it is neutral, as likely to boost the revenue of fossil fuel plants as it is to help clean energy.

[…]

Vox

It all boils down to “arbitrage.”  Buy electricity when it’s cheap, store it and sell it when it’s more expensive.  Since utility companies are “businesses,” they buy and sell electricity with “dollars,” as opposed to Btu or carbon credits.  If the old coal-fired plant is selling cheap electricity at night and the new solar PV plant is only selling electricity during the day, when it’s expensive… Guess which source will be the preferred purchase for battery storage?  (Hint: Not solar).

Irony can be so ironic!

 

What the heck are they burning in Kansas?

kg CO2/MWh
Coal (anthracite) 353.8
Coal (bituminous) 318.4
Coal (lignite) 333.4
Coal (subbituminous) 331.7
Propane 215.1
Natural gas 181.1

Data from US EIA

450 kg CO2/MWh… They must be injecting extra CO2 into the flue gas of their coal-fired power plants! (/Sarc)

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127 thoughts on “Irony Can Be So Ironic! Grid Storage Increases Carbon Emissions!

  1. The UK’s pumped storage facilities were all built long before the climate change bandwagon got going, with fossil fuel or nuclear sources in mind.

      • I believe that the idea behind pumped storage is that there was system energy going to waste so the wasted energy was put to use to pump water for storage and the stored water was then used to generate DIFFERENT electricity later. Additionally, most pumped storage facilities could be used for aquaculture of various kinds.

        It was a systemic efficiency gain but 100% efficiency was never expected.

        • Thomas,

          a slight correction if I may? There is no system energy going to waste, there is spare capacity which is lightly different.
          The primary idea was to have a source of instant power to deal with spikes in demand, the U.K. term is peak loppers.
          It’s a system that works well but there is only so much of such capacity required. Well until part time power came along and caused all sorts of problems to the grid.

      • Pumped storage units are roughly 75% efficient overall,but that includes the loss of power going to and coming from the pumped storage. Batteries lose around 5% storing and 5% extracting power, plus the transmission losses from the source to and from the batteries. Batteries must be replaced every 10-15 years by newly manufacturerd cells and the old cells disposed of. Pumped storage only needs to replace turbine generators.

        • The data for the Musk battery in South Australia suggest its efficiency is only around 80%. Part of the loss is keeping it cool, which consumes power even when the battery is sitting idle.

    • Other problem is that the stated efficiency measures only power to the pumps and power out of the generator. Auxiliary equipment, lights, heat, AC, and all of the rest of the support including admin and maintenance rarely gets in the equations. Same problem with all of the support for wind turbines. Either is in the neighborhood of ten percent.

    • UK pumped storage was not primarily there to store energy. It is an alternative to spinning reserve. Because it can be quickly switched into the grid to give power at times of peak demand.

      • Dinorwig was actually designed in part to take surplus power from the Wylfa nuclear power station overnight, as an adjunct to the continuous operation of the Anglesey Aluminium smelter (now closed, along with the power station). It stores about 9GWh (and requires 12GWh to fill from empty), and can produce at up to 1.7GW. It makes some of its money by price arbitrage between low overnight prices and peak demand, but the majority comes from providing ancillary services: being ready to handle an interruption on the French interconnector (it can attain full power in just 12 seconds), able to switch power in and out rapidly to help the grid maintain a stable frequency, deal with TV pickup, etc.

        • One dramatic example of Dinorwig coming into play was when the St Jude’s Day storm hit England and it knocked one of the nuclear power stations off the grid in an instant – 1.something GW gone, just like that, in less time then it takes to say “Dinorwig”.

          Anyway, electric mountain was there and spun up straight away to take up the slack.

          Events like that – where more than a GW drops off the grid in an instant – are much harder to deal with than the relatively smooth variations in wind power delivered to the grid, which are much easier to forecast well in advance.

          Grid storage will help renewables replace the last fossil fuels, but when they are introduced before renewables make up a large part of the grid supply – ie before they are needed to even out renewable generation – then clearly they will be used for fossil fuel arbitrage instead. Still, that helps to test and improve the technology so that it is there when renewables take over.

          • You’re missing the fact that renewables aren’t going to “take over,” since they simply lack the attributes necessary for quality electric generation and always will.

          • When the last fossil fuel power plant is shut down will you admit that renewables have taken over?

            In the UK they’ve already replaced half of the electricity generated by coal earlier in the decade.

          • Timothy loves unicorns and fairy dust. Your ignorance is STUNNING. The only renewables that will take over are Nat Gas ( & methyl cathrates ) and fuel cells that use either. Bloom Energy went public yesterday and favorably received.
            http://bloomenergy.com.

    • Yes Ian: The Dinorwic Pumped storage facility in Wales is a case in point. Very impressive, cost a bomb, stores about 9 GwattHrs and can supply about 1.5 Mwatts for some 7 hrs. and that’s it. – lights out. But you need a convenient mountain and a couple of lakes if you want to build any more. Runs at around 75% efficiency.
      Electricity storage is hugely expensive and ALL intermittent power needs an equivalent capacity backup or storage if it is to compete with fossil or nuclear for reliability.

      Cheap wind power is a concept blowing in the wind. The maritime industry cottoned onto that many moons ago; but those clippers were beautiful ships.
      And finally if you want to warm the Earth plaster it with solar panels . They are very good at that.
      That’s it. Got that off my chest!!

  2. Problem. In a market manipulated world of Energy and PV (Solar) ‘test markets’ – California, Arizona,.. Solar frequently drives “negative prices” during the day when solar is peaking (see CAISO Duck curve as reference). “Negative Pricing” requires Calif producers to “pay” others to take excess electrons when contrived supply exceeds demand. Similar Renewable upside down economics occurs in Germany as Germany dumps excess ‘renewable’ energy into contiguous markets disrupting market economics of ‘base-line’ investments. “Net Metering” and subsidies offer renewable players 20%+ guaranteed ROI on their investments the rest of society pays for in “green $$$ waste”. The only way the waste can be reversed is with efficient and economical ‘storage’ unfortunately, known chemistry, physics and engineering cannot solve the “E&E” equation with today’s known science (save nuclear). Google figured this out back in 2014 when they shut down their ‘do-no-harm’ R&D into solving the perceived CO2-Green energy problem. Retrospective reviews of their analysis is cogent and relatively unbiased.

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/google-engineers-explain-why-they-stopped-rd-in-renewable-energy#gs.kywEfB4

    “Pumping water up the Hill (low cost time), and Rolling it down the hill (hydro)” would seem to be the best ‘battery’ (storage) known to man. Known for about 400years (grain-mills ran on water flowing). Battery technology?,… Chemistry known for hundreds of years makes economic (efficiency) improvements in 10%’s per year. Pedestrian improvements. (Next time i hear a green quote “Moores Law” (semiconductor shrinking – litho physics) as the holy grail of electron storage I’m gunna puke. Ditto with ‘order of magnitude’ changes “PV” or solar production efficiency & costs.

    • In electronics, the big cost is making the wafer. Actually etching circuitry on the wafer was relatively inexpensive.
      As a result being able to put more circuitry on the same wafer meant that the individual chips got cheaper.
      This is the big reason why electronics have gotten so much cheaper. With geometries shrinking, even though we were packing more circuits onto each chip, the chips were still shrinking in size.

      PS: Packing more circuits onto a chip also meant that functions that used to be handled by external circuitry could now being handled on chip, which cut manufacturing costs as well. It also made the chips more efficient and faster as you no longer had to put two layers of interface hardware between the functions.

      This is why there is no such thing as a Moore’s Law for photo-voltaic or batteries.

      • Exactly! In thinking about the shrinking PV wafer,.. one needs to see that light has a tougher time gettin thru the smaller lines. Thus the opposite of “Moore’s Law”,.. improvements in PV are measured in the single digits of % per year as improvements are at the margins. Semi’s work on ‘halving’ every ~2years or so,.. said another way,.. twice as much performance or halving of cost multiplied over a decade is ‘order’s of magnitude speak,…

      • Not even close to true. The wafers are the cheapest part. Scraping a wafer at the beginning of the process is no big deal (3-4 figure loss). Scraping one near the end is a very big deal (5-6 figure loss)

        • There is truth to what both of you say. I think that you both would agree that shrinking the size of circuitry reduces cost, certainly with limits.

          • Look at the improvement of Watts/square Foot of PV over the last 10 years. Improvements of ~ 8% per year is what you will find. As PV (silicon wafers) shrink, the amount of light that can pass thru the vias narrows causing a physical problem in the geometric improvements normally seen in Moore’s law of lithography shrinking and the doubling of transistors per unit of space (nano-meters).

          • Interesting comment – hadn’t thought about the impact of the vias. Also doesn’t the Shockley Law play some part in limiting solar cell efficiency increases?

          • No, Mark’s wrong and ebakanezir is right. The most expensive tools in the fab are litho tools and they are the part that does the critical work of “etching” since it’s all in the patterning.

            He’s right in the sense that solar is a surface area game so shrinking feature size doesn’t do a damn thing for you.

      • Another point is flaws in the wafer.
        If there are say 5 flaws in a wafer, and if a single flaw is sufficient to case an entire “chip” to be tossed, then the more chips you can put on a wafer, the lower the percentage of chips that have to be tossed due to these defects. If you are putting 100 chips on a wafer, then you will need to toss 5 due to wafer defects. A 5% loss rate.
        If you have 1000 chips on a wafer, then you are still tossing 5 due to wafer defects, a 0.5% loss rate.

        • Except the concept of a flaw changes with minimum feature size. The smaller you go the more defects show up which weren’t important when they were a few % of a gate width. Defect density has to go down as you scale or the economics get very ugly.

      • I am not sure about that. A laser for etching costs in the neighborhood of 150 million dollars. They use 5 or so huge CO2 lasers which would fill your neighborhood to create a fine beam that hits a 30 micrometer bead of liquid tin (I believe) many times per second which creates the UHF (DUV) light needed to etch at 14nm. It requires tons of energy, especially since most of the light gets absorbed by the system before it can be used.

  3. The key statement is “The way it’s typically used in the US today,”

    What is happening isn’t due to any inherent property of grid storage.

      • And that’s why some goals require government regulation. Unregulated capitalism isn’t the solution to every problem. This is of course a different issue to whether there is a need to achieve a specific goal.

        • Unregulated capitalism and free markets is especially not the solution to problems not yet believed to be problems.

        • The number of issues where unregulated capitalism isn’t the best solution is very, very small.
          What kind of storage is best for a power grid is most certainly not one of them.

        • In heavily regulated situations, you just end up with other inefficiencies.

          Like the story from Europe where they were subsidizing solar power fed back onto the grid at very high rates, so some people set up diesel powered generators to feed electricity back onto the grid as solar.

          The only reason they were caught was because their feed rate remained high during the night when solar electricity should be at zero, so investigators found the banks of diesel generators.

          The only way to snuff out capitalism and capitalists is some sort of all powerful police state.

          • Would this be analagous to Tesla’s solar-powered “superchargers” seen hooked up to diesel generators? 🙂

    • “Coal” is the same price… night or day.

      “Coal-fired electricity” is generally cheaper at night, when demand is lower. Natural gas-fired, nuclear, wind and hydroelectric electricity also tend to be cheaper at night.

      • Isn’t this the premise of Elon’s Powerwall?
        Store some energy when it is cheaper and release it when it is artificially higher cost..?

        • Elon’s Powerwall is primarily used to collect solar power for the owner’s Tesla vehicle, which is generally not at home when the sun provides the bulk of its daily energy. The Powerwall is far and way most often used for collecting power from solar roofs during the times of the day when it has a surplus over the home’s demand – then supplying the home later in the day. It is highly unlikely that anyone would spend all that money for a Powerwall simply to buy power at a reduced rate at night.

        • That’s the claimed purpose for the powerwall. However it’s way too expensive to ever do that job economically.

        • I looked into solar panels by themselves, using the local utility as the de facto battery (by giving them the excess during the day), and panels + Tesla’s “Powerwall.” I did everything strictly by the numbers, with no biases going in.

          When the local utility decided to end “net metering” and pay new panel users (which would’ve been us) the wholesale rate for the excess rather than the retail rate, that put the kibosh on what had been the preferred option: Give the excess to the utility during the summer days, and get the kWhs back at night and in winter. That would’ve broken even if they’d paid the retail rate for our excess (by having the meter go backwards), but once they decided to pay the wholesale rate, the numbers no longer worked.

          That caused me to look at some alternatives: Store the summer daytime excess for use on summer nights, or store the summer daytime excess for use both at night in summer and throughout the winter, i.e., be truly off-grid.

          The first option seemed pointless. Yeah, it’d replace all of the utility’s power for three months or so, but during the other 9 months I’d still be the utility’s customer. It seemed pointless to add the complexity. The second option, going off-grid, would’ve entailed a minimum of 1.5 megawatts of storage, at a price of $400/kWh not including installation. That’s $600K for batteries (!!), which are warranted for 10 years as opposed to solar panels which have 25-year guarantees.

          Bottom line: There was no economic case for “PowerWall” batteries. As opposed to our EV bought truly out of curiosity at a very deep (70%) discount, and whose fuel costs 2-1/2 cents to 4 cents per mile compared to our diesel’s truck’s 22 cents to 24 cents a mile, there is no case whatsoever for “Power Wall” batteries other than as the ultimate virtue signal for the rich.

          • Two points. I’m presuming that your EV is a sedan, since I haven’t heard of any electric trucks yet.
            1) Compare like to like. Compare the cost of an equivalently sized sedan to your EV, not to a much bigger truck.
            2) About half the cost of gasoline are road taxes. If EV’s ever become more than a trivial fraction of the automobile fleet, the government WILL find a way to recapture that lost revenue.

          • I’m aware that I compared apples to oranges, which is usually anathema to me. But this time, I did it that way because it’s how we really live. You see, before we dragged the EV out here, trips to town were made in the truck. However, if I went apples to apples and compared the EV grocery-getter to its gas equivalent, the untaxed cost per mile averaged over the year is 3 cents for the EV compared to 7 cents for the ICEV.

            Throw in taxes, and it’s 6 cents for the EV and 9 cents for the ICEV. But then I have to go back to the real world. Like a fair number of people where we live, we’ve finagled a way to register the EV in Oregon rather than Washington, and thereby escape WA’s punitive EV tax. Out of pocket, the comparison for the same-sized vehicle is 3 cents vs. 9 cents.

            Am I a criminal? Well, maybe, but given that the appropriate tax for WA would be 1/2 cent per mile, I call our finagle a matter of dishonor among thieves. Yes, I’m a pirate, but so are they. Catch me if you can, coppers! 🙂

            p.s.: Yep, they’ll find a way. And so will we. 🙂

          • Yeah, let’s have the government have a record of everywhere you drive. Wonderful idea. Oh, and just wait until they charge more for driving “too many miles.”

          • Reviewing this before posting, I’m hijacking the thread, but it did start with a statement in the thread:

            “…the government [and/or the utility] WILL find a way to recapture that lost revenue…”

            …which is the risk when recommending Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) such as thermal storage (make cooling/heating at a time when the rates are low, to be used when both the installation demand and the rates are high), rate changes, or even an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC). I had a friend, who specialized in electrical systems, tell me that he worked with a customer to negotiate them a better rate. I think it required an up-front change fee or something, but the $ savings would yield a simple payback of <10 years (I'm making up the numbers, I don't remember the exact arithmetic). So the customer executed the change, they were enjoying their lower rates and looking forward to reaching the black, when two years into it the utility reworked all their tariffs, and they now were paying not only more than they were paying on the old tariff, but more than they would have been paying under the reworked tariffs if they had remained on the previous schedule.

            This gets especially risky with an ESPC. This is a contract with 3rd party financing, to be paid back over some preset timeframe from the savings generated by the capital improvements. Oftentimes these are structured such that the customer's budgeted utility payments go to the Energy Services Company (ESCo) that accomplished all the work, they pay the utility and the finance company, and the excess, if any, is their profit. So suppose the ESCo and their client enter into a deal, the ESCo installs all the capital improvements with borrowed money, and sets about managing the cashflow from there on out until the loan is paid off. And then just a few years in, the utility changes all their tariffs and suddenly the ESCo doesn't have enough money to pay both the utility and the loan. How helpful and/or magnanimous do you suppose the ESCo feels toward their client, who is now costing them money?

            Wow, I have written an essay already. The whole point I'm making, though, is that even rich countries such as the U.S., really don't have the luxury of saving the world (if it needed saving). Just making the payments on our existing obligations more than uses up the cashflow of everything that has cashflow (I exclude the government from this discussion because they don't have to worry about showing a profit, and STILL they can't keep up). Just addressing TODAY's problems is enough to take on, we don't need to sign on for budget-busting projects that don't even do what they are advertised to do, that will make no difference (even if they did what they were supposed to do) toward solving the hypothetical problems that will undoubtedly never materialize! Let's concentrate on the here and now.

            Whose quote am I stealing, "We don't even plan for the past."?

          • Get a back-up generator to go off grid. Nat Gas or Propane. Oh,.. no,… (they have the best ‘energy density’ and are not intermittant). Yup,.. $0.40- $0.60/kWh for that night time juice off grid however,…

          • I have a backup propane generator. The electricty costs ~45 cents/kWh for the fuel only, vs. 9.49 cents/kWh from the utility. And that’s not counting the vastly increased wear and tear if I were to use it as the main power source. Or the noise. Generators are a poor choice.

      • Coal-fired electricity costs the same regardless of when it’s generated – right? The price paid for it will fluctuate with demand.

        Maybe I don’t understand the basic premise that recharging batteries at night results in more ff emissions. If solar power is used during day, the the equivalent ff power is not being used, saving those emissions. So if ff power is used to recharge batteries at night, then the emissions thereby produced should result in fewer emissions overall, since recharging Tesla batteries should requires less energy than power consumed during the day by air conditioners and the like.

        It’s obvious that intermittency creates excess power-generating capacity during the day that has to be used when the intermittent source is not available. That’s unavoidable. But it’s not so obvious that intermittency creates more emissions than we’d have if ff-generated power were the only source. Isn’t electricity consumption the greatest during the day? So if ff facilities can avoid the biggest quantity of emissions while solar is used, wouldn’t the quantity of emissions overall during the 24 hour day actually be less?

        Of course, creating excess capacity that you can’t eliminate creates a different problem. The original business case for a ff plant is lost, of course, since it’s used less, creating a loss that someone has to absorb. But the stated reason for constructing renewable generators is to reduce emissions, right? So if society thinks that is a good idea then it should be willing to absorb the excess cost, right?

        I’m just thinking hypothetically. I know what’s happened in Germany, with problems that have been compounded by other things.

        • Coal-fired electricity costs the same regardless of when it’s generated – right? The price paid for it will fluctuate with demand.

          The price paid for it is all that matters to the buyer… In this case, the buyer is the operator of the grid storage.

          The buyer doesn’t care how much it cost the coal-fired power plant operator. The buyer is only interested in maximizing the spread between their purchase price and ultimate sales price.

          Maybe I don’t understand the basic premise that recharging batteries at night results in more ff emissions. If solar power is used during day, the the equivalent ff power is not being used, saving those emissions. So if ff power is used to recharge batteries at night, then the emissions thereby produced should result in fewer emissions overall, since recharging Tesla batteries should requires less energy than power consumed during the day by air conditioners and the like.

          Tesla batteries have nothing to do with this.

          Grid operators (electric utilities) purchase cheap electricity for storage during off-peak hours, store it, and then sell it at a higher price during peak hours. Off-peak hours tend to occur at night… When solar doesn’t work. Since the grid operators tend to be businesses, they seek out the cheapest off-peak electricity they can purchase… which tends to be from coal-fired or natural gas-fired power plants.

          It’s obvious that intermittency creates excess power-generating capacity during the day that has to be used when the intermittent source is not available. That’s unavoidable. But it’s not so obvious that intermittency creates more emissions than we’d have if ff-generated power were the only source. Isn’t electricity consumption the greatest during the day? So if ff facilities can avoid the biggest quantity of emissions while solar is used, wouldn’t the quantity of emissions overall during the 24 hour day actually be less?

          No. Because solar isn’t available when they are buying electricity for storage.

          Of course, creating excess capacity that you can’t eliminate creates a different problem. The original business case for a ff plant is lost, of course, since it’s used less, creating a loss that someone has to absorb. But the stated reason for constructing renewable generators is to reduce emissions, right? So if society thinks that is a good idea then it should be willing to absorb the excess cost, right?

          “Society” rarely volunteers to pay for what it wants. “Society” expects that OPM will cover excess costs.

          I’m just thinking hypothetically. I know what’s happened in Germany, with problems that have been compounded by other things.

          Fortunately, only California, New York and the New England states appear to be emulating Energiewende.

        • No spalding craft, coal fired electricity definitely doesn’t always cost the same. There are three main reasons for this.

          The first is cycle efficiency of a single coal fired unit or any other fuelled steam cycle, this isn’t specifically a point about coal. When operating, there is a fixed rate of energy consumption regardless of MW – this is often referred to as the no-load heat rate. The most efficient point of operation is at maximum export capacity because this shares the NLHR between the greatest number of MW. Below maximum capacity, the NLHR is larger in proportion to exported MW, in other words the cycle is less efficient overall and the resulting marginal cost is higher at part-loads.

          Note how a consequence of this is that there is a cost to operating reserve because it means running units at lower efficiency.

          The second is “two shifting” operation. A stable power system cannot absorb output from every generating unit that could operate at any time: there has to be something in reserve. Demand is lower overnight (and at weekends, and in Summer, and so on). At least some (probably many) generators therefore must be in a shut down state, and re-start when demand rises. Over a daily cycle, this is referred to as “two shifting”.

          This cycling pattern costs extra fuel, depending on how long the unit was shut-down, two shifting is not really too expensive as the generating unit never really cools down. But starting up from a cold state can cost a lot.

          Cycling operation increases risks and maintenance costs (malfunctions and stressing high temperature/pressure parts). To cover these costs, two shifting generators seek to recover these costs over the operating period of their cycles, and therefore they charge a higher price to break even. Costs and therefore prices are higher when demand increases and cycling units are requested to start-up.

          The last reason is called the “merit order”. Power stations are all different. They have different ages, different locations (fuel delivery costs), different staffing and maintenance requirements, different technologies, different thermal efficiencies and so forth. These all factor-in to the prices each power station charges if it is required to operate to satisfy demand. As demand increases, more expensive units are called into operation. Prices therefore rise to the avoidable cost of the most expensive called to run.

          So there you have it. Coal fired power doesn’t all cost the same. And neither does any other type of power generation.

          • Thank you very much for those details. It’s hugely beneficial and educational to read a post from someone who clearly knows what he talking about, and who can get into the details in such a way as to be understandable by a curious non-specialist who very much wants to get it right. You have a gift, and I hope to see more commentary from you.

        • The problem is that solar/wind does not replace ff during the day. That’s the claim, but it is not the reality.

          • Because of clouds. FF must be running inefficiently as “standby” for when the solar generation suddenly drops like a rock due to cloud cover.

          • Well, because of weather in general. Not only solar panels are unpredictably intermittent, wind power also. There is a required minimum wind to even get one of those turbines spinning, and there is a maximum that the turbines and blades cannot exceed without causing damage. Read the post-mortum on the 2016 South Australia power outage. Basically, a front came through, which affected a great number of wind turbines at once, when the wind got too high they had to feather the props and shut down, and that caused the system to crash. Not enough back-up available to cover for that sudden loss of generation.

            Thus when @Timothy (likes zebras) throws out such turds as:

            “Events like [the loss of a nuclear generator due to storm damage] – where more than a GW drops off the grid in an instant – are much harder to deal with than the relatively smooth variations in wind power delivered to the grid, which are much easier to forecast well in advance.”

            …I’m tempted to call him not just a liar but a damn liar. Variations in wind are NOT smooth and can NOT be predicted in advance, unless one writes the management policy to shut down all wind turbines 2 days before any potential storm enters the area (since getting a steam turbine from cold start to full operating status, without causing damage to the turbines, can take as much as 24 hours). The nuclear plant should have come through the storm with no problems whatsoever, and thus its shutdown was indeed a surprise, whereas wind power you can count on it shutting down every time there is a stiff breeze. I guess that’s what he means by “…forecast…”? And no one else called him on it?

        • There are two issues, one is that the utility has to over-generate at night to have extra baseload energy during the day. The nighttime energy gets wasted, and the costs need to be made up during peak times when the energy is sold. Also there is a lot of idle capacity which costs as well. If Utilities couldn’t charge more during the day, they wouldn’t be able to pay for the coal plants to provide the base load. Another cost factor during the day is that less efficient peaker plants get used. These tend to be turbines which can be brought on relatively quickly but are about 30% less efficient, and require more maintenance. This of course is also a gross simplification.

        • ” If solar power is used during day, the the equivalent ff power is not being used, saving those emissions.”

          False. The FF emissions will not be eliminated, because even if the solar is used, the ff must be running inefficiently on backup to be spooled up when a cloud appears and the solar “generation” drops like a rock.

      • I would have to check, in Australia power is the same cost night or day – flat rate. The only country I lived in that had a night (Cheap) rate was the UK. Many homes had night storage heaters which would be charged over night and used during the day.

        • What you see on your bill, Patrick, is the retail rate. Which is the average of all of the wholesale rates (plus, if allowed by the State, a profit for the distributor).

          Wholesale rates vary wildly over the day, day of the week, season, etc. Jo Nova periodically puts up the graph of those prices (usually during your summer, when they are most dramatic – yes, selective news reporting there).

    • It is cheap during the day. The difference is that you are required to buy solar/wind if it is available, regardless of cost.

      • Electricity tends to be more expensive during peak demand hours, irrespective of the source.

    • Coal power stations are running at night, they can’t shut down as it takes too long to start back up and they can’t send a lot of their power to the grid. So they’re power is cheap at night.

        • No, Owen is wrong. Coal fired power stations have been “two-shifting” for decades. It takes a few hours to start (from hot conditions) and it costs extra in both fuel and maintenance. Hot conditions last about 8-12 hours from shutdown. So starting coal fired power stations happens all the time. It is the everyday reality of operating a synchronous power system.

  4. Not a problem.

    Grid Storage is in support of Green aims, so anything it does is OK. You will see the same effect with windmills killing birds – they could wipe out a rare species and get a pass from the bird rescue people, ‘cos they’re GREEEEEN….

  5. Even after all their efforts to kill coal, it still won’t die, much to Greenie’s chagrin, and Trump is even talking about a coal comeback. Coal is the fly in their soup, and what’s it doing? The backstroke.

  6. Oh, the irony!
    Those who fail to learn the lessons of capitalism driven competition and supply/demand economics are doomed to repeat similar stupidities.

    The net effect is, while it creates huge production cost inefficiencies, it liberates even more CO2 to enhance crop yields and feed our impoverished and hungry masses yearning to be free from their crony socialism dictators.

  7. Why do honest climate writers inadvertently perpetuate the false narrative that too much co2 is bad? Or use the term ‘carbon emissions’ that deviously lumps carbon dioxide with actual pollutants? Here’s an honest headline that exposes the AGW fraud by rejecting the false narrative: “Good News! Grid Storage Increases Carbon Dioxide..Cheaper & Better for All Life on Earth!’

  8. When you generate electricity, regardless of by what method, then you “store” the electricity, regardless of the “storage” technology used, then you access and use electricity from the device or devices where you “stored” the electricity is the electricity that you are using the same electricity that you generated and “stored”?

    I can’t think of a storage method from which it would be the same electricity except maybe by storing a charge in a capacitor then using the discharge current and I question whether that would be actually the same electricity that’s being used. The off the wall point is that with each conversion of energy, there are losses of energy so that the amount of energy out is always less than the amount of energy in.

  9. Electricity can have a negative cost, that is they will pay you money to take it. link That’s thing one.

    If you are willing to pay to put a bunch of electricity into batteries, that will raise demand and the price of electricity will rise. That’s thing two.

    In certain locations where it is feasible, pumped hydro has been used for years because it makes economic sense. link That’s thing three.

    In theory, grid storage could reduce the amount of fossil fuels used even without wind and solar … as long as you can ignore the cost of storage. Money isn’t free. You either pay money to borrow money or you forgo earning more money because you aren’t investing it elsewhere (opportunity cost) That’s thing four.

    The bottom line is that you can’t make money by buying a bunch of batteries so you can buy low and sell high.

  10. Nearly any storage method is lossy, which means it will take more energy into the storage system than will eventually be delivered. All the loss contributes to an increase carbon-generation.

    • Delete the word any. 2nd law (I think) of thermodynamics. As I recall, first law is you can’t get something for nothing. 2nd law is you can’t even break even.

  11. It all boils down to how much of the total energy produced is net zero or negative pricing of the renewable. If the number of days when solar or wind prices are negative are huge, then of course battery storage could make sense. However this negative pricing doesnt happen often enough and always has to be offset by all the other costs of these sources of power. Germany has found out that, sure ,negative pricing happens with wind, but when the wind doesnt blow they have to pay Sweden that has nuclear and hydro. France which gets more than 70% of its electricity from nuclear doesnt need wind nor solar. And for Germany and Denmark which have the highest electricity prices , they are now stuck with them. If the subsidies ever come off, the renewable industry will collapse. As for storage even that doesn’t make economic sense:

    “Tesla’s much-hyped 100 MW lithium battery storage center in Australia can only provide enough backup power for 7,500 homes for four hours;
    The largest lithium battery storage center in the U.S. (in Escondido, California) can only provide enough power for 20,000 homes for four hours;
    Are a few hours of battery backup sufficient to integrate solar and wind onto the grid? Not in the slightest.

    Solar and wind are unreliable over months and years, not just hours. That means unfathomable quantities of electricity would need to be stored over months or years. Consider that:

    It would take 696 storage centers the size of Tesla’s in Australia to provide just four hours of backup power for the Australian grid — and cost $50 billion;
    It would require 15,280 storage centers the size of Escondido to provide just four hours of backup power for the U.S. grid — at an estimated cost of $764 billion.”

    In the long run, coal , natural gas and nuclear are the cheapest options.

    So going green with intermittent renewables, whether or not you have storage , doesnt make sense in the long run.

  12. If I try to do the math…

    Solar is at best 30% and wind somewhere under that in installed capacity versus generation. So let’s say we make all of the U.S. dependent on solar and wind, or around 4,000 GWh. Forget electric cars for the moment and pretend this number represents what we need.

    To be safe, that means we have to install about 14,700 GWh of capacity, assuming no storage at all. With storage, assuming batteries are mostly used, you get about a 60% to 90% efficiency rate (meaning for one 1 watt of power used to charge the battery, you can recover 0.60 to 0.90 watts) (NOTE: This was an amazingly hard number to find, and I finally derived it using information about charging a Lead Acid battery for the lower bound, and a targeted efficiency goal in a government document for the upper bound).

    So if we assume about 1/3rd of all electricity is used at night, and that solar provides half of the daily power (so wind the other half), this means wind will provide 50% (wind)/2 (just during the night) / 1/3rd (1/3rd all power used) = ~76% of nighttime power needs. Batteries would provide the other 24%, so you need about 1,800 GWh of battery installed capacity. To charge 1,800 GWh batteries that are on average only an average of 75% efficient (assume they are aging, so 90% is unlikely) you need 2,400 GWh of energy, so an additional 16% installed capacity to meet daily needs. We are up to needing about ~17,000 Gwh installed capacity to meet today’s needs, and about 1,800 GWh of installed GRID battery capacity. (we currently have about 0.7 GWh installed.)

    Now here is the question, you get to these ridiculous high numbers and begin asking yourself:
    1) Where do we put all this stuff? How much land is it going to use? What is the impact? Using an average value of 6 MW per sq km for wind power (and assuming half of the total capacity needed) we need around 1,400,000 sq km just to put the wind turbines (or about 14% of the U.S. land area for wind turbines?).
    2) How much CO2 did we use to make it? And maintain it?
    3) What is the replacement rate? 20 years? Less? A good Nuke or Coal plant lasts for over 50.
    4) What is the COST?

    And I didn’t even touch upon the elephant in the room – forced conversion (by the greens) to electric cars.

    So we can conclude that the energy to charge the batteries, assuming a large installed base of them, IS NOT COMING from mostly wind and solar – EVER. If we start building new generation nuclear power plants we can charge these batteries so that…OH WAIT, if we build new generation power nuclear plants WE DON’T EVEN NEED THE BATTERIES. How silly of me. Problem solved.

  13. Regarding Kansas, the storage is not 100% efficient, so you have to put more energy in that you get out. Hence energy from storage will have a bigger CO2 footprint than energy direct from a power station.

    If the power station releases 350 kg CO2/MWh and the storage is 75% efficent, then the power out will be 350*100/75 = 467 kg CO2/MWh.

  14. A 2017 study co-commissioned by the Swedish ministries of Transportation and Environment – immediately buried and never to be mentioned by the greenies because of its conclusions- calculated the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process of batteries that go into EVs.

    Put in everyday English, it found that the CO2 emissions of producing a Tesla S battery pack were equivalent to driving a run of the mill 2.0 l four cylinder IC vehicle for 160,000 km ( 100,000 miles) or 8 years for the average consumer.

    For the Nissan Leaf/ Renault Zoe it amounted to 120K km or 6 years.

    That is just for the battery pack which is expected to last 4-6 years before replacement.

    And EVs are of course not zero emission, just REVs (Remote Emission Vehicles).
    In daily use the Tesla burns the equivalent of 4l/100km and the Leaf 2.5l/100km. Not bad, but not zero emission by any stretch of the imagination.

  15. If they charge batteries with solar, then the extra demand on the grid has to be supplied by a dispatchable source, such as a gas or coal generator. It’s simple. Battery storage , due to its round trip losses, increases emissions more than just using gas or coal.

  16. Being the rigorously factual and objective type that I try to be, when we departed the People’s Republic of Seattle for Klickitat County, WA last year and had a 2,700 sq ft house built on 20 acres, I looked into every energy and building materials alternative I’d ever heard of. I had some simple rules:

    1. It would have to be reliable.
    2. No wearing of the hair shirt.
    3. Nothing that would reduce the resale value.
    4. It would have to be cost competitive. No eco-vanity.

    The first to be investigated were pre-fab houses, along with houses built of non-traditional materials. Those turned out to be mostly architecture school projects that weren’t going to be available in real life or would be too quirky (see #2 and #3 above).

    Next were ground source heat pumps. I studied closely. They failed tests #1 and #4 above. So guess what? We did what the local HVAC guy had suggested to begin with: a combination of an air source heat pump and a propane backup for when the temps get too low for the heat pump to heat the whole place. In retrospect, if I knew then what I knew later, I’d have doubled the size of the heat pump, because it’s significantly cheaper to run than the propane backup.

    Next was solar water heating. I consulted a friend who’s a Yale graduate and a remodeling contractor for 20+ years. I am a nerd, but he is a nerd on steroids. Lots of back and forth. He convinced me to forget about it. I went with an on-demand propane-powered water heater.

    Next was electricity. Klickitat Public Utility District gets almost all of its juice from Bonneville Power for 3.75 cents/kWh — 89% from the Columbia River dams and the wind turbines, 8% from a nuclear plant at the infamous Hanford, WA, and 3% from a coal plant at Boardman, Oregon. The retail rate is 9.49 cents + $20/month flat customer charge. Klickitat County is 1,900 sq mi with 21,000 people. The grid ain’t free.

    I mention the foregoing to set up the discussion of a home-scale wind turbine and solar panels. When we bought the land and arranged for the contractor, KPUD was offering net metering per WA State law. Give them excess power, and your meter would run backwards. In essence, KPUD paid the retail rate for small-scale power plants. I used this state of affairs to run the numbers.

    I eliminated the small wind turbine idea right away, because they are expensive mechanical devices with a 3-year warranty and very high repair costs. I found a solar power website not operated by the usual Kool-Aid drinkers, and did the numbers. Panels would cost $32,000, and over their expected life (with output degradation included in the numbers) would replace electricity costing $28,000 plus the $6,000 worth of monthly customer charges. Close enough for horseshoes.

    But then KPUD decided to end net metering, and pay the wholesale rate for my excess. (Which, by the way, I think is the ethical thing to; the non-panel customers should not give panel users free use of the grid, in my opinion.) What about Tesla storage batteries? Now that was fun. To go off grid, I’d have needed at least 1.5 megawatts of capacity, at $400/kWh + installation costs. See, you don’t just switch from day to night; you must also switch from summer to winter. $600K for batteries? Um, I don’t think so.

    When I informed the local solar panel community, which tends to cross-pollinate with the eco-faker “Friends of the Columbia Gorge,” I was informed at that I was “non sustainable,” which translates into the whole CO2 deal. Rather than tell them that I think the CO2/AGW line of thinking is a sort of political/religious cult, I did the numbers and was able to inform them that a solar panel user is responsible for at least 2/3 more CO2 emissions per kWh than a standard KPUD customer. And that’s only if you ignore the fact that the dams and Hanford nuke have long since been built.

    The response? They discarded the e-mail list that had included me, and formed a new one without me. Fun in the countryside! 🙂

  17. The amount of CO2/MWh a power plant produces depends on the fuel’s carbon/heat content and the heat rate/efficiency.

    lb CO2/lb fuel * lb fuel/BTU * BTU/MWh = lb CO2/MWh

    It’s math not opinion. Lower carbon content and higher efficiency = lower CO2/MWh

    While studying the CPP regulations I developed the following round numbers:

    A typical Rankine cycle coal fired power plant will produce about 2,200 lb CO2/MWh. That’s about 1,000 kg or 1 tonne per MWh.

    A typical Rankine cycle or simple cycle CT natural gas fired power plant will produce about 1,100 lb CO2/MWh.

    The big difference is the hydrogen content: C has 14,000 Btu/lb, H2 has 60,000 Btu/lb. Typical coals are less than 10% H2, methane is 25% H2 right out of the pipe.

    The combined cycle design powerplants, Brayton followed by Rankine, produce about 700 lb CO2/MWh. A CCPP is about 55-60% efficient compare to typical Rankine or SCGT of 30-35%.

    The CPP expected performance standard was about 1,350 lb CO2/MWh.

    There is a lot more to it than this, CPP is 500 pages of EPA speak, but this covers the general concept.

    So, coal cannot meet the goal w/o insanely expensive CO2 sequestration, NG could meet the goal with some tweaking and NG CCPP could have 400 lb CO2/MWH to market.

    It was all about spiking coal anyway.

    BTW CPP did not allow hydro prior to 2012 to count in the state’s carbon inventory calculations. Bet all the hydro EPCs and manufacturers liked that idea.

    BTW^2 I retired from 35 years in pretty much every aspect of power generation.

  18. Why the surprise…the contemplated and considered energy storage… it simply in the end of the day consists as a huge energy wastage, any way that it could be addressed or valuated, in any possible way or direction, a lot of waste, financially and otherwise…the best most efficient way towards wastage…A huge unaffordable exercise…in futility!

    Really silly.

    cheers

  19. Except that if the PV is making electricity for the owner at a site, it is not more costly based on time of day.

    • If a solar PV plant operator is generating electricity during peak demand hours for the purpose of storing it and selling it during peak demand hours… they won’t be in business very long.

      If a solar PV plant generates 800 MWh/day and can sell if during peak demand hours for $50/MWh, it would make no sense to store that electricity, to be sold the next day during peak demand hours. Since storage isn’t 100% efficient, they’d lose a little money there and they’d be intentionally delaying revenue by 1 day.

      • David: I believe Donald is talking about say a factory with solar panels on the roof. They are using the PV’s to generate electricity and using it directly in order to reduce the amount of electricity being bought off the grid.

        Donald: The value of the electricity is based on the cost of the electricity not being purchased. So the value can change based on time of day.

      • David,
        Let me say something, that maybe is not as simply as put.
        When it comes to energy storage, from my point of understanding, if it has to be considered as of any meaning potential, it can not be charged and maintained efficiently by the production power source, ether that being a reliable one or not reliable.

        It will be charged and maintained by the grid, with all losses involved, which in the end of the day consist only as theft, a clever way to still from the grid, regardless of the collateral losses on top of it all.

        • I wouldn’t call it “theft”… It’s just a rearrangement of generation and delivery. If a grid operator can purchase electricity for storage during off-peak hours at a deep enough discount relative to the sales price they get during peak hours, they can afford the energy losses.

          • As I said, is not as simply as put,,,the energy loss over time dwarfs the production…the very “room” to be exploited for the alleged theft…especially in the case of non reliable power…

          • The point is that grid operators in most of the US aren’t purchasing unreliable power for storage. They are seeking out the cheapest power for storage and then selling it during peak demand hours at a higher price.

          • Ah, it seems like you addressing now the “storage” in the context of the distribution of energy in demand versus time zones, as per peak hours.

            More like “middle man” energy management “storage”,,, not actually a proper
            storage!

            Is that it?

            That one is still a clever way to do “trade” 🙂

  20. Any Electric Utility Dispatcher could have told you that. I have known this for over thirty years, posted on many environmental websites, and gotten chided for making unsubstantiated claims.

  21. South Australia’s big battery buys brown coal electricity from Victoria at $30 Mw and resells it at up to $14,000 Mw.

    • I’m an unapologetic laissez-faire capitalist, a devotee of Milton Friedman… But… That’s price gouging! LOL!

    • Here’s how it was operating during last summer against the flows on the Heywood connector:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7557323efa6f050010a775fcc5c9c850465cdd44a6da5668a907027d349f6715.png

      You can see that it was mostly charging while there was surplus wind in South Australia, and mostly discharging when they had to import.

      This chart shows a different period of operation alongside the output from the adjoining Hornsdale wind farm. It’s clear that the battery isn’t operating to stabilise wind farm output:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d65ddaa1c30c0d75b3bd066d5c92e3ce51754b0739d21fa49e65d199ef241fc1.png

      Price spikes are associated with rapidly falling wind output. The battery spends time oscillating between charging and discharging, presumably as part of its grid stabilisation efforts.

      Battery round trip losses can be inferred from the fact that apparent charging over time far exceeds battery capacity. If you look at the numbers, it appears to be about 80% efficient.

    • Al the small 129 MW South Australian battery does, apart from providing minuscule frequency control services, is make money for its French owners. Oh, and drive up electricity costs for consumers.

  22. During its lifetime a LP battery can store in total about the same amount of energy as it costs to build the battery.

    The $5 battery in your cell phone can store 1/2 cent worth of electricity. Over 1000 cycles the battery will die, having stored $5 worth of electricity. Based on 10 cents/kwh retail.

    The same is true for a $20,000 Tesla battery. It holds about $2 worth of electricity and after 1000 cycles needs to be replaced. You are going to have a very hard time making money this way.

    • The purchaser actually loses money when you include loan payment and the future value of that $20,000 if invested.

  23. The promoters of Australia’s planned Snowy 2 pumped hydro scheme show that instead of lowering electricity prices, it will instead contribute to a price increase.
    It is only commonsense, they need to be a viable business and intend to do that by buying cheap electricity thus creating a floor that otherwise would have seen even cheaper electricity being delivered to the grid, and then selling at a time of higher prices.
    Everytime a business can enter into the energy market and make a profit without actually lowering prices, that profit can only come out of the pockets of the consumers by one way or another.

  24. Yup. Told you so, 16 years ago. We published in 2002:

    “THE ULTIMATE AGENDA OF PRO-KYOTO ADVOCATES IS TO ELIMINATE FOSSIL FUELS, BUT THIS WOULD RESULT IN A CATASTROPHIC SHORTFALL IN GLOBAL ENERGY SUPPLY – THE WASTEFUL, INEFFICIENT ENERGY SOLUTIONS PROPOSED BY KYOTO ADVOCATES SIMPLY CANNOT REPLACE FOSSIL FUELS.”

    Source:
    DEBATE ON THE KYOTO ACCORD
    PEGG, reprinted in edited form at their request by several other professional journals, the Globe and Mail and La Presse in translation, by Baliunas, Patterson and MacRae.
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/KyotoAPEGA2002REV1.pdf

    Wind and solar power do NOT contribute significant economic (dispatchable) electric power to the grid.

    This is a simple, proved hypothesis, yet tens of trillions of dollars have been wasted globally on this green energy nonsense.

    So next time, good people, please listen to your Uncle Allan, who cares for your well-being, and does not want you to waste trillions on foolish green energy schemes/scams – just to drive up energy costs, reduce grid reliability, and needlessly increase Winter Deaths – that is the job of our idiot leftist politicians – if you ever voted for any of these leftist idiots, please just do not vote anymore because you are ‘way too stupid to vote – thank you for your kind consideration!

    To try to get this message across to the lower-end of the intellectual spectrum, especially our politicians, I rephrased the message about a decade ago:

    “WIND POWER – IT DOESN’T JUST BLOW – IT SUCKS!”

    “SOLAR POWER – STICK IT WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE!”

    It seems to s-l-o-w-l-y be working! 🙂

  25. EV’s with 30% efficiency: first produce electricity, then store it in the battery, then stream it to the electromotor for drive.

    • EVs are about 47% thermally efficient at the current U.S. generation mix. Gas cars range from about 22% to 27%, but Mazda and Toyota are on the brink of raising that to 40% to 44%. Mazda has said they plan to further raise it to 56%, but haven’t issued a timetable.

      I should add that the introduction of these engines, which will soon be replicated by the other car companies, has materially changed my previous view that electric motive power in personal transport should be subsidized. If there’s to be little or no thermal efficiency gain from electric power, I’m seeing little reason to subsidize EVs.

  26. “450 kg CO2/MWh… They must be injecting extra CO2 into the flue gas of their coal-fired power plants!”

    That is probably the emissions divided by the system efficiency.

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