David Bidstrup guest post “Batteries not Included”

Here in SA every new project for “renewable energy” has to obtain approval from the State Planning Commission. The proposals are advertised in the paper and are available to the public via a website. The other day I noticed a proposal for a 100 MW/100 MWh battery to be installed at the major sub-station that served the now demolished Northern Power station at Port Augusta.

It will be called the “Playford Utility Battery Storage Facility” in recognition of the power stations developed by the Playford government and now demolished. The project cost is given as $100 million.

It’s quite a beast. There will be 27 containers full of batteries, each 45 feet long and 27 containers with inverters and transformers as well as a control room and the necessary substation facilities to connect it all up to the grid. It is sited adjacent to the Davenport substation where the HV transmission lines to Adelaide and other areas originate. Incidentally the HV transmission organisation also has a project in for approval at the same site, two “synchronous condensers” worth around $45 million, with another six to be sited in other areas later. The battery facility has a design life of 30 years but the batteries will need to be replaced after 15 years. All battery and other components will be imported as they are not available in Australia.

With all the energy madness that we see every day I thought I would try and compute the battery cost to “firm up” a wind farm. I have chosen the Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown, (host of Mr. Musk’s big battery) for the analysis. Hornsdale comprises 105 3 MW turbines, (total rated capacity 315 MW, over an area of 7,500 hectares). The promotional blurb says it will produce 1,050,000 MWh annually giving it a capacity factor of 38%, giving a “real” capacity of 119 MW. This is probably a bit optimistic but I will use it anyway.

The tricky thing with trying to get a quantity of storage nailed down is the intermittency on an hourly and daily basis. Just because it is rated at an “actual” 119 MW does not mean it will generate at this rate every day, or hour for that matter. I will use an average output knowing that it really does not represent reality but allows a battery cost to be calculated.

At 38% CF an average days output is 119 X 24 = 2,856 MWh. For one days storage there would need to be 29 100 MWh battery storage systems at $100 million each. This would cost $2.9 billion.

After 15 years, or maybe sooner, the batteries would have to be replaced. Say the batteries comprise 80% of the system cost, then the replacement cost after 15 years is another $2.3 billion. If a weeks’ worth of storage was needed multiply those numbers by 7 and get $20.3 billion and $16.2 billion for replacement. The battery systems would need to be re-charged every day. Some days might not be a problem but on others the wind might not cooperate and they would not fully charge. On “good” days there might be some excess to serve demand but it will always be unpredictable.

A chart showing the output from Hornsdale for the past 24 hours indicates the maximum 220 MW at around 7 p.m. yesterday and the minimum at 14 MW at the time of writing, 2 p.m. on 8 May 2019. About half the day was above 100 but over a third was below 50. The official PR uses an “average” of 119 MW over the whole day.

These calculations are for one 315 MW wind farm. Currently we have 6,106 MW Australia wide “installed capacity” in wind. Using the 38% CF this gives a daily output of 55,687 MWh, so one days storage requires 557 100 MWh battery systems costing $100 million each, a total of $58 billion. In 15 years there would be another $46 billion to replace the batteries giving a 30 year cost of $104 billion and it still would not provide “dispatchable” electricity.

How many coal fired or nuclear power stations could we get for that?

This entry was posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Guest Post. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to David Bidstrup guest post “Batteries not Included”

  1. Jim of Wollombi

    David B is a gem. his work sheds light when before there was darkness. It has a diurnal reality.

    The arithmetic which is used to justify this nonsense reminds me of that filthy limerick known to schoolboys in my Queensland youth which contains the lines “3/5 ths of 5/8 ths of f*** a**”

    And it was last week that the price of electricity on the AEMO grid peaked at an all time high!

  2. nb

    ‘Playford Utility Battery Storage Facility’
    An insult to Playford. He would be turning in his grave.

  3. Fair shake of the sauce bottle

    All Action Bill Shorten doll on sale now! Batteries not included

  4. We’ve been told the world is dying. You’re not allowed to use numbers, ordinary arithmetic or logic in this field.

  5. jupes

    Yeah but what about the cost of NOT acting on climate change?

  6. RobK

    Just because it is rated at an “actual” 119 MW does not mean it will generate at this rate every day, 
    Then again there will be times when it outputs 300MW.
    There is a dilemma or two, as you say. There will be some curtailment as the proportion of RE goes to higher levels, virtually irrespective of storage . There will be times demand can be met direct, other times demand will be met via storage. Then storage needs recharge.
    What I’m trying to show is, the capacity factor of a wind farm attached to a grid with low penetration is only constrained by the wind available. At higher penetration rates other constraints come into play, namely; the hosting capacity of the grid, the storage available and the demand profile. Matching RE production with consumer demand will always need backup because both solar and wind are chaotic. Adding storage to try to achieve 100% reliability with 100% RE is hideously expensive, even if batteries become a lot cheaper. Standby backup becomes dearer the less its needed.

  7. Yeah but what about the cost of NOT acting on climate change?

    Give us figures for both acting and not acting then the question can be answered. Maybe even Shorten can

  8. RobK

    Then again there will be times when it outputs 300MW.
    At these times many other wind plants will also be flooding the grid with excess energy, leading to curtailment after storage is full.. Solar also tends to act to in a similar manner across the grid. Capacity factor will be reduced due to curtailment.

  9. Leo G

    Using the 38% CF this gives a daily output of 55,687 MWh, …

    Using Tesla’s latest 21-70 laptop-style 66gram Lithium-ion cells that output implies a minimum of 2.6 billion cells, each with an expected useful lifetime of about 10 years. Accounting for redundancy to improve reliability and maintainability, allow a total of about 4 billion cells.
    The energy cost of producing each cell is close to the lifetime energy cycled through the cell.
    However, recycling the cells has a much higher energy cost.
    The implication is that windfarms which use storage units to cycle significant proportion of converted wind energy could well use more energy than they generate, and that situation worsens as the storage unit ages and battery cells are recycled.

  10. amortiser

    In SA curtailment takes place at the production of 1200 -1300 mwh so as to maintain system stability. They can never reach 100% RE capacity.

  11. Mark M

    The cost of inaction is the #1 KPI:

    May 8, SA climate: Wall of dust blankets Riverland, as Adelaide and Hills hit by rain and lightning

    https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/lightning-strikes-coopers-stadium-as-rain-and-storms-roll-over-south-australia/news-story/ce34e991c493ea3171c060f3c2e7641a

    May 9, SA climate: Rain, chance of a thunderstorms and possible hail forecast for Adelaide

    https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sa-weather-damaging-winds-thunderstorms-and-possible-hail-forecast-for-adelaide/news-story/4a574ebec545e1b3e192673ad1f3e63b

    Scary.

    No amount of windmills and batteries will stop that.

  12. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    we have evolved from peak oil to peak insanity

  13. All of these battery facilities should be rated under the Dangerous Goods Regulations. They could be listed both under Class 1, Division 1.3 (explosives), and Classes 4 and 5 (flammable solids and oxidizing substances).

    Then evaluate the maximum impact should they go into an uncontrollable situation like this:

    https://youtu.be/3eFM9JJMH_0

  14. RobK

    No amount of windmills and batteries will stop that.
    But dust, hail and lightening play merry hell on wind turbine blades, whose tips are travelling at around 250kph.
    https://www.windpowerengineering.com/operations-maintenance/planning-maintenance-for-wind-turbine-blades/

  15. MACK

    Bill Gates has been making exactly the same point:

  16. 132andBush


    Scary.

    No amount of windmills and batteries will stop that.

    Correct.
    BUT the climate hucksters fully aided by the FMIC and other carpet baggers (Alex Turnbull et al) have now convinced a majority of Gogglebox watching drones that you can.

  17. Percy Popinjay

    More importantly, can it power a Multifunctionopolis?

  18. J.H.

    It’s not about cost. It’s about saving the planet. There is no price.

    ….. and that folks, is their entire argument. The Children have spoken.

  19. Mike O'Ceirin

    I have a very strong handle on the variability of wind. Empirical data produced by the AEMO of the performance of the whole of wind generators on the eastern grid for 2017. In that year which was not unusual wind varied from 0% to 82%. To test whether a battery might work to produce stability one needs to take the worst case scenario. On 15 June 2017 wind went under 6% of plate capacity for 45 hours. The average output within that time was 3.86%. Applying these figures which are not an estimate a 100 MW wind power station/100 MW battery such as the Tesla one will be unstable. At 22% such a power station should be able to produce 990 MWh. The fully charged capacity of the battery is 129 MWh and in the time the wind turbines will produce 170 MWh. There is a shortage of 690 MWh so stable power at a rate of 22% of plate capacity is in the region of four hours. Batteries are orders of magnitude deficient for this task.

  20. Aynsley Kellow

    David, I am not sure if you have factored in the efficiency of battery storage – about 85%. Pumped storage hydro 70-80%.

  21. John A

    RobK #3011043, posted on May 13, 2019 at 12:15 am

    Then again there will be times when it outputs 300MW.

    At these times many other wind plants will also be flooding the grid with excess energy, leading to curtailment after storage is full. Solar also tends to act to in a similar manner across the grid. Capacity factor will be reduced due to curtailment.

    Now flooding is a most apt term to use.

    If we consider the analogy of building a hydro scheme, on a river system somewhere with unpredictable rainfall patterns (not looking at anywhere in particular but say around the Mitchell River in Gippsland), we see that there is a level of storage which can usually mitigate downstream flooding but can never be guaranteed to do so 100% of the time, forever into the future.

    So with ruinables…and this time, Hanrahan is right.

  22. RobK

    John A,
    That’s a good analogy regarding storage of chaotic energy. Of course wind turbines can be curtailed but profits are effected. We are told the price will be cheap at these times but we won’t have the means to capitalize on that because such surpluses are erratic. There will be little response to erratic price drops other than to erode profits of the generator from price drops and curtailment.
    At the other weather extreme, storage is depleted and redundant backup systems are required at high expense.
    RE is only suitable at the margins (and beyond) of the grid and at low penetration rates. Storage works best with baseload (viz pumped hydro) due to shallow predictable cycles of demand. RE requires high capacity of storage and high power output. At times storage will need to carry total demand for extended periods.
    It is not efficient.

  23. Pyrmonter

    A contribution from Pedant’s Corner – while the Playford power station was opened after Playford’s government socialised power supply in SA (something the ‘right’ tend to crow about more than is prudent), the plant that closed several years ago was not the original late 40s equipment – it had been built in the early 1980s – its connection to Playford was in the name and the fuel (which the Adelaide Electric Supply Co had refused to use, precipitating nationalisation by the ‘boss’ of SA politics), and that’s about it.

  24. Dr Fred Lenin

    The liberal branch of the alp government should have named it the Wetherill /Won unreliale power storage memorial ,be a good place to bild a coal fired power station ,you know a real power station ,one that works 24/7, and without foreign carpetbaggers stealing taxpayers money.

  25. Johnonymous

    There is not much point doing sums that involve the average power of a single wind farm. Last year 80% of all wind generation in Australia went missing for over week. The experts say that if the geographical spread is large enough that figure will decrease and less storage will be necessary. They also said that more wind and solar would lead to cheaper electricity.

  26. Leo G

    The experts say that if the geographical spread is large enough that figure will decrease and less storage will be necessary. They also said that more wind and solar would lead to cheaper electricity.

    It’s difficult to understand how more wind generators like Hornsdale in SA could lead to cheaper electricity. Hornsdale has a generation capacity of 315 MW and works in conjunction with a 130 MWh power reserve (using batteries based on 4.5 watt-hour lithium-ion cells).
    Taking into account the energy used in producing the batteries, Hornsdale likely uses more energy overall than it produces. As an investment in Australia’s energy sector, it looks like a Ponzi scheme.

  27. Mike O'Ceirin

    Okay I posted what I thought was a worthwhile comment at midday yesterday but it remains in moderation. It seems only a select few can comment here. Rather disappointing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.