Perry Williams continues to provoke wry and disbelieving comments in The Australian with the promotion of RE and most recently the prospect of a billion dollar spend on two new batteries in NSW.
The idea is to replace power stations with RE and storage but there are two elephants in the room, one is the fact that storage depends on generation and the other is the guaranteed uncertainty of wind power production due to frequent wind droughts across the whole of SE Australia. Everyone knows that the sun sets and everyone needs to know the reality of prolonged wind droughts.
The public records of the Energy Market Operator for the month of June 2020 show that the supply dropped below 10% of the (theoretical) installed capacity of the windfleet thirteen times. The longest spells were 33 hours, 18 hours, 16 hours and 14 hours. That is unusual but every month there are period below the 10% point and the system needs to cope with very rare events. The Launceston flood protection system is designed to handle a one in 200 year deluge.
Capacity and cost
Be careful to check the capacity of the battery in MWh (Megawat Hours) and don’t get too excited by the large numbers of MW that Perry Williams and others use to describe the size of these things.
Origin Energy plans to develop a giant 700 megawatt battery at Eraring, Australia’s largest coal-fired power station, while France’s Neoen is preparing a 500MW battery stack dubbed the Great Western Battery Project at Wallerawang, home to the former EnergyAustralia coal station, which has now been decommissioned. The two batteries would rank as the largest storage devices in the world and over four times larger
than the Tesla world-beating battery in South Australia, which is also operated by Neoen.
Four times larger than the Tesla and Hornsdale sounds good and we have the cost figures for it. It occupies over a hectare and came with a total price tag in the vicinity of $160 million. With the second stage installed it has 194MWh of capacity that enables it to deliver 10 minutes of grid services and 3 hours of load shifting.
Presumably “load shifting” means contributing in a significant way to the grid, unlike the grid services that relate to frequency control and stabilization. Think of the load shifting contribution from the Tesla as a tributary flowing into the river of power in the SA grid. The load shifting stream has a “depth” of 30 MW compared with the depth of the river of power required for South Australia that ranges from 1000MW to 2500MW. So when the wind stops blowing the Hornsdale facility will contribute next to nothing to the grid for a short time compared with a serious wind drought.
You can amuse yourself by estimating the cost of covering a prolonged wind drought when the SE-Australia wide demand (the “stream”) is 20,000 to 30,000MW deep and the cost of the storage is in the order of a million dollars per MWhour.
Actually that is something of a red herring because big batteries are not supposed to handle wind droughts , or at least the qualified engineers in the system to not expect them to do so and it is unhelpful for people like Perry Williams to write about them as though they are genuine grid-scale storage.