Switching to a home battery won’t help save the world from climate change

From Eurekalert

Public Release: 11-Dec-2018

Switching to a home battery won’t help save the world from climate change

At least until utilities charge less for energy coming from renewable power sources

University of California – San Diego

Home energy storage systems might save you money, but under current policies, they would also often increase carbon emissions. That is the conclusion reached by a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego in a study published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Conventional wisdom may suggest that these storage systems, which are essentially household batteries such as the Tesla Powerwall, could be instrumental in weaning ourselves off greenhouse gas-emitting energy sources. But deploying them today, without making fundamental policy and regulatory reforms, risks increasing emissions instead.

If residents use these systems to reduce their electricity bills, the batteries would draw energy from the grid when it is cheapest. And because utilities don’t structure how much they charge with the goal of lowering emissions, the cheapest power more often comes from power sources that emit carbon, such as coal. In addition, batteries do not operate at 100 percent efficiency: as a result, households that use them draw more power from the electric grid than they actually need.

For the systems to actually reduce greenhouse gasses, utilities need to change their tariff structures substantially to account for emissions from different power source. They would need to make energy cheaper for consumers when the grid is generating low-carbon electricity, researchers said.

The first-of-its-kind study, conducted by a research team from UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy and Jacobs School of Engineering, modeled how residential energy storage systems would operate in the real world. The study modeled deployment across a wide range of regions, utilities and battery operation modes.

“We sought to answer: what if consumers on their own or in response to policy pressure adopt these systems? Would greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power system go down, and at what economic cost?” said lead author Oytun Babacan, a postdoctoral scholar at the School of Global Policy and Strategy.

The systems are so new that they are not in many homes. But this year saw a substantial increase in installations, with sales tripling from January to September of 2018.

When the systems are set up to operate with the goal of cutting emissions, they can indeed reduce average household emissions by 2.2 to 6.4 percent. But the monetary incentive that customers would have to receive from utilities to start using their home systems with the goal of reducing emissions is equivalent to anywhere from $180 to $5160 per metric ton of CO2.

“This is impractically high, and very high compared to other emissions reducing options that are available,” said Ryan Hanna, a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, who earned his Ph.D. at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Most households adopting energy storage are likely to choose equipment vendors and operation modes that allow them to minimize electricity costs, leading to increased emissions, Babacan added.

“Thus, policymakers should be careful about assuming that decentralization will clean the electric power system, especially if it proceeds without carbon-mindful tariff reforms that aim to reduce residential energy bills and energy consumption associated CO2 emissions,” he said.

Absent tariff reform, policymakers could still encourage environmentally beneficial operation of the devices by ensuring that system developers and equipment vendors favor clean energy use by tracking and adjusting to variations in marginal emissions across the bulk grid, the authors noted.

Although the systems do not encourage cost-effective emissions control at the moment, authors were quick to note that the advantages of batteries should not be overlooked.

“There is an enormous upside to these systems in terms of flexibility and saving households money,” the authors said. “While the increase in home batteries deployment is underway, we need to work on multiple fronts to ensure that their adoption is carbon minded.”

Researchers selected 16 of the largest utilities companies in the country and dug into their tariff structure, carrying out the first systematic analysis of how much utility companies charge residential customers to forecast the economic and environmental impact of these systems, if they were to be widely deployed across the country.

Residential energy storage systems present a promising avenue for policymakers and companies such as Tesla seeking to decentralize electric power systems, reducing costs to consumers in the process.

In addition to Tesla, companies such as Evolve have invested heavily in residential energy storage systems. There also is an increasing interest in states such as New York and California to decentralize energy, both to empower consumers with greater control over their energy choices, and to create competition in a sector traditionally structured around regulated monopolies. With energy storage widely expected to play an integral role in efforts to deeply decarbonize the electric power system, organizations like the California Energy Commission are also actively advocating for their use.

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Co-authors of the study include Ahmed Abdulla from the Center for Energy Research and fellow at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, Ryan Hanna, a postdoctoral scholar from the School of Global Policy and Strategy as well as professors Jan Kleissl from the Jacobs School of Engineering and David G. Victor from the School of Global Policy and Strategy

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114 thoughts on “Switching to a home battery won’t help save the world from climate change

  1. Climate change is just one massive misdirection:

    Whilst we are arguing about whether it is true, the real plan is going on elsewhere..

    Don’t listen to words…

    …Watch the actions…

    • A big assumption in “renewable energy”,which is almost an oxymoron (as it ignores the nonrenewable expenditures of building, maintaining, and decommissioning of wind and solar contraptions), is that people will be able to suck up energy when the renewable energy is flowing, usually during the day when the business day is also using most of the energy. The upshot of having business drawing energy and homes topping up their batteries at the same time, in preparation for the evening and night, means even higher renewable energy production that most realize. In addition, the idiotic idea that we will go to electric cars en masse means that we would also be charging up our cars either during the renewable energy period of the day or from our batteries at night. This means even more renewable energy is needed on top of the earlier above under-estimate.

      The integrated idea that a grid could use the electric car batteries and, logically, the home batteries for energy storage that it could draw upon as needed completely abrogates the citizens from having any confidence inter cars or home batteries, as a non windy day or cloudy day would mean that you might find your home and/or car drained of energy when you need it. This is a very bad idea.

  2. This whole article is premised on the idea that CO2 is a control knob for temperature or climate or similar. As CO2 has increased substantially over the past 20 years and temperature has plateaued, the argument is now seen to have many big dents in it rendering it inert. There are a lot of people making a great deal of money out of this Climate scam and they are very unwilling to allow the truth to come out. Solar Panels, Wind Turbines, Batteries, ‘green’ power companies, government tax collectors are sponsors and electric cars are supporters. Wave power generaion has largely sunk without trace,

    • “nicholas tesdorf December 14, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      As CO2 has increased substantially over the past 20 years…”

      Really? Any evidence of that claim? Increase, yes. Substantially?

      • Is an 11% increase over 1998 levels substantial? I think that is subjective. It’s certainly significant and there is little doubt that emissions are greater.

        In any case, about on average the annual increase is ~ 2 ppm for this decade, perhaps a little higher than in the 1990’s. There is substantial variability in the annual rate of change, however, because natural sinks and sources overwhelm anthropogenic emissions on this timescale.

        For detail see below.

        ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_weekly_mlo.txt

        • R Shearer – December 15, 2018 at 6:13 am

          In any case, about on average the annual increase (in CO2) is ~ 2 ppm for this decade, perhaps a little higher than in the 1990’s.

          FYI, …… to wit:

          year ——————— CO2 ppm – % increase — increase/decade year
          Decade end 1940 – ____ 300 ppm est.
          Decade end 1950 – ____ 310 ppm – 3.3% (avg 1.0 ppm/year)
          Decade end 1960 – ____ 316 ppm – 1.9% (avg 0.6 ppm/year)
          Decade end 1970 – ____ 325 ppm – 2.8% (avg 0.9 ppm/year)
          Decade end 1980 – ____ 338 ppm – 4.0% (avg 1.3 ppm/year)
          Decade end 1990 – ____ 354 ppm – 4.7% (avg 1.6 ppm/year)
          Decade end 2000 – ____ 369 ppm – 4.2% (avg 1.5 ppm/year)
          Decade end 2010 – ____ 389 ppm – 5.4% (avg 2.0 ppm/year)
          Year end _ 2017 – ____ 407 ppm – 4.6% (avg 2.5 ppm/year)

          Total 67 years – +107 ppm – 26.3% (avg 1.6 ppm/year)
          ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_mm_mlo.txt

        • In many cases, the way the ‘problem’ element is measured affects the appearance of the data. If CO2 is measured in ppm the change from 200 ppm to 400 ppm seems like a doubling. If the actual percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is measured and compared the appearance is very different. Same phenomenon, different appearance.

  3. This article has it all backward of course. The atmosphere needs more CO2 NOT less. The real question however is: Are the life cycle costs of these home solar panels and batteries low enough so that equitable feed in tariffs (tariffs that are based on the real value of the solar electricity with all solar subsidies set at Zero and all biased regulations for solar abolished and all back costs of fossil fuel generators costed in the price of solar) for the electricity generated; are enough to offset the lifecycle costs of the solar panels and batteries. Of course all these costs would be calculated without regard to CO2 produced as that is a nonsensical consideration.

    • “World needs more CO2” I would not say that cause I start to feel sleepy in room with more CO2. Article is right – power from solar power in part of the world is way cheaper than grid power. For colder climate it is cheaper to get a heat pump/solar collectors rather than heat home with electricity or gas. Insolateling house is cheaper than using all that energy, passive house standard gets ROI slower but still cheaper than not insolated, so too much isolation isn’t that good as well.
      LED lighting is a no brainer since it pays of quickly. Energy saving appliances only makes sense if the cost of electricity delta is higher than the unit costs over lifetime of the unit. Designing indoor space in a way it is used most efficiently can further reduce the bills. Driving adequately sized vehicle for your distance and load, relocating near your most visited locations makes sense for cost reasons as well.
      “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra can make considerable savings when done in a right way.
      So putting in batteries at the moment isn’t the best choice for reducing CO2, PM & other emissions.

      • “LED lighting is a no brainer since it pays of quickly.”

        Not in a cold climate. Most of the saving is swallowed by increasing heating costs.

        “For colder climate it is cheaper to get a heat pump/solar collectors rather than heat home with electricity or gas. ”

        I’ll tell you a deep secret. The climate is cold because there isn’t enough sunlight. Heat pumps work though (I’ve got one). But they require electricity to run, and more electricity to boost effect when it gets really cold.

        And a “passive house” requires very active ventilation, or you will get massive rot/mold problems.

        • Any issues with maintenance of heat pumps? In my relatives experience they suffered from frequent breakdowns. This may be due to environmental reasons, however.

          Arturs, I think you mean “insulation.” Insolation is a measure of solar radiation. If you are feeling sleepy because of “more CO2” then perhaps that space is too well insulated or at least not properly ventilated.

          I’m not sure whether the atmosphere needs more CO2, but it supports plant life and all things being equal more is better up to a point.

          • I installed an early (1988) design ground water heat pump system. It was a maintenance nightmare. I wound up putting in a propane space heater, just to keep water pipes from freezing. I finally replaced it in 2001 with a natural gas system when the main refrigerant/water heat exchanger corroded through. Before that, the biggest problem was identifying which one of the numerous relays had failed and needed to be replaced.

            My biggest complaint with it was the fact that it used high velocity air in the heat exchanger in order to keep its efficiency high. This meant that whenever the thermostat indicated that the room temperature needed heating, high velocity air would start blowing on you that was barely warmer then the cool room air. People would get even colder.

            I believe that current designed systems likely have better reliability. I particularly like the designs that use buried water heating pipes in cement floors. These give you warm and toasty floors, without the cool air blowing on you, at least in ground floors.

        • I’ve had it for more than ten years. Only needed servicing once, replacing a clogged pipe. It is water based heat pump taking heat from ground water, not air based.

        • Yes in a cold climate.

          Incandescent light sources waste about 90% of the electrical energy as heat … but that is still electric resistance heat, which is the most inefficient form of space heating we use today. Everybody who relies on electric resistant space heaters knows that when they get their winter power bills. Central gas heat and heat pumps are far more efficient than electric space heaters.

          If you live in a place with cold winters and have a heat pump, just watch your power meter go crazy when it gets too cold for your heat pump to work, when those electric strip heaters kick in.

        • Although the old incandescent lighting acts as an auxilliary heat source in winter, the heat often isn’t where you need it and some ‘escapes’ to outside via light cans, etc.

          LED’s still produce heat, at about 1/5th of incandescents. New houses are air sealed and better insulated so it balances out. Still lots of savings.

        • tty
          Good points,
          “Not in a cold climate. Most of the saving is swallowed by increasing heating costs.”
          So true, our recreation room is somewhat starved by our gas heater and in the winter when the lights are on the longest, the heat from the lights is welcome.
          Also A friend of ours has installed a heat pump but in the winter when it gets cold, he installed a propane heating system to supplement the heat pump

      • The studies I found mentioned that CO2 had to get to above 1000 ppm for people to report drowsiness. It must get much higher before it becomes life-threatening. OSHA allows a ten minute exposure to 3%. Regarding batteries, the inversion process alone of converting AC to DC and back again is 90% efficient each way. Add to that the loss while charging and discharging the battery. This varies by battery type. Some sources give the LiH battery an efficiency of 98-99%, while others give a range of 80-90%. Lead acid batteries vary from 50 to 90%. NiMH are given as 66% efficient. The most efficient battery system would return about 89% of the power you put into it, but at a premium price, since the more efficient components cost more than the ones that are less efficient.

      • Arturs;

        In no part of the world is solar power cheaper than grid power on a flat cost basis, removing all the feed in tariffs and renewable energy targets, tax credits for installation, and any other private or public subsidy. And that’s on a name plate capacity basis. If you work it out on a life cycle cost and actual availability basis it’s about 6x worse. Without storage, no amount of overcapacity let’s you equal the reliability of fossil fuel sources.

        • The 300 megawatt Skaka IPP PV solar project provides power at a tariff price of 2.34 US-cents per kilowatt-hour.

          NV Energy is proposing 2.3 cents and Sempra Renewables Copper Mountain Solar 5 project 2.155.

          Prices have been dropping and will continue to drop.

          (Actual costs depend on what other costs you include. Personally, I think you have to amortize in the cost of making another sun, when ours wears out…)

  4. I have always wondered why lead acid batteries are not used in homes. You don’t care about weight, and they aren’t nearly as likely to explode on you.

    • Because lithium batteries are what the conmen make.

      Lead acid probably would be best for small installations and polysulfide bromide flow batteries are theoretically best for large installations but need development.

    • Look up lifetime expectancy with deep cycling and compare charge times 🙂

      A deep cycling battery is a different beast to using a lead-acid battery in a car and economics generally rules them out. They aren’t bad for power backup situations but you don’t want them if you really are going to run the charge down overnight like if you were trying to utilize energy from your solar panels.

      • I should add in most countries to be called a deep cycling battery there is a standard graph of Number of Cycles vs. Depth of Discharge a battery must exceed. A typical number will be something like down to 40% of capacity 1000 times meaning if you did it every night it would last 3 years. A normal car lead acid would be lucky to do it 100 times and dead within 4 months for comparison.

        • Exactly.

          Where I live, even if you assume 100% efficiency, you won’t save enough to pay for replacing the batteries.

          The problem is that you pay a fee for the electricity per se plus you pay two delivery charges, one for the intercity lines and one for the local utility company. Even if the electricity itself were free, the delivery charges would still apply.

          Industrial customers can sometimes get electricity for free and sometimes the power generator actually has to pay neighboring jurisdictions to take surplus electricity. Even under those conditions, retail customers still have to pay a substantial amount.

          You could save money:
          If you could get electricity for free with no delivery charges,
          If you could buy 1 kwh of storage for $100,
          If you replace electricity that costs 25 cents/kwh.
          1 kwh x 1000 cycles x $0.25/kwh = $250
          Sadly, where I live, electricity is never free even when the power generator is paying someone else to take their surplus.

          • When I was 8 or 9 years old, my Cub Scout den went on a tour of the local Bell Telephone switching center. This would have been in 1962 or 1963. The one and only thing I remember with clarity was a huge rack of car batteries, which served as the backup power supply for the place. I was very familiar with car batteries, and there is no doubt that is what they were. Telephony didn’t require lots of power, even then. But the use of such a prosaic, practical solution for backup made a big impression on me.

        • I lose power so much where I live that I bought a 100AH AGM deep-cycle battery just so I can do the internet (about 0.5 A) and run the stove fan (about 0.5 A) if necessary when it’s out. Had a 3-day power outage due to snow, and using the battery very sparingly just for those purposes during that time took it down about 40%. Set me back about $200, but it’s worthwhile insurance.

    • Way back when I used to be into solar, nickel-iron batteries seemed the way to go, but they weren’t readily available. They have a lot of advantages over lead acid batteries.

  5. Hmmm! most households currently installing batteries do it as an adjunct to a solar power system and are in locations where electricity prices are highest at point of peak aircon.

    The blockchain moderated systems where excess power from solar is recorded on an individual basis and pooled for use later also get round the problems this research is pointing at.

    If you look at the whole electricity supply, this is not an issue… especially since power providers will be moving to setting prices with CO2 saving in mind.

    • “power providers will be moving to setting prices with CO2 saving in mind.”

      Since the “CO2 saving” wind/solar power is much more expensive than reliable despatchable fossil power that would be tantamount to corporate suicide. Unless they do it by changing to a constant high price irrespective of production costs.

    • “setting prices with CO2 saving in mind” …. haha they will be setting them to not get lynched by the public.

    • I should add as of a few minutes ago in the last discussions at COP24 ,”Paris Agreement’s Article 6″ which includes carbon pricing has been postponed with even France unwilling to support it in current form. Unless they can pull off a miracle in the last hours there is no real mechanism to price carbon unless countries want to go it on there own.

    • Another possible reason for Tesla Powerwall-like devices is as backup when the main supply of electricity fails, and a generator isn’t a good option. The mains could fail for many reasons, like poorly maintained infrastructure, storms, or problems caused by connecting a lot of unreliable and intermittent sources (windmills, solar panels). If I were in that situation, CO2 savings wouldn’t be a priority for me. I’d want my sump pump to save my basement from flooding. 😉

      • I’m curious, why would a generator not be an option especially for light use like a sump pump?
        Many people who live at the Shore have generators.

        • You need to be home to start a generator and plug the sump pump into it when commercial power fails (usually during an intense storm). Otherwise a flood! Yes, there are gen auto start options but that also means expensive panel and wiring modifications. A battery/inverter system is the cheapest and most reliable way to auto back a moderate to large sump pump system.

          • Nonsense. An automatic transfer switch will switch a load, such as a sump pump, or an emergency power panel over to a generator or other emergency power source and start the generator. But a sump pump really ought to be on a UPS too, since a generator can fail to start, especially if not maintained well.

            Remember, redundancy is your friend, especially with emergency systems.

    • griff

      …….most households currently installing batteries do it as an adjunct to a solar power system and are in locations where electricity prices are highest at point of peak aircon.

      You have evidence for this?

  6. If you’re going to have batteries to cover the times that solar and wind power are unavailable, it would make a lot more sense to build centralized batteries and charge consumers a flat rate for their electricity.

    • No such batteries exist now and they never will. Even the highest theoretically possible energy density is much too low and the cost would be beyond astronomical.

      • They don’t have a clue what would be required tty as you can see here in a simple monthly graph of Australia’s wind power output as a percentage of installed capacity-
        https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2018/november
        (there are worse months than that for variability if you care to scroll back over a year with the feast or famine-https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2018/june)
        and what sort of battery investment would be required to level those graphs to wind’s annual average around 30% of installed capacity?
        The cost is mind boggling but so many still believe in magic wands and we haven’t even looked at the solar duck curve yet somehow sometime we’re all to switch to commuter EVs and be slow charging them at night for battery longevity in order to drive them during the day. Is CO2 hallucinogenic or what?

      • Except that people do it all the time with the Tesla system.

        People will also learn to load shift. I don’t really care when my clothes washer runs, and I only run a few loads a week. Once I’m incentivized with lower rates, I’ll program my Smart Washer to only run from the grid when rates are lowest.

  7. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/10/29/ft-funny-we-can-solve-climate-change-by-developing-affordable-green-energy/#comment-2503379

    The key problem with grid-connected wind power is intermittency, and the resulting lack of predictable, dispatchable power that is the primary requirement for grid electricity.

    I have heard and read many energy neophytes say that grid-scale storage is the solution – and they act like it actually exists. In practical terms, it does not – except for a few rare cases where pumped storage is feasible.

    So I would like to announce that I have invented a SOLUTION:

    It consists of millions of huge flywheels that are wound up by wind power while the wind blows, and then the power is released back into the grid by tapping power from the rotating flywheels. For longer periods when the wind does not blow, the flywheels are spun by great herds of unicorns, galloping round and round at great speed.

    Once we have solved the unicorn-supply challenge we are sure to have a green energy winner! We are applying to the Canadian government in Ottawa for a development grant – PM Justin Trudeau and Climate Barbie have already declared their support.

    [I suppose I must say “Sarc/off for the warmists out there, who tend to believe ANYTHING!]

    • If your plan is adopted, Allan, it’s obvious that there is a fortune to be made in unicorn ranching. But then you have to get around the fairy-dust feed supply problem, which is a formidable obstacle.

      I say we just go straight to dilithium crystal power generation and bypass all this solar, wind, battery backup nonsense.

    • Rather than unicorns, with their inherent availability problem, it would be better to substitute obese people to do the work. This is a win-win. The people become healthier reducing the cost of health care, you get the work load needed for free and everyone gets to pat themselves on the back for saving the planet.
      If they can sell AGW to the masses, they can certainly sell this plan.

  8. About electric cars. If they are considered as an ‘extra’ burden on the grid and national grid management favours ‘renewables’ and fires up coal-fired stations when short, then electric cars will be charging on fossil fuels more often than not.

  9. Even large pumped storage systems are incapable of providing power for more than a matter of hours, not days
    when wind and or solar die down. Those systems were designed to absord excess baseload output when demand falls below its output and to feed the power back into the grid when demand exceeds baseeload output – during the same day and avoiding having to use as much natural gas peak generation – this at a time long ago when natural gas was prohibitively expensive. IN a home, whether batteries make sense depends upon the rules
    governing solar power – what does the grid “pay” for this power of little value ., which is determined by how the power given to the grid is offset by power taken from the grid.

  10. What’s giving me brain-ache reading this is:
    How do The Generators (of whatever variety) ‘know’ in real time what is happening to the electricity they’re making?
    Because, as A Generator, in order to hold the grid up, you *always* have to be pushing it.
    If you let the grid (demand) start dragging you down and unless you can push in some extra grunt pretty damn pronto, the thing collapses.

    As I understand it, they do the extra push by letting the frequency and/or voltage ride a little higher than what the grid is rated at.
    Any sudden extra demand will pull down the voltage and pull the brakes onto the alternators and *this* becomes the signal to open up the throttle i.e. throw more coal/gas/wood into the boilers and give it some more welly to try pull the thing back up again.

    But a big fleet of batteries ‘on charge’ will look like extra actual usage/demand and trigger the response/feedback mechanism as above.

    So how do the generators (coal gas wind solar nuke whatever) know when they’re supplying Real Demand or simply charging batteries.
    How do you quantify what is ‘extra/excess power’ and funnel *that* into the battery – instead of the battery ‘stealing’ power that should have gone into (say) the air conditioner at The Utopia Valley Sunshine Land Primary School and all the kids in there have roasted to death?
    Heads will roll of course but mostly, lawyers will get rich

    It almost calls for a parallel grid…

    Meanwhile, from reading a little renewable energy forum based here in the UK..
    Lead Acid Batteries (big ones) require very considerable maintenance and looking after. Even just to charge them properly is an epic multi-stage process.

    But they still get old.
    Seemingly, the failure mechanism sees the internal plates coming apart and collapsing into a heap/mess inside and at the bottom of any given cell.
    At this point, that cell becomes A Bomb.
    It explodes with A Very Big Bang and as it will be one cell amidst a whole load of others, it can trigger a chain reaction and your entire battery will detonate.

    Sensible People do NOT store large amounts of electricity inside lead-acid batteries within 50 or even 100 metres of their houses…..

    • “How do The Generators (of whatever variety) ‘know’ in real time what is happening to the electricity they’re making?”

      The short answer is that they “feel it” and that small variations are handled by small variations in the rotational speed of the generators (=AC frequency). Take out more power and the generators slow down slightly, take out less and they speed up. For bigger changes the operator must increase or decrease generating capacity. The reason this works is that the total rotating mass (=kinetic energy) in the system is huge and give the operators time to act. And of course there must always be either a “spinning reserve” or a fair amount of unused hydropower in the system (hydropower alone of all large-scale power generating systems can go from zero to full power in a minute or two with no ill effects on the hardware).

      The problem is that this requires synchronous generators and wind generators normally have cheaper asynchronous generators (after all the conmen don’t want to waste money on system stability, that is the responsibility of the evil fossil industry). This is what really caused the massive blackout in South Australia. With mostly wind power generation, there just wasn’t time to do anything when a major wind farm (mistakenly) shut down. Because if the frequency departs as much as about 2 c/s from nominal the whole system will simply shut down to avoid serious hardware damage.

      By the way too much power is more dangerous than too little, this is why operators have to pay for getting rid of excess wind/solar power. The sensible thing would of course be to remotely shut down excess generation, but once again, this is usually not possible for wind/solar, only for conventional generation. Which you don’t dare shut down too much of for stability reasons.

      I know this all sounds quite insane, but that is how things work currently.

    • “Sensible People do NOT store large amounts of electricity inside lead-acid batteries within 50 or even 100 metres of their houses…..”

      Even more true for Li-ion batteries. There is a reason diesel submarines still use lead-acid batteries. They do have safety issues but they are still a lot safer than Li-ions in a combat environment.

    • In the 1950s I worked for the Post Office Telecommunications in the Barnet Telephone Exchange. At this time it was the largest Manual Exchange in the UK (i.e. fully operator served, no automatic equipment). We had two huge 50volt lead-acid batteries on a charge/discharge system. The maximum output was (if I remember correctly) was 200 ampres.

      This little set-up required the full-time attention of one Technician. How many technicians would be required for a big system?

      • Well the battery modules making up battery packs for EVs or stationary batteries have automatic technicians monitoring all the thousands of little lego brick cells that go into them so does that answer your question?
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=bNd-yJtRPhk

        So relax as we’re going to run whole power grids and transport on them as you simply rack and stack the battery modules until you get the storage you need. Get the picture?

        • To store one day’s output from a 1,000 MW fossil fuel power plant running at full tilt would cost the same as building another 20 or so same-sized power plants. But then, green idiots don’t understand the most basic economics.

        • That is load balancing which is necessary for a Li-ion battery to have a decent service life. It also means that a Li-ion battery will go empty in a few months even if not used at all. Also if the balancing circuitry fails the battery becomes quite dangerous.

          Simply rack and stack ’em (at. What could possibly go wrong?

          By the way, to replace one 3 MW wind turbine for a one week calm (not unusual during a winter high pressure period) will take 37 133 Powerwalls for just over 250 million USD.

    • Large battery operators can use automatic systems to operate on the price arbitrage on a daily basis. The Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia has 30MWh available for daily price arbitrage. The wholesale power price can swing from negative value to high positive value on a daily basis. From the range of say minus AUD50/MWh to plus AUD2000/MWh. It is not unusual to have a daily range of AUD400/MWh:
      https://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/National-Electricity-Market-NEM/Data-dashboard#price-demand
      For example on December 16th the swing was not much but in SA the wage was from $81/MWh up to $216/MWh so yesterday it could have made $4000 on its 30MWh of capacity available for price arbitrage.

      It is possible to get a price differential of $14,000/MWh. So on a single charge discharge the battery could earn $420,000. Those days only occur a few days a year. Some days it would be possible to achieve two cycles with a good price difference.

      In the link I provided you will see that there is a price forecast so an automatic system can be set at various thresholds to make the most of the daily price arbitrage.

      The HPR has 70MWh available for system stability. That means if a generator crashes the battery can output up to 100MW for about 30 minutes or so to give time for another generator to fire up and take load. Typically the period required is much less as most often it is just a large coal fired generator taking more load but that takes seconds compared with milliseconds for the battery. The battery is able to respond much faster than generators to requests for additional generation. The Australian grid operator has praised the battery for its fast response:
      https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Media_Centre/2018/Initial-operation-of-the-Hornsdale-Power-Reserve.pdf
      The response charts on page 6 highlight the batteries impressive response time.

  11. How do all these batteries fare during a house fire ? not only in regards to the immediate thermal problem but also any follow on issues regarding safety, contamination, replacement and disposal

    • Read Teslas instruction for firefighters/rescue crews. Li-ion batteries are essentially impossible to put out. You can only cool them down until reaction ceases, and then you have to guard them for 72 hours.

      And solar roofs are a big problem for firefighters as well as there is no way to shut them off except by covering them with something lightproof. Cutting off power where it joins the main power system has no effect at all on the voltages in the panels.

    • In Australia, lithion ion home batteries currently are listed as a Class 1 fire risk and not allowed inside or within 1m of a dwelling. You would have insurance issues if not installed with that regulation in mind. The various state fire departments are still trying to work out how to deal with rules and regulations on attending houses with them fitted. There is such low numbers and few incidents to base regulations on that it will be a few years before a view hardens or is forced on them.

  12. A battery won’t help save the world. The world is doing just fine (see Carlin)
    I want a battery to shield me from the grid dropping out.

    • A RTG powered by Pu238 will both heat your house and provide electricity for many years, but it would be extremely expensive and rather messy to handle. It is however not physically impossible like a high power density chemical battery.

      • tty, I like that idea, tho doubt it would ever be legal or affordable for anywhere except perhaps bases on the Moon or Mars….

  13. Having a massive, highly flammable Li-ion battery in one’s house makes worse sense than having solar panels on the roof.

  14. We used to have another way of saying “decentralization”: “going off the grid”. all of the ‘alternative’ energy is aimed precisely at the wrong target, i.e. how it would work with the grid. this isn’t a war between fossil fuels and renewables, it’s a war between centralized and decentralized conceptions of supply.

    Yes you do see some marketing of power walls as more individualized backup, most often in parallel with decentralized renewables. But these systems are carefully marketed with subsidies that only flow through the grid. The grid operators make money when you use electricity, when you don”t use electricity. They get a percent of the subsidy going to individualized renewables even while collecting extra from all other customers to make up for the subsidies. they get it coming and going.

    Go gridless or go sit in the truck (at least for suburban and exurban residences and small businesses). That is the best way to wrest this from government and the rent seekers. I do tend to think that folks who are skeptical of renewable energy and carbon regulation are stuck on the model of the grid as civilization, but centralized power inherently invites regulation to begin with (look at the debate over instituting a capacity market in Texas – a debate about whether the consumer should pay for longer term investment incentives for generators).

    The grid is such an easy tool of subsidy and fee with an almost unlimited IV into ratepayers wallets. It is redistribution by definition, starting with the Rural Electrification Administration and the principle that nobody pays more even if it costs more to serve them. That worked out so well for Puerto Rico. We had a chance to rethink this, not in the mold of Elon Musk who himself was only interested in grid scale solar and storage. A fleet of two-way hybrids (Toyota made kits in japan for using hybrids as hme generators after Fukishima) could easily have been paired with modest scale [actually] decentralized solar to allow rural Puerto Rico to just go off the grid altogether. Instead we spent a year putting the grid back up to get bashed for it.

    • Using EVs/hybrids as home power supplies (which I assume is what you meant) is one of the most idiotic ideas I’ve heard (apart from emergency situations). It would be like draining a car’s gas tank to use on all of one’s small engine tools, and then having no fuel to go anywhere. All I can say is “What an effin’ genius idea”.

      • these days, one’s small engine tools are cordless and susceptible of being charged from modest solar arrays so you ain’t got that problem. yes, during the rainy season you’d have to fire up the prius more. (well, it can actually fire itself up when batteries are low and shut itself off when they are recharged).

        and, of course, if you used gas running your air con at night, you would have to get some sooner than otherwise. if you burn your wood stove, you have to go out and get more wood, that is how this works. If the cars were designed with more reserve capacity it wouldn’t hurt, but if you drive to work to shop or for any of the other reasons that you have a car in the first place, you can plug in where there is a grid and take some power home, or gas up, or both. it isn’t that sherpas have to bring the gas in 5 gallon cans on their back. we’re not talking the himalayas here.

        Sure, it takes actual thinking rather than the thoughtless taking for granted of the availability of the grid — until it wasn’t available for a year. I wouldn’t presume that the alternative, which is to say the traditional, approach is better, i.e. a rickety grid served by a patronage laden bankrupt utility.

        What was purely ironic was Elon Musk showing up and saying he could fix the whole thing by powering the grid with solar and batteries, when the problem wasn’t supply, it was transmission. So the real alternative isn’t about the source, it is about the scale. Regardless of whether it turned out to be long term attractive or monetarily competitive, the ‘alternative’ isn’t putting solar on the grid, its going off the grid with whatever combination of readily available and readily disseminate technologies can be assembled, be they ‘renewable’ or ‘fossil’.

        I’d be the first rural inhabitant to say i’m happy when the grid goes back up after one of our two our three annual weeks without power, but the subsidies that got me power run out here in the first place and requires it to be sold to me for the same price as anyone in denser suburbs or city were no more legitimate than the one that encourages my neighbor to put up a bank of solar cells and have me along with other ratepayers pay his electric bill. anyone who doesn’t mind being a prisoner of the policy that comes to us through the grid and isn’t clocking the lack of progress in protecting consumers as factional interests exact their own pound of flesh in the name of the environment, keep doing what you’ew doing if it’s working for you. me, i’m back to the old idea of getting off.

        or maybe you got a better idea of how to do it than I do.

        • My point was that the idea of using millions of EVs as storage for the grid is ridiculous. But that’s an idea they are pushing. Why would I care about getting a few cents in payment for the electricity discharged from my car overnight into the grid when it would rob me of the confidence of being fully charged in the morning when I need to get to work or wherever; or anytime for that matter due to the possibility of an emergency?

          • OK, i’m as inductive as the next guy, but my entire point was ditching the grid in favor of HYBRID supported micro/ house or compound level electrical supply. You are arguing about something completely different, whether folks would use their EVs as grid regulators for some small stipend and you think you wouldn’t because you wouldn’t want to find your EV notably discharged at an inconvenient time. That is why hybrids remain more relevant grid battery plans as well and i question the wholesale shift in the auto industry towards EVs. I think leapfrogging hybrids doesn’t make sense, esp. if you think the growth markets are in the 2nd and 3rd world.

            Even here in the first, one company that I knew that was working on this with Nissan has pulled the plug on that plan in the states, probably in no small part because EVs even without being discharged to support the grid at times of constraint aren’t delivering satisfactory range and ‘refueling’ times and its hard enough to convince American consumers they fit american driving patterns. (even in europe they have had better success with the simplest of storage technologies, insulated resistance heaters with bricks in them that are remotely operated to ‘charge’, i.e. heat the bricks, when there is low demand on the grid and shut down when the demand is high relying on the thermal mass in the bricks to maintain house comfort.

            It is easy to see why EVs seem like a great technology because they are much less complicated than hybrids and can provide simplified drive at the wheels and various other attractive and simple design implementations whereas ICEs are expensive although relatively mature technology that have lots of moving parts (something like 2000 for todays complex engines balancing emissions and mileage requirements with power and performance).

            Hybrids have the expense of having both systems. But they make up for that by being able to generate so hybrids could devote stored electricity to the grid with less concern for travel ready status. And of course they allow portability of relatively massive generation and storage capability where no grid exists. So that might not be short term relevant to the rump of the US (except as grid regulation since we aren’t likely to cold turkey off the grid here anytime soon), but sure would look handy in parts of the world that don’t have a reliable or any grid, which last i looked was most of the world. In any event, your argument demonstrates why hybrids would be more suitable as grid batteries as well.

            But what these plans all presume is an incredibly smart grid which would allow folks to take advantage of highest price points to sell the life of their batteries and the lowest price points (or CO2 points if that is what you care about) to charge them. Right now these opportunities are only available to grid scale installations. Such technology is clearly within reach. I do wonder how resiliently it would perform in the event of natural or terrorist or bellicose disruption which suggests even if folks don’t go off the grid, its going to get more relevant to have emergency back-up and if you need a car anyway and it can serve as your emergency backup . . . (of course that would require backup systems themselves to have a degree of resilience and to rise above the planned obsolesence phenomenon – have you tried to keep a digitally operated washing machine or refrigerator running for more than couple years? Whereas the analog versions used to go 20. Perhaps because of the challenging outdoor environments they operate in and the sensitivity to consumer complaints in the automotive market, i’m actually shocked how well car electronics generally perform and I feel like there is a degree of maturity here so in terms of picking black box poison I’m sticking with automotive engineers for the time being).

            I sympathize with your skepticism of EVs as grid batteries, it just was not the point I was making.

            Brian

          • OK, i’m as inductive as the next guy, but my entire point was ditching the grid in favor of HYBRID supported micro/ house or compound level electrical supply. You are arguing about something completely different, whether folks would use their EVs (as opposed to HYBRIDs) as grid regulators for some small stipend and you think you wouldn’t because you wouldn’t want to find your EV notably discharged at an inconvenient time. That is why hybrids remain more relevant grid battery plans as well and i question the wholesale shift in the auto industry towards EVs. I think leapfrogging hybrids doesn’t make sense, esp. if you think the growth markets are in the 2nd and 3rd world.

            Even here in the first, one company that I knew that was working on this with Nissan has pulled the plug on that plan in the states, probably in no small part because EVs even without being discharged to support the grid at times of constraint aren’t delivering satisfactory range and ‘refueling’ times and its hard enough to convince American consumers they fit american driving patterns. (even in europe they have had better success with the simplest of storage technologies, insulated resistance heaters with bricks in them that are remotely operated to ‘charge’, i.e. heat the bricks, when there is low demand on the grid and shut down when the demand is high relying on the thermal mass in the bricks to maintain house comfort.

            It is easy to see why EVs seem like a great technology because they are much less complicated than hybrids and can provide simplified drive at the wheels and various other attractive and simple design implementations whereas ICEs are expensive although relatively mature technology that have lots of moving parts (something like 2000 for todays complex engines balancing emissions and mileage requirements with power and performance).

            Hybrids have the expense of having both systems. But they make up for that by being able to generate so hybrids could devote stored electricity to the grid with less concern for travel ready status. And of course they allow portability of relatively massive generation and storage capability where no grid exists. So that might not be short term relevant to the rump of the US (except as grid regulation since we aren’t likely to cold turkey off the grid here anytime soon), but sure would look handy in parts of the world that don’t have a reliable or any grid, which last i looked was most of the world. In any event, your argument demonstrates why hybrids would be more suitable as grid batteries as well.

            But what these plans all presume is an incredibly smart grid which would allow folks to take advantage of highest price points to sell the life of their batteries and the lowest price points (or CO2 points if that is what you care about) to charge them. Right now these opportunities are only available to grid scale installations. Such technology is clearly within reach. I do wonder how resiliently it would perform in the event of natural or terrorist or bellicose disruption which suggests even if folks don’t go off the grid, its going to get more relevant to have emergency back-up and if you need a car anyway and it can serve as your emergency backup . . . (of course that would require backup systems themselves to have a degree of resilience and to rise above the planned obsolesence phenomenon – have you tried to keep a digitally operated washing machine or refrigerator running for more than couple years? Whereas the analog versions used to go 20. Perhaps because of the challenging outdoor environments they operate in and the sensitivity to consumer complaints in the automotive market, i’m actually shocked how well car electronics generally perform and I feel like there is a degree of maturity here so in terms of picking black box poison I’m sticking with automotive engineers for the time being).

            I sympathize with your skepticism of EVs as grid batteries, it just was not the point I was making.

            Brian

  15. I can be almost self sufficient on my sailboat. I have a couple of solar panels, a wind generator and a diesel generator as the ultimate backup which is really only used to drive the A/C on hot still nights. The boat is comfortable and has everything we need to live on it. It has 3 deep cycle batteries on board which last 4 seasons.

    The actual inside footprint is about 450 ft2. Heating and cooling are two heat pumps using the sea water as the source. Actually very comfortable and if I don’t like where I am, I can just pull the anchor and go somewhere else.

    • Most boats have trouble keeping up with the reefer let alone heating and cooling on solar alone.

      One of the biggest problems on boats is keeping the batteries up once they are off shore power. Even with solar panels it is not unusual for boats to run their engine/genset daily unless they get ice from shore.

      • On a sunny day, the two solar panels during the summer gives me at least 8A for 6 hrs. The reefer draws 60AH/day. The generator gives me anywhere from 1A to 18A (when the wind is blowing) so I rarely have issues with my setup keeping the batteries topped, especially if the wind blows 15-20 now and then (the cube of the wind speed).

        I have an energy monitoring setup which lets me know where I stand and can always fire up the generator, but last year with the exception of my wife complaining, I only ran it to cool the boat.

        This is the southern Chesapeake Bay. If I was in FL, I would probably have two wind generators and a different setup with the batteries and maybe a third solar panel, but if you do it right, you are pretty self sufficient.

  16. “There is an enormous upside to these systems in terms of flexibility and saving households money,”
    ====(((((
    False. The battery life-cycle cost is approximately equal to the cist of all the electricity stored in the battery over its lifetime.

    You could only save money with a huge drop in battery costs or a huge difference between daytime and nighttime electricity rates.

    In the vast majority of cases the battery is only usefull when the electrical grid fails. Which becomes more likely as renewables increase.

    But even in that case a fossil fueled (dual fuel) home generator is going to cost significantly less and can easily provide more power for a substantially longer time period.

    • Ferd,
      I have 2 UPS units of 900 whr each that provide un-interuptible power to the satellite receiver, some lights and my pc. Our power ‘blinks’ off often which causes the sat. receiver to reset. The 15 minutes of power allows me time to be sure the outage will be for more than a few minutes, [ by an email notice from PG&E ], so I can start the propane powered 7.5kw generator and go ‘off grid’, which in a recent case, was 4 days.
      So, for less than $2k, I’m somewhat energy secure.
      I may install some solar PV to run the A/C on our hot summer days…

    • Try telling your soon to be ex-wife that none of the following are available/practical when on battery power:

      Stove/oven, heating/cooling, hot water, hair-dryer.

      • you do realize that everything except the hair dryer (and that could be remedied) is available in gas models? (including cooling although ammonia cycle is more esoteric these days and the efficiency of modern air conditioning actually doesn’t rule out battery power altogether. just sayin . . . )

        • While true, for the greenies using NG for water heating, drying clothes, and cooking is just a different kind of sin.

          • i gotcha on that one. coal was the worlds worst thing til they got rid of coal plants, forced all the generation onto Natural Gas and occasionals . . . eer renewables and the pipelines are constrained so the price of electricity rises so people get coal stoves to heat their homes.

            but , of course, the greens have an answer to that, oppose natural gas which has singlehandedly done more to reduce the carbon footprint of humanity lately than any fashionable ‘solution’ – if you care about carbon. count me out of that crowd as well.

  17. Am I missing something? I didn’t see any accounting for the massive environmal cost of manufacturing, installing, and servicing the millions of batteries this suggests. Many of not most existing homes and small apartment buildings will need disruptive and expensive structural modification to accommodate a unit. It might take well over a decade to roll out nationwide. This has shovel ready boondoggle written all over it.

      • Yes, and water is toxic under the right conditions too. In fact more than 3500 people die from it each year!

        Batteries contain too much valuable recoverable material and will be recycled.

        There’s at least 1.5 trillion barrels of (toxic) oil under ground too. Good thing we’re extracting and burning it.

  18. An excellent article for helping us identify some fairies will not fit on the head of a pin.

    “Climate change,” or whatever the left wants to call it, is a naturally occurring phenomenon, driven by colossal forces against which humans are navel lint on a pygmy, and that has and will always exist until planetary extinction. The best we humans can do is to develop and deploy technologies that allow us to cope with the effects of it, and these technologies will require cheap, abundant energy.

    Besides, you’d think by now that “scientific” studies that are based on calculations and models that do not include ALL of the costs nor ALL of even the first-order factors would not see the light of day. E.g., “When the systems are set up to operate with the goal of cutting emissions, they can indeed reduce average household emissions by 2.2 to 6.4 percent.” And what about the emissions generated at the mines where the battery raw materials are dug out, at the smelters where they are refined, at the factories where the batteries are made, through the distribution channels to the consumer, then to and through the recyclers?

  19. Home batteries aren’t terribly useful to either cut CO2 or to cut your power bill, not worth the cost.

    Where home batteries make sense is if one has a solar PV system and the local utility does not have a reverse metering agreement with its customers … or simply to provide backup power if the local utility supply isn’t very reliable.

    A better arrangement is to install a backup generator, preferably propane or natural gas fired. It’ll provide power for extended utility outages (such as often happens in the thunderstorm belt and coastal states during hurricanes.

  20. I have nothing against against Li-ion batteries myself. I use a number of them since they have moderately but not startlingly better performance than other types, but I am careful about how I store and handle them, since I have worked with flight safety and know about the risks.

    But they do have one strange and dangerous property, they strongly attract crackpots and people with zero ability to use simple arithmetics.

  21. I have a lot of experience depending on large deep cycle lead a batteries for electricity.

    I have a sailboat with 2 batteries for 30 years. So what can you do? You can run small load electronics for 4 hours. Then you can use the other battery to start the ICE to charge the first battery .

    For the last 4 years since retirement I have lived in a large ‘vintage’ luxury motor home. It has 4 large golf cart batteries.

    So what can you do with 4 large batteries? Make coffee or pop corn in the microwave.

    The 120 vac/12 vdc inverter/charger is expensive and inefficient. To get enough power to run the microwave requires the battery surface area of 4 large batteries.

    With the motorhome using propane for hot water, refrigeration, cooking, and heat; the generator only has to run for 1 to 2 hours a day to charge batteries.

    Being off grid on a sailboat or motorhome is a lifestyle choice. For me adding wind or solar to produce more is counter to the lifestyle. Just stay in the city hooked to the grid.

    What can’t you do with batteries? Run a house! I am an engineer , I deal in the practical. With enough money I can make Bill Gates house run on batteries. My last house in Virginia would require $100k system with $10k in annual maintenance for 1 day of storage.

    As an undergrad engineering student I participated in research related to the ’70s energy crisis. The conclusion for my part of the study was that it was not practical.

    It is really basic science. The area required for energy transfer is a key parameter. Steam turbines and nuclear reactor are practical. Woods stoves are practical if you have a 7 acre woodlot.

    In San Diego you see more surf boards than snow shovels. Being practical is not a requrement for an engineer degree.

    • ” Being practical is not a requirement for an engineer degree.”

      No it’s not. When I was working on a masters in engineering I told my advisor that I wanted to develop practical, hands-on skills. He said I would have to go elsewhere for that. I did. I got the impression that engineering school teaches people how to view themselves as engineers rather than how to actually be one.

    • When I was looking at going off-grid back in the 2000’s I discovered that whatever system is used to generate the power, the maximum efficiency that could be attained was to remove the inverter and match the appliances to the generating system. So, if you were generating at 6, 12, or 24v/dc you would have to match that with your appliances, so 6, 12 or 24v/dc. Prohibitively expensive even today.

      • Living off grid in an RV is very cheap.

        It only gets expensive if you try to live off grid if you try to maintain the same living style. So if you want that 4 ton air heat pump running on 220 vac forget it.

        No problem keeping beer cold and coffee hot. You need a shade tree to keep cool and a campfire to keep warm.

        Maximum efficiency is easy to achieve. An ax, some fire wood, and a milk cow for transportation.

        Steam turbines turning a generator makes the slavery to muscle a thing of the past.

        Who cares what the thermal efficiency of freedom is?

      • Exactly, the inverter is a power consumer.

        But it gets worse: “When the systems are set up to operate with the goal of cutting emissions, they can indeed reduce average household emissions by 2.2 to 6.4 percent.”

        What a total load of %#$%$.

        Operate any UPS or Powerwall system and you will find that this system consumes 30% of the power taken in. Under no circumstances can a battery storage system SAVE on any emissions when it consumes so much. Not only would you have to get rid of the inverter, you also have to address the issue of wetting. Take any battery, store electricity in it and you will NEVER EVER get 100% back out never mind the power consumption of the inverter. It takes a certain amount to wet the tank as it were thus preventing a 100% recovery rate. And unlike a water tank where the amount of wetting is fixed, the battery itself is continually loosing charge. Go ahead, let your computer lithium ion battery sit for a month or so, how much of a charge do you have left? Duh, try none in most cases.

  22. Seems as though there’d be a whole lot of minim and extraction from the earth to provide all the resources for these batteries. Thought mining and extraction of natural resources was taboo in the left-wing environmental world?

  23. I look at it this way ..
    I live in the typical suburban home ..
    My electrical expense averages $200 per month or ~$2,400 per year
    I can invest $60,000 @ 4% in a diversified portfolio of dividend paying utility stocks
    to cover that expense or invest that same amount to go “off grid” ( or not ) ..
    So, far the “portfolio” approach wins ..

  24. Switch everything to renewables and then they will come after that. People don’t get the cult of environmentalism.

  25. Battery energy density is pretty low and have a chemical maximum. I recall tge equivalence is somethimg like 50Litres petrol = 2tonne battery. Hmmmmm.

  26. My Leaf already does this. It sucks up 25kw at night when the rates are lowest, stores it, then I luse it during the day as I need it.

    • Get rid of thermal and there won’t be cheap night rates as available wind needs to recharge the grid batteries while your Leaf is encouraged to cheaper rates midday with the solar duck curve. Oh wait a minute you want to be driving it during the day or parking it at work? OTOH retirees and stay at home mums might want to call up autonomous cars with pay per km during the day to minimise resource use but if they’re all EVs how will that work? Methinks you need to look up fallacy of composition here.

      • Silly Goose… With a range of around 80 miles, it’s only driven one or two hours max. Plenty of time remains to charge it during the day, if that’s what you want.

        At todays rates, I can install 6kw of solar panels for roughly $2400 (plus inverter, racking and installation) and then have free fuel for 25 years. Not a bad deal and I think that is what people will do long term. (Before the Leaf, I used to spend about $4k/yr on fuel, so this is an easy tradeoff.)

        Don’t have space? The nice thing about electrons is you can put the panels anywhere and the electtons eill find you. 😉

  27. BTW, solar panels are starting to become available (wholesale) at under $0.40 per watt. That’s just $2000 for enough panels to produce all the power an average house uses here in S California. (To that add racking, inverters, installation and misc.)

    • They could be costless and represent all they’re worth at night but what do commercially available batteries add to total cost per watt to make the solar panelled house self sufficient and reliable with power? Get back to us with that now won’t you? I like the idea of tyre prices coming down but it’s not the be all and end all with the cost of running my car.

      • Batteries are not required. Note that virtually no residential solar installations use batteries today. The grid provides whatever power is needed at other times, and a house needs to use little power at night.

        Batteries are useful if you want to essentially arbitrage power (charge with cheap power and use instead of expensive power. E.g. charge from your own solar.) Batteries aren’t ‘required’ unless you’re off grid. Can be economically beneficial though.

  28. The solution is so simple I can’t imagine why no one hasn’t thought of it before.
    It just came to me when I was hooking up an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for my internet router. Our electricity supply drops out for brief period several times per week.
    Our state government raised the royalty they charge for Victorian brown coal three times in their last term, forcing 25% of the state’s electricity generation to be shut down. All that’s besides the point.
    Here’s my brilliant idea.
    While plugging in the router to the UPS, I thought “Why just the router? Why not everything?” (I’ve always prided myself on “thinking outside the box”.)
    So I plugged in the house lights, stove, heater, air-conditioner and everything else I could think of into the UPS. I had to use a few power boards and extension leads, but the cost was more than covered by the money I saved by doing all the electrical work myself. Those electricians charged like wounded bulls, you know.
    The came the real flash of genius: I still had one empty socket on the UPS, so I plugged the UPS into itself!
    Free electricity! No need for messy solar panels; no climate destroying connection to the grid; no hard-to-find and sometimes feisty unicorns.
    Just free electricity.
    If you decide to use my idea, go ahead. Just send me $1000 per month for the rest of you life or mine, whichever is longer. I thinks it’s only fair. I did all the hard work thinking this up!

    • Of course it might turn out that you have one of those UPS models with a big box and a tiny battery inside, the rest of the contents being a mix of N2 and O2 plus a small amount of CO2. A favourite scam, it seems.

  29. If the goal is to reduce emissions, maybe the batteries can have an internet connection with the utility, so they can charge for free whenever power would otherwise be dumped.

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