Musk magic and the Tesla torment

Bad luck for the much hyped Tesla battery when the grand opening in South Australia yesterday coincided with storms that brought power outages in its immediate vicinity.

Designated as reliability-proofing a state that has seen the future of electricity generation more clearly than Lincoln Steffens saw how effectively the infant USSR would work , it was launched with the usual puffery of how it could power 30,000 homes for an hour in the event of a blackout. This leaves 737,267 South Australian homes without even that amount of comfort.

In December’s Climate News issued yesterday, I had this to say

The giant Elon Musk battery designed to future proof South Australia was completed on time on 1 December. The battery charges up when prices are low and feeds into the grid when they are high. The battery is also contracted by the government to provide fast-response stability services. It will allow 100 MW of power to be produced for about one hour – enough to supply five per cent of South Australia’s demand.

Euan Means estimates that to enable a grid size storage adequate to serve a renewable energy dominated UK would require 1.8 TWh at a notional cost of £48 billion with pumped storage, if such a scheme were feasible. To do it with Musk-style South Australian batteries would require 14,000 of these 129 MWh facilities at a cost of £405 billion

The ANU (Blakers et al) estimated the cost for 100% renewable electricity system is $93 and $75 per MWh respectively using current and projected future wind and PV prices. It put the capital cost of this at $184 billion (current pv/wind prices) and $152 billion (estimated future prices). The team from the ANU estimated that South Australia could be fully renewable with back-up of 400-500 GWh of storage but another study estimates this at 6,800 GWh.  And, in a refrain constantly regurgitated over the past 30 years, the ANU team claims no cost to eliminating CO2 from energy use since “the cost of electricity from new-build wind and solar power generators was below the cost of electricity from new-build fossil fuel generators”.

With renewables subsidised and regulated into prominence in the electricity supply system, there is likely to be an increasing role for batteries as a means of counteracting wind/solar’s irregular supply and difficult to control features.  This means additional associated costs involved that further reduce the economics of renewables other than hydro (which works because water, having 100 times the density of air, (800 thanks Faustus and Gavin) can push turbines more effectively).  But we have a potent brew with politicians backed by wide-eyed green enthusiasts determined to undermine the market and reforge it to conform to their own preferences, and gimlet-eyed businesses keen to exploit any subsidy on offer.

Batteries are therefore assured of a major new role in further adding to the costs of electricity at least until our politicians are forced to awaken, Trump-style, to the realities of renewables’ costs and the invalidity of the climate scare.  Hopefully the damage to the economy in the interim will not prove irreparable.

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60 Responses to Musk magic and the Tesla torment

  1. I wonder whether the ‘battery’ timeline was actually met (or else it was free), or whether some slack was given to Musk?

  2. Also, does anyone know what the MTBF is for these batteries, the fail safe systems, lifespan etc?

  3. Baldrick

    Meanwhile, Jay WeatherDill continues to spruik his snake oil elixir:

    Jay Weatherill ✔ @JayWeatherill
    We’re delivering more reliable power this summer, with the world’s largest lithium ion battery now in place.
    5:03 PM · Dec 1, 2017

  4. entropy

    Jay Weatherill ✔ @JayWeatherill
    We’re delivering more reliable power this summer, with the world’s largest lithium ion battery now in place.
    5:03 PM · Dec 1, 2017

    Backed up by a conga line of expensive diesels that will really be what improves reliability. Thing is, this rank idiocy is never held to account by the media.

  5. destroyer D69

    The MBTF for the Musk battery would be the same as for any battery device using the same cells(3.7v 18650 Li.ion)Like what you get from any battery powered tool.

  6. Up The Workers!

    Alternatively, has anybody ever investigated the power we could generate and the money we could save, if we just burned all our surplus Weatherdills, green politicians and perhaps Elon Musk, to turn the turbines and generate electricity?

  7. John Constantine

    The deindustrialisation of the racist, settler, colonialist economies is the whole point of the transnational treaties, voted jato existence by Mugabe’s African voting block, the socialist voting block and the Chinese bribery block.

    Then Australia’s corruptocracy is bribed jato unswerving commitment to these signed conventions.

    Then we hand over our industries to the dictators with the most united nations votes and import all the stuff we can no longer make from Chinese communist party controlled monopoly cartels.

    What a brilliant idea Julie Bishop.

  8. Bruce of Newcastle

    counteracting wind/solar’s irregular supply and difficult to control features

    Who’d want to be a grid management engineer?

    Germany’s National Power Grid Mess…Country Seeing Whopping 172,000 Power Outages Annually!

    Over the past years the German state of Hesse has been plagued by power outages, Hessen public television (HR) reported here, as it pondered why Hesse has become so prone to blackouts. HR cites the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Grid Agency), which says there are over 172,000 power outages annually, which is some 470 daily, and that last winter multiple power plants had to be switched simultaneously because “the German grid was on the brink of collapse.”

    So wind and solar nearly caused the entire German grid to collapse a year ago, and the poor power engineers somehow have to cope with 470 daily outages around the country. Furthermore their emergency interventions into the power supply market have risen:

    Years ago before the wind and solar energy were fed in to the grid in significant volumes, operators intervened to avert a black out maybe “up to five times per year“. But today “we are up to 1000 – 1500 interventions per year,” says Volker Weinreich, Director of the Hanover grid control center.

    We consumers are paying for all this, and businesses needing steady supply are being disrupted. No wonder real electricity prices are skyrocketing, unlike the mythical numbers that activists cite.

  9. Craig Mc

    bemused: the goal posts were moved post-“bid” after conveniently ruling out competitors.

  10. Let’s not forget the collateral damage/ road kill of the good old tax payer who paid for this whether they wanted to or not and face the prospect of shelling out even more for what should be a stable utility in a first world economy. In another time, weathershill would have been hunted down with dogs by flaming torchlight, tied by one leg to the bough of a tree and split from pubis to sternum. Now he will get a UN award.

  11. classical_hero

    What will happen when those batteries need to be changed? We know they don’t last forever. Like most “green” programs they are destroying the present to hopefully protect the future. Romans 1 perfectly describes the situation. They loved the creation more than the creator and professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

  12. Gavin R Putland

    …hydro (which works because water, having 100 times the density of air, can push turbines more effectively).

    Actually it’s more like 800 times — which only strengthens the point.

  13. Chris M

    Well the big lithium ion battery in Brussels lasted less than a month before combusting, Jay will hope this one isn’t spewing out smoke and toxic fumes on election day.

  14. Garry

    And this stupidity will never stop until we are reduced to abject poverty!

  15. Bruce

    The Germans probably had fewer electricity outages / shortages when they were being worked over, round the clock, by the RAF and USAAF, back in the 1940’s.

    Seemingly, in most countries, the concept of “design margin” seems to be utterly alien to the political class.

    There seems to be another concerted push by “solar” companies here in Oz; I am getting two or three calls a week from earnest sounding chaps in Mumbai or similar.

    The key to their old spiels was the generous recycling of taxes into “grid-feed” payments and outright subsidisation. Now it is allegedly about reducing your power bill. Given the larcenous scale of these bills, that seems like a good idea. Well, it is, until you do the sums on the installation cost for a system that will do something more than put a bunch of nasty crap on your roof and some dodgy electronics in your garage.

    Regarding the Tesla car: given the ratio of travel distance to charging time, Cobb and Co. were probably way ahead back in the 1850′ s and onwards…. on hand-cut, DIRT roads.

  16. Rabz

    How much has this indescribable idiocy cost taxpayers who don’t even live in that creepy stinking cesspit?

    Cut the bastards loose.

  17. Dr Faustus

    With renewables subsidised and regulated into prominence in the electricity supply system, there is likely to be an increasing role for batteries as a means of counteracting wind/solar’s irregular supply and difficult to control features.

    Likely correct. And the winner in the race to supply the world with batteries will be China.
    Unsurprisingly Chinese battery production has expanded vastly over the past 5 years to the point where it is experiencing a glut – the inevitable consequence will be ‘cheap’ li-ion batteries in big assemblages flooding the world market.

    Given Australian stupidity is also expanding vastly, we will be in the ironic situation of selling fossil fuels to China – and then using the proceeds to buy batteries which will not generate a single watt.

    I guess the upside will be we won’t have to see Musk and his hipster mates smugging on TV.

    [which works because water, having 100 times the density of air, can push turbines more effectively
    NB: water has about 800 times the density of air. Does not change the message at all – but leave no loose ends for critics.]

  18. Well the big lithium ion battery in Brussels lasted less than a month before combusting, Jay will hope this one isn’t spewing out smoke and toxic fumes on election day.

    That’s what I was wondering about. With Li-Ion batteries being so volatile and these located in one of the hottest locations in Australia, I wonder what sort of energy is being expended to keep them cool and safe for bursting into flames/exploding due to heat. And I wonder what fail-safes are in place to protect them from these lightning strikes.

    South Australia may have installed the biggest ticking bomb since Maralinga. And even if it didn’t explode, the fallout from a fire will clearly be pretty bad.

  19. Dr Faustus

    [Not a pile on, didn’t see Gavin Putland at 9:44.]

  20. peter

    The big elephant here is the battery will take cheap unneeded wind power to charge and sell it to the grid at times of high demand which means it will be flat when it is required if the problem occurs at the end of a high demand period and if the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining it cant be recharged , A visit to the AEMO dashboard show QLD is making a fortune out of selling power to the green states.

  21. Dr Fred Lenin

    Weatherdull ! A great achiever like turnbull krudd giliard, muppets of a feather . He has wrecked the power system ,blown up the only possible salvation in Port Augusta Been conned by that smartass musk , bludged off the other states. Gerrymandered his way into power and turned Ms Wong into a Mr , quite a lad our jay , reminds me a jay is an annoying noisy bird no one likes , yeah jay sounds right .

  22. Helen

    We could get rid of the solar and wind systems entirely, and the big battery, and expand coal and nuclear generation, and there would still be power outages during storms. The kind of power generation doesn’t make any difference to the risk of power lines falling over. Better design, maintenance and redundancy would help, but there’ll always be a bigger storm..

  23. Looking Ahead

    Get a generator. I did. A lot of people are. This ensures we have power when the grid breaks down.
    The long term effects overall, I don’t know.

  24. Can we have a Musklotto to predict how many days until the battery explodes?
    I’m going for 97 days.

  25. Caveman

    I would like to see more and more of these batteries and bigger batteries still filled with Li-ion , just want to see my Lithium stocks rise. Im in it for myself.

  26. flyingduk

    Just bite the bullet and buy yourself a decent home generator with auto switch over. I did, and its run 73 hours this year. Be sure to put it in a sound proof enclosure however, because at some point home generators will be made illegal.

  27. egg_

    Backed up by a conga line of expensive diesels that will really be what improves reliability. Thing is, this rank idiocy is never held to account by the media.

    Yup teh WBB could go up in smoke tomorrow and it wouldn’t make any difference.
    Gold plated hyperbole.

  28. The war against the climate alarmists and eco-fascists is not over. Many of us like to think the whole scam is so ridiculously absurd that truth will out and it will collapse eventually. But I expect that as the actual temperature continues to ignore the demands of the alarmists’ predictive models, their argument will shift. They will begin saying ‘see, our measures are working; we are saving the world’. At that time, arguing to unwind the measures will be much harder.

  29. Garry

    It’s amazing what can go in the recycle bin provided its in a strong cardboard box! Silly I know, but it makes me feel like I am fighting back against the green menace.

  30. Leo G

    And I wonder what fail-safes are in place to protect them from these lightning strikes.

    The battery could be quite a good ball lightning generator.

  31. EvilElvis

    Hopefully the damage to the economy in the interim will not prove irreparable.

    Well Alan, a battery, no matter how big is not going to run my fucking deep fryer for any period of usable time let alone run a plant of any description that provides jobs to the brain dead fuckwits who vote for this shit. That’s the big problem that needs to be rammed into the plebs. Enjoy your one hour of exhorbitantly priced AC when the outages come, you won’t be able to pay for it because you haven’t got a fucking job!

  32. Roger

    Jay Weatherill ✔ @JayWeatherill
    We’re delivering more reliable power this summer, with the world’s largest lithium ion battery now in place.
    5:03 PM · Dec 1, 2017

    Backed up by a conga line of expensive diesels that will really be what improves reliability. Thing is, this rank idiocy is never held to account by the media.

    Weatherdill yesterday: that the SA Sept 16 blackout was caused by renewables “a myth that has been debunked” despite even AEMO conceding the blackout was triggered by nine wind farms in the mid-north shutting down to protect themselves leading to the over-loaded Heywood inter-connector doing likewise.

    SA will need a many more big batteries if it wants to be renewable powered. Meanwhile, keep those diesel generators running. What a joke!

  33. Tel

    That’s what I was wondering about. With Li-Ion batteries being so volatile and these located in one of the hottest locations in Australia, I wonder what sort of energy is being expended to keep them cool and safe for bursting into flames/exploding due to heat.

    Largely comes down to the quality of insulation keeping the layers separate. If you look at typical mobile-device batteries they tend to be a kind of plastic satchel, often flexible, so the key temperature is the melting point of whatever plastic is in there, normally not very high. I have no idea what Musk uses but some of the Tesla cars have burned out while charging so clearly heat is a weak point.

    And I wonder what fail-safes are in place to protect them from these lightning strikes.

    Lighting rod on the roof of a steel shed should be no big deal, unless they are complete morons that would be under control.

    South Australia may have installed the biggest ticking bomb since Maralinga. And even if it didn’t explode, the fallout from a fire will clearly be pretty bad.

    Lithium battery fires are hot and intense but localized, search photos of Tesla cars where the battery burned out and you see the sort of damage it does. You wouldn’t want to be sitting in it at the time, that’s for sure… but it ain’t a nuclear bomb by any means. Might be worth a check on Google Maps to see who the immediate neighbours are and check who has shares in those companies.

  34. Dr Fred Lenin

    The u.n.communist fascist one world government cannot allow western countries with free speech voter freedom , sound economies ,good incomes, plenty of food etc, to exist . Communist fascism is based on misery,jealousy,envy ,deceit , lies ,backstabbingand personal ambition at any cost . Witness the turnbull libs,alp.gangrenes we have at the moment. You will never find a lefty with a real sense of humour ,we all know that fascist PC and feminazism have killed humour these days , marx,ulyanovand stalin were humourless bastards ,Mao Castro ,Guevara ,not a laugh amongst them boring little pedagogue rubbish.

  35. Roger

    I don’t suppose any journalist has had the gumption to ask Weatherdill about the “carbon footprint” of the world’s biggest battery?

    The Swedes did some research on the Tesla car battery and worked out producing just one battery was equivalent to driving a petrol car for 8 years.

  36. Art Vandelay

    Another day, another power outage in Adelaide CBD.

    I wonder if the battery white elephant will have as many faults as Musk’s cars:

    Tesla Employees Say 90% Of Model S/X Cars Fail Quality Checks After Assembly.

  37. testpattern

    Klinken is still catching up, he should get out and talk to industry more. A whole lot of money has already been invested in just that

    ‘Western Australia’s chief scientist Peter Klinken says there is value in exploring the viability of lithium-ion battery manufacturing in the state.

    Professor Klinken said Western Australia’s competitive advantage as a producer of some battery raw materials needed to be quickly leveraged to capture a greater share of the value present in the booming battery supply chain.’

    http://www.afr.com/business/energy/lets-look-at-building-lithiumion-batteries-wa-chief-scientist-20171128-gzu7wn

  38. I guess there’s the aspect of disposing of these once they have reached the end of life. Do they take them to the local supermarket battery recycle bin?

  39. JohnA

    The giant Elon Musk battery, designed to future-proof South Australia, was completed on time on 1 December. The battery charges up when prices are low and feeds into the grid when they are high.

    Please define “low”
    Please define “high”

    Now, what would be the outcome if “low” was never reached?

    [With Grammarly corrections applied – I’m tired of wearing other people’s grammatical deficiencies]

  40. I’ll bet my left nut that the unintended consequences of this battery farm haven’t been thought through.

  41. Diogenes

    Lithium battery fires are hot and intense but localized, search photos of Tesla cars where the battery burned out and you

    May be so but i would not want to be downwind of such a fire

  42. J.H.

    The politicians will never wake up to the Green Scam…. They ARE the Green Scam.

    I’ve been reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn again…. I’m guessing that our body politic will be coming for us when the money runs out and the Scam needs the blood and body fat of its critics to keep on running….

    She be a bleak future guys. We either keep dreaming a nightmare…. or wake up to the reality of the Gulag. Socialism is a slave economy. The siren call of the Welfare state and the “Universal wage” beckons to those born into the over regulated society of today and who know no other reality…… As it stands, there can only one future now and it is not a good one.

    …. but of course, all old farts say that.

  43. Roger

    The politicians will never wake up to the Green Scam…. They ARE the Green Scam.

    Observe how many politicians get on the renewables gravy train after retirement, a trail blazed by John Hewson.

  44. This is not the worlds biggest battery. It’s an assemblage of domestic power wall batteries for which no other purchased could be found so Musk is feted as a hero and Weatherdill basks in the afterglow! I wonder how long this array would run a blast furnace, but then blast furnaces are not full of voters are they? And in the meantime we even make public transport more dependent on electricity by extending trams and introducing electric trains forsooth. One would have thought that with the abiding uncertainty they would have elected to choose hybrid trains and trams which megamouth musk could supply instead of trucks! But I’m beginning to smell a rat, a musk rat no less. Rattuus Muskus anyone?

  45. John Constantine

    The survival of the human race depends on it not being trapped on one planet.

    Musk is currently about the sole human with the motivation and access to resources to even take baby steps towards an escape route.

    Hopefully Musk takes the weatherfilth for everything, it would only be squandered anyway.

  46. Jo Smyth

    Why do the Greens who get less than 10% of the vote, have so much power (no pun intended) over our lives. Could it be because the media, who are the real leaders of the country, are full to the brim with greenies and the rest of the Politicians, because they have no backbone, are scared witless that the left wing media will write something nasty about them and they will therefore have to defend their very lucrative lifestyles while the rest of us have to put up with the lunatic thought bubbles and the enormous costs incurred.

  47. Dr Fred Lenin

    When weatherdull retires “to spend more time with his family” ,it is rumoured he will get a lucrative part time job at Tesla ,one day a month for$300 k pa ,and the Order of the Beloved Stalin from the u.n. And a job in krudd s shit shovelling department at NY HQ .

  48. entropy

    Just read “The Giver” again. Young teen book, make sure all your children and grandchildren read it.
    A dystopian future where society has given up indiduality for safety.

  49. Steve trickler.

    It is a joke.

    In a blackout, the grid is dead. How will the battery selectively service homes X amount of a distance away, whilst avoiding demand along the way on the grid highway? All sorts of appliances and machinery would like to use the electrons dedicated to those homes. Not possible.

    A grid NOT in phase at 50hz, is a dead grid. The battery is useless.

  50. Rob MW

    Jay Weatherill ✔ @JayWeatherill
    We’re delivering more reliable power this summer, with the world’s largest lithium ion battery now in place.
    5:03 PM · Dec 1, 2017

    Lol……..more reliable than what, a fucking orphaned crank handle 🙂

  51. RobK

    I look forward to seeing an open account of the musk business model after twelve months of operation. My gut feeling is SA is being didled. Good luck to Mr Musk.

  52. Hopefully Musk takes the weatherfilth for everything, it would only be squandered anyway.

    People seem to miss this aspect of it, John.
    Musk didn’t stuff SA’s electricity supply – the state government did that.
    Musk didn’t stuff the national grid – state and federal governments did that.
    Musk didn’t come up with the rentseeker idea of a battery – Ross Garnaut did that.

    The decision to proceed with this white elephant waste of money was done and dusted long before Musk stepped in at the eleventh hour with a better sales pitch. The Garnaut fantasy was not only for a battery, but for a currently non-existent, largely experimental, solar thermal unit to power it as well. It would have been a perpetually unfinished sink-hole for SA taxpayers’ dollars.

    At least with Musk SA got an actual battery, quite possibly with some realistic after sales support, and a means to charge it (sometimes). On time and within budget. And any profits, not to mention research, will all go towards a colony on Mars. Mankind’s next small step.

  53. And any profits, not to mention research, will all go towards a colony on Mars. Mankind’s next small step.

    Given how SA is going, you could very well call it a Mars colony in the not too distant future.

  54. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    adding to the costs of electricity at least until our politicians are forced to awaken, Trump-style, to the realities of renewables’ costs and the invalidity of the climate scare

    And that’s looking like the twelfth of never right now.

    Oh dear. Won’t somebody rid us of these turbulent priests?

    NADT. Just send them back to live in caves as they desire, without bothering the rest of us.

  55. Rabz

    Won’t somebody rid us of these turbulent priests?

    I’ll happily undertake that thankless task, but not by myself. Others must assist.

    1989, peoples. That’s when I first became aware of this laughable, fact and evidence free, anti-scientific horseshit.

    Sniffed it straight away. Why couldn’t hundreds of millions of others?

    Braindead, were they?

  56. André M

    but then blast furnaces are not full of voters are they?

    Not yet, but give the left wing a chance and I’m sure history will repeat.

  57. Phil

    peter
    #2572859, posted on December 2, 2017 at 10:12 am

    “A visit to the AEMO dashboard show QLD is making a fortune out of selling power to the green states”.

    And still they don’t seem to be spending a shekel to pay down our debt.

  58. duncanm

    I look forward to seeing an open account of the musk business model after twelve months of operation. My gut feeling is SA is being didled. Good luck to Mr Musk.

    they just bought themselves the slowest monorail ever invented.

  59. Jeremy

    I can see a problem where there won’t be enough excess energy from renewables to recharge the batteries when they have been depleted.

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