Utility-Scale Battery Costs “Fall” to $625/kWh

Guest “Now that’s funny right there!” by David Middleton

OCTOBER 23, 2020
Utility-scale battery storage costs decreased nearly 70% between 2015 and 2018

The average energy capacity cost of utility-scale battery storage in the United States has rapidly decreased from $2,152 per kilowatthour (kWh) in 2015 to $625/kWh in 2018. Battery storage systems store electricity produced by generators or pulled directly from the electric power grid and redistribute the power later as needed. At the end of 2018, the United States had 869 megawatts (MW) of installed battery power capacity (the maximum amount of power a battery can provide at a given moment) and 1,236 megawatthours (MWh) of battery energy capacity (the total amount of energy that can be stored by a battery).

Battery storage costs vary by region and application.

[…]

California had the most installed battery capacity of any state in 2019. The average battery storage cost in California was $1,522/kWh. About two-thirds of battery storage capacity in California is used for frequency regulation. Batteries in the state also provide energy-oriented services, including ancillary servicesblack start services, and easing transmission congestion.

According to EIA data, the United States added 152 MW of battery storage capacity in 2019 and added an additional 301 MW in 2020 through July 2020. EIA also collects data on planned future battery capacity additions. Based on planned capacity additions data reported to EIA by developers and power plant owners as of July 2020, EIA expects battery storage to increase by more than 6,900 MW in the next few years. About 2,300 MW of the 6,900 MW of planned battery storage capacity was reported to EIA between April and June 2020. Large battery storage systems are increasingly paired with renewable energy power plants to increase grid reliability and resilience.

Principal contributors: Sara Hoff, Alexander Mey

US EIA
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Report
Note: Only includes capacity with available cost data. Puerto Rico is excluded.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Report
Note: Size of circle indicates battery storage capacity. Regions are regional transmission organizations (RTOs), independent system operators (ISOs), and states. California includes both CAISO and LDWP. Other defined as states not in RTOs/ISOs. NYISO/SWPP excluded to protect respondents’ confidential information.

According to the EIA’s most recent Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE), solar PV is down to $0.037/kWh ($0.029 with tax credit). Since Sun doesn’t shine at night, the cost of solar power at night is now down to $625.037/kWh.

The LCOE of natural gas combined cycle is $0.036/kWh 24/7/365.

H/T Larry the Cable Guy

Addendum

In light of some of the comments…

  • Clearly, Larry the Cable Guy isn’t as universally recognized as I thought.
  • The $625/kWh is the capacity cost of the battery storage system.
  • The price would be amortized over the life of the battery storage system.
  • If the battery storage system lasted 10 years (3,650 cycles) the cost of nighttime solar power would drop all the way to $0.207/kWh versus $0.036/kWh for natural gas combined cycle, depending on natural gas prices.

112 thoughts on “Utility-Scale Battery Costs “Fall” to $625/kWh

  1. Hoff and May clearly have no clue – using the term MW for storage capacity and MWh for power demonstrates their complete misunderstanding of the terms.

    On the other hand the $625.037/kWh is just as silly. Operating the battery in the range 40 to 90% of it capacity could produce a life of maybe 10,000 cycles. So 5,000cycles on a full capacity basis. That means the battery would cost $0.125/kWh over its life; still very expensive compared with coal generation.

    The current large grid scale battery in Australia is being charged at high negative prices so they get paid to store power at times of low grid demand. It has become a real issue in South Australia where rooftop solar alone can supply the entire state grid during Sunday lunch. The battery provides a much needed stability service, for which they also get paid.

    Small scale batteries are getting down to USD200/kWh. That is close to economic for households in sunny places to get off grid. Although cycle life is still questionable.

    • Author’s state:
      According to the EIA’s most recent Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE), solar PV is down to $0.037/kWh ($0.029 with tax credit).
      Has the tax credit be included in the reported cost?
      Rickwill states:
      That means the battery would cost $0.125/kWh over its life; still very expensive compared with coal generation.
      Note: $625.037 kwh vs. $0.125 kwh WTH?? Prior to reading this report my estimate was for short term storage (few minutes 4x generation cost of solar, so spot on $0.125 kwh. one (1)hour $0.50 kwh, one (1) day 24x $0.50= $12.00 kwh Please if anyone has any realistic data please post it!

    • On the other hand the $625.037/kWh is just as silly.

      Thanks, I was going to write the exact same thing. Sentences like that completely discredit the author of this sh… I mean, this article. I always expect a much higher quality in WUWT articles.

    • RickWill writes

      That means the battery would cost $0.125/kWh over its life; still very expensive compared with coal generation.

      The other thing to note is that when the batteries are discharging its going to be at peak demand times and the spot prices for energy at those times is worth WAY more than other times. $0.125 can be cheap at those times.

    • “On the other hand the $625.037/kWh is just as silly”
      Right.
      The author is cheating us.
      $625.037/kWh is the capital battery cost.
      Not the cost to store kWh in that battery.

      • Yes the cost must be amortised over the lifetime of the battery, typically around 2000 cycles, giving around 0.3c/KWh, still an order of magnitude difference.

        • The y-axis is for the capital cost of the battery expressed in $/kWh of installed power capacity. It’s not the amortized cost over the life of the battery. But, it’s still fracking hilarious.

          The $625.037/kWh is just for the first cycle. Assuming it lasts 1,000 cycles, the cost would be $625.037/MWh… ~$0.63/kWh.

    • Does this include recycling costs of materials used?

      How much energy is dissipated loss by these batteries? I assume that is part of costs.

    • The power industry uses the same term to refer to different things sometimes.

      $/kWh means CAPEX for batteries
      $/kWh means LCOE for everything else
      They’re completely different things that can’t be compared in any meaningful way.

      Further, batteries today aren’t installed to sell energy. They’re installed to sell flexibility and capacity. These services are mostly sold on a $/kW basis. More specifically, $/kW-month or $/kW-year.

      Talking about these services is even harder because every power market is different. My impression is that batteries are generally 2-4x as expensive as gas peakers in most markets in the US for most services today.

    • The large battery in Australia is primarily used for frequency control and has very little storage functionality due to its small size compared to the grid.

    • There’s a reason why Germans are paying $0.38 per kWh for electricity even with their grid backed up by cheap lignite (dirty coal) in winter (low solar) and calm conditions. That’s $0.25 per kWh higher than the US. The levalized cost of wind and solar is clearly much higher than the EIA estimates.

    • Rick,

      Most People Are Ignorant Regarding Battery System Costs per kWh (delivered as AC to the grid)
      http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/economics-of-tesla-powerpack-and-powerwall-systems

      Example 1, Existing Medium System

      The Powerpack v1.5, capacity of 100 kWh, has a Tesla bi-directional inverter with a capacity of 50 kW, turnkey capital cost $72,000 (FOB price $47,000, plus $25,000 for shipping from US to France, tariffs/taxes, installation, test operation, etc.), or $720/kWh.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Powerwall
      https://electrek.co/2018/01/10/tesla-powerpack-system-france/

      Example 2, Existing Very Large System

      The Tesla Powerpack 2 system in Australia, the largest in the world, has a rated capacity of 100 MW/129 MWh delivered as AC. The battery system feeds electricity to the grid or absorbs electricity from the grid to:

      – Smoothen the variable output of the nearby 315 MW French-owned wind turbine system to minimize it “upsetting” the high voltage grid. Synchronous-condenser systems perform a similar function.
      – Prevent load-shedding blackouts and
      – Provide stability to the grid, during times other generators are started in the event of sudden drops in wind or other network issues.

      The turnkey capital cost was about $66 million, or 66 million/129,000 = $512/kWh; this is a low price, because Tesla was eager to obtain the contract. Here is an aerial photo of the system on a 10-acre site.

      https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/26/teslas-enormous-battery-in-australia-just-weeks-old-is-already-responding-to-outages-in-record-time/
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornsdale_Wind_Farm

      Example 3, Very Large System, 2018 Prices

      The “pack” price of Tesla Powerpack 1 and 2 units, for large installations, was about $250/kWh in 2018.
      The “pack” price does not include the inverter and supporting hardware, shipping, taxes/tariffs, installation, test operation, etc.
      The “pack” price is applicable to installations greater than 100 MWh equivalent to about 500 Powerpacks + 50 inverters.

      The “turnkey” capital cost COULD BECOME about $500 per kWh (delivered as AC to the grid), depending on site location and conditions.

      The capital cost should be amortized at about 3.5%/y over 15 years.

      NOTE: An owner could merely invest in AT&T and earn at least 7%/y as dividends.

      • TURNKEY COST OF UTILITY-SCALE BATTERY SYSTEMS
        https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/world-total-energy-consumption

        Assume $625/kWh (delivered as AC to the grid) is the turnkey capacity cost of a utility-scale battery storage system.
        https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=45596

        Annual payments would be $53.62/y, or $0.147/kWh per cycle, per day, if amortized at 3.5%/y over the 15-year life of the system.
        This is only the cost of the battery system.
        There are many other costs, such as for annual operations and maintenance

        If DC solar electricity were charged into the battery system, at about 0.20 c/kWh (see table 3 in URL), there would be a system loss of about 15%.
        As a result, the price would become 20/0.85 = 23.5 c/kWh (delivered as AC to the grid), plus at least 14.7 c/kWh for the battery system, a total of 38.2 c/kWh, to be charged to the utility rate base.

        This compares to a utility buying electricity from owners of existing gas-fired, combined cycle, gas turbine plants, for about 4 to 5 c/kWh, based on current gas prices.
        https://www.myamortizationchart.com

    • EIA is a great source of data but often their collection methods do not give an accurate representation of current prices on renewable projects being sold & installed today. I am not advocating green or fossil energy just sharing what I see in market right now.

      Here is a very recent study that I received that is in line on what I see in marketplace now.
      https://www.lazard.com/media/451087/lazards-levelized-cost-of-storage-version-50-vf.pdf
      additional reports on solar & wind costs.
      https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019/

      Project economics for solar PV + storage systems are attractive for short-duration wholesale and commercial use cases but remain a challenge for longer-duration wholesale and residential projects outside San Diego and LA in California.

      Most commercial projects installed today are industrial customers with high demand charges that storage can offset significantly with 4-6 year paybacks typical. Cost shifting energy usage to solar off peak times (night) help reduce the payback but cannot financially support installation on its own. Most projects in California are installed on Schools or essential governmental and non-governmental building due to high incentives given to those preferred industries.

      The above link provides tremendous amount of data on state of market along with cash flows on dozens of market segments. I share not to promote a view but because I know many of you here would enjoy a deep dive on the data that may provoke another great article on the subject.

      Enjoy!

      P..S. Here is report on cost of energy without storage.
      https://www.lazard.com/media/451086/lazards-levelized-cost-of-energy-version-130-vf.pdf

  2. Um…so why does the cost of levelized natural gas power more than double over the next 5 years?

    (https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf Page 3)

    This PDF is making my head explode…I can’t tell how they are coming up with the so-called “levelized costs”. They do not appear to take into account the new power grid branches that have to be built to remote areas using wind turbines. They do appear to be taking into account all the special money the government gives to green energy so that costs appear lower.

    I have no idea how they account (in costs) for the lack of power the green energy sources do not provide at night – since this is either batteries or a natural gas (usually) power plant that has to be built and maintained, those costs should be added to the green costs.

    I have an idea – let’s let the Atlantic Ocean acidify using all of the CO2 in the atmosphere (yes, I know that isn’t actually possible) and then connect the alkaline Pacific Ocean with the now acidic Atlantic ocean and we have a battery capable of keeping the power on after the sun sets. It isn’t any nutter than what they are proposing.

  3. Using 15 cents per kilowatt-hour and $625/ kilowatt batteries:

    Batteries recharge 500-800 times placing the cost of the batteries alone at 5 to 8 times the original cost of the electric power. Maintainance and other costs not included.

    • Yep but greenies like to spend $10 in CO2 emission to save $1 in CO2 emission, their math skills are lacking. They math is bad the only look at what they think is savings and not the cost of such savings.

  4. I agree that batteries are not great for prime power. But to be fair, the battery is reusable, while the natural gas is not. It probably has around a thousand cycles before needing to be replaced, so that would be the 3 cents to generate the power and 62.5 cents to store and re-emit it. Plus the power consumed during charging. Another 3 cents The life expectancy of the solar panels cones into play, but so does the gas power plant maintenance and replacement.

    • But that is offset by the fact that you have to have at least double the generating capacity for batteries to be useful. You can’t charge batteries at the same time as providing base load, unless you have dedicated generation for charging.

  5. If I buy a 100 Amp Hour 12 volt deep charge battery, that’s about 1 kWh. Let’s say it costs around $200. So, $2 per kWh. Yes, I do realize it only lasts a finite number of cycles, but still …

    • No its $200 per kWh … you even worked out the battery is 1 kWH why are you dividing by 100.
      Now add on the inverter and charger costs and then the actual cost to charge it.

      • … why are you dividing by 100.

        I had a brain fart.

        As to your other point … why do I use 1 kWh rather than the more arithmetically precise 1.2 kWh? Answer … for ease of arithmetic.

      • Don’t let marketing hype fool you. If we are speaking of a lead acid batter you should only discharge it to 20% of capacity and charge it to 80% of capacity. So you are really only going to get about 60% of the rated capacity out of the battery.At full discharge the useful life of a lead-acid battery creates enough heat that you should de-rate the capacity by around half (as heat increases capacity goes down). So a 100 amp-hour led acid battery is probably only good for 100 * .6 = 60 amp-hours and at full discharge is only good for 30 amp-hours. 12v * 30amp = 0.36kW at full discharge.

        • In addition to depth of discharge, you have to account for rate of discharge. Most batteries are rated based on C/10, so if you have a battery with a capacity of 10 kW-hr, that rating is based on discharging at 1 kW. Higher discharge rates mean lower overall capacity at terminal voltage.

  6. Let us suppose you want to destabilise 7.5 GW of wind. That on average replace a 2 GW baseload power station. If you use batteries to do this you need about 300 GW hours. Possibly more but we will go with that. On these pricings how much is that going to cost? There wind that I use as a reference is the eastern grid of Australia and it is quite capable of dropping to 6% of its plate capacity for 30 hours or more. So there are periods that you will rely on the battery alone for a day or more.

      • They don’t save cost it’s all just cost none of which is required if the intermittent sources were not in use. If you stop reading industry promotion rags and actually used proper engineering publication perhaps you would actually get the truth. Oh wait your a greentard troll the truth was never on your agenda, now get back in inside and in lockdown.

          • ROFL only if you do A Nick Stokes and define “saving” in stupid greentard terms.

            So here is the exact statement they made

            The $200 million “Big Battery” has almost paid for itself, saving consumers around $116 million in higher power costs in 2019

            So for all us normal people they reduced possible increased costs …. note they said nothing about other things that may have reduced costs. It’s typical green and political BS speak.

            You are so stupid this is how a politician would give Griff a tax increase

            We were planning to increase taxes by 10% but we decided to increase them only by 5% thus this new tax increase saves you and all the little Griffs money.

          • No, they just paid a little less that what they normally would have paid… which is still multiple times what they would have paid if they were using fossil fuel based power.

            They are not “saving money”. They are just getting ripped off less.

          • They “saved” money which didn’t need to be spent in the first place. That’s a shell game, not good economics.

    • Yet the cost of an EV car to the environment is huge and never consider, heavy metals never go away, rare metals mining is a huge environmental mess why is that ignored?

  7. “About two-thirds of battery storage capacity in California is used for frequency regulation.”

    Battery is DC. Frequency is AC. Can some electrical engineer explain this?

    • They use rectifiers for charging and inverters for discharging. The inverters have millisecond response time from zero output to full output so are as good or better than rotating inertia in limiting frequency swings. At least to the limit of their capacity.

      Observations of the response for the 100MW Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia demonstrate that the battery is a couple of orders of magnitude faster in response than conventional generator governors:
      https://arena.gov.au/assets/2019/02/hornsdale-power-reserve.pdf

      The minimum frequency observed during this event was 49.77 Hz in the Mainland and 49.40 Hz in Tasmania
      – First major event after the battery came online
      – The response time for the battery was a matter of milliseconds

      Battery capacity is highly regarded for frequency and voltage control services because the inverter can swing from zero to rated output so quickly.

      • Rick,

        however large conventional generators have inertia which helps maintain frequency so that their governors can react. The problem is too little inertia with wind and solar, just one of their negatives.

        • Iain writes

          large conventional generators have inertia which helps maintain frequency so that their governors can react.

          Conversely that inertia (and slowness in responding to “turning up the gas”) reduces response time to maintain frequency so that if a large load unexpectedly drops off the grid or comes onto the grid, the generator cant respond quickly. Batteries (for all their problems in cost) are very good at that.

  8. To make economically profitable to be able to store 1kWh of energy, which costs $0.03 to produce, at a cost of $625, you would need to be able to store it and then sell the energy that you previously stored 625/0.03= almost 21,000 times. As long as the life expectancy of each of the kWh of capacity of the battery excedes 21 thousand cycles of charge/discharge, it makes economic sense to have it. But if the battery does not have that ammount of cycles of life expectancy, you lose money compared to just producing the energy in some alternative way (coal, gas…) assuming that they also cost $0.03/kWh to produce or very close to that ammount.

    • Your calculations only apply to constant demand. There is no actual grid like that.

      The capital cost of a gas fuelled combined cycle generator is about USD1000/kWh. So the battery is a lower capital cost than the gas plant. Batteries are often paid to charge. South Australia has a surplus of rooftop solar so the battery often gets paid to charge. In effect it gets a premium for sucking in energy that is produced to avoid taking gas plants or coal off line.

      Coal plants in Australia are bidding in a decent chunk of energy at minus $1000/kWh just so they can ride through negative price excursions because there would be more cost involved in disconnecting. They coal plants force the grid scale wind and solar to back off because they have no guarantee of being able to make money if the sell at large negative price but the coal plants can make money during every evening peak unless there are strong winds and ample wind generation – rare to get the aligned with evening peak.

      Point is, batteries are relatively low cost peak lopping units. Get paid to charge and get paid to discharge – hard to beat that.

  9. Does that include the cost of the power that is used to charge the battery including efficiency. You don’t get 100% of the power you paid for. I can see poor consumers using the batteries for peak power periods to reduce costs. But then you may not have enough juice for night time. I guess you could shut the power off at night and wrap your fridge with a big foamy to save the planet.

    Since we’ve learned with the Greening, bumper crops, overall increased biological productivity (Bengal tigers are multiplying in the new Ganges delta bush, obese polar bear hordes, plankton at the base of ocean productivity on the rise, etc.) that CO2 and teensy weensy warming are hugely net beneficial, when are the masses going to rise up and put an end to this chartreuse idiocy and demand 8 cent power.

    • The HPR in Australia often gets paid to charge. The gird needs the demand for stability reasons.

      The battery owners get paid to charge it, get paid to discharge and get paid to sit there prepared to respond to short term faults. That is the nature of the new world of intermittent generators.

      • No. It might such today because they at times crash the market through overgeneration. But in a future without the existing base load generation they will not get paid to store electricity, because the overgeneration is no longer. Any storage facility will need to fight for the scarce resources, thus they might be forced into a market where you pay for electricity that you store and later sell to someone who needs it. You know, a market as they actually work in real life.

        • The subsidies paid to build, and the heavily biased operating regulations put in place to discourage combustion generation point to assured surpluses whenever the wind blows or the sun shines. Currently there are many locations where wind and solar generators get paid large amounts to not produce or other jurisdictions get paid to take the extra electricity produced by wind and solar. Under these kinds of schemes there should always be extra electricity for charging batteries when conditions permit generation.

  10. A very large share of battery storage systems are short (<0.5 hrs) to medium (<2hrs) duration and are used to manage fluctuating loads due to intermittency etc.

    " … about two-thirds of battery storage capacity in California is used for frequency regulation"

    The /KW costs for these short duration load mgmt systems are far lower, as opposed to long duration (<4hours) storage/backup systems.

    Capacity-weighted cost per unit power capacity, in dollars per kilowatts ($/kW), for short duration systems (2013-2017) … $864/kW short duration, $1,554/kW medium duration, and $3,006/kW long duration

    Solar, even in the best areas, can produce grid scale power on a sunny day for 6-7 hours … the remainder of the day power must come from backup sources. Grid scale long duration battery storage is good for appx 4 hours. That leaves 13-14 hours a day where backup generation must provide power.

    This back up generation comes from fossil fueled peaking load plants – that are dirtier, less efficient, and costlier than base load generating plants – which are not able to scale load fluctuations fast enough to accomodate renewables.

    https://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/electricity/batterystorage/pdf/battery_storage.pdf

    • In a place where solar is productive, peak demand will be in mid day to late afternoon. Solar supplies then, batteries remove need for peaker plant, then supply as solar quickly ramps down until peak demand passes. Demand is not usually very high from midnight to 5 am. – it isn’t 13 hours which need covering. and nowhere will solar be the sole power resource

        • Really? so in hot places they don’t run their aircon when the sun is at its peak?

          and in the UK there are two peaks: mid day and 6 to 8 – but the 6 to 8 one is much lower in summer.

          • Incorrect village idiot I gave you the data the evening peak is always bigger than the midday. It probably isn’t in your council flat because you peeps are all unemployed but for working people it is.

          • I live in the SE US. During the summer, the high for the day is generally around 3.5 hrs past solar noon in the summer peaking around 33C (and higher) and it rarely drops below 30C well into the night.. like 3am. We are cooling the house well after sun down.

            Demand really starts to pick up just when the Sun is dropping down. Why do you think California had rolling blackouts starting in the late afternoon? The UK is an anomaly, not the norm.

          • Griff,

            Most people aren’t home when the outside temperature peaks (not when the sun is at its peak, i.e. noon). With the proliferation of smart thermostats most people raise the temperature on the thermostat when they aren’t home thus lowering A/C demand.

            Peak A/C demand hits when people get home from work and are trying to cool off the house. That’s also when stove/oven demand peaks plus lots of other loads (e.g. washing and drying machines).

            It’s also when most working people hit retail on the way home so lots of businesses stay open generating demand. For large industry it’s when second shift is coming on line so that demand remains.

            I become more and more convinced with each of your posts that you are a either a pre-teen or a young adult living in your parents basement.

  11. Average cost over a lifetime, a peak cost based solely on capital investments, or a minimum cost with progressive viability and decay-following expenses? Also, a context-sensitive cost, profit, and value sharing enterprise.

  12. The entire enterprise is absurd.
    In Germany, even assuming pumped storage, solar PV lifetime returns just 1.6 times the energy invested (Weißbach 2013) or is a net energy sink (Ferroni 2016).
    Wind returns just 3.9 compared to CCGT or coal around 30.
    In each case pumped storage was chosen as the most cost-effective utility scale storage.
    Using mega-batteries makes the ERoEI even more unrealistic.

    • The Germans also plan to use their HVDC links, especially to Norwegian hydro and hydrogen sored in the existing gas grid in the future.

      • Griff, you confirm Chris Hanley’s statement that pumped storage if a viable option,
        They have been using pumped hydro buffers in Scotland for eons. The Scottish hydro is connected directly (3 phase AC) to the main grid, thus not adding much expense to capital cost of the grid and the mountains were already build many million years ago,before the Green Age.
        HVDC (High Voltage Direct current Cable) from Germany to Norway via Denmark is a very long distance, plus most electricity is used in the south of Germany. The HVDC link Norway Germany effect is very tiny and will not be remotely adequate for 100% weather dependent generation (wind and solar).
        Hydro and pumped hydro only makes real sense when within the region using it, and a thousand miles or km transmission is like going over the stream to get water. It is nuts to say it in a Trump like way.

        Hydrogen storage may be a possibility, but is complicated, expensive and possibly also dangerous (not my expertise though). Hydro storage has the advantage of being local to the region using it though.

        • Hydro storage has the advantage of being local to the region using it though.

          Should have been

          Hydrogen storage has the advantage of being local to the region using it though.

        • well a few points: I’m not aware of any significant pumped storage proposals in Germany. quite a lot of N Germany doesn’t really have anywhere to pump stuff to – though there is an old coal mine near Dusseldorf in use for a small pumped storage project.

          Yes, there is a lack of transmission between N and S Germany. They are slowly putting in the HVDC lines which will allow wind power to ship south and solar power to ship north. Lots of opposition to new pylon lines.

          The Germans recognise that grid scale batteries aren’t enough and do seem to think injecting H2 into the gas network/using existing natural gas storage is a solution. time will tell

      • This is the best thing about unreliable power.

        ‘Don’t worry,’ they say. ‘When we don’t have power we’ll suck energy from countries which still have reliable power.’

        So instead of merely destabilizing their own country, they destabilize their neighbours as well. And what will they do when those neighbours also install unreliable power?

        This desperate desire to avoid admitting they were wrong will lead not just to local blackouts, but continent-wide blackouts before long.

    • Chis, thanks for you comments. The lifetime returns sound about right but why is PV at 1.6 a “net energy sink”? it may be a net ‘economic” sink but even 1.1 is still positive…..Pumped storage probably is the most realistic storage option. Stored hydropower imported from Norway and Sweden. As long as each party has comparable excess capacity,win-win power swaps should be great. Longer term the arrangement would be expected to work against Germany (renewables are actually replaceables every 20 years vs 200 or whatever for hydro). Am I missing something?

  13. The capital cost of grid scale storage is high. And sure, you can amortize that cost over the expected life of the battery which can reasonably be expressed in terms of charge/discharge cycles.

    But that’s not the end of the story. You also need to consider the capital and running costs of all the switching equipment required to place the battery in charge mode or discharge mode according to supply and demand which is far from trivial. And the cost of the electricity you use to charge the battery.

    Then there is the environmental and human cost of mining the the raw materials and the cost of disposing of the battery safely when it is spent.

    • Or the very real costs in terms of human health when one of these big battery facilities decides to spontaneously ignite and poison the people living downwind while the fire brigade tries and fails to put the blaze out. Some communities are getting nervous about this prospect although it is rarely mentioned.

  14. I thought the Germans were retiring some of their pumped hydro.

    The biggest pumped hydro plant in the world in Pennsylvania doesn’t even use RE, it draws power from two conventional power stations so they can run at peak efficiency 24/7.

  15. Could somebody explain how solar, at peak insolation (say 4 hours/day), is just capable of meeting demand directly while, at the same time also re-charging equivalent capacity battery storage?

    Shouldn’t real costs include DOUBLE the solar capacity so both grid and storage can be concurrent?

    • Gras Albert
      “Could somebody explain how solar, at peak insolation (say 4 hours/day), is just capable of meeting demand directly, at the same time also re-charging equivalent capacity battery storage?

      You are not looking at all the places that already have so much solar and/or wind generation that whenever generation conditions are favorable they currently have huge surpluses — for which the generators are paid whether or not the electricity can be used. Frequently there are large payments to the generators to not generate or to other jurisdictions to take the excess out of the generating area (where power lines exist to make this possible).

    • For the same reasons a it is more expensive to cook for one person, than for 100 persons.
      Industrial scale electricity production is cheaper, as long as we still do not have household sized nuclear generators from Walmart.

  16. Why use electricity generators that need the addition of charge/discharge systems in the first place?
    Waste if resources, degrading the environment, expensive and needs global single government to avoid regional dispute.
    Grid battery buffer 14 days or so, apart from being near impossible to manufacture fast enough, is a threat to the free world as we know it. If California becomes an independent state and dispute or resource depletion arise, I doubt California could ever achieve fabrication of batteries and electronics to sustain 100% weather generated electricity supply during a period of just a few days of low wind during winter.
    The only realistic type of battery/buffers is pumped hydro connected directly, regionally and AC-AC; but only available few geographical places.

    My conclusion:
    Grid batteries is fine in very few case like small island grids in order to save on diesel and 24 hour buffer for wind solar.
    Hawaii is even too large an island for battery, solar and wind combination. One single classic power station would their need. I suggest a modern coal fired power plant and scrap the plans of 100% wind, solar, battery by 2045. It is a beautiful island, why plaster it with so much industrial infrastructure and increased cost of electricity?

    • Hawaii’s version of the Duck Curve is called the “Nessie Curve”, after images of the Loch Ness monster. See here. This is from 2014 so the problem has likely gotten worse. One thing mentioned is they really don’t have adequate monitoring capability to really know what is going on with the large base of distributed rooftop solar.

      Hawaii is one of the places where solar could actually make sense: conventional generation is expensive and a good part (the western side) of most islands get a lot of sun throughout the year. The southern-most tip of the big island is 18.9° N and the northern tip of Kauai is 22.2° N. Hawaii has the most expensive residential rates in the US – ranging from $0.31/kWh on Oahu to $0.42/kWh on Lanai. Big island customers pay $0.37.

      Inter-island ties have been discussed as far back as Thomas Edison, but have never been built. But people are still talking; see here. An inter-island tie only makes sense if the generation cost differential between one island and another is sufficient to justify the added cost of the tie. It’s roughly 70 miles between the southern tip of Oahu and the northern tip of Maui, and another 30 from the southern tip of Maui to the northern tip of the Big Island. The paper above does not contain a cost estimate; the motivating factor appears not to be cost, but meeting the state mandate to achieve 40% renewable electricity generation by 2030 and they need the tie to move power from islands which have space for large wind and solar installations primarily to Oahu, where most of the electric customers are.

      I don’t know if anyone has costed out CCGT generation for Hawaii, at least Oahu and the Big Island. Most of current electric generation is Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO). The problem Hawaii has is the solution has been dictated by the legislature; real engineering and economic analysis neither required nor invited.

      • Followup. Surprisingly there is still some coal generation in Hawaii. Check “Hawaii Electric Production by Source” on this page — most recent summary is 2018. As of that year electric production:

        Oil: 68.9%
        Coal: 13.4%
        Wind: 6.1%
        Biomass: 3.1%
        Solar: 1.9%
        Geothermal: 1.1%
        Hydroelectric: 1.0%
        “Other”: 4.5%

        Not knowing exactly how the Hawaii mandate classifies these and taking most optimistic assumptions, Hawaii as of 2018 was 17.7% renewable electric generation and they need to be 40% by 2030 while adding additional demand in the form of electrified transportation.

        Going back to the oldest data (2010) and using the same assumptions, Hawaii was 10.9% renewable. So in the 12 years from 2018 to 2030 they need to shift roughly 3.3 times as much fossil generation to renewable as they managed to do in the 8 years from 2010 to 2018. All while avoiding problems due to the Nessie Curve.

        Ah, well, the “price of paradise” as they say.

  17. Part of the fraud of green power is the economic mirage when governments create money out of thin air and use it to distort interest rates to nearly zero. That creates moral hazard when people sever money from the real work and creativity that is the only way wealth is created. Real costs become impossible to know. We only can compute on the basis of a currency that is plastic at the hands of the central bank.

    When subsidies become a mesh, we cannot even calculate real costs so as to best allocate finite economic resources. People begin to think that government can pay for anything just by printing the currency. (This is the core thesis of Modern Monetary Theory’s). This only leads to mal-investment and shock when glorious projects just don’t work out as expected. (destroying enormous amounts of wealth in the process)

  18. Electricity consumers want dispatchable power within certain prescribed voltage and frequency parameters whenever they want it.(doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pay peak prices for maxm demand like SA summer aircon) The best way of doing that with economies of scale was large hub generators with radiating spoke distribution and not spaghetti and meatballs everywhere. If you’re advocating the latter then the meatballs had better be able to guarantee their electrons 24/7/365 or keep them. Instead we have the purest form of dumping ever invented by solar and wind and we know what that means for every other reliable supplier in the marketplace.

    There is no level playing field for any cost comparisons with power generation but bring in the 24/7/365 rule along with FCAS or keep your fickle electrons and then we’ll see the true costs with the solar duck curve and this fairydust- https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2020/july.

    I’m the State Premier/Guvnor’s nephew and I get to pick the eyes out of the inner suburban peak hour weekday bus routes with casual labour while you lot have to employ full time union employees and take care of the rest particularly the social obligation bus runs at midnight and the wee small hours of the morning.
    Whassamatter with you useless inefficient stupid whingers looking for taxpayer bailouts? Don’t you know how to run a tight ship profitable bus company keeping costs per passenger mile down?

  19. Why not build portable nuclear power plants (Clean energy a 100% baseload). The waste can be input back into the plants and bury the rods in Australia`s deserts & no impact with tableland water. Perhaps build modern coal fire power stations like the Chinese do frequently for100% baseload. Plus include Gas power to assist 100% baseload. By the way the waste management toxic batteries and “windmills” have to be buried somewhere but no one likes to talk about end of life batteries or “windmills and how to “dump” them . By the way you need BASELOAD power aka currently fossil fuel to build metal monsters that cost heaps like the bird killing “windmills”.

  20. Here is a question for Rick Will, who is known by those who follow the many comments made on Jo Nova’s blog to be a citizen of Oz.

    It would seem that Australia is a near ideal place to prove conclusively that wind and solar backed by grid-scale batteries can quickly and successfully replace coal and natural gas as the primary source of electricity for a modern technological society.

    The definition of ‘successfully replace’ is that the great majority of the citizens of Australia would accept whatever impacts on their lifestyles and their personal economic circumstances that a quick transition into mostly wind and solar would produce.

    Here is the question: If the target is 80% renewables by the year 2035, what factors are preventing a relatively quick transition of Australia’s power grid to mostly wind and solar?

    • The fact that rooftop solar and wind now have to be carefully factored into the supply calculation by aemo and the generators, means solar and wind are already significant generators. What would be your expectation of relatively fast?

      • My question to Rick Will sets a target of 80% renewables by 2035 for Australia. That is my expectation for ‘relatively fast’. The comparison standard would be stated in terms of megawatt-hours produced and consumed. Rooftop solar and wind would be a component of that 80% figure.

    • Most people will ACCEPT a great deal that they hate because the only way to remove the problem is by spilling their blood. Sometimes this eventually leads to an uprising but such tyrannies sometimes endure for centuries.

    • Plus, people ACCEPT a great deal of what they hate because constant propaganda makes them believe the real problem is elsewhere.

  21. The largest disadvantage of batteries (besides cost, pollution, child labor, etc…) is their slow charging rate. High speed flywheels and ultra-capacitors allow the braking energy of electric vehicles to be recovered as electricity, not heat and brake dust. And cost?
    “The target retail price of the FESS is $150-250 per kWh, compared to $1000 per kWh for leading lithium-ion battery providers. The product will be optimized for charge times of 40 seconds or less for integration into the transportation market, with efficiency exceeding 90%. Drawdown times for the FESS will be approximately 12 hours, compared to months for chemical batteries.”
    (from) http://american-maglev.com/fess#:~:text=The%20target%20retail%20price%20of,%2C%20with%20efficiency%20exceeding%2090%25.

  22. So, you’re saying if I get a battery for $625, I can run my pond pump (1000 watts) for an hour? I’m going to need a generator to charge the battery to run the pump when the power goes out. Or I could save the money on the battery.

    But yeah, frequency regulation is a special use.

    • I have two 3KVA UPS systems in my basement for computer and network gear. They take eight 12V batteries in two 48V strings each. According to the monitor, with battery charge at 100% and 9.7% load (nowhere near 1000W) the remaining runtime is 7 minutes. A replacement string of 8 batteries can be had for $110 today. So my $220 worth of batteries in both units will support a combined load of 4.8 Amps at 122 Volts for 7 minutes. Probably half that long to run your pond pump.

      What kind of pond do you have that uses a 1000W pump? I don’t think my 1/2 HP pool pump pulls that much regularly.

  23. I am still waiting to have someone prove that enough solar and wind energy is realistically available to keep all the batteries charged which would be needed to supply all of our energy needs, keeping in mind that the solar panels take up land space needed for other purposes; likewise with the windmills.

    I have a document in my possession which shows that it doesn’t work.

  24. And they still only last 15 to 20 years.
    Let’s not forget that they have be cooled in the summer and heated in the winter if you want them to last that long.

    At current rates of production it will take between 5000 and 10,000 years to build enough batteries to supply the entire country for 15 minutes at night when the wind stops blowing.

  25. Don’t confuse ‘cost’ and ‘price’. Cost must be ‘margined-up’ to pay for depreciation, Overhead, and expected profit margin to stay in business. Usually businesses ‘margin-up’ 2x to provide a gross margin of 50%. In a commodity business (without high capital costs and overhead) the margin expectation may be lower – 35-40%.

    So,.. ‘cost’ per kWh should be estimated on ‘price’ per kWh to keep the venture self sustaining.

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