And now for an idiotic war on batteries

From The Australian’s “environmental editor” today:

South Australia’s emergency power plan proves that battery storage is a fringe response rather than a durable solution to the state’s electricity woes.

…To the dismay of armchair electrical engineers, Premier Jay Weatherill yesterday confirmed the solution to South Australia’s blackout problems would overwhelmingly be gas.

…With the heavy emphasis on peaking power, it still begs the question of what will happen when doldrum conditions again strand wind turbines for long periods over summer?

Batteries may have their place, but this is not it.

So, what is the place of batteries then? In your remote control, torch or vibrator?

Grid stabilisation is precisely where the future of utility scale batteries is, in arbitraging high and low prices. Moreover, the “killer app” of renewable generation combined with batteries is only just around the corner in terms of price parity with fossil fuels:

  • wind plus batteries is 18 cents kWh;
  • solar plus batteries is about 20 cents kWh;
  • combined cycle gas at $12Gj is 10 cents kWh;
  • coal is 10 cents kWh;
  • add carbon capture and storage and it is 22 cents kWh.

The cost on the first two are falling 20% per annum while gas is rising thanks to the cartel.

In short, we are roughly five years from price parity and the death of fossil fuel electricity generation.

Unless you’re a politically charged idiot.

P.S. The prices are drawn from an MB special report coming out tomorrow on energy investment opportunities.

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  1. Stupid hill to die on. Barry O’Farrell no doubt thought solar panels were for tree huggers and hippies. When he went to change the tariff he discovered that a lot of churches and farmers have very big roofs and had bought into panels. He couldn’t backpedal fast enough.

    Once batteries take off, ‘battery owner’ and ‘home owner’ will be almost the same thing. No shading issues with batteries.

  2. Ronin8317MEMBER

    The writer in the Australian is not even logically coherent anymore. “Armchair engineer” = people who don’t know anything, so to say they’re ‘dismayed’ is not helping the case!!

    • Werner Heisenberg

      Armchair engineer. Its extraordinary isn’t it. That people who can develop super high tech solar cells to extract energy from sunlight are novices, but those who can boil a billy on a campfire are the real professionals.

      What the hell ?

      • lol, yeah was thinking the same thing. Some engineer not remotely connected to the field poo poos the idea and we’re meant to listen.

      • Why not? All those armchair Climate Scientists seem to know more than the people who have PhD’s in the field 🙂

      • “How do we know Alfred doesn’t have a PhD?”

        Because he couldn’t understand how all years this century have been above average temperature – as ‘average’ means half the years should be below average and half should be above!! And after pointing out that they have all been above average because of global warming he still does not understand.

        I don’t think Alfred got past year 9 science.

  3. How does Rupert maintain his global empire when he’s busy writing all this copy for his Australian propaganda arms?

  4. David quotes from The Australian. I admit to not ever going there anymore, because it makes me nauseous. It’s become little more than an ideological ghetto, an intellectual toilet for far right and antiscience ideas.

    Crispin Hull has it right:

    The delusional in denial.

    What reminded me of Comical Ali, of course, were all the climate change deniers spouting their nonsense while high-temperature records were broken and bushfires raged across the country.

    The US tanks are in Baghdad. The climate has already changed.

    But still they want to open new coal mines and build new coal-fired power stations.

    How do you explain it? Perhaps we are looking at these people the wrong way. We assume that they do not think climate change is happening, therefore it is fine to continue to mine and burn coal. But it seems to me that it is the other way around. They first want to continue to make money by mining and burning coal (or receive donations from those who do) and therefore they must deny that climate change is happening, even in the face of overwhelming evidence and the appalling economic and health costs.

    We have seen it before. People wanting to make money by selling tobacco have to deny that it causes lung cancer, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

    • I agree with you about the Australian newspaper. I stopped reading it a few years ago and on the rare occasions I’ve picked it up since then, generally in a cafe, I’ve wanted to hurl.

      The extreme right wing bias is so blatent that it shouldnt even be called news, most of the articles were more like opinion pieces or infomercials.

      And they wonder why their readership is falling. Its not just the internet and new generation, its the fact they are writing unbelievable, private agenda driven crap. Its not news.

      • But it’s perfectly in keeping with the rest of Murdoch’s stable of faux news outlets. Apparently there is a market for heavily edited and slanted “news” that caters to a particular audience’s preconceived biases. Can’t wait for the old fart Rupe to die. Surely his replacement cannot be this bad?

      • We are a microcosim of America, Here it Fairfax vs News Limited. There its CNN vs Fox.

        The common denominator is Rupert Murdoch. How he still has enough upper brain function to run a global empire at 86 is amazing. I can only presume he’s a shining example of german medical technology. His mother, Elizabeth Murdoch, lived to be 103, so it looks like the old horror has the genes for a long life span.

        What his kids will be like is another matter. Lachlan got put on a short leash for a while and his daughter, despite doing what appeared to be a good job, was not lauded for her work effort. However it may not matter for another 10 years at least because the old bugger will be around for a while yet.

    • Like it or not News Ltd influences the agenda. MB, and DLS in particular, engage with this. As they should and as do you when Minerals Council et al comment here. No one demolishes the anti-science arguments like you. Kudos.

      I read the Oz (and others) too. Just because I consume the media doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with it. It’s often quite the opposite.

  5. Werner Heisenberg

    P.S. The prices are drawn from an MB special report coming out tomorrow on energy investment opportunities.

    Does it cover possibly the greatest missed opportunity of all time. Enough energy to supply all of Australia for several hundred thousand years. Could easily be stored in batteries as well.

    All they needed was some government investment – a tested, tried, and proven technology. Shut down when ? Oh, November – what a surprise.

    “There’s no doubt that a lot of these start-up, new sources of energy will require public funding to give them a start and, what we’ve found is, as soon as that happens the cost curve quickly reduces,” chief executive Craig Wilkins said.


    • Werner,
      Dry hot rocks geothermal proved to be non-commercial. Each well was costing over $20 million to drill and fracc to create an underground heat exchange and at one point the thing exploded into fire!
      The CAPEX involved in drilling fraccing, running a conventional, Rankin cycle generation plant and cycling water back down to the hot rocks as well as the OPEX involved in maintaining wells and lines that would block up with salts, leached from the granite over time, would also be high and this is before calculating the energy expended to builds a hot rock geothermal power plant vs the usable net energy that might be produced.

      Most geothermal is from hot wet rocks near the surface, so CAPEX is relatively low, even though the lines do block up and need to be replaced, treated with chemicals or re-bored. to stay in operation.

      The project probably deserves another go, but if it costs say $100 million to get a 4 well project into operation and that can generate 2 Mw of power, it is very expensive compared with say a gas turbine that has a CAPEX of about $1.4 m per Mw

  6. Breaking News: Rachel Maddow says they have Trump’s tax records. To be released soon …hot news.

    I bet he’s a bankrupt!

  7. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    Ive used battery power tools for near 20 years now, and used to think it laughable, the idea of not using 240v tools,….always cheaper and more powerful.
    But with my AEG 18v 6ah battery powered rotary hammer and 5 inch grinder powerfull enough to go all day, I now only use 240v when using a drop saw, 9inch grinder or my Husqvarna electric wet saw. Once 10 – 20 ah batteries hit the 18v and 36v market,
    those tools will be battery powered too (milwaukee whom Im going to next has 18v 9 Ah batteries now)

    The marketing bullshit that locks you in to battery connection types, keeps prices artifically high and crushes real competition.

    To more effectively “Sell” renewables and battery backup to the electorate, this near constant coporate price gouging and controlling , needs to be eliminated.
    Having wealthy property owners, the olny beneficiaries of all these wonderfully new, inovative solutions whilst working class people (the majority of the population) are smashed with higher energy costs and lower living standards, is no way to win the fight.

    @ R2M, if the elimination of CO2 emissions is a urgent matter of life or death for us all,…then why are you not advocating more stridently for the complete Nationalization of electricity generation by the Federal government.
    A 100% mix of geo thermal, wind, solar, umped storage and battery systems, all funded by printing press, (no debt or bond issuances)…just like everybody does when at War?
    Then the Govie can sell to all the Australian people, the cheapest (Subsidised) Electricity in the world with the price set at an average rate taken from the 10 cheapest electricity markets in the World.

    A win win for the Environment, Employment, the Consumer and National Competitiveness and save us all from extinction!
    The Private/Coporate sector has to greater responsibilities to shareholders snd profit. The Govie doing it is the only way.

    All that would required would be a break away fron Neoliberalism and some political will.
    Without such a break, no true good causes will see success.

    • Love your work EP

      I had to use a 240VAC power drill to get some spaghetti into some 40 year old brickwork the other day (the most unbelievably strong mortar I’ve ever seen) but apart from that, we ran a Ryobi brushless impact driver all day into masonry with a mere 2.5Ah battery and it barely flinched. Ridonculous.

  8. P.S. The prices are drawn from an MB special report coming out tomorrow on energy investment opportunities.

    Does this include actual investable (small scale individual/SMSF) ideas on ASX ie direct equities?

  9. A second article today that uses “idiot” as a main argument in the first sentence (“…truly idiotic Do-nothing Malcolm Government…”) and even earlier than that: in the title!

    Am I the only one noticing the trending?

      • That trend you talk of is agreed upon.

        What I mean is the use of the ad-passiones and ad-hominem argumentation for credible article.

        But you knew of this anyway.

      • Resort2Mean

        Yep, now your arguments are *stronger*


        why are your eyes so sad when you flicking the best argument you have? (see above charmap icon)

      • Not ad hominem: You are wrong because of X, Y, Z. By the way, you are an idiot.

        Ad hominem: You are an idiot. Therefore you are wrong.

  10. If you are going to use batteries for arbitrage, ie, recharging when electrons are cheap and discharging when electrons are expensive – you/we need to know the cost of storage.

    Solar Quotes website has a table on the cost of storage in various batteries including Powerwall 2.0 (13.5 kWh). A much larger battery from Tesla – Powerpack – sells for U$250/kWh and obviously is made up of the same cells (21 mm x 70 mm each).

    210 kWh per Powerpack. Someone can extrapolate the cost of storage from the Solar Quotes blog.

  11. haimona12MEMBER

    A point to add on Levelised cost of energy (LCOE) numbers similar to those in the article. For coal and large scale gas you need to add in the cost of transmission and distribution. There are two problems with the LCOE numbers put out by the govt. 1) 5 years is an eternity – there has to be a reason the AETA hasn’t been updated and it probably isn’t good. 2) it should be LCOE at the point of consumption, not production. If they’d done the former instead of the latter, the huge uptake of solar wouldn’t have been such a big shock to the official forecasts. Look forward to the report tomorrow. How to make $ from this mess.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      “How to make $ from this mess”

      The “Mess”, is a result of too many of the stakeholders Obsessing over that very Question.
      Its time to fuck off the Accountants, Marketing pricks and Private interests,… and put Federally funded Engineers and elected representatives back in charge of the system.

  12. Yes, you can store milk in a fridge. But, it can never replace BASELOAD milk. Therefore, everyone needs to have their own cow.

  13. MarcusOzMEMBER

    Sigh – this is one area where you let your normal reasoned arguments and logic out the window and fall for the renewable energy hype. Perhaps you should stick to economics because your grasp of the reality of renewables and their capabilities is, well, ahem – very armchair

    Battery storage technologies may have a role in managing shorter-term imbalances but are unlikely to solve the very large seasonal swings in generation output under high-penetration IR scenarios

    Batteries will never be “Grid Scale” in any meaningful sense of the word.

    LCOE is an outdated concept and cannot be used to reliably compare anything except the marginal cost of producing electricity – (I suggest you do some research on Systems Value at the IEA)

    Wind and Solar will likely never economically displace Fossil Fuels at scale, with or without batteries – largely because their value declines (and significantly) as their penetration grows

    And please, do me a favour and actually read the science papers I have posted before you reply with wishful thinking delusions repeating the 100% Renewable Polyanna delusions.

    Yes we can, and should, do more with Renewables and Batteries – but the notion that it will be anywhere near enough is frankly unsupported by any evidence