Battery Basics for Climate Warriors

By Rud Istvan

Got to thinking about WUWT 2.0, and some of the fact ammo climate skeptics here might need if/when Kerry becomes Biden’s climate guru. So here is a bit more WUWT fact ammo for the maybe coming renewed climate war.

One of the BIG problems with renewables is their intermittency. Another is their lack of grid inertia. (See my recent guest post on Grid Stability for details.) Innumerates like Kerry persistently claim both issues can be/will eventually be overcome by more grid interconnectivity or by better grid battery storage. Those hopes/beliefs are almost certainly wrong. My last post, referenced above, challenged the interconnectivity belief. This hopefully not too technical complementary post explains why their rechargeable grid battery hope is also wrong. It does so in a simplified yet easily researchable way. It provides all the key words for anyone seeking deeper grid battery storage understanding.

There are basically only three non-kinetic electrical storage mechanisms: electrochemical, pseudocapacitive, and capacitive. We deliberately exclude indirectly kinetic pumped hydro, for which there are two big expansion problems: insufficient remaining suitable terrain, and California having rejected it, period.

Electrochemical batteries involve some chemical species change (lead acid aka PbA is discussed following, chemically oversimplifying, the lead anode goes to lead sulfate then back to lead thanks to the sulfuric acid electrolyte). The general nature of such reactions is that they are faradic (involving electron exchanges, named in honor of Michael Faraday, also honored by the Farad of capacitive charge). The original faradic battery discovery was by Volta centuries ago (the volt, unit of DC electromotive force–EMF, is named in his honor). He used zinc, copper, a paper separator, and saltwater electrolyte to twitch frog’s legs with electricity from his ‘battery pile’. The same ‘electrochemical erosion’ principle is used today by sacrificial zinc anodes to prevent hull corrosion in saltwater.

You can build a modern ‘Volta Pile’ replica sufficient to light a single mini Christmas bulb (for a while) just using two US pennies and a lemon. Sand one of the pennies to remove its copper plating (copper is now so valuable, pennies are only copper plated zinc, yet the US treasury still loses money on each one minted). That gives you Volta’s zinc and copper electrodes. Insert both mostly into deep paring knifed slits about ¼ inch (max 1 cm) apart in an unpeeled lemon (pulp is separator, acidic juice is electrolyte). Attach two wire clips to the protruding penny edges and then to the single mini-bulb leads (completing a DC circuit where polarity does not matter). A low voltage DC current flows sufficient to light the resistively heated mini-bulb, until the copper plating on the unsanded penny is electrochemically eroded. Makes a great entry-level high school science fair experiment. This easy home experiment also illustrates one of the many ways all batteries, rechargeable or not (as here), have limited lifetimes much shorter than grid lifetimes.

Pseudocapacitance is rare and complicated. We mostly skip it. There were some DARPA funded ruthenium hydroxide based efforts a decade ago, all failed. Evans Capacitor has sort of one based on tantalum, but Dave’s expensive high power military device for single side band fighter aircraft radar power pulsing is actually an electrolytic cap (defined below) with pseudocapacitive ‘overtones’.

Capacitive storage comes in two flavors: all ‘solid state’, or across some ‘Helmholtz’ layer. All ‘solid state’ is most of electronics billions of little ‘chip caps’ today, just two metallic conductors separated by a ceramic dielectric. The Leyden jar was their progenitor. Even ‘wet’ aluminum electrolytic capacitors susceptible to electrolyte drying failure are technically still in this ‘solid state’ flavor. Very fast, almost infinite cycle life (except for wet dielectrics), but very faradic low charge storage. Dave Evans’ brilliant tantalum military stuff is still just a very high power density version of the wet form of ‘solid state’. All caps of this ‘flavor’ have grossly insufficient energy storage to complement grid renewables.

The other flavor uses the Helmholtz ‘electrolytic double layer’ capacitance effect. The most familiar example is thunderstorm lightning, which Helmholtz first explained (the ‘electrodes’ can be vapor to water, or water to ice—probably both in any big Tstorm cloud). The commercial example is a supercapacitor (aka EDLC). Cycle life is a couple of million full discharges. Used in power dense applications (think Navy rail guns), but at best only about 1/10 the energy density of a high power LiIon battery. They are used in grids as ‘statcoms’ up to about 4 MW, primarily for power factor correction and related grid frequency support. Not nearly enough EDLC energy density for renewable intermittency grid support.

Green woke Formula 1 racing tried, then dropped, both high power LiIon and EDLC hybrid designs. Too many car battery fires thanks to lack of sufficient LiIon power density, while EDLC were (prior to my issued carbon materials patents) physically too big to easily fit the car racing chassis at F1 horsepower. F1 finally dropped their woke green hybrid racing experiment totally—bad for business. Real world intruded. Below is a hybrid Mercedes F1 in Singapore, after a practice lap, after its high power LiIon blew up with the driver sitting on top of it.

As a potentially complicating (and hopeful future) side note, a speculative post over at Judith Curry’s Climate Etc some years ago concerned Henrik Fisker’s second electric car venture. There is a hybrid half battery/half EDLC device variant (one electrode of each type) melding attractive properties of both (high energy and power density, 20000 cycle life). It is in limited production for things like large inductive motor power factor correction. Invented then sold by Subaru since not good enough then for hybrid EVs. As yet not commercialized for EV’s save for Fisker, and even he deferred to LiIon for his first ‘Fisker2’ vehicles.

Battery limitations

All energy storage devices are characterized by three basic physical parameters ignoring cost: (1) energy density (how much charge they hold, aka how long they take to discharge, in Wh), more is better, (2) power density (how many charge/discharge Amps per second), higher is better, and (3) rechargeable battery cycle life, where higher is always better.

It is fairly easy to get 2 of 3 of these in any commercial rechargeable battery system. Getting all three in one device is REALLY hard.

For example, PbA (2+3) are car starter batteries. PbA (1+3) are golf cart batteries. ALAS, they are NOT interchangeable. The former uses thin electrodes for power. The latter uses thick electrodes for energy. The cycle life of the former is about 2x greater than the latter since the former (by definition) do NOT normally discharge nearly as deeply as the second. Deep discharge always chemically deforms the PbA electrodes more rapidly via (large crystals) sulfation and thus shortens cycle life.  A starter battery is dead from sulfation after about four full discharges. Is also why older starter batteries usually die in winter.

The degree and rate of discharge/recharge has a profound impact on battery cycle life for several reasons. Simply put, ‘full’ charge/discharge EV batteries of the same chemistry will last much less than hybrid EV batteries like in my Ford Hybrid Escape, MY 2007, NiMH chemistry, now 13 years old and still going mostly strong (engine start exception after sitting a week due to slowly increasing leakage current, which Ford foresaw by providing a ‘jump start’ [not really] button to use as the battery ages and the car sits more), because the hybrid traction battery charge always floats only between about 45% and 55% of full charge.

BTW, my hybrid Escape made imminent economic ‘green’ sense. It is a small but sturdy I beam SUV, AWD with class one tow hitch, total HP ~210 (comparable to the 3 liter V6 variant). The HP comes from a downsized 1.4 liter Atkinson cycle I4 at 140 HP, and about 70 HP equivalent from the electric machine. (Atkinson cycle sacrifices torque for about 15% fuel efficiency over the Otto cycle—but it doesn’t matter because the electric machine more than makes up any torque deficit). The MY2007 V6 got about 22mpg highway and about 18mpg city. Our hybrid version still gets about 32 city and 28 highway (well, 27 at our usual 75 mph with summer AC on). The hybrid premium over the V6 was almost exactly $3000; in 2007 the hybrid federal income tax credit was about $3000 (not a coincidence, a Ford pricing strategy). So we were making money from fuel savings on the day we drove the car home from the dealer. Best part is, our I4 Atkinson uses regular gas; the equivalent Otto V6 needed premium. Where we are, the octane difference is over a dollar a gallon. Fewer yet cheaper gallons.

By far the most numerically common rechargeable battery now is Lithium Ion (LiIon) aka the lithium rocking chair, invented more than 30 years ago. It is in a sense partly pseudocapacitive via its ‘rocking chair’. Lithium ions migrate on charging from their chemical home metal cathode, thru a Lithium Ion electrolyte, to intercalate into the carbon anode (the rocking chair). Intercalation involves no chemical change to the anode, just lithium ions ‘snuggling up’ to their ‘rocking chair electrons’ inside the carbon anode. Only the metallic cathode (where the cobalt is) changes chemically with charging/discharging.

LiIon energy/power limitations are similar to PbA. Making everything thinner gives more surface area per battery volume for maximum energy density. A Tesla EV battery is big enough for range that power density is not a primary consideration except in charging. Its cycle life limitations are different but still constraining. F1 LiIon made things thick for power density—just not enough.

There is a secondary relatively low power density consequence for Tesla. Rapid charging generates more heat than can be easily conducted away. The Nernst equation says that heat kills cycle life (above ~40C, about 2x per 10C). Something Tesla does NOT say about its rapid charge stations. You can rapid charge often for convenience, but doing so will also kill your car’s Tesla battery quite early. Perhaps an undisclosed Tesla financial warranty liability?

Of course, as the ‘stunt’ Tesla grid battery installation in South Australia shows (more about it follows), it is NOT economic and cannot hold up the grid for very long. And since Tesla introduced its home grid ‘Powerwall’ s few years ago, the price has increased (not decreased, per Gigafactory promises) about 35% while the warranty was cut by about 1/3. Not a good economic deal.

Future battery possibilities

These tend to come in three hopium flavors.

First, nanotech will come to the rescue. Except all the examples to now were either frauds (Silurgy, NanoOne), or failures like A123 Systems, or speculations without even lab proof of concept like a recent WUWT post about lithium sulfur.

Second, flow batteries for the grid (where the charge is stored in the liquid electrolyte rather than in the electrodes, so with sufficiently big electrolyte tanks energy density is theoretically unlimited). Except all these various flow chemistries have commercially failed to date despite California encouragement and much VC investment. Low cycle life and/or high cost (bulk vanadium isn’t cheap, and cheap rhubarb hasn’t cycle life). See essay California Dreaming in ebook Blowing Smoke for several (now a bit dated) specific illustrated examples.

Third, exotic chemistries like sodium sulfur work, but are expensive and very high temperature. Lithium sulfur (a recent WUWT post on new theories about how to solve the two problems that still exist) are without even yet even lab proof of concept because of the inherent engineering difficulties of making one.

Two final definitional climate warrior ‘ammo’ reminders

First, batteries live in a DC world. Grids live in an AC world. There is always the significant added cost and limited reliability of the necessary high voltage high power DC/AC interfaces. Quoting battery cost without the unavoidable interface cost is intellectually dishonest. Tesla Powerwall 2 came in either DC only, or DC/AC integrated. The price difference in 2017 was about $1500 on a 14KWh base DC battery then about $5500. So about plus 30% for grid interface costs.

Second, using batteries to solve renewable grid intermittency is something touted by Elon Musk, and ‘gifted’ by him to South Australia after their 2016 renewable induced disastrous grid blackout. But Elon used a simple marketing ‘con’, same as the California flow batteries exposed in essay California Dreaming.

It is perfectly possible to truthfully specify a grid battery installation in MW. After all, it has those. BUT the grid intermittency relevant value is MWh (how long the battery lasts providing those vital MW of backup electricity). When the MWh answer is minutes while the grid MWh need is hours, the installed grid MW battery capacity joke is on you while your grid goes dark.

Elon ‘conned’ South Australia (IMHO to gain free ‘advertising’), and Australia’s MSM never caught on. Tesla’s Hornsdale, SA facility (below, now expanded by 50%) delivered 150 MW! But only 189MWh. It can hold up the SA grid for little more than an hour. The South Australia blackout duration depended on where you were; metropolitan Adelaide was restored first. Central Adelaide was dark for at least three hours. More symbolic hopium that doesn’t work in the real world.

4.9 44 votes
Article Rating
158 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
sadbutmadlad
December 19, 2020 10:13 am

Something Tesla does NOT say about its rapid charge stations. You can rapid charge often for convenience, but doing so will also kill your car’s Tesla battery quite early. Perhaps an undisclosed Tesla financial warranty liability?”

Tesla do know about it. Owners are only allowed to super charge a small number of times.

Enginer01
Reply to  sadbutmadlad
December 19, 2020 1:30 pm

I do not know how this addresses Tesla’s super charge problem, but VolvoTrucks, Sweden, rapidly charges large electrical buses at certain stops along the route, being only connected for seconds or a minute or two at the properly equipped sites.
https://insideevs.com/news/450649/volvo-buses-roofmounted-pantograph-too/
But as I have said in the past, the much-maligned Andrea Rossi will introduce in 2021a ZPE plasma-based electric source with an high COP. Since the E-Cat can power itself, once running without outside input, the actual coefficient of performance could be defined as infinite. A 2010 reference of Rossi is http://ingandrearossi.net/ and an up-to-date running commentary on the public demonstration planed for (early?) 2021 is at https://e-catworld.com/. According to several persons, actual R&D testing is in progress now. I believe these will greatly reduce the need for batteries, grid systems and OPEC.

MarkW
Reply to  Enginer01
December 19, 2020 1:58 pm

I’m guessing Rossi is running out of investor’s money.
There’s a reason why he’s much maligned, and it isn’t because others are jealous.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 10:00 pm

Sounds a lot like STEORN, an Irish company that reportedly produced a magnetic driven over-unity (perpetual) generator and the device to test it and prove it works.
Neither did but the test device did indicate OU output from their generator. Likely designed to, like climate models.

DMA
Reply to  Enginer01
December 19, 2020 2:38 pm

Brilliant Light Power is also developing a continuous heat source with enough COP to allow generation of electric power to run the reactor. https://brilliantlightpower.com/validation-report-of-100000-w-of-continuous-steam-production-by-the-suncell/
Here is a link to the validation report. Although I am skeptical of Rossi I have followed him closely and am hopeful that hat he has the goods and have no conclusive evidence that he doesn’t.

MarkW
Reply to  DMA
December 19, 2020 3:01 pm

As soon as you hear someone talking about zero point energy, grab onto your wallet because you are about to be scammed.

DMA
Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 3:25 pm

Mark
BrLP claims their energy comes from hydrogen atoms forming a state with lower energy level than previously considered possible. They have many sources of data that agree with that explanation. But more to the point they have a system that works and has been verified by independent observers.

Enginer01
Reply to  DMA
December 19, 2020 4:34 pm

Although it is rumoured that Leonardo is in bed with ABB Ltd and advised by Deloitte, it is anyone’s guess who will win this race to commercialize plasma-based energy. It has been likened to ball lightening, but the Safire project has released the most interesting (to me) information so far. Here is an independent writeup describing self-organizing plasmas and electron clusters.
https://e-catworld.com/2020/12/18/the-safire-plasma-reactor-the-breakdown-of-a-miracle-in-seven-steps/
It is of utmost importance to understand that most people working in this field see it as not an extension of LENR, but a clear jump beyond simple transmutation to a whole new paradigm.

michael hart
Reply to  Enginer01
December 19, 2020 9:49 pm

Rossi has had long enough now.
If I had a technology that worked as well as he claims then, several years ago, I would have set up company that makes out-door winter swimming pools heated by the prodigious amounts of heat he claims.

Honestly, there must be so many simple ways to make money from his claimed technology. Yet he has done none of them.
Occam’s Razor 1 Rossi 0

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  michael hart
December 20, 2020 2:54 am

But, but, but… once you have peeked into the perpetual energy flow how are you able to stop it? And you must solve that problem first.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  DMA
December 19, 2020 8:18 pm

Randy Mill’s BLP and its successors are a sophisticated fraud. Multiple reasons now named. Explained in my ebook, The Arts of Truth, in the Details chapter.
Contrary to your assertion here, there are NO confirming data sources. The sole one asserted by his only patent citation is blatantly impossible. See my explanation in chapter Details, in ebook Arts of Truth.

MarkW
Reply to  DMA
December 20, 2020 11:45 am

Unnamed independent observers. How impressive.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Enginer01
December 19, 2020 2:45 pm

Check this. if I recall correctly, most hybrid busses now use supercaps bothnin China and Europe, capable of rapid charging and discharging by definition. Almost an ideal application. Average city bus start/stop is between 30 seconds and one minute. ~10 second acceleration with cap discharge boost, ~10 second deceleration with cap recharge. Given electrical and thermal losses, top the cap bank off every so often after some number of route dependent stops. Only works for high stop density urban bus routes.

MarkW
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 19, 2020 3:04 pm

Provide some of the power needed to start those big busses, then get recharged, partly from regenerative breaking, and from the battery, ready to give a boost of power on the next start.
The only problem with regenerative breaking is that stop and go traffic with the bus never getting to a high speed is the worst possible scenario for regenerative breaks The higher the speed, the more power regenerative breaks create. The slower the speed, the less power they create.

Enginer01
Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 6:20 pm

Supercapacitors (and flywheels) overcome the major problem with LI batteries and regenerative braking, putting the energy of the inertia back in the battery by running the motors as generators. This problem is caused by the extraordinary heat (and shortened battery life) from jamming that high current back into the battery.

michael hart
Reply to  Enginer01
December 19, 2020 10:00 pm

I agree. Supercapacitors have a lot to offer (Though last time I checked up on them, word inflation had taken place and they were upgraded to ultracapacitors!) Particularly when they are married with the concept of structural batteries. The idea that a solid state energy storage material can also be used as a structural building material seems very attractive. If I had the money I would pursue a few of my own ideas.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  michael hart
December 21, 2020 5:35 pm

I did, and did. Hence my materials patents, and the usage knowledge hinted at here.

MarkW
Reply to  Enginer01
December 20, 2020 11:48 am

The problem is that the power created by a generator is directly proportional to how fast the generator is turning. The slower the bus goes, the less power you get out of regenerative breaks.

tty
Reply to  MarkW
December 20, 2020 2:39 pm

Really good capacitors would also eliminate the need to hospitalize victims of car crashes as well as burial costs. Filling in the craters might be expensive though.

Reply to  MarkW
December 21, 2020 8:56 am

stop and go traffic with the bus never getting to a high speed is the worst possible scenario for regenerative breaks”

Sure, if the busses are going faster, then more power & energy could be generated. But faster busses also require more energy to get up to speed. Conservation of energy and all that.

Stop-and-go traffic would seem to be the BEST scenario for regenerative breaking. Getting a 20 ton bus to 10 m/s requires adding KE = 1/2 m v^2 =0.5 x 20,000 kg x (10 m/s)^2 = 1 MJ of energy. Stopping the bus requires removing 1 MJ.

Making 10 stops at this speed WITHOUT regenerative brakes means ‘wasting’ 10 MJ in the form of heat in the break pads. Making 10 stops WITH regenerative braking means getting most of that 10 MJ back as energy in the batteries.

Whatever speed the bus is driving, the more frequent the stops, the more sense it makes to have regenerative brakes.

December 19, 2020 10:23 am

What is the difference between Li Ion and Li Polymer ?

Jeff Labute
Reply to  Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 1:10 pm

I think the basic differences are Li polymer (gel electrolyte) can more easily be constructed to various form factors to fit phones, laptops, etc, and LiPo are generally lighter which is better for RC vehicles. Differences between them are small and not enough start a revolution over.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Jeff Labute
December 19, 2020 2:52 pm

Yes. Lithium polymer IS a lithium Ion. Standard LiIon uses an aprotic organic solvent carrying the dissolved. electrolyte lithium salt. (That is why they catch on fire—it is the electrolyte solvent that starts thing off.) lithium polymer just uses a gelled electrolye. The disadvantages are two: lower power density, and bigger problems with the anode SEI layer that, like PbA sulfation, eventually kills cycle life.

MarkW
December 19, 2020 10:23 am

bulk vanadium isn’t cheap, and cheap rhubarb hasn’t cycle life

rhubarb?

Pauleta
Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 10:50 am

Jammed the words, I guess.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Pauleta
December 19, 2020 2:54 pm

Nope. For real, from Harvard. Rhubarb flow battery lab demo was illustrated in essay California Dreaming as almost a joke. Except not funny.

MarkW
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 19, 2020 3:05 pm

Speaking of jokes, I believe you missed Pauleta’s. Jam … rhubarb …

Rud Istvan
Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 8:24 pm

Probably, or maybe. Dunno.

Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 10:59 am

Rhubarb. https://www.popsci.com/michael-aziz-makes-battery-rhubarb-sort/

I shoulda paid better attention when Grampa tried to teach me how to grow the stuff!

Scissor
Reply to  Writing Observer
December 19, 2020 11:14 am

I wonder if strawberry rhubarb makes a good battery. Good pie in any case.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Scissor
December 19, 2020 4:12 pm

Try rhubarb cherry
Strawberries go mushy

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Scissor
December 19, 2020 7:29 pm

Rhubarb and strawberries have acid juices. Yeah you could make a battery with the pie. Don’t try it though, unless you want a strong zinc supplement!

Greg
Reply to  Writing Observer
December 19, 2020 11:16 am

Rhubarb: the most effective way to make children clean their teeth. 😉

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Writing Observer
December 19, 2020 11:35 am

But it was easy, back in Grampa’s day when the roads were clogged with the “refuse” from all those horses. Rhubarb loves horse manure!

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Writing Observer
December 19, 2020 4:11 pm

If you can’t grow rhubarb you have deep issues. You have to actively work to keep it from growing

Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 11:22 am

Nice in pies!

Gary K Hoffman
Reply to  JOHN T. SHEA
December 19, 2020 12:44 pm

Just not cow pies.

Nick Schroeder
December 19, 2020 10:37 am

Electricity in general and batteries and nuclear in particular do nothing about the climate change non-problem unless and until the transportation sector gets electricated.

And the mess and expense of that means – NEVER!!!!!!!!!!

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
December 19, 2020 11:06 am

China is still building out its high speed electrified train network. The Greens tout it as part of China’s “climate leadership”. But China is powering the electric trains with new coal-fired generation stations, and will for the forseeable future. Renewable wind and solar power, by their intermittency do not allow them as feasible power sources for the the Chicoms electric trains.

Coal-powered electric trains is not something the Greens like to admit is happening there. But it is. It is just one of those dishonest “Don’t look behind the curtain” to see where the actual emissions are. Except for nuclear and hydro power, there are no emissions free-lunches.

Peter Machen
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 19, 2020 1:17 pm

And more recently, NOT with Australian high quality coal….ie higher emissions ( if that really matters it’s air quality not temperature).

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
December 19, 2020 11:15 am

Unfortunately, Biden’s pick for DOE, Granholm, has a record of wasting huge sums of government money on ideas that don’t work or are too expensive to be viable. Anyone remember SolarOvonics? They got piles of money from MI and went out of business shortly after the line was finally up and running. Lots of contactors never got paid.

So never, just means wasting money on these ideas forever.

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
December 19, 2020 3:55 pm

She also went on stage and awarded a $9 million tax credit to an utter fraud named Richard Short:

https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2010/03/state_officials_embarrassed_af.html

Mike O'Ceirin
December 19, 2020 10:47 am

I am Australian and know quite well about the Hornsdale battery. It has made money for the owners which is no longer Tesla. It runs on the principle of buy cheap sell dear.

Suppose the aim is to stabilise a single 100 MW wind power station. Overall wind on average produces 29.4% of its plate capacity. Such a power station to be stable should be producing 29.4 MW. That is 29.4 megawatt hours per hour. Over the 33 hours of our wind drought in June on average 970 megawatt hours would be produced. With energy storage we must be able to maintain that. In the wind drought mentioned only 6 MWh per hour was produced. That is 198 megawatt hours. So, to keep running the amount of energy stored must be 772 MW hours. The Hornsdale battery now according to Wikipedia has a capacity of 192 megawatt hours at a cost of 161 million. Scaling that up means $647 million. First and foremost the problem with batteries is they are just not big enough to be anything other than a toy when it comes to stabilising renewable energy.

I have done a lot of work on this and actually I have a model online that does the best can on real data to calculate the capacity needed. They are so large it is almost beyond comprehension.

Willem post
Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
December 19, 2020 1:23 pm

You forget to mention about a 20% loss from HV AC to HV AC, because the battery system draws from the HV grid and delivers to the HV grid.

Always use A-to-Z basis, to compare apples to apples.

Reply to  Willem post
December 19, 2020 3:02 pm

In the case of SA, the input of from the local wind park, I am not sure what these deliver, I suppose that is AC with a variable frequency, depending of the wind force and thus the speed of the generator. At maximum medium voltage, not extremely high and probably less loss to convert to the battery storage voltage…

Mike O'Ceirin
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 19, 2020 3:57 pm

I can easily find out exactly what they deliver I have all that data but it is just not worth it as I said in my reply just above. The disparity is almost beyond comprehension. When you cost it just the wind turbines and the battery to get on average 29.4 MW is about $1 billion.

Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
December 20, 2020 1:42 pm

Yes the required backup costs are staggering. See my https://www.cfact.org/2019/04/26/batteries-cannot-make-renewables-reliable/

Mike O'Ceirin
Reply to  Willem post
December 19, 2020 3:54 pm

No I didn’t forget the shortfall is so vast it is not worth bothering about. The point is no battery yet built comes anywhere near supporting even a 100 MW wind power station.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
December 20, 2020 3:16 am

Did you also take into account that the wind park must not just serve the grid when the wind eventually returns but also has to reload the battery?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
December 20, 2020 1:33 pm

The actual use of the battery has nothing to do with the power output of the wind farm. You can see that in this scatter plot of power input and output of both the Hornsdale wind farm and the battery taken at 5 minute resolution over 13th/14th December. (note I do not know if the embed form of the link will work/be allowed, so I have also included a straight link)

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/h5lj6/1/<script type=”text/javascript”>!function(){“use strict”;window.addEventListener(“message”,(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data[“datawrapper-height”])for(var e in a.data[“datawrapper-height”]){var t=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-“+e)||document.querySelector(“iframe[src*='”+e+”‘]”);t&&(t.style.height=a.data[“datawrapper-height”][e]+”px”)}}))}();
</script>

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/h5lj6/1/

The wind farm even has some recorded negative output when it is producing nothing, but consuming power to keep the shafts from brinelling.

There is a further clue when you look at the battery action in relation to regional grid prices (at 5 minute resolution, and a source for the scatter plot above)

http://nemlog.com.au/nem/unit/HPRG1:HPRL1/20201213/20201214

and the wind farm

http://nemlog.com.au/nem/unit/HDWF/20201213/20201214

But in fact a significant portion of the battery activity and income is in providing ancillary services – specifically, short term injections or withdrawals of power to help balance the grid overall. In Australia this is known as the FCAS market. YOu can look at that here:

http://nemlog.com.au/nlog/weekly-energy-and-fcas-revenues-for-participant/

Chris Morris
December 19, 2020 11:01 am

I think you have over-creditted the SA Tesla battery capacity. The SA grid is typically about 2000MW, so the battery (if fully charged at start) will only give the equivalent of about 5 minutes power. It will discharge over an hour because its discharge capacity is limited but only in a small grid supporting role. The heavy lifting needs to be done by GTs or the diesels, which also provide the inertia and a stable voltage/phase signal to run the DC to AC converters.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 19, 2020 11:51 am

I’m confused…there’s a big difference by 5 minutes vs. two hours (which sounds a bit optimistic). More info would be appreciated from Rud and others for those of us who know nothing about this.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
December 19, 2020 12:23 pm

I think the terms are confusing.

My calculations show that the battery holds enough energy to potentially power the SA grid for a few minutes (5 seems about right, but I made it 3). That is, of course, impossible, because the energy cannot ve extracted that quickly.

The article points out that the battery can deliver energy for less than 2 hours at full discharge rate (in MW) once the battery is full of energy (in MWh).

So the battery can deliver a very small %age of the SA grid needs for an hour and a half or so, if full.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
December 19, 2020 12:31 pm

Perhaps I should have been a bit clearer about Hornsdale in the 2016 comparison. While the whole SA grid is significantly larger (the 5 minute estimate in the comments), Adelaide is only a portion of it, the city center only a portion of that. The Adelaide ONLY outage was about 3 hours downtown, 4 in the suburbs. In the example comparison, the Hornsdale battery could only support the downtown for about 1/3 of its actual outage duration, and significantly less than that if Adelaide’s suburbs are added.

The Adelaide example ‘works’ because downtown and the suburbs are on several different isolatable subgrids. That is pretty much a standard grid architecture. Adelaide came back while the rest of SA stayed dark.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 19, 2020 1:18 pm

Thanks for that Rud and Zig Zag.

So am I correct in that the battery could in theory supply downtown Adelaide for 1 (maybe 2) hours or the entire state for about 3-5 minutes…but in reality it can cannot discharge fast enough to support the whole grid for even a few minutes. So it will actually only be able to support small bits of the grid for maybe an hour or two. And at a huge capital cost to the poor taxpayers (but to the huge joy of Tesla shareholders).

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
December 19, 2020 2:59 pm

You got it, Alistair.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 19, 2020 1:22 pm

Yeah Rud’s mistake was saying “It can hold up the SA grid for little more than an hour.” Which is pretty obviously untrue. It can supply about 10% of SA energy requirements for a couple of hours. Until prices come down it doesn’t make sense to do more.

Chris Morris
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
December 19, 2020 1:45 pm

From the AEMO data I have seen, there are significant numbers of times when there is a wind drought in SA/ Victoria. That means they need to fire up the GTs or import a lot more on the Heywoods line from the coal burners. If they are going to phase out, gas and coal, then they need a massive amount of batteries to do that for even an hour’s supply, let alone a day.. Yet the batteries were sold to the public as solving the power crisis. Battery storage could solve SA “power crisis” in 100 days, says Tesla | RenewEconomy Yet they have installed more diesels than batteries.
Back-up power stations to prevent SA blackouts privatised but will contribute more to grid – ABC News That I believe is the point of Rud’s post.
And they can’t run an “affordable” stable grid, no matter how many batteries, on asynchronous power. Lack of inertia, one of Rud’s previous posts, is just one of the reasons.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 19, 2020 1:59 pm

I think you’re barking up the wrong tree with your inertia argument. Batteries are better than mechanical inertia.

I agree that SA needs reliable baseload. Or at least redundancies with its interconnections.

Chris Morris
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
December 19, 2020 2:04 pm

With regards to inertia, so says a man who doesn’t work in a generation or grid company.

Reply to  Chris Morris
December 19, 2020 3:18 pm

Chris, 70% of the battery pack is reserved for grid frequency stabilisation when necessary and it seems to work much faster than any mechanical device:

http://reneweconomy.com.au/tesla-big-battery-outsmarts-lumbering-coal-units-after-loy-yang-trips-70003/

But just for a few minutes, then some other generators must take over…

Chris Morris
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 19, 2020 4:40 pm

You have to program deadband into grid batteries for frequency support. That is what the batteries do and they are faster than conventional plants’ governor droop control. It is not inertia. Inertia is there to buy you time until protection, fast response generation and droop control kick in To illustrate why batteries aren’t inertia, what happens when you have an overfrequency or nearby line to earth fault??

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 20, 2020 12:20 am

You have to program deadband into grid batteries for frequency support.”

Chris, batteries are essentially new into grids. How they’re used today isn’t necessarily how they’ll be used when there are many more of them.

Both inertia and batteries perform exactly the same function. They’re both energy storage except mechanical inertia has the plus of initially keeping frequency but the big minus of losing it and stored energy anywhere from slowly to quickly depending on the load. A battery doesn’t suffer from that.

Tell me what is fundamentally wrong with batteries compared to mechanical inertia?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 20, 2020 2:15 pm

During that Loy Yang trip, which was about a 500MW loss to the grid, the battery provided a maximum of 7MW. It was provided within a second of the trip, which was good. But the contribution was gnat’s p*ss. What Giles Parkinson failed to acknowledge is that inertia (converting rotational flywheel energy to extra electricity) is provided entirely automatically by all the heavy spinning turbines and motors connected to the grid, and it behaves according to the laws of physics – and it comes for free where the generator or motor is already operating. It’s the first line of defence when there is a trip, giving vital seconds to allow extra fuel input to help ramp up the output of generators that are on standby to increase output during such events (the “spinning reserve”): these are the ones that really prevent the grid from falling over, by providing the bulk of the replacement power. But without inertia, the grid frequency would fall very rapidly, and cause trips that would lead to a complete blackout. Parkinson is confusing the speed of response of the spinning reserve with inertia: they are not the same thing at all.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
December 20, 2020 10:22 pm

But without inertia, the grid frequency would fall very rapidly, and cause trips that would lead to a complete blackout. Parkinson is confusing the speed of response of the spinning reserve with inertia: they are not the same thing at all.”

And this represents how batteries are used today. A battery doesn’t have to “respond”. A battery can, in principle, be continually supplying energy into the grid or charged by the grid to manage over frequency.

A battery continually supplying energy into the grid is better than a heavy spinning mass because it doesn’t slow down, nor does it take time to speed up. A battery can perfectly match frequency at all loads.

But you wouldn’t do it with today’s batteries. We need better and definitely cheaper batteries to make that a reality.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
December 22, 2020 5:01 am

A battery has a very limited capacity. Noone in their right mind would consider using them as large scale grid storage, for which (pumped) hydro is clearly the only half sensible alternative where the geography permits.

The flimsiness of the Musk battery in South Australia was illustrated by the sky high FCAS costs in the aftermath of the loss of the Heywood connector at the end of January. Wind had to be forced offline with negative prices to give headroom to inertia providers, who had to be compensated for the negative prices in order to run. It did allow the battery to make obscene profits – something that it was supposed to prevent.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 20, 2020 3:57 pm

The Loy Yang trip in perspective

BSAB Loy Yang.png
TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 20, 2020 12:06 am

I spent over 20 years in the industry. But thanks for playing.

Chris Morris
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
December 22, 2020 10:18 am

There are lots of people in the “power” industry who don’t know what you have to do to sync a machine to the grid (and don’t say just push the autosync button), had the DCS go black or have been in a control room when there has been a frequency excursion, especially one caused by your own plant. It is seat of the pants stuff that you can’t learn from a textbook or even worse, a few Utube videos. And everything you have written indicates you are one of those with no experience.

MarkW
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
December 19, 2020 3:13 pm

No they aren’t. You have to carefully design the feedback, and when you have hundreds of batteries each trying to “support” the grid what you end up with is more instability, not less.

Chris Morris
Reply to  MarkW
December 20, 2020 8:02 pm

I agree and can add to that Mark. There is a lot of problems on the Oz grid at present with the frequency bouncing around between the limits. This is mainly caused by the inbalance that the constantly varying wind brings. As well as frequency, there are voltage fluctuations. Many of the swings aren’t large enough to trigger FFR, but they make operation of conventional plant hard. Try synchronising to an unstable grid. It invariably gives a fair thump to the units. Here is the AEMO’s take on it.
https://aemo.com.au/-/media/files/electricity/nem/security_and_reliability/ancillary_services/frequency-and-time-error-reports/quarterly-reports/2020/frequency-and-time-error-monitoring-3rd-quarter-2020.pdf?la=en
Figure 5 shows the instability.

And most grids have a rule that causer pays. But renewables get a free pass for the havoc they cause. The remedies to the instability from wind and solar on the grid should be paid for by them, not the customer.

RickWill
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
December 19, 2020 9:24 pm

South Australia has already installed synchronous condensers and there are more to come to provide the grid inertia. Batteries provide fast response but still takes time respond. Inertia is there immediately but is limited in ability to respond. Basically inertia buys time and the faster the system response, the less inertia needed. But SA still needed some rotating inertia.

The synchronous condensers will avoid the need for generators to be connected and spinning. The condensers do not consume much energy to keep them spinning, unlike gas plant that needs to be hot.
https://www.electranet.com.au/projects/synchronous-condensers/#
I cannot find for certain that first one has been energised – info, it is close. I expect its operation will be welcomed with considerable fanfare.

Chris Morris
Reply to  RickWill
December 19, 2020 10:07 pm

Rick – synchronous condensers do take quite a bit of energy to keep them spinning. Remember, they are not directly connected to the grid but fed from a stepdown transformer. The iron and copper losses there are probably about 3%, especially as everyone buys lowest capital cost items. Then there are windage and other losses inside the condenser itself. Say that adds just 1%. On a 100MVA condenser, which would add maybe 400MWs (the units of inertia), it will cost the grid about 4MW on a continuous basis. If fitted with a flywheel, which I believe the SA ones will be, the inertia maybe doubles and the load would go up a bit
To quote AEMO from their August 2020 report “While the minimum threshold level of inertia remains at 4,400 megawatt-seconds (MWs), the secure operating level of inertia requirement has changed. In current and forecast power system conditions, without more fast frequency response (FFR), the inertia required to operate South Australia securely as an island is calculated to be at least 7,605 MWs in 2020-21 and 14,390 MWs in 2021-22. Installing the quantity of synchronous machines needed within South Australia to meet this requirement is not feasible.”

The battery is FFR so not directly convertable to MWs. AEMO say “at night-time if 100 MW of FFR was provided in the region, then a total of 6,800 MWs of synchronous inertia would be required to remain secure. In the daytime, if 200 MW of FFR was provided then 6,200 MWs of synchronous inertia would be needed.” So to have a all renewable system, they would need a ridiculous number of those condensers, and FFR batteries and a permanent load on the grid about over 100MW. All paid for by the consumer.

RickWill
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 19, 2020 10:41 pm

The condensers are forecast to provide a saving through a reduction in fuel and wear and tear on gas turbines. At present, the gas plant are ‘ordered’ to stay on line for stability reasons even if the price is negative and orders come with compensation.

When the Vic link was out early in 2020 the orders added massive cost to wind generators such that they just stopped generating.

Chris Morris
Reply to  RickWill
December 19, 2020 11:16 pm

From my reading of the report, even with the four flywheeled synchronous condensers, the level of gas turbine running has to stay about the same – two units in service. This is because inertia requirements have gone up as they now consider the embedded PV, not just the windfarms. And as PV goes higher, the level of FFR goes very high. It is basically one for one. So on a sunny day, many of the windfarms will be dispatched off (but consumers will still pay)

RickWill
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 20, 2020 12:27 am

If you have solar panels and they are not constrained then you can make money.

I live in Victoria and am ahead on all household energy costs since installing a wood burner last year. I have 3kW on grid and 3kW off grid but a very handsome FIT of 66c/kWh. So I can make money on energy by exporting as much electricity as available. My minimum energy account balance was $30. I have a friend who has had around $2000 income from electricity exported for the last 9 years.

Not everyone pays. In SA it is economic for those with cash to go off grid. A battery system may take 10 years to pay back; less if you maximise subsidies. That is way better than the current cash rate of 0.9%. Without immigration, Australia has a rapidly ageing population so TD rates will stay long for a long time.

The emerging issue is the ability of the grid to back feed. My neighbour installed a 6kW system this year at a cost to him of $3000 and every sunny day since July my system has been constrained by over voltage at least some time through the day. That has been a common occurrence in SA for about 4 years now but the distributers are adding automatic tap changers at distribution level to overcome that issue.

Fundamentally there is no benefit of scale with weather dependent generators so better to have them on the roof then paying grid scale generators to stuff up the system when everyone with a roof can do it and get paid for it.

Drake
Reply to  RickWill
December 21, 2020 12:25 pm

And require everyone without the rooftop system, or even a rooftop, to subsidize the cost of “adding automatic tap changers at distribution level” to make your profitable rooftop system profitable.

Business ventures, by there nature, require the “seller” to provide to the “buyer” a product or service at a price agreeable to both. You are “selling” to buyers who have no choice in the transaction, except to vote out the politicians who put the requirement to pay you for your crap power and to allow you to draw from the grid when the sun goes down. The instability that your neighbor caused by adding his system is just one example of why the rooftop subsidies and paybacks should never have happened. You got in early and have made money of the backs of ditch diggers and convenience store clerks who cannot afford to benefit from the things you have the funds to invest in. But they are paying to subsidize your profits.

I would like to see a full change of “renewables” laws to reflect the actual cost to the grid of your unstable distributed generation, and all unreliable generation, so that the cost of backup power and grid stabilization is charged to the providers of the unstable power. Or better yet, require small “providers” such as yourself be disconnected from the grid entirely and provide your own stable and continuous power supply. Having read many of your previous posts regarding your individual situation, I assume you are actually working toward that, but the cost of batteries and sufficient solar panels and power conversion equipment to provide ALL of your own power is probably beyond even your recourses. Even if you can afford it I doubt you would be willing to give up the comfort of the grid and that it would not be cost beneficial to you to buy and maintain what is necessary to do so.

Although it may seem that I am attacking you for what you have done, I am not. I am just disgusted with your self serving desire to perpetuate the system that benefits YOU while harming others as per your comment:

Fundamentally there is no benefit of scale with weather dependent generators so better to have them on the roof then paying grid scale generators to stuff up the system when everyone with a roof can do it and get paid for it.

Not “everyone” can do it!

As much as I am against all the minimum “renewable” requirements and subsidies, I was really happy when NV energy started to fill the state mandated “renewable” quota with grid scale generation to eliminate the roof top subsidies because grid scale is MORE STABLE than distributed rooftop solar as you above comment about your neighbor’s system suggests. And it is also much less expensive to the other ratepayers than small home systems.

I think the first step in correcting the individual rooftop system problem would be to going to net metering where system owners get charged for the net power they use and never get paid for the disruptive “excess” power returned to the system.

Reply to  Chris Morris
December 20, 2020 10:48 am

Maybe a question for the future:

Today all wind turbines and solar panels use the grid frequency to push their yield into the grid. That makes that these have zero inertia, even make it worse if there are too many of them on the grid when there is a sudden disturbance.

What if all these single converters could be synchronised from a central clock? Can that help to have a pseudo-inertia?
Just a thought…

MarkW
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 20, 2020 11:56 am

I don’t know if synchronizing everything to a single clock is even possible. Remember that each energy source is not in the same location, and it takes time for a signal to travel from one point to another. Worse, changing environmental conditions can influence the transmission speed.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
December 20, 2020 10:46 pm

Ferdinand
To be of use to the grid, the plant has to be in lockstep with it. To sync to the grid, you have to have frequency, phase angle and voltage very close to the grid’s local conditions. And the latter two vary over the grid. If you are just a little out, you do a lot of damage trying to pull a unit in. And as Mark points out, you couldn’t do the frequency.
Even asynchronous generators need the grid to give them the local conditions. But the variable output means the voltage and phase angle aren’t that stable. That is why they generally have a switchyard nearby full of statcons. And why they are prone to a lot of trippings. The variable output as well as variable load is why it is near impossible to have anything like a stable frequency without inertia. Same as a car engine without a flywheel. It’s near undrivable.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 21, 2020 3:55 am

as Mark points out, you couldn’t do the frequency.”

In the case where you hypothetically worked from a global time signal, you wouldn’t use the signal to “blindly” set frequency. Of course you come in to the local frequency. You’d use the global time signal to keep from drifting out of phase with distant parts of the network.

Consider the following network. Between every generator and the grid is a battery. No generator is locked to the grid frequency, inertia is irrelevant and instead the batteries maintain the grid frequency.

As long as the batteries never hit their maximum power output, the grid will never go under or over frequency because increases or decreases in load simply change the power draw, and no longer physically slow a turbine.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Chris Morris
December 20, 2020 1:53 pm

The battery is limited in any event by its charging and discharging maximum capacity. So it can only supply 150MW or under 5% of the peak demand in South Australia (which can exceed 3GW on a really hot day). It is further limited because its capacity is divided between a portion reserved by the State government, and the normal commercial operation, which now appears to stick within -/+80MW rates of charge and discharge (as can be seen in the plots I posted above).

Before being upgraded, it did operate at its then 100MW capacity during one hot spell, but being limited by its 129MWh capacity, soon ran out of puff. It was able to capture the top A$14,000+/MWh price allowed for its output. At that stage it normally operated at first at -/+30MW, with supposedly 70MWh of storage reserved to the government. Then it started to operate within -40MW/+30MW, reflecting the fact that it suffers a round trip loss, and so needs to spend more time charging than discharging if the flows are equal.

Please see my post above for more detail on the actual battery operation.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
December 21, 2020 1:06 pm

You’re missing the point. I’m dispelling the myth that inertia is important Its the grids achilles heel. In the future when batteries are prelavent inertia will be irrelevant.

I’m not trying to say things are different to what they are now.

TimTheToolMan
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
December 22, 2020 12:01 am

Apparently I’m missing the point because in the mobile app, this looked to be in response to my post above. All good. Carry on then…

Greg
December 19, 2020 11:14 am

“So here is a bit more WUWT fact ammo for the maybe coming renewed climate war.”

I’m sorry to say that I think the other side have proven themselves pretty immune to logic, facts and other such white privileged manifestation of the patriarchy.

The last ten years of factual rebuttal to climate stupidity has been woefully ineffective.

There is one definition of insanity: repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results. I’m always interested to learn stuff myself regarding such information as “ammo” has been shown to be the proverbial knife at a gun fight.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Greg
December 19, 2020 3:57 pm

Your salient point was also made many times in my 2014 ebook Blowing Smoke. In fact, I even (via an essay footnote to Vaclav Klaus 2007 book Blue Planet in Green Chains) labeled the climate alarmists as ‘Warmunists’, deliberately with all the related connotations.

BUT, I also think ‘our side—WuWT’ also needs to respond only with facts. There is too much skeptical silly stuff presenting easy warmunist counters. Stupid stuff like CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas (disproven experimentally by Tyndall in 1859).
That ignorant our side crap must stop. I have commented on this in three recent ‘rumination’ posts.

RickWill
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 19, 2020 9:37 pm

There is no “Greenhouse Effect” that alters the energy balance on Earth. The energy balance is controlled by two powerful thermostatic responses related to the phase change of ice, one on the sea surface and the other in the atmosphere above the sea surface.

It is physically impossible for open sea water to be cooler than 271.3K and physically impossible for open ocean water to exceed 305K. And these limits have nothing to do with the “Greenhouse Effect”.

Ocean heat uptake drops dramataclly once the sea surface reaches 28.5C such that it rarely exceeds 30C and there is only one isolated, land locked part of the sea surface that regularly exceeds 32C. This is the net energy uptake across all tropical oceans for January 2020 – the month of greatest energy uptake by the planet.

RickWill
Reply to  RickWill
December 19, 2020 9:38 pm

Image that did not post

Screen Shot 2020-12-20 at 4.32.00 pm.png
Rud Istvan
Reply to  RickWill
December 20, 2020 6:49 pm

Rick, you arena double example of my complaint. Your posted chart suffices. Presumably from an El Nino. It shows a higher end than beginning temp. You fail.

markl
December 19, 2020 11:28 am

Most people don’t understand the electricity grid beyond a wall receptacle. They also believe grid level batteries are practical (SA grid ‘held up’ for an hour? Really? Are you sure?). Like our politics, science and engineering have been effectively co opted by the media and people believe what the propaganda tells them until reality smacks them in the face. The smacks are only beginning with renewable energy and I wonder how many it will take before they realize the misinformation.

Michael J Kelly
December 19, 2020 11:39 am

The many problems with batteries
When you raise the question of the futility of attempts to electrify the economy and the cost of renewables, someone always
raises the subject of battery storage. An Extinction Rebellion
protestor recently promised me that the back-up electricity for
major UK hospitals would be provided by batteries by 2025.
However, a brief glance at the numbers shows that this cannot be true. The £45 million battery installed by Elon Musk
outside Adelaide, South Australia, can power that city for 30
minutes. It would power the emergency wards (20% of total
demand) of Addenbrooke‘s Hospital in Cambridge for 24 hours
on a single 80–20% discharge. Back-up is currently provided by
3
two 1500-kVA diesel generators, which run for as long as fuel
is available and cost £250,000. So if you wanted to be able to
cover a week’s power outage after a major storm, it would cost
around 1300 times as much using batteries as it would with
diesel generators. The idea is ludicrous, and it would be equally
foolish to apply batteries anywhere else on this scale.
From: https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2020/05/KellyDecarb-1.pdf

Paul C
December 19, 2020 11:59 am

Then there is the issue that even if the mythical super battery (that is always just one leap of a unicorn into the future) was suddenly available, it would not need unreliables to charge it up. A large grid scale battery could be charged every night by the excess capacity of conventional generation. Allowing conventional power plants to run closer to their highest efficiency would save vast amounts of fuel, and save the entire capital and environmental costs of the unreliable systems.

Devils Tower
December 19, 2020 12:07 pm

Comments not working on Firefox, only chrome.

Not acceptable

Devils Tower
Reply to  Devils Tower
December 19, 2020 12:14 pm

Also hoping for a thread about this.

It looks like there is a short term peak an the daily sunspot number arount the jup/sat major conjunction

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Devils Tower
December 19, 2020 3:39 pm

This reply is on Firefox.

Devils_Tower
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 19, 2020 3:47 pm

Tablet vs or desktop, use tablet

saveenergy
Reply to  Devils Tower
December 20, 2020 1:16 am

I’m on firefox

Kevin A
December 19, 2020 12:10 pm

YAM (Yet Another Miracle) QuantumScape, a 10-year-old San Jose, California has resolved lithium’s problems, and that VW, the giant German automaker, expects to have cars using pure metallic lithium in their batteries. https://bit.ly/3amhBy2
So many wondrous battery technologies all ‘about’ to burst onto the market yet every year I replace my snowmobile battery…

Chuck_M
December 19, 2020 12:15 pm

The PDUP battery solves these problems. However, finding the gigatons of Pixie Dust and Unicorn Poop to produce them has been the challenge.

dodgy geezer
December 19, 2020 12:36 pm

No one has mentioned the biggest problem with batteries.

This is that stored energy is VERY dangerous. It is dangerous in any form – living downstream from a dam or next to a coal storage facility is dangerous, but these are energy sources which take some time to expend their power. A battery can do this almost immediately.

Storing enough energy to run grids involves storing energy amounts of nuclear weapons order. If it all comes out at once.. ..

Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 19, 2020 1:47 pm

I still want a depleted uranium fly wheel.

MarkW
Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 19, 2020 2:07 pm

There is zero chance that all the energy in a coal storage facility will all come out at once.
There is zero chance that all the energy in an oil storage facility will all come out at once.
There is a non-zero chance that all the energy in a natural gas facility will all come out at once, but it would take a very specialized and highly unlikely combination of circumstances for that to happen.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  dodgy geezer
December 19, 2020 3:42 pm

dodgy, not going to happen. The internal resistance of the battery will make sure of that. Now, a capacitor with 75 kW-hrs capacity could very well be a problem.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 19, 2020 5:13 pm

Internal resistence plays no role in battery fires.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Curious George
December 20, 2020 3:46 am

Come on, internal resistence is the reason it becomes hot.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Curious George
December 22, 2020 6:46 am

It absolutely plays a role in how fast you can discharge the energy stored in a battery. dodgy geezer was envisioning the battery as a bomb. Still not gonna happen.

Tom
December 19, 2020 12:54 pm

This is just a question for Rud about grid inertia.If you have generators connected and spinning, more or less synchronously (not generating or generating only a little), does that provide any grid inertia?

Chris Morris
Reply to  Tom
December 19, 2020 1:53 pm

The amount of inertia provided by a synchronised generator is basically independent of load. However, most thermal plant has a minimum load, which can be quite high. . For some of the Australian coal burners, it is 40-50%. GTs can be lower, down at 10 or even 5%. However, they are inefficient at low loads, hard to keep stable and have a much reduced operating life.
If you want inertia, you either use the generator from a decommissioned station with just a pony motor to get it up to speed, or a special built unit that does the same function. They are often called synchronous condensers, as they generally provide negative VARs to counteract the inductance of transformers.. They are expensive to run and don’t provide as much inertia as a turbine generator unless they have a flywheel added.

MarkW
Reply to  Tom
December 19, 2020 2:08 pm

Keeping them synchronized without being hooked to the grid and supplying power is pretty difficult.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Tom
December 19, 2020 3:12 pm

Absolutely yes. And Not just spinning reserves. In the US as old coal generation is decommissioned, it is common for the turbine to be (literally) cut off, the lube system reworked, and then old generator left on line housed in a new smaller building as an almost cost free synchronous condenser already grid connected. That leaves the grid inertia intact around which the grid was designed, while removing the uneconomic generation. GE has a business doing this.
(In my previous post, I simplified/skipped complicated AC stuff. Grid inertia is related to reactive power. You want to nip that in the bud, and NOT let it propagate. So more local grid inertia is always better from a grid inertia perspective).

Tom
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 19, 2020 4:17 pm

Thanks, Rud.

December 19, 2020 12:55 pm

All F1 cars have been hybrids since 2014.

And that’s a Ferrari in the photo, not a Mercedes.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  rpn453
December 19, 2020 3:26 pm

You might be right. I researched this long ago and was writing mostly from memory (in your example) about the mandated F1 2010 KERS system applied to the V8 engines. Circa 2010-2012. I only refreshed memory with new research on key points, not even Fiskers. Just looked, and the switch to V6 engines in 2014 appears to have been partly hybrid enabled. Did not pursue further, since this post was mainly about grid batteries for intermittency.
Thank you for the F1 correction. Why WUWT is so important.

Climate believer
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 20, 2020 3:11 am

Interesting article Mr Istvan, that’s a photo of a 2009 KERS unit overheating on Kimi Raikkonen’s car at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. 😉

RickWill
Reply to  rpn453
December 19, 2020 5:37 pm

The MGU technology in F1 continues to progress. They are now running the turbo off electric and use that as generator as well for ending braking; no longer turbo lag. The actual IC part continues to get smaller and the electric part bigger with electrics aimed at energy recovery rather than dissipation. The F1 engine makers are getting heavy into power electronics and integrating these high power electrics into the engine.

The F1 technology bodes well for hybrids as they are always pushing the engineering limits.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  RickWill
December 19, 2020 7:22 pm

Hey. I bought my first hybrid in 2007, well before F1 started experimenting. Explained in detail why in the main post. Been there, done that.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  RickWill
December 19, 2020 7:32 pm

Plus, a second comment about F1 hybrids. My patents enable supercaps about 30% smaller with equivalent energy density and about double the power density of what was available with KERS then. liIon has also improved since then.
i have been a big fan of hybrids, since bought my first in 2007, explained in text. NOT a fan of full EV

Ben Vorlich
December 19, 2020 1:16 pm

From a UK perspective my problem with battery storage is supplying 80% of demand for a couple of weeks in winter. Assuming you can have enough battery power in the first place. In the scenario of a blocking high in winter discharging the storage totally, how long will it take to recharge in low wind conditions. Discounting solar for 6 months in a UK winter. The grid demand will remain high or very high so there will be little spare to recharge the system for the next blocking high needing 80% backup for a week. The technology doesn’t really matter for this to be an unsolvable problem.

RickWill
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
December 19, 2020 5:51 pm

I doubt there will ever be a battery technology that would make 2 weeks supply viable. Would be lower cost to run a little generator now and then over the period to charge a battery.

I run partially offered in Melbourne Australia. To get 2.5kWh daily from solar I need 3kW of panels aimed at getting winter sun through the day (1kW NE, 1kW N and 1kW NW) charging a 5kW battery. Battery cut out on 2 days in 2020 but only 3 days, 1 day at a time, in the previous 9 years. System is now 10 years old and has more than paid for itself because I get 66c/kWh FIT on grid solar.

I expect that in the near future we will see hybrid home systems that have solar, battery and some form of hydrocarbon or hydrogen fuelled generator. Houses connected to NG could use that as their fuel source.

saveenergy
Reply to  RickWill
December 20, 2020 1:46 am

“Houses connected to NG could use that as their fuel source”

A report, from the UK Committee on Climate Change, recommends… “New homes should be banned from connecting to the gas grid within six years to tackle climate change”

Jordan
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
December 20, 2020 2:07 am

Ben – the problem compounds when considering both the total MWh storage capacity, plus the required MW to satisfy demand when other sources of power are short.

MW capacity has to be considered for the charging part of the cycle too. If charging MW is below the level of surplus power (when it happens), a battery system would miss the opportunity to store the available energy.

And then there’s turnaround efficiency, which means 25% of the surplus energy would be lost.

Another relevant matter. If we have installed X MWh of storage as the maximum capacity, the available (free) storage at any time will depend on the storage operating level. If the immediate future has unpredictable surplus and shortage of intermittent sources with equal probability of surplus vs shortage, the optimum planned operating point for battery storage would be 50% capacity. This keeps planned available (free) capacity at any time to absorb an unpredicted surplus or to serve an unpredicted shortage. The practical capacity of the battery is therefore X/2 MWh for X MWh installed capacity.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
December 20, 2020 3:01 pm

You are right to worry. Though now they have realised that batteries are not able to cut the mustard, the talk is all about pumped hydro and hydrogen for providing longer term storage, on top of some highly dubious assumptions about using everybody’s EV batteries under V2G. This paper

https://www.jacobs.com/sites/default/files/2020-10/Jacobs-Strategy-for-Long-Term-Energy-Storage-in-UK-August-2020.pdf

is regarded as cutting edge by BEIS and the CCC. Yet they haven’t a clue where to find the pumped hydro sites they claim are needed, and their methodology for assessing the storage needs is rudimentary in the extreme: they assume for one thing that interconnectors can be used as a sort of offshore storage, when it is likely that we will be encountering much the same weather enough of the time to mean that there is either a general shortage or surplus in a high renewables world.

Here’s the procedure:

<blockquote>we have carried out a high-level modeling exercise utilizing
historic generation data provided by Elexon (via Grid Watch), together with historic
demand and interconnector data provided by National Grid (Data Explorer).
A future projection for the expected situation in 2030
has been prepared by factoring the 2018 Elexon data
to reflect the predicted generation capacities and
demand projections given in Future Energy Scenarios.</blockquote>

That is, they have taken just one year’s data and multiplied it up by forecast capacity and demand increases, with no allowance for e.g. extra seasonal demand because heating will increasingly be electric, as the basis for assessing future storage needs: you could do it yourself in a spreadsheet in an hour or two. It’s hopelessly inadequate. I have looked at a 30 year weather history, and I reckon they are an order of magnitude low on storage requirements: annual average wind speeds can vary by a factor of almost two, and the power in the wind relates to the cube of windspeed: even if you allow for the effect of maximum turbine output (so we don’t capture much of the energy in higher wind speeds) there are significant inter year variations in output. They also tacitly assume that energy to be stored comes at no cost. That is not so: even if it otherwise has no value, it has a cost. In order to provide it there must be investment in capacity, and if that capacity only earns a real income on part of its output, then the idea of a levelised cost goes out of the window: the paid portion of output must generate all the revenue to justify the investment, and so the price must rise for it to compensate for the zero value output. TANSTAAFL. This is simply not being factored into costings, which use a set of laughably rose tinted assumptions as provided by BEIS.

Jordan
December 19, 2020 1:36 pm

On measures of battery performance, you could add efficiency, degradation and safety.

Efficiency is key to operating costs. Practical energy storage will struggle to achieve turnaround efficiency of 80% (at the battery terminals), which means at least 20% more primary energy is required for the final energy delivered. If we count in grid transmission, voltage step-down, step-up, in a grid application, overall round trip efficiency will be less.

Battery performance is at its best “new-and-clean”, but there is degradation over time which means lifetime performance will be less. For example, efficiency will decline as the battery ages. So will the ampere-hours and maximum power.

Safety can be one of the more important considerations, especially for mobility where a design has to be resilient across a range of crash scenarios. If it is a fire risk, it may not be acceptable. If it is an explosion risk (high energy density) it may not be acceptable. Safety considerations could place an upper limit on energy density.

MarkW
Reply to  Jordan
December 20, 2020 12:03 pm

One of the worst things you can do to LiIon battery is to leave it fully charged all of the time. The warmer the temperature is, the faster it degrades.

u.k.(us)
December 19, 2020 2:18 pm

I’ve been told heat is just as damaging as cold for car batteries…

Rud Istvan
Reply to  u.k.(us)
December 19, 2020 5:19 pm

Sort of true, but more complicated. Nernst equation says heat damages batteries (as rough rule of thumb, chemistry dependent, it says every 10C above 40C cuts cycle life in half. Cited in post.)

But, in the PbA example in the post, the main failure mechanism is sulfation—not the driving microcrystal mechanism norm, rather the big insoluble lead sulfate crystals eventually forming that also physically deform electrodes (to the point of shorting). Their relatively low conductance is a also function of temperature. Hence the winter starter battery common failure reference. All thePbA stuff is easily researchable on line. Is OLD electrochemistry.

davidmhoffer
December 19, 2020 2:42 pm

Curious as to why you called Nano One a fraud? I’ve been following them for a while, their stock is up on a couple of admittedly vague announcements, but the most recent one involved going through a benchmark exercise through a third party, which would be a pretty risky step if they cannot do what they claim.

yirgach
December 19, 2020 2:59 pm

The hybrid premium over the V6 was almost exactly $3000; in 2007 the hybrid federal income tax credit was about $3000 (not a coincidence, a Ford pricing strategy). So we were making money from fuel savings on the day we drove the car home from the dealer.

I recall the FED bailout of Chrysler in the 70’s, all the sharp people I knew went right out and bought a new one in order to claw back some of their own money. The rest of us just acquiesced…

Pat from kerbob
December 19, 2020 4:07 pm

I think it’s hilarious that the climate scientologist organization Ecojustice is advertising here.

My thoughts are:
Kerry says interconnection will solve grid inertia issue, but every time I discuss issue the climate warriors say the grid will be done away with.
Logical inconsistency, perfectly consistent for these people.

Volta is interesting, if you go to Como in northern Italy, and I fully advise going, Lake Como is beautiful, on the shore is a museum devoted to Volta, fascinating

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
December 19, 2020 5:49 pm

Yup. Been there and done that. Even spent two weekends eith my then eife at Villa d’Este. Does not get more high end. Regards

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 19, 2020 5:52 pm

e ==> w

Bro. Steve
December 19, 2020 4:37 pm

I work at a two-unit nuclear plant. Each of our units is over 900 MWe, or roughly 1.3 million horsepower for you non-electrical guys. If one of our units trips off line, the company has to start up another big generator somewhere. For a grid level battery to be practical, it needs to be able to replace 1.3 million horsepower for a few hours while another unit is brought on line. I kinda suspect that if you added up all the lithium batteries in existence right now, they couldn’t store enough energy to do that.

RickWill
Reply to  Bro. Steve
December 19, 2020 9:57 pm

US battery market grew to 1.2GWh in 2020. At 0.5C rating, that is 500MW in one year so probably already 900MW now.

Musk’s Chinese battery factory has a reported annual capacity of 35GWh but it is only doing about 70% of that right now.

There are a lot of batteries being made. You could probably generate 900MW from stringing computer batteries together but I would need to do the sums on that. Maybe power tool batteries would be more appropriate. Actually scooter batteries would be close for sure. There are 300M scooters in China alone and each will have at least a 1kWh battery.These batteries can be pulled at about 3C. Lots of scooters darting about the streets in Paris as well.

Keith Harrison
December 19, 2020 5:21 pm

Rud,
Could you explain solid state batteries? Toyota apparently has 1000 patents on this battery type. Is this an imminent addition? Reportedly, 10 minutes to charge for a 500 km journey and good for 240,000km of charges

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Keith Harrison
December 19, 2020 6:17 pm

I already did. These ‘solid states’ are all speculative (lab PoC maybe not even only) versions of what Fisker already licensed from UoCal. A battery/supercap hybrid, enabled by nanotech including my patented nanocarbons. These are all virtuous speculative chemistry versions of an LiC hybrid without a liquid electrolyte See my some years ago Judith Curry post for a detailed run down on Henrik Fisker, who saw this commercial possibility first.

See also my ‘future maybe hopeful’ paragraph in the main post here. Same.

BTW, one basic underlying US patent is worth many variant others. I invented two such myself, plus licensed a third from P&G when they dropped the ball. So a thousand Toyota patents overlying one underlying basic patent are all worth nothing without an underlying basic patent license. Been there, done that.

Keith Harrison
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 20, 2020 6:56 am

And now I know. Still in the lab. I’ll check out your Fisker piece.

Bernd Felsche
December 19, 2020 6:16 pm

Ah yes. Flow batteries.

I dared to ask about energy density when local researchers were looking for funds (to continue research). It’s not so good … hardly applicable for mobile equipment unless it’s on a BIG ship and supplying only auxiliary power while the real generators are being fixed.

I did some mental arithmetic on my feet and threw some numbers around, based on energy density. The charge being stored in the electrolyte would potentially allow rapid recharge. Alas, it was something like 100 litres of electrolyte exchange required to move a small car 100km. [For comparison; a 70Ah car starter battery stores the equivalent of about 1kWh; enough to move the car perhaps 5km, more likely about 3km]

It’d be great if energy density could be improved by the requisite 2 orders of magnitude to be freely competitive with hydrocarbon combustors. But as the PhD explained at the time; stability becomes a substantial issue as energy density increases — small impurities can lead to run-away situations. Run away! 😉

Flight Level
December 19, 2020 6:43 pm

Our municipality sells very affordable private/hobby logging permits. Namely the right, with a few simple rules, to clean up for firewood whatever professional loggers leave behind in designated easy to access forest areas.

My choices for a happy day in the woods are: -A gas powered chainsaw with 40 minutes autonomy between refills and a 5 liters jerrycan. Total cost, about 250 bucks for a nice powerful refurbished one with 3 years warranty.

Or a 400 bucks mid-range cordless chainsaw with battery autonomy of 7 minutes and half a dozen of spare batteries costing 170 bucks each. Even the option of a gas generator to recharge on-site.

Each and everyway you do the maths, the gas option prevails, even with an optimistic 4 years life expectancy and subsequent disposal of the batteries.

This example applies to more than just chainsaws as it reflects all cost-efficient energy applications or simply where lightweight power and autonomy is required.

In other words, what works for forklifts does not apply to grids, cars or airplanes.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Flight Level
December 20, 2020 6:28 am

I think you will find that the biggest factor for battery powered carts and forklifts in industrial situations is the lack of emissions in an enclosed area.

Flight Level
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 20, 2020 9:33 am

Battery also acts as counterweight.

eck
December 19, 2020 7:10 pm

You completely overlooked the unobtainium-outworldium battery!
That’s the answer. /(sarc)

eck
Reply to  eck
December 19, 2020 7:11 pm

Otherwise, very instructive post. Thanks.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  eck
December 19, 2020 8:03 pm

You are welcome. I really struggled to keep it simple. Because in fact it is complicated. Electrochemistry is a subject to which few aspire, since is a complex mix of physics and chemistry. Many of my examples are only ‘sort of’ true. Simplicity tradeoffs were made.
And for the record, I am self taught thanks to my issued patents.

December 19, 2020 8:31 pm

Some of the units and discussion presented are just sloppy.

<i>”(1) energy density (how much charge they hold, aka how long they take to discharge, in Wh), more is better”</i>
Energy density is how much energy they hold PER CUBIC METER (or other favorite unit of volume. The units would be Wh/m^3 (or just J/m^3).
This is <i>related to</i> “much charge they hold” (presumable in A⋅h or perhaps charge density in A⋅h/m^3) and to “how long they take to discharge” (presumably in hr) but those are different concepts.
The units given — Wh — would be for total energy, not energy density.

<i>(2) power density (how many charge/discharge Amps per second), higher is better”</i>
This one is even sloppier.
Charge and discharge rates would be C/s or Amps, but certainly not A/s.
Power would be P = IV, measured in W or V⋅A. Both the amps and volts are needed!
Power density would be P/Vol in W/m^3

The same sloppiness continues later with “Second, flow batteries for the grid (where the charge is stored in the liquid electrolyte rather than in the electrodes, so with sufficiently big electrolyte tanks energy density is theoretically unlimited).”
It is the ENERGY that is potentially unlimited with an an unlimited size. The ENERGY DENSITY is set by the chemistry of the materials involved.

The idea that batteries are limited is important. The arguments would seem much more convincing if the basic physics was described correctly.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Tim Folkerts
December 19, 2020 9:29 pm

Terrific. Why don’t you contribute an intelligible comment correction here to my general posts, since you claim you are so ‘basic physics’ self proclaimed smarter in electrochemistry’, and so educationally superior.

I never claimed any of that.

Just to only have a few proven math theorem and issued patent insights.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 21, 2020 9:13 am

Well, you DID claim that — I quoted you directly. Surely you don’t find the difference between energy and energy density or the difference between Amps and Amps/s unintelligible. You seem much too smart and informed for that.

The overall thrust of the article is interesting and informative. I enjoyed reading an learning a few new things.

Leo Smith
December 19, 2020 10:29 pm

Oh dear.
I’ll only bother to correct the first glaring error, Formula one engines do use lithium cells

The battery is a pack of Li-ion cells, that are capable of rapidly deploying or storing lots of energy to the MGU. In between these two is the Control Electronic unit, which converts the AC electric of the MGU to the DC of the battery.

Last edited 8 months ago by Leo Smith
eyesonu
December 19, 2020 11:04 pm

Thanks Rud,

Interesting post and good comments.

TonyN
December 20, 2020 3:34 am

Disappointed not to see a critique of cryogenic storage technology.

AFAIK these kind of systems can run at 60 to 65% round-trip efficiency, and more if there is a source of waste heat. They could also provide a source of coolth, so the economics would be interesting to explore.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  TonyN
December 20, 2020 3:12 pm

I think you’ve been reading some highly misleading publicity. Here’s what the Jacobs report I cited says about LAES:

<blockquote>We have obtained estimated costs for LAES
systems from published figures provided by
Highview Power who recently commissioned a 5
MW pilot plant that had a stated capital cost of
£8m, with a round-trip efficiency of 25%. Highview
has recently announced plans for a 50 MW plant
with 5 hours of storage (250 MWh) and give
typical capital costs of approximately £1m per MW
installed for a plant with 4 hours of storage.
They also claim that a 200 MW plant with 10 hours
of storage could have a unit generation cost of
about £110/MWh generated, which implies a load
factor of 24% and assumes a round-trip efficiency
of 50%, although this is as yet unproven.</blockquote>

Highview claim higher efficiencies by assuming that “waste” heat or coolth (e.g. from LNG regasification) is outside the calculation. Of course, it has a cost of collection, and has to be included in the efficiency calculations. Otherwise you may be interested in a perpetual motion machine I have designed…

Coach Springer
December 20, 2020 9:12 am

That hybrid of yours has a hitch. How’s the vehicle holding up under heavy towing loads, terrains, and weather?

Also., my all-gas 2005 Tahoe is easy to maintain and a lot cheaper to maintain than buying a new anything. Except for the “electricals” (circuits, switches, sensors, chips) being the growing problem with age. Downtime for repair far exceeds anything mechanical and often isn’t effective with the first or second try. ( I still consider even a hybrid to be early-adopter technology given the (vanishing) simplicity and reliability of what we already have.)

Harry Passfield
December 20, 2020 11:00 am

Just channelling ‘Limits to Growth’ – Peak lithium will be before peak oil/coal. Wshat then?

December 20, 2020 1:56 pm

I have a relevant CFACT article coming out next week. NYC is bragging about building a 400 MWh battery system. They peak at around 32,000 MW and if they were 100% wind they need 7 days supply because they routinely get 7 day low wind heat waves. That works out to over 5 million MWh of storage needed to make 100% wind reliable. Oh and this is before Biden makes all the cars and trucks electric.

400 MWh is a very expensive meaningless toy. And utilities are playing this game across America, because the more they spend the more they make.

As I wrote almost a year ago:
https://www.cfact.org/2019/04/26/batteries-cannot-make-renewables-reliable/.
It cannot be done.

Reply to  David Wojick
December 21, 2020 10:12 am

1) This source says NYC peaks around 13 GW, not 32 GW like you claim. This source is a few years old, so I can easily imagine 14 or 15 or 16, but not 32 GW. A smallish difference, but still a factor of 2x. Perhaps your number is for the whole state?
32 GW for 8 million people would be 4 kW per person, which is exceptionally high – even for peak demand.
http://www.peakpowerllc.com/notes/2015/2/17/whats-the-problem-with-peak-demand

2) Even if 32 GW is the peak, that only happens a few hours per day on the hottest days. Even on the hot days, the average might be 50% or 75% of that number.

3) No one is planning on 100% wind, so that is a complete red herring. NY also is planning a lot of solar (which peaks exactly during those hot summer afternoons) and NY currently has a lot of hydroelectric capacity (which can be ramped up at will). So only about 1/3 of the peak energy would need to come from batteries (the rest from hydro, solar, and a few conventional sources).

Put together, that means maybe 1/10 as much backup as you suggest to keep the lights on during that calm heat wave. Still a HUGE (and expensive) amount of back-up. But just using more realistic numbers has cut the project cost by 90%!

Also, I am sure you know that batteries are good for more than just back-up. They can provide local peak power, cutting down on the expense of additional peaker plants and upgraded transmission lines.

Clavius
December 20, 2020 9:39 pm

I’m sorry to say that this is the most poorly written and confusing post I’ve seen on this site. I’ve learned nothing.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  Clavius
December 21, 2020 10:46 am

if the messenger causes you to ignore the message you aren’t really listening … was it perfect ? of course not … but then again this is not an english comp or writing class paper being graded by an OCD professor … Is it ???

Michael S. Kelly
December 21, 2020 4:47 pm

This (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiRrvxjrJ1U) started out strong, then petered out toward the end. In fact, I didn’t finish watching it, even though the initial arguments seemed to make a lot of sense….

December 24, 2020 11:49 pm

You wrote:
We deliberately exclude indirectly kinetic pumped hydro, for which there are two big expansion problems: insufficient remaining suitable terrain, and California having rejected it, period.”

California!
There was some consideration of retrofitting Hoover/Boulder dam for pumped storage. Which seems a reasonable hope, technically anyway. Chemical batteries are a no-hope situation for utility-scale storage. “As you  know, Russ.”

Calif has a number of fine candidates for pumped-storage at existing hydropower lakes.You want the high dams, and the highest (I think) is the one that had its spillway wash out in the last good wet winter. I can’t recall the name of it. Makes no sense to rule them out! Proven, fairly low-cost storage. Actually works, scales, and is well-understood. Then again, it makes even less sense to close Diablo Canyon, the last operating nuclear plant in the state. Weird place. Deliberate foot-shooting is a state specialty!

%d bloggers like this: