Storage in the Cold Light of Day

battery-deadPeople want energy in modern society when they want it, and so you’ve go to have supply and demand matching. And, again, there’s a new delusion that’s spreading through the world at the moment which is, “oh yes, now solar is coming down in price, wind is coming down in price, and batteries are coming down in price as well.” People seem satisfied with these simple statements: the prices are coming down so it’s all going to be fine, but they haven’t done the numbers to think through actually how big the batteries would need to be if you wanted to do a solar-and-batteries-only solution.

A solar-plus-battery solution in a place like Las Vegas, I can definitely see playing a large role… Society still needs reliability, though… Society stops functioning if we don’t have a reliable electricity system going all the time, and so for a place like Las Vegas you’re still going to want other technologies in that mix as well. So, I’d advise Las Vegas to get a nuke, for example…

I’m delighted how the book has been helpful… but I’m also still irritated that these delusions about the easiness of getting by with a bit of renewables and a bit of batteries… I think there’s still a lot more to do.

~ Sir David MacKay

It was a relief to hear that sensible projections regarding the role of batteries in Australia’s near-term electricity supply challenge were authoritatively expressed at the meeting of energy ministers last month:

The AEMO told the recent COAG Energy Ministers meeting it may be 10-20 years until battery storage would be able to exert an influence on grid stability and support.

There’s understandable disappointment from some commentators. However AEMO’s sober assessment merely echoes that of the CSIRO.

csiro

AEMO itself expects approximately 6.6 gigwatt hours of battery storage distributed amoung rooftop solar capacity by 2035-2036, which sounds like a whole lot more than exists now.

Yet, to get a sense of perspective, 6.6 gigawatt hours would provide no more than 2/3 of one percent of the 62 hour becalmed period described by WattClarity (with a hypothetical ten-fold wind capacity connected to the present national market).

The COAG Energy Council and its independent review process must maintain this realism as it strives to “maintain the security, reliability, affordability and sustainability of the national electricity market” and integrate climate and energy policy. This should encompass a technology-neutral approach, and recognise that avoiding consideration of the future benefits of modern nuclear capacity – potentially available on a comparable timescale to batteries, but historically proven – serves only a diminishing, out-dated activism, when we really have a whole lot more to do.

 

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3 thoughts on “Storage in the Cold Light of Day

  1. At 233 Twh a year Australia burns through a Gwh about every 2.26 minutes so 6.6 Gwh battery storage will run the country for about quarter of an hour. Batteries may help with frequency support, black starting of induction generators (ie some wind turbines) and as a UPS for buildings. They won’t do bulk storage like saving summer solar for winter. A recent Solar Choice article found electricity from a Powerwall had a levelised cost of 50c per kwh on top of generation costs. That would be $500 per Mwh at commercial level more than double the $215 cost of open cycle gas turbine electricity according to the 2015 SA Fuel and Technology report.

    Even at the mythical capital cost of $100 per kwh enough battery storage to replace thermal generation would cost hundred of billions
    http://euanmearns.com/the-holy-grail-of-battery-storage/#more-14957
    If you point this out to deep greens you are told you a coal industry stooge and if need be we can burn biomass. Yet these people have the ear of prominent politicians.

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