New York can’t buy its way out of blackouts

By David Wojick

New York City will soon be home to the world’s biggest utility-scale battery system, designed to back up its growing reliance on intermittent renewables. At 400 MWh this batch of batteries will be more than triple the 129 MWh world leader in Australia.

The City of New York’s director of sustainability (I am not making this title up), Mark Chambers, is ecstatic, bragging: “Expanding battery storage is a critical part of how we advance momentum to confront the climate emergency while meeting the energy needs of all New Yorkers. Today’s announcement demonstrates how we can deliver this need at significant scale.” (Emphasis added)

In reality the scale here is incredibly insignificant.

In the same nonsensical way, Tim Cawley, the president of Con Edison, New York’s power utility, gushes thus: “Utility scale battery storage will play a vital role in New Yorks clean energy future, especially in New York City where it will help to maximize the benefit of the wind power being developed offshore.”

This puts the Con in Con Edison.

Here is the reality when it comes to the scale needed to reliably back up intermittent renewables. For simplicity let us suppose New York City is 100% wind powered. Including solar in the generating mix makes it more complicated but does not change the unhappy outcome very much.

NYC presently peaks at around 32,000 MW needed to keep the lights on. If Mr. Biden makes all the cars and trucks electric it might be closer to 50,000 MW but let’s stick to reality.

This peak occurs during summer heat waves which are caused by stagnant high pressure systems called Bermuda highs. These highs often last for a week and because they are stagnant there is no wind power generation. Wind turbines require something like sustained winds of 10 mph to move the blades and more like a whistling 30 mph to generate full power. During a Bermuda high folks are happy to get the occasional 5 mph breeze. These huge highs cover many states so it is not like we can get the juice from next door.

So for reliability we need, say, seven days of backup, which is 168 hours. Here’s the math:

32,000 MW x 168 hours = 5,376,000 MWh of stored juice needed to just make it.  Mind you for normal reliability we usually add 20% or so. Did I mention electric cars?

It is easy to see that a trivial 400 MWh is not “significant scale.” It is infinitesimal scale. Nothing. Nada. Might as well not exist.

[I estimate 45 seconds of backup power from the facility. Someone correct me if I’m wrong~CR]

More specifically, 5,376,000 divided by 400 = 13,440 so only 13,439 more to go.

On the other hand, this measly 400 MWh battery array may well cost half a billion dollars, which is significant, especially to the New Yorkers who will pay for it. No cost figures are given because the system is privately owned, but EIA reports that the average utility scale battery system runs around $1.5 million a MWh of storage capacity. That works out to $600 million for this insignificant toy.

So what would it cost to reliably back up wind power, at this MWh cost and NYC’s scale? Just over $8,000,000,000,000 or EIGHT TRILLION DOLLARS. I have not seen this stupendous sum mentioned in the media. Perhaps Con Ed has not mentioned it.

Then too, New York State has the same problem. Only much bigger if New York City is included, which it often is.

But hey, maybe the cost will come down a few trillion. Not if we create a seller’s market by rushing into intermittent renewables, which is certainly where we are headed. After all, this is just New York City. Imagine what backing up America with batteries might cost. Don’t bother because it is impossible.

I should also add that we have no idea how to make 5 million MWh of batteries work together. The tiny 400 will be a challenge. It may not be possible.

Maybe fracked geothermal, the reliable renewable, is the answer. Or how about coal, oil, gas and nuclear power? Too bad they are all out of fashion.

All of this battery backup hype is a scam, and not just in New York either. The papers are full of this con, from coast to coast. The utilities know perfectly well that these loudly touted battery buys are a hoax, but they are getting rich building the wind and solar systems the politicians are calling for.

The voters are oblivious to these impossible numbers, since they are told that intermittent wind and solar are cheaper than reliable coal, gas and nuclear. Only when the sun shines bright and the wind blows hard, which is not all that often.

Reality is just sitting there, waiting. It can’t work so it won’t work. At this point it is just a question of how and when we find out the hard way

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Andre Lauzon
December 24, 2020 6:06 pm

Nobody in NY state has read Tucker Carlson comparison between Fla and NY??? stupid is who ….

Curious George
Reply to  Andre Lauzon
December 25, 2020 8:12 am

Why worry about the cost? Defund police ..

Reply to  Curious George
December 25, 2020 12:59 pm

What does defund the police have to do with climate?

Reply to  hornblower
December 25, 2020 2:26 pm

My guess is the fraudsters and shucksters wouldn’t want any police around when the climate scam breaks.

December 24, 2020 6:31 pm

Backups? Try pickups! $1.5 million a MWh? At 200 KWh each, just five new GMC Hummer electric pickup trucks would provide a MWh of storage for less than $600.000. Or just buy their batteries for a fraction of that.

Reply to  JOHN T. SHEA
December 24, 2020 7:36 pm

Battery is about 1/2 the cost, plus construction connection etc

Reply to  Dennus
December 24, 2020 8:07 pm

What has John left out:
racks for the batteries
wiring for all the batteries
lighting for the building, plus wiring for the lighting
A/C for the building. Getting too hot shortens the life span of the batteries.
Heating for the building. This is New York after all. Getting to cold reduces how much energy you can get from the batteries

As for operation, you are going to need a couple of electricians on hand 24/7, plus the electricians supervisor.
You are going to need offices for all those workers, plus bathrooms and break rooms.

Only someone hasn’t stopped to think at all, would try to directly compare the price of an automobile battery, by itself, with these grid scale batteries.

Hari Seldon
Reply to  MarkW
December 24, 2020 10:11 pm

Dear Mr. MarkW,

another very important cost factor has not been considered yet: How much PLACE would be required for such a big battery capacity? What would cost the necessary land/real estate? As far as I now, the real estate price would not be low in NY. And of course the final question: Who would pay the bill at the end of the day? Would like the citizens of NY similar (or higher) electricity prices than in Germany? Another cost factor: The costs of the day-to-day operation of such a big battery pack.

Reply to  Hari Seldon
December 25, 2020 6:44 am

Remember that with the “COVID RELIEF” package, Pelosi establishing what I think will be a future practice of having the Federal government (i.e. all the OTHER states and thus tax payers) bail out the mistakes of the virtue signaling Progressive cities.

Reply to  Hari Seldon
December 25, 2020 8:36 am

The could place them in the vacant land made available by shutting down the Nuclear power Plants. Oh, wait, there would only be enough room for about 10 percent of the needed capacity for about 1 hour.
Theses dead wind spells would also affect CT and NJ, aggravating the problem even more. Worse, all transmission lines in the PJM and New England ISO will be overloaded trying to get power to NYC and causing blackouts from Boston to Chicago as they fail.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2020 12:33 am

You also need to include the static inverters. They will cost more than the batteries.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
December 26, 2020 5:44 pm

No, the inverters are not nearly as expensive as the batteries. A pure sine wave inverter costs about $100 / kW (you don’t need to worry about hours, but do need to worry about peak demand).

Not sure how GMC is paying for their batteries, even $40K for a 200 kWH Li battery is dirt cheap. I recently bought some LiFePO4 batteries for a solar setup and while I got a great price, it was still $416/kWh of storage ($1,000 for a 200Ah 12V battery), so 200 kWh would cost $83,000, or the cost of the entire vehicle. There must be some subsidy in there somewhere.

Of course for a backup system you also need converters, inverters, lots of wiring, heating/cooling systems, maintenance crew, etc.

Reply to  JOHN T. SHEA
December 24, 2020 8:00 pm

Different batteries have different requirements which requires different construction which means costs are not directly comparable. For one thing grid batteries are going to need to charge and discharge faster.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  JOHN T. SHEA
December 24, 2020 8:37 pm

Exactly John – what we’re seeing there is Cynical Flat-Out Cronyism in action.

Hopefully this link will work…

It points to 16 pieces of LiFePO4 batteries = 3.2V at 120Ah
Priced at US$1,292 plus delivery but if you want a container-full – some sort of discount might be worked out

I get 6.1kWh for that money giving $212K per mega-watt-hour
Must include Depth-of-Discharge – it says 7000 cycles at 70% or 5000 at 80%
Take yer pick

A factor of over 7 (seven) compared to the Utility Scale

That’s why you needed Mr Trump to kick some ass and get a better deal – but I suspect even he would have walked away at ‘just’ US$212K

And Joe will do what – Snap Their Hands Off at a 10 fold multiplier??!!!

Other People’s Money eh………

Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 25, 2020 8:39 am

Just think of how much investors will make before they realize that batteries are not the answer. Worse even more, possibly half, of the existing Nuclear power plants will be put out of service before they realize their stupidity.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 26, 2020 6:00 pm

That one doesn’t even have a battery management system, but it still costs $1,000+ for 6 kWh. You have to wait 5 months for delivery and imagine what the warranty is worth.

Try to find a battery that has someone standing behind it and you’ll see the price goes up dramatically. That’s why Tesla makes their own batteries.

A good price comparison is for a home backup system. A 13.5 kWh Tesla powerwall costs $7,000 and that’s without another $4,000 for the gateway (sharable among several powerwalls) and installation. That works out to about $106,000 for a 200kWh system, like the GM Hummer.

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  JOHN T. SHEA
December 25, 2020 8:26 am

Terminations of the battery packs is radically different. Grid-level storage like this will need to be able to dump nearly the entire charge in a matter of a few minutes; the cars/trucks that are EV are designed to supply – at most – 1/10th of their charge over an few minutes.

The current capacity of the terminations is radically different, and leads to a massive reworking of the connections of the individual cells – and that drives costs much, much higher.

Same situation as when wiring a few huge group 31D batteries together to start a diesel semi – and a dozen, smaller group 24 batteries together to power a high-power SPL car. The former needs to support a few hundred amps of pull; the latter needs to support a few thousand amps of pull. BIG difference in how you connect up!

Loren C. Wilson
December 24, 2020 6:32 pm

New York imports a significant amount of power from coal-fired power plants in surrounding states. About half of the 2.9 GW John Amos power plant went to NY when I lived near it. The cost of the battery could build another power plant with the capacity of the battery, but reliable.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
December 25, 2020 8:46 am

At a recent nuclear energy conference a manager at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station told me that the power from at least one of the NPPs at Darlington and often two are produced exclusively for NYC. A HV Transmission line was built exclusively for providing this power to NYC.

Reply to  UzUrBrain
December 25, 2020 5:51 pm

That would be an energy myth. There is not enough transmission capacity now from Upstate NY much less Ontario to the city. There is a big power line from the Saint Lawrence but that is for the hydro power from the Seaway.The big problem for New York City is that it is a load pocket and cannot rely too much on power from outside the city. They learned that lesson the hard way with a blackout.

Robert of Texas
December 24, 2020 6:34 pm

I doubt seriously they can draw down the batteries in 45 seconds…so it’s more like 15 minutes or so for a small area of NYC. It is enough, if connected correctly, to overcome brief dips in power that sometimes throw the entire system into chaos. So this project may not be as worthless as you expect. Just very expensive for so little use.

I doubt anyone in NY government understand anything about this project, so they make grandoise claims that are ridiculous. Any home owner knows if you want to fix a reliability issue with grid electricity you add some batteries to get you through just long enough to start up the gas powered generator.

Bryan A
Reply to  Robert of Texas
December 24, 2020 11:23 pm

Unless Biden and the AOC Dumbocrats makes use of gas (fossil fuel) illegal due to the climate crisis.
Another use for gas that isn’t mentioned in the energy requirements is Gas for cooking, water and home/apartment heating

December 24, 2020 6:53 pm

I think a more realistic and likely scenario is load exceeding generation by 5 to 10%.

Thus a massive 7.5 to 15 minutes of backup power.

Critical Thinker
Reply to  Charles Rotter
December 26, 2020 5:02 am

Admin & Rob of TX, you are right. Batteries can offset the frequent, large, sudden, unpredictable, brief dips characteristic of wind turbine output. They can probably also be used to smooth out the amount of wind power fed into the grid (Discharge batteries when wind turbine output dips. Recharge batteries when wind turbine output surges.) Doing one or both helps cope with wind’s threat to grid reliability.

Yes, battery back up is costly–as are wind turbine & solar electricity. But, because watermelons are jamming turbines & panels into electricity grids, operators MUST implement coping mechanisms.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
December 27, 2020 11:25 am

If they are seriously going to attempt to supply 100% of electricity from renewables then the loss of wind power due to multi day calm winds is going to cause a huge loss of power, much greater than 10%. Would a loss ranging from 40% during peak sunshine to 90% at night be a reasonable estimate?

Chris Mahoney
December 24, 2020 7:02 pm

New York State has shut down one nuclear power station (Shoreham) and is in the process of shutting down a second (Indian Point). This is prima facie evidence that NY does not give two shits about carbon emissions. It is all hysteria.

Reply to  Chris Mahoney
December 24, 2020 7:54 pm

NY should put a Thorium Nuclear plant where Indian Point is located. The LFTR plant can use all of Indian Point’s spent fuel rods as fuel once the (non-weapons grade) plant is in operation.

No Bombs – just pure emission-free power (although we could use some more CO2 to re-green the Earth)!!!

Reply to  tomwys
December 25, 2020 9:14 am

I’m a strong proponent of nuclear power but the claim that you can’t weaponize the materials used in the Thorium cycle is false. Thorium becomes U-233 by capuring neutrons. U-233 is weapons usuable, the Indians have detonated a small nuclear weapon made from U-233 and the US has detonated a weapon made with a composite U-233/Plutonium core. U-233 produces a more penetrating gamma ray than Plutonium and is thus harder to handle but that difficulty can be overcome.

December 24, 2020 7:03 pm

They can use out of state COAL to charge the thing !!

Robert of Ottawa
December 24, 2020 7:05 pm

Did New Yorkers vote for a “clean energy future”? Or do they want the trains to be clean and punctual, the streets safe and buildingds clean from grafitti?

December 24, 2020 7:26 pm

While it does not change the conclusions there are some issues with the numbers. New York State peaks around 32,000 MW but the New York City summer peak is around 11,000 MW. New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is supposed to go to a zero-emission electric generating sector by 2040 and has a goal for net zero by 2050. That means everything has to be electrified (heating and transportation in particular) and it is accepted that the peak load will shift to winter. In the summer you might be able to get a lot of solar to help meet the load but in the winter, you can count on zero. Now throw in a stagnant high pressure system for multiple days and 400 MWh will be infinitesimal. Worse the battery they build today will have to be replaced by 2040 if not sooner.

The idea that New York City where four of the five boroughs are islands and the entire city is a load pocket can produce enough renewable energy within the City to store in these battery systems is absurd. Throw in a Governor who is shutting down 2,000 MW of nuclear generation within the load pocket and you have a prescription for a reliability and affordability crisis. The possibility of people freezing to death in the dark is not that far fetched.

Reply to  Roger Caiazza
December 24, 2020 8:15 pm

As far north as NYC is, the amount of energy you get from sun light, even in the summer is dramatically reduced. NYC itself is heavily developed, so there is no place to put the solar panels in the city. To the east and south is mostly ocean. To the west it’s also pretty heavily developed. Most of these proposed panels with have to be even further north than the city itself is.

Hari Seldon
Reply to  Roger Caiazza
December 24, 2020 10:23 pm

Dear Mr. Caiazza,

Another point after mentioning winter. I drive also an electric (battery) car. At temperature about 0 Grad Celsius drops the effective capacity of the car battery about by 15%. It can easily happen that at lower temperatures the effective capacity of the battery will be even further reduced for simple physical reasons….

Hari Seldon
Reply to  Hari Seldon
December 25, 2020 9:28 pm

Extension: The charging loss of the battery of my car is 17-19%. Yesterday there was an article from the “official supporters” (propagandists paid by the government pushing e-cars) that during winter the capacity of the e-car batteries could be reduced by 1/3 depending on te temperature (in Germany you can expect max -5 Grad Celsius: What happens for example at -10-20 Grad Celsius?) but this could not be a problem at all… (oh yes, what would happen if 1/3 of the money of the authors would disappear regularly depending on the temperature). Their proposal: To heat the battery before loading. Of course the energy to heat the battery will not be counted as a loss.

Bryan A
Reply to  Roger Caiazza
December 24, 2020 11:37 pm

Also don’t forget, even at 11,000 MW solar and wind only operate at 22% -33% capacity factor.
Replacing 11,000 MW generation with solar or wind requires 52,000 MW capacity for solar and 34,000 MW capacity for wind, just to replace existing electric usage. Then while that power is being used to power society, it can’t be used to recharge batteries so additional capacity is required for that. A 400 MW battery would require 1,200 – 1,800 MW of dedicated wind or solar to recharge
Perhaps they could put all those MW’s of DC storage in Battery Park

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Bryan A
December 25, 2020 5:02 am

The round trip losses on the battery system is 20-25%, so the extra energy it uses is 80-100MWh per charge cycle. If you look at how these batteries are really used, you will see that they tend to run a daily cycle, charging up at night and discharging at peak demand. There is overlaid on top of that shorter oscillations that are to help with grid balancing. Think of it as compensating for wind gusts.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Bryan A
December 25, 2020 9:55 am

Here’s the South Australian battery in action in recent days, based on data with 5 minute resolution. You can see the wider oscillations of deeper charge and dischargeof the the order of 100MWh+ that are basically based on daily patterns, and some of the shorter term fluctuations. Charging and discharging rates are kept within -/+80MW, so the effect on the grid is limited to this. The battery system steadily eats power in round trip losses through the inverters and for air conditioning use, which is why the cumulative net charge slopes upwards.Over the period shown the total charge is 3,785MWh and the total discharge is 3,399MWh, based on the 5 minute readings.

SA Battery Dec 2020.png
Reply to  Roger Caiazza
December 25, 2020 5:12 am

Yes, my numbers are for NYS not NYC. My source just said New York which I mistakenly took together city. NYC peaks at about 13,000 MW so the cost is more like 3 trillion, not 8. Still impossibly expensive, especially with all the “electrification” coming. Cars, trucks, building heat, etc.

Reply to  David Wojick
December 25, 2020 9:12 am

You nailed it: impossibly expensive and probably would not work even if the money magically appeared

December 24, 2020 7:27 pm

“The ‘con’ in Con Edison”. Brilliant! And so, so sad at the same time.

December 24, 2020 7:28 pm

Once this is installed I hope for the people of NY they never have to test it because the reality check will bounce. This isn’t backup, it’s for a burp.

Bro. Steve
December 24, 2020 7:34 pm

If the battery was fully charged up, it could replace the Indian Point 2000 MWe nuclear reactors for 12 minutes.

Have all electrical engineers abandoned New York to its fate? Are any competent engineers talking to these “sustainability” people?

Bryan A
Reply to  Bro. Steve
December 24, 2020 11:40 pm

The Battery Park could house the world’s tallest building “The Battery” 150 stories tall

Russ Wood
Reply to  Bro. Steve
December 26, 2020 2:58 am

Well, in ‘political’ circles, the ‘technical’ people tend to be ignored. South Africa had an example of this some time ago in Pretoria, where the city engineer was fired for preferring competent engineers over political assignees.

December 24, 2020 7:44 pm

I guess they don’t call it Con Ed for nothing

December 24, 2020 8:12 pm

400 MWh, in an industry that regularly overrates and overstates their products and run times…

Use a 1.55 volt rechargeable battery and the circuits it is in drop using the battery when the charge level drops 31%-33%.

Does that also apply to these large batteries?
That is, when the charge drops 33% then the system shuts the battery down to avoid fully draining the battery or attempting to run appliances in incorrect voltage.

One thing of which we are sure is that the government and private battery owners/manufacturers are not going to give honest answers.

Last edited 2 years ago by ATheoK
Reply to  ATheoK
December 24, 2020 8:35 pm

You can build deep discharge batteries. The voltage they feed to the grid is controlled by the inverter.

The problem is that batteries wear out. They’re only good for so many charge-discharge cycles. That said, it looks like Tesla batteries last way longer than I thought they did.


Notwithstanding Tesla’s surprising longevity, any grid scale backup batteries will eventually need to be replaced.

Reply to  commieBob
December 24, 2020 10:01 pm

I’m not certain how reliable a magazine who’s whole reason for being is pump the industry is going to be.

Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2020 8:20 am

You have to consider the source for sure. What I have noticed is that there aren’t a pile of Teslas with half dead batteries for sale cheap.

Reply to  commieBob
December 25, 2020 9:25 am

True, but most Teslas go though a charge/ discharge cycle once per week. If you use the same batteries to back up solar, they have to charge and discharge once per day. Depending on the depth of charge/dicharge, the batteries can actually wear out faster. Potentially a lot faster.

Reply to  commieBob
December 25, 2020 12:02 pm

They are too expensive to sale cheap. Rich man’s toy, but to risky for ordinary people

Reply to  commieBob
December 24, 2020 10:52 pm

It seems that the Lithium-Iron Phosphate battery should be significantly cheaper than the current Lithium-ion battery because it doesn’t require the use of the very expensive Cobalt. The Lithium-Iron Phosphate battery is also safer and longer-lasting. The following article provides more details

“In the laboratory it is becoming clear that it is possible to make a battery that is a long-lived asset, and the next-generation battery technology can achieve the million-mile potential in the next five years, Meng said. That would not only be a game changer for EVs, but for the energy grid storage market, which lithium iron phosphate technology was originally designed to supply. A major ramp in production would benefit the cost equation for both markets.”

Hari Seldon
Reply to  Vincent
December 25, 2020 10:31 am

Dear Mr. Vincent,

Every week will be announced a new “super battery” solution. However, all these “super batteries” work under lab conditions and on nice ppt-slides. The very first question: How long time does it take to develop an industry grade “super battery” from a lab model? 5-10-20 years or more? Additionally, no any announcement on successfully operated “super batteries” on a mass scale are available only nice marketing materials to collect more money for further experiments (and to generate extrapofit for the “investors”).

Reply to  Vincent
December 25, 2020 12:26 pm

This million miles doesn’t mean much at all without specifics like speed and temperature range, and what happens outside them.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Lrp
December 26, 2020 10:46 am

I can’t lay my hands on the specifics, but I recall someone forced Nissan to divulge, via a FOIA request, how the “range” for the Leaf was calculated.

If my memory serves me correctly, the calculation was based on

Flat Road;
NO wind;
No accessory use (no radio, no HVAC, etc)
Dry pavement
THIRTEEN miles per hour


Tim Gorman
Reply to  commieBob
December 25, 2020 4:57 am

It’s not just the voltage that gets fed to the grid. As the batteries discharge they draw more current from the batteries to keep the voltage constant. This is on top of the current draw on the batteries to feed the needed current out to the grid. It’s VA (volt-ampere) capacity that is the controlling factor. With inverters the battery discharge rate is constantly increasing. I’m not sure these figures quoted by the government and Con Ed consider this when describing battery capacity.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
December 25, 2020 8:27 am

All true.

Those problems are small potatoes compared with the eye watering cost of a battery system that would actually be useful.

It seems to me that a good education makes a lot of people forget the simple truths they learned in childhood. In the case of wind and solar, the one that applies would be: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish.

Rick C
Reply to  commieBob
December 26, 2020 8:32 am

True enough. There is also the issue of these massive battery packs tending to catch on fire. Teslas have something like 18000 individual cells. A fault in just one or an interconnection can start a fire – not unheard of with EVs. (I would not consider charging one in my attached garage while my family slept.) A grid scale battery would have close to 100 million cells. What are the odds it would last 10 years or more without some catastrophic fault?

Paul C
December 24, 2020 8:54 pm

The primary function of grid-scale batteries is frequency stabilisation of the non-synchronous generation – wind and solar, so the cost of grid-scale batteries should properly be considered as part of the capital, and operational cost of those systems, and not part of grid infrastructure. Reliable synchronous generators use their inherent inertia for frequency stabilisation, and as demonstrated for a century, do not require that additional costly solution for grid stability, and should not be required to contribute to those costs.

Gary Pearse
December 24, 2020 8:55 pm

As has been pointed out by other commenters on earlier threads on this topic, a fully charged mega battery has potential to be a bomb if it short circuits all of a sudden.

It is interesting that engineers have been replaced by social scientists heading up “sustainability” bureaucracies. If anyone had gone to an engineer and said “Do you take responsibility for this plan?” I wonder what he would reply. Oh you can get a company to make you what you want for a trillion bucks. They won’t be responsible for disaster because the (wrong) specifications will be provided to the company because of hubris of sustainability boffins.

In Canada an engineer in the employ of government or private industry IS responsible for the protection of society in his endeavours an IS responsible for telling his bosses what the consequences are. I thought this was true in all countries, but now I’m not sure. We let “how-hard-can-it-be” scientists and social scientists take over what the options are.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 24, 2020 10:04 pm

Super capacitors, in the right circumstances could resemble a bomb. Batteries on the other hand can’t. They might make like flame throwers, but you don’t have to worry about them exploding. Internal resistances are just too high for that to happen.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
December 25, 2020 5:09 am

How do you put out the flamethrowers? Can’t use water, it just exacerbates the short-circuit problems in a battery complex. Not sure how well Halon (or similar) would penetrate sealed batteries units to extinguish any fire. As long as the short-circuit remains the fire would probably self-start again once the Halon runs out. You might just have to wait till the short-circuit is burned out and self-extinguishes or until the entire complex is burned to a crisp. HUGE replacement costs!

Reply to  Tim Gorman
December 25, 2020 6:50 am

Halon should work just fine to control a battery fire such as this. The fire starts when on or more cells melts its casing and starts burning some of its parts. Halon gets released by the fire protection system and displaces oxygen by blocking free radicals, the guts of a fire, from reacting. The fire needs high temps- circa 3000K to continue generating free radicals. The halon works by very briefly “soaking up” the free electrons and preventing any fire from continuing.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Philo
December 26, 2020 3:01 am

But wasn’t Halon banned because of the ‘ozone hole’?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Philo
December 26, 2020 4:46 am

How long can you maintain the Halon atmosphere? Once it’s gone the heat from the short-circuits will re-ignite the surrounding materials. They used to use Halon in telephone company central offices but its effectiveness was dependent on being able to kill the power to the affected area in the central office. How do you kill the power to a battery?

Walter Sobchak
December 24, 2020 9:20 pm

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”
Edmund Burke, Letter i. On a Regicide Peace. Vol. v. p. 331.

Joel O’Bryan
December 24, 2020 9:31 pm

We live in interesting times. Unfortunately.

Doc Chuck
December 24, 2020 11:19 pm

That setup is going to save some time though. With under a minute of illumination to get to the door, at least the last one leaving NYC won’t need to bother turning out the lights!

December 24, 2020 11:21 pm

This should keep construction unions happy until the next municipal election.

December 24, 2020 11:30 pm

If Gavin Newsom could use battery power to put even the tiniest Band-Aid on the green energy fiasco that he admitted was the true cause of the 2020 California summer blackouts, then we would have batteries as back up YESTERDAY. But I am sure that’ll be the next boondoggle as we seem to have a bottomless appetite for throwing money away for no good purpose…

December 25, 2020 12:44 am

“These highs often last for a week”. That tells you that they will somtimes last more than a week. So if you have 7 days battery backup, you have no power at all on the 8th day. An entire city powerless for a day or more? How crazy is that.
Batteries make a lot of sense if they can cut in super-fast while a reliable backup supply is started up. Batteries being the backup makes no sense at all.

December 25, 2020 12:45 am

How much copper ?

December 25, 2020 1:11 am

Same situation in the UK.
We consume about 50 gw on average, and so I made a conservative estimation that we need at least 3,500 gwh of backup to keep the lights on.

However, the UK presently only has 10 gwh. This storage is at Dinorwig, but Dinorwig was the most expensive power station in the world, because they built it inside a mountain. And we need 250 new Dinorwigs…

Building backup supplies like this would bankrupt the nation. And again, this does not allow for electric transport, nor for electric space-heating. That would quadruple the generation and storage requirements.


December 25, 2020 1:39 am

I have the data and a model of what is required for energy storage. In Australia on the eastern coast there was a significant drop in the amount of electricity dispatched from wind starting on 5 June it lasted for 33 hours. If you model this it means to maintain average output over those 33 hours you need 770 megawatt hours to support just one 100 MW wind power station. In Australian dollars that is about $850 million for one 100 MW power station which will deliver a constant 29 MW. The figures are so impossible it is beyond belief but I can prove it and show it in detail. I thought it was a folly but how extreme a folly even I was surprised. Prediction energy storage is never going to stabilise renewables and consequently nothing will be built on the scale required. We need storage that is the in the terawatt hour range.

Reply to  Mike O'Ceirin
December 25, 2020 12:07 pm

Yes the figures are incredible. So we never see them, even though the power industry knows them well. The deception is systemic.

M__ S__
December 25, 2020 3:39 am

Facts are racist.

December 25, 2020 4:46 am

You all forgot one little thing: the entire UN complex is located in New Yawk Citee.

The lights go out, then their elevators and offices and stuff like that go dark, along with all the rest of it.

If that isn’t a giggle snort over this brilliant idea, what is it?

Merry Christmas to everyone, especially the people who put this site together.

Reply to  Sara
December 25, 2020 7:07 am

A few hours stuck between floors in a dark lift should be enough to convert even a hard-core Warmunist to fossil fuels.

Bryan A
Reply to  Sara
December 25, 2020 9:27 am

I wouldn’t put it past the UN to hoard tens of thousands of gallons of diesel in their basement and have reliable generator back-up for their elevator power

December 25, 2020 5:37 am

Batteries can only STORE power, they cannot generate power. So when and how are the batteries going to be recharges after they have been used and discharged? If you say fossil fueled power, then the whole system grows far more expensive, since backup generation capacity is not much cheaper to maintain than online generation. If the batteries are to be recharged by renewables, there is no way it can be certain power will not be there and renewable capacity needs to be expanded. An intelligent solution would be to ditch the renewable junk and build molten salt small modular reactors. only 64 or so reactors would be required to supply all of the needs of NYC. These reactors have a small footprint and would cost about $125 billion, a small fraction of the cost of mostly useless batteries. The ignorance of the renewable crowd is stupendous.

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  ColMosby
December 25, 2020 8:37 am

It’s the biggest “fake” in the entire thing. Any unreliable power system (like wind or solar) that relies upon a reliable power system (gas, nuclear, coal) MUST include the cost of the reliable power system in any calculation. For it is not a usable system at all without that backup.

Yet they never include the cost of the backup solution.

Why? Because it proves that unreliable power is always IN ADDITION TO the reliable power costs. It never is lower cost, it always starts at the existing cost and adds to it. And thus is always guaranteed to be more expensive.

Unreliable power generation will never be cheaper than reliable power generation, because it forces you to have two systems, rather than just one.

Reply to  Shanghai Dan
December 25, 2020 12:04 pm

Right, but everywhere we look it says that renewables are cheaper, because they just look at the cost of generation, not the backup system cost. This is the great green lie.

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  David Wojick
December 25, 2020 5:27 pm

BINGO! They may be cheaper when they run – but when is that? And does it scale on demand?

As we’ve found here in California – nope.

It doesn't add up...
December 25, 2020 5:55 am

These batteries are of course useless for when the wind doesn’t blow. Then NY will depend on interties and such other power as it has,and the adequacy of these may become an interesting question. In South Australia they found out the hard way (a state wide blackout) that they needed proper dispatchable generation when they lost the Heywood interconnector to storm damage, and the government was forced to buy a load of diesel and gas fired generation to back up the wind and solar.

The batteries are instead mainly for helping to stabilise the grid when the wind does blow, compensating for gustiness that would otherwise see power surges and deficits every few seconds. Perhaps the real question is whether they will prove adequate for the task. When South Australia once again lost the Heywood interconnector in January and became an islanded grid, the Musk battery was not up to stabilising the grid when supply became dominated by wind and solar (in fact, there was surplus power they could no longer export). The tie to Victoria had been providing stabilisation via the inertia of their coal fired stations. The surplus generation meant prices went negative. But it was necessary to fire up conventional gas generation to provide stabilisation, and it had to be compensated for the negative prices. The cost of stabilisation became astronomic. The battery made a fortune – but it was not up to the task of stabilising the grid, and it failed to keep down the cost of stabilisation which reached record levels: cutting the cost of stabilisation had been a claimed big benefit of the battery, by reducing the need for conventional inertia. You can see the consequences of that here

The South Australia grid us about a tenth of NY, with peak demand on the hottest days of a little over 3GW. This battery looks to be too small for the job in NY.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
December 25, 2020 12:12 pm

I can be instructive to look at the performance of the system on King Island in the Bass Strait to the North of Tasmania. The system there has added to the original diesel generators some 2.45MW of wind in a three turbine farm, a 1.5MWh/3MW battery, 470kw of solar, a 1.5MW variable resistor (used for dumping surplus wind power), and 2MVA flywheels used to enhance stability. The system configuration and outputs are updated every few seconds here:

The operation largely depends on how strong the wind is blowing. At times when it is slight and wind output dies altogether, the small variations in demand as appliances are switched on and off are easily accommodated by the diesel generators, which may be supplemented by some solar. When the wind is strong, then often a lot of the stress of the changes in output is thrown on the diesel system and flywheels, with help from the resistor only in more extreme circumstances: the swings can be a large share of demand in just a few seconds. You need to bookmark it and check it out at different times of day and in different weathers to see the range of behaviours. The battery system seems to be a more modest contributor. The original battery was a flow vanadium type, and it soon failed. Roger Andrews took a look at the system here:

December 25, 2020 6:06 am

You are all assuming the population of NYC will be at least the same as it is now. I project due to all kinds of issues (including blackouts and tremendously expensive electricity), the population may be but half in 20 years. And most of these people will be pretty poor anyway, so demand will drop even more.

Coach Springer
December 25, 2020 6:58 am

There’s that word “emergency” again. Like “racism” and a lot of other words, it’s a bit diluted and deluded.

December 25, 2020 7:14 am

We had the electricity go out for 2 weeks following a snow storm about 25 years ago that took out the local substation. We were plenty glad to have gas fireplaces, cooking and hot water.

Many of our neighbors were forced to move into hotels for the 2 weeks because they relied solely on electricity. Luckily it was only a small area, and otherwise there would have been no hotel spaces available in the surrounding city.

Now imagine this happening in a major city without heat, light or cooking for a couple of weeks in winter. Eventually people start burning the furniture, even when there is no fireplace.

Russ Wood
Reply to  ferdberple
December 26, 2020 3:20 am

Johannesburg’s City Power has up to 20 faults a day, many caused by the theft of electric cables, or by the explosion of transformers overloaded by illegal connections. The worst fault we had on the outskirts of JHB put us without power for 4 days – not as bad as another town where a whole distribution substation caught fire, depriving the whole town of electricity for 10 days! Speaking to a technician repairing stolen cable, I was told that the “Load shedding” (switching an area’s power off for hours) was causing the oil in the poorly maintained substations to overheat and sometimes catch fire!
Putting politicians in charge of essential utilities can be a death-warrant (for the utilities, but not, unfortunately, for the politicians).

Flight Level
December 25, 2020 7:41 am

400 MWh, sounds big, huh ? Equivalent to 30t, about half a fueler truckload of kerosene.
Roughly enough to feed a B747-8 (flying your X-mas presents and other shiny smartphones from China) in optimal cruise conditions for about 3 hours.

Reply to  Flight Level
December 25, 2020 11:58 am

Indeed, it is as nothing but will be the world’s largest. Says it all.

David Dibbell
Reply to  Flight Level
December 25, 2020 3:46 pm

And in terms of dollars, a full charge of 400MWh is worth only about $16,000 at, say, $40 per MWh wholesale on the grid. It gets ridiculous when you think about it – such a paltry amount of energy stored in a system costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

don rady
December 25, 2020 8:12 am

Maybe this battery will provide enough electricity because almost all New Yorkers will have moved out because of high crime and bad governance.

Pablo from the florida free zone
December 25, 2020 8:55 am

for many years I was responsible for designing and implementing the power plant for a large insurance company. for battery backup we used PbA batts, which were never, ever, ever designed to provide power for more than about 2 minutes, until the generators kicked in. those batts also had to be completely changed out on a rotating four year basis (a large expense). for the gennies, we used both diesel and natural gas, on different generators so that we had coverage in case of failure of one supply. Our Canadian counterparts, on the other hand, went strictly diesel, and bragged about their guaranteed supply chain. When the big blackout occurred about twenty years ago, the Canadian government seized all diesel supply, so our pals went dark for a few days. final note, batteries are very expensive, need to be refreshed on a planned basis, and the governments can always grab your supplies, no matter how much you plan.

Kevin kilty
December 25, 2020 9:41 am

Some NGOs in Colorado have managed to get state regulators excited about the possibility of replacing natural gas fired engines on the pump jacks and other oil field equipment with electrical motors. You see, this will help the state meet its CO2 reduction targets. Mind you, this is natural gas that would otherwise have to be flared and is being put to a productive use. Xcel, a company I worry about because it is prone to manipulation by social justice and environmentalist noise (SJEN) figured they would have to build a couple of new power plants fired with natural gas in order to meet the new electrical demand.

Well see what transpires, but the scary part in the short term is the number of people and organizations who were oblivious to the consequences of their brainchild.

Long ago some people were concerned about the long term consequences of turning the educational system over to the lowest one-third of academic performers — the problem has only grown since then.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
December 25, 2020 11:25 am

XCEL’s Colorado Energy Plan calls for spending something like $2.3 billion for wind and solar, plus shutting down a reliable coal burner. XCEL is making a fortune rebuilding its asset base with wind. The more it spends the more it makes.

December 25, 2020 9:49 am

Correction! My article numbers are for New York State, not City.
Here are the New York City numbers:
Peak power = 13,000 MW
13,000 MW x 168 hours = 2,184,000 MWh of battery backup capacity
@ $1,500,000 per MWh of capacity = $3,276,000,000,000
or roughly THREE TRILLION DOLLARS. Still impossible.

They are building 400 MWh of capacity
2,184,000 MWh divided by 400 = 5,460 so 5,459 to go
or 400 divided by 2,184,000 = 0.00018 = 0.018%

Sorry for the confusion.

Reply to  David Wojick
December 25, 2020 8:44 pm

So rounded to a tenth of a percent, 400 MWh of capacity would meet 0.0% of NYC’s needs. Amazing.

December 25, 2020 10:07 am

On the other hand, this measly 400 MWh battery array may well cost half a billion dollars, which is significant, especially to the New Yorkers who will pay for it.

Being New York, one would guess they’ll figure out a way to launder the money from US taxpayers.

John F Hultquist
December 25, 2020 10:31 am

David – thanks.
The Climate Cult folks don’t do numbers well.

_ _ _ _ _
You wrote: <em> Wind turbines require something like sustained winds of 10 mph to move the blades and more like a whistling 30 mph to generate full power. </em>

A local facility near us – on-line in 2006 and on a 3,500 ft. ridge, here:
47.01197, -120.20045

“Its turbines can produce electricity at wind speeds as low as 9 mph. They reach their peak of production at 31 mph and shut down at constant wind speeds above 56 mph.”

I have read elsewhere that turbines become parasitic when wind drops below that threshold. Apparently, they continue to use grid power to turn and seek a stronger wind.

If anyone is interested, there is a link to the manufacturer’s page for the initial turbines used at Wild Horse; link is on the page above under Fast Facts.

December 25, 2020 10:40 am

To recharge 1 million EVs (Electric Vehicles) overnight will take about 5 1000-MW power plants. There are 5+ million cars in NYC. This won’t end well.

December 25, 2020 11:19 am

RE: “New York can’t buy its way out of blackouts”
Please note #2 below:

In 2002 Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton U and Allan MacRae TOLD YOU SO 18 YEARS AGO. We published in 2002:

See Michael Shellenberger’s 2020 confession “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”.

See Michael Moore’s 2020 film “Planet of the Humans”.

Our above 2002 major conclusions that contradict the global warming and green-energy frauds were made in 2002, based on fundamental laws of physics, which do not change in 18 years – or 18,000 years.

There is no real global warming crisis – it has always been a false and fraudulent crisis, promoted by scoundrels and believed in by imbeciles – wolves stampeding the sheep.
The Big Picture:
The global warming / climate change scam, the Covid-19 full-Gulag lockdown scam, the specious linkage of these two huge frauds, and the leftists’ “Final Solution”, the Marxist “Great Reset” – aka “Live like a Chinese peasant”.


 The World Economic Forum’s twitter account deleted the tweet in which this video was originally embedded in 2016.

All over the world, governments have been duped and have adopted a failed strategy of trying to appease leftist fraudsters who are intent on destroying our free society. 

Last edited 2 years ago by Allan MacRae
Barnes Moore
December 27, 2020 6:15 am

What to me may be the most frightening thing about all this is that it is highly likely that both China and Russia are stoking this nonsense recognizing that if they can get the west (US, Canada, UK, EU) to fully embrace the “green revolution”, they will have successfully gotten us to weaken if not destroy our economies, thus achieving their goal of dominating the west without firing a shot.

Kevin R.
December 25, 2020 12:28 pm

If implemented NYC will wind-up being powered by nothing but stationary gas generators dotted all over the city.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Kevin R.
December 26, 2020 3:28 am

Yep – but will there be any gas for the generators? As far as I’ve read, NY State is denying access across the state to any new gas pipelines.

Kevin R.
Reply to  Russ Wood
December 26, 2020 10:04 am

The black market is the only kind of economy people will be able to have so it’ll be black market gas and black market generators.

December 25, 2020 2:31 pm

Thanks for mentioning the Mws of the electric cars. That juice ain’t free, but no one mentions it. Adding 20% or 40% to our grid needs.

Samantha Atkins
December 25, 2020 3:37 pm

If, and it is a big IF, one can make very large scale energy storage economic enough then it may well be how we manage to make use of some small fraction of the tremendous energy the local fusion source (Sun) pours upon the earth. So it is a reasonable thing to explore. And for small things like having ample energy backup in your home it is quite useful and practical now.

That said I very much agree that media and players involved grossly overhype what has been achieved and what is near term available or at all likely.

Want to have zero carbon ample cheap energy? Fine. End the anti-nuclear hysteria and license and build modern failsafe nuclear plants as quickly as possible. In 10-15 years you could reach that goal without bullshit or literally leaving people in the dark.

Bryan A
Reply to  Samantha Atkins
December 25, 2020 4:57 pm

Nu-Clear energy is the way to go. But EVs and their associated battery tech requirements will necessitate greater than 10 times and likely more in the neighborhood of 50 times the current copper mining output

Christopher Chantrill
December 25, 2020 7:01 pm

Really, nothing has changed since dear old Ben Franklin said: “experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that.”

David Stone CEng
December 26, 2020 2:17 am

The point not discussed at all is the danger of having all this power in a small area. Say a battery catches fire (far from unknown) and the battery decides to self destruct. This will give a nuclear sized explosion if much of the stored energy is released. Now that is worse than the nuclear power plant explosion scenario. New York would probably cease to exist, you think the WTC collapse was bad?

December 26, 2020 2:48 am

Why don’t they store hydrogen, which can be produced with electricity, and then use it in appropriate power plants?

Hari Seldon
Reply to  marty
December 26, 2020 2:58 am

Dear Mr. Stone,

How much would the electricity produced on this way cost compared to the cost of electricity produced by the existing fossile fuel power plants in a real market economy (“real market economy”: No any distortion of the market for example by politically motivated sanctions (carbon tax and so on)).

Hari Seldon
Reply to  Hari Seldon
December 26, 2020 2:59 am

Sorry, Dear Mr. marty instead of Dear. Mr. Stone.

December 26, 2020 8:25 am

Numbers and facts mean nothing to the Left. Only emotions, and they’re scared of climate change. They will vote for and push this sort of thing until the sheer weight of ignorance brings it all crashing down.

Barnes Moore
December 26, 2020 8:59 am

As long as it is NY paying for this foolishness, fine. Just don’t let them get subsidized by the feds. The sooner CA or NY – or any other state shutting down fossil fuel and nuclear power plants in favor of unreliables – fails, the better for the rest of us. The reality needs to hit hard in such a way that it is clear that the failure is the result of reliance on unreliables.

Mike H
December 27, 2020 3:17 pm

It seems to me that for a long term backup power generation system, you would want a hydro based generator. For that you would need to fill up a reservoir with water, ideally non saline, and have that dammed up. For power backup just turn it on when other sources aren’t available. Of course you’d have to pump fill it (unless you can divert the Hudson ongoing) when power is being otherwise produced.

Of course land for this, the digging, the dams and generator would be expensive. But not like foolish batteries. If not light reactor nukes this hydro seems best. NYC is downhill from upstate. Of course building a huge reservoir solely for standby power seems crazy. But if you do something crazier like ending fossil fuels, hydro is probably cheapest. Suburbs be damned (or dammed) literally.

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