Grid-scale electricity storage can’t save renewables

Posted: February 8, 2019 by oldbrew in Energy, ideology, opinion
Tags: , , ,

Image credit: energy-storage.news


No surprise there, but the points made deserve emphasis. No amount of ideology can defeat the realities of engineering and economics.

Engineer pours cold water on battery and hydrogen technologies – GWPF press release.
– – –
A new briefing paper from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) dismisses the idea that grid-scale electricity storage can help bring about a UK renewables revolution.

According to the paper’s author, Professor Jack Ponton, an emeritus professor of engineering from the University of Edinburgh, current approaches are either technically inadequate or commercially unviable.

Many commentators have suggested that intermittent power from wind turbines could simply be balanced with batteries or pumped hydro storage, but as Professor Ponton explains, this approach is unlikely to be viable.

“You need storage to deal with lulls in wind generation that can last for several days, so the amount required would be impracticably large. And because this would only be required intermittently, its capital cost could probably never be recovered”.

Professor Ponton also thinks that another potential saviour of the renewables revolution – hydrogen storage – has been unjustifiably hyped:

“A major problem with hydrogen is its low volumetric energy density. The only practical way of storing the large volumes required would be in underground caverns or depleted gasfields. We are already short of this type of storage for winter supplies of natural gas.”

Professor Ponton concludes that a lack of suitable storage technologies means that intermittent renewables cannot replace dispatchable coal, gas and nuclear power and so a sensible energy policy cannot be based on them.

“Wind and solar power are not available on demand and there are no technologies to make them so. Refusing to face these inconvenient facts poses a serious threat to our energy security”.

Grid-Scale Storage: Can it solve the intermittency problem? (PDF)

Comments
  1. Jamie Spry says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    AMAZING how powerful ideology is to make otherwise intelligent people lose all sense of reason and common sense in the ruinous pursuit of windmills, solar panels and fairytale storage.

    “You need storage to deal with lulls in wind generation that can last for several days, so the amount required would be impracticably large. And because this would only be required intermittently, its capital cost could probably never be recovered.

    Wind and solar power are not available on demand and there are no technologies to make them so. Refusing to face these inconvenient facts poses a serious threat to our energy security”.

  2. ivan says:

    Now IF those containers held the commercial version of a submarine power reactor and its remote control gear they might have something to offer – they could even disconnect and dismantle the ugly bird choppers and reduce CO2 emissions.

    Unfortunately, doing that doesn’t fit in with the UN Agenda 21 & 30 objective and might just be sensible.

  3. Curious George says:

    Grid-scale electricity storage can help bring about a renewables revolution – if someone invents it. Currently there are no candidates.

  4. oldbrew says:

    There’s the gravity train 😉
    https://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/03/gravity-train-as-energy-storage.html

    Maybe not quite grid-scale yet. Like a gravy train but with 2 extra letters.

  5. nickreality65 says:

    Every year the Arctic/Antarctic polar sea ice takes turns shrinking to +/-3E6 km^2 in the respective summer and growing back to +/-14E6 km^2 in their respective winters. That’s been the story for decades and there is zero significant evidence of any meaningful trend. All this fact-free climate change alarmism is akin to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

    RGHE theory says the atmosphere performs similar to a greenhouse, “trapping” energy making the “with” it atmosphere 33 C warmer than “without” it, i.e. 288 K – 255 K.

    The 288 K is a WAG pulled out of WMO’s butt. The 255 K is an unrelated S-B calculation for the average 240 W/m^2 OLR at ToA (got it? w/ atmos!!) requiring a 30% albedo.

    The earth w/o atmosphere cannot have a 30% albedo, more likely 14% like the moon.

    The atmosphere is not like a greenhouse, it is like that reflective panel you put behind your car’s windshield. By reflecting away 30% of the ISR the w/ atmosphere COOLS the earth compared to w/o.

    In actual physical and mathematical fact removing the atmosphere exposes the earth to 20% to 40% more kJ/h and the ISR temperature increases 20 C to 30 C. That’s warmer not colder.

    The greenhouse effect does not exist and 30 years of crap science stacked upon it goes straight in the trash.

    (If you don’t understand the acronyms maybe you should do the homework.)

  6. stpaulchuck says:

    “No amount of ideology can defeat the realities of engineering and economics.”

    Yeah, but no amount of science and technology will EVER overcome fear and superstition – i.e. AGW
    ————
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. – George Carlin.

  7. stpaulchuck says:

    nickreality65 says:
    February 9, 2019 at 12:38 am
    ——————————
    in support of your comment, a greenhouse has a ceiling/roof where the hot air rises to and is vented by thermally controlled openings in a manner to control the “climate” temperature. The point being the heat build up/hot spot at the greenhouse roof that holds in the heat. If the heat is not held in it escapes to the cooler surrounding atmosphere so a ‘roof’ is required for the effect.

    After more than a decade, the AGW pimps have yet to find the mythical Mid Tropospheric Hot Spot, without which there is NO greenhouse effect. (and never will be IMAO)

  8. gbaikie says:

    “Professor Ponton concludes that a lack of suitable storage technologies means that intermittent renewables cannot replace dispatchable coal, gas and nuclear power and so a sensible energy policy cannot be based on them.”

    If we had “suitable storage technologies” they would already be in use. Or there has always been a huge demand for them.
    One could say that due to stupidity, people thought “intermittent renewables” could a solution to the problem not having “suitable storage technologies”, but of course they made it worse.
    There are two solutions, having renewables not being intermittent, or having global transmission of electrical energy.

    With solar energy harvested is space you get both the two solution: a constant supply of energy and global distribution of the electrical energy.

    Leaving one basic problem, to cost of getting the infrastructure into orbit.
    And lowering this cost is possible.

  9. At the moment 9 february there is no coal power being produced due to the nine plus gwh of wind so coal is technically being stored when the wind will fall back

  10. garyt1963 says:

    I partially agree with the article. To have a 100% renewables system with currently available energy storage systems would not be economically viable. That said, renewables can and will form a substantially bigger proportion of electrical energy on the UK and European grids than now with electricity storage contributing to that higher proportion. Electric vehicles will within a decade form a significant part of the fleet, and run as a partially dispatchable load I.e. charging mostly when the sun shines or the wind blows and giving back power to the grid a few times a year when spot prices spike can collectively form a huge grid balancing battery stabilising over hours to maybe a day or so. A further factor of assistance is greater interconnection with Europe and North Africa with a European HVDC supergrid evening out production somewhat over a continental scale as wind in Morocco balances a lull in the North sea, and Norwegian hydro steps in at night to contribute when the wind does not blow much. My guess is that a European supergrid running 90% on a broad mix of renewables plus existing nuclear can be economically afforded. It is the final 10% which will be a huge challenge requiring natural gas for some time.

  11. David says:

    If we built our own Tesla style gigafactory for approx £5B we could produce at least 35GWh of lithium Ion storage cells per year. That would be about one hour of UK storage manufactured per year. And while one hour of storage doesn’t sound a lot, it would be unprecedented for the size of the country and would certainly increase the usefulness of renewables a lot. If we assume this factory can make these batteries for about £100 per KW, then that’s £140 for each of the 25 million households in the country. Building the factory would cost £200 per household. So after 10 years, with just one factory, we would have 10 hours of storage for an average of £160 per household. And as renewable energy is cheaper than gas, and we won’t need so many peaker plants, we will see that £160 per year outlay disappear as overall cost of energy comes down.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Dsvid says: So after 10 years, with just one factory, we would have 10 hours of storage for an average of £160 per household.

    What happens when the wind isn’t blowing for a week or two – build another 15 battery factories, which would all have to be charged up from somewhere?

  13. David says:

    Oldbrew – we are right at the beginning of the transformation to renewables if taking into account all energy use – electricity, transport and heating. One gigafactory would solve a big chunk of the problem but not all of it. 2 weeks of no wind would be a very unlikely event, but would probably be during summer, so would be offset by solar somewhat. I think 1GWh is a good unit of measuring storage but is misleading as I doubt we will ever have a situation where the country becomes 100% reliant on batteries with zero energy coming in. I wouldn’t be surprised if 10GWh of storage is sufficient for a week if low power input. Additionally, eventually electric cars sales will surpass petrol and diesel and there’s too much interest in utilising car batteries for grid storage for that to not happen. So grid storage will get a helping hand by cars.
    And while we increase storage, we still need to keep building more energy sources. Offshore wind turbines are getting bigger more effective and we need to keep adding them to the mix.

  14. Steve W says:

    Given established bulk energy storage, capable of delivering hundreds oh MWh’s, often relies on geographical location… i.e pumped hydro or CAES need hills or salt caverns… surely fast start gas turbines, able to bring tens or hundreds of MW’s in 10 minutes, would help augment the intermittency of wind…. True natural gas would be used to provide this power, but with the high simple cycle efficiency, and low emissions, now available, especially with aero derivative GT’s, this seems a viable way to back up the increasing renewable portion of our grids… Then consider manufacturers are actively developing hydrogen mixed into natural gas and GTG’s become a true partner to the renewables industry..

  15. tallbloke says:

    Steve W: Yes, but the problem is, we pay the wind subsidy farmers lots of cash when they make power but we don’t use it. This means the gas turbines have to spin up and down frequently to balance demand, and that shortens the life of the gas turbine considerably. So then the gas turbine owners have to price up to factor in the shortened lifespan, and we all end up paying yet again.

  16. tallbloke says:

    Brian A, we don’t get these wind storms all that often though…

  17. oldbrew says:

    Using electric cars as storage is only shuffling the problem around. Once that power is used the cars are going nowhere, or not as far as before.

    Plus the total system capacity would need to be higher if millions of electric cars were sucking power out of it every day. The whole thing has not been thought out, it’s just a mix of hope and fantasy made up as we go along.

  18. Dave Ward says:

    “2 weeks of no wind would be a very unlikely event, but would probably be during summer”

    Wrong – this usually occurs during winter, admittedly mostly only for a week, but this is also known as “Anti Cyclonic Gloom”, and means (surprise surprise) that solar goes from being almost useless to utterly useless.

    As for “I wouldn’t be surprised if 10GWh of storage is sufficient for a week of low power input” – you clearly haven’t the faintest idea of what it takes to run the UK. Peak demand (in winter) is typically over 50GW, and that will be needed for at least 12 hours out of 24. How on earth do you think 10GW will be sufficient for one day, never mind a week?

  19. Steve W says:

    Agreed wind operators are paid handsomely to curtail when wind power available but not needed… which is why CAES looked attractive… But cycling aero derivative GTG’s up and down isn’t so detrimental to lifing… yes it has an affect, but it’s what aero’s are designed for when fixed on a planes wing… I just see it as an important part of the solution to intermittent renewable power availability..

  20. Paul Mansfield says:

    Who funds the gwpf?
    Follow the money and then ask why they espouse the opinions and selectively promote facts that favour their financial backers.

  21. oldbrew says:

    At least they are ‘promoting facts’ 🙂

    The GWPF backing is tiny compared to IPCC funding via the UN and governments. Plus NASA, NOAA etc.

  22. tom0mason says:

    Building grid scale battery storage, that will (no doubt) NOT last a decade, to back-up useless wind generators that do NOT last their intended life, in a country not known for it’s abundance of sunshine is an idiot’s idea of how to provide reliable power for the UK’s future.
    An idiot scheme for scamming the public for £billions.
    ‘Sustainable’ ? No!
    ‘Saving the planet’? No!
    ‘Ripping off the customers’ — Yes!

  23. hunter says:

    Why should reality interfere with the climate concerned now?

  24. hunter says:

    Paul Mansfield,
    Who is funding the climate hypesters?
    Why are the failed programs based on failed climate claims still being funded?
    Who promotes the non-factual bs of the greens and climate obsessed?
    GWPF is a tiny mouse standing up to a herd of climate nonsense.
    Deal with it.

  25. Gamecock says:

    Storage is a head-fake. Intermittency of renewables is an effective argument against widespread use of renewables. Renewables shills say the magic word – STORAGE! – and intermittency is cured. Except it’s not. For political purposes, saying it is the cure is enough.

  26. dscott says:

    And still doesn’t address that battery storage is an energy consumer. 30% of all electricity stored in a battery storage system is consumed by the act of storage from AC to DC and then conversion back to AC current. In other words, in order to insure a grid has sufficient power supply it must be over sized by 30% on top of the 70% intermittency of wind. Now you understand why wind power destabilizes electric grids through massive spikes in power production way beyond the instantaneous needs of the power grid. It’s simply unworkable.

    It is basically an act of sheer intellectual incompetence to mis-match a system that is designed only for intermittency of seconds to minutes for the purpose of bridging outages for computer systems to storage times in days or weeks for grid supply and then call it energy efficiency or renewable standby power.

    The real issue is that some storage ideas simply do not scale up to grid level applications. A battery storage system works for a remote individual house, camper, remote cell site or automated navigation aide because DC power is created and stored without conversion losses. Electric power is then selectively provided in AC or DC based on the specifically designed consumption, all without the cost of trying to connect up to an AC grid. E.g. if you are building a house in a remote area or say an island and the cost of running an electric cable to the nearest electric utility is in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, then it makes economic sense to go solar with battery storage. At that point a small DC wind generator might make sense to top off the battery storage.

  27. Paul Mansfield says:

    Round trip efficiency from ac to dc/battery back to ac is nowhere near as low as 70%.

    Here’s an interesting site showing the grid power sources
    https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk

  28. oldbrew says:

    Norwegian hydro steps in at night to contribute when the wind does not blow much

    Really? Most of Northern Europe including wind-mad Germany will be hoping the same :/

  29. Mr GT says:

    Not so many mountains and fjords in the rest of Europe…

  30. oldbrew says:

    Passing through Norwegian and British waters, North Sea Link will be operational in 2021 and will be the longest subsea interconnector in the world.

    http://northsealink.com/

  31. Steve W says:

    Great…problem solved.

  32. oldbrew says:

    If Britain has a spell of little or no wind in the North Sea where many of the big turbines are, the same is likely to be true for Germany, Denmark etc., which also have interconnectors to Norway. And storage doesn’t generate anything.
    – – –

  33. ivan says:

    I am amazed at the number of people that think ‘renewable’ energy and batteries can provide enough electricity in modern society. Maybe they would like to change places with some people I know that are forced to live that way because the cost of getting power to their property is prohibitive.

    They have a 20KW bank of solar panels and the equivalent of a container load of deep cycle batteries that are, according to EDF, supposed to give 7 days autonomy – they don’t, even in summer. They have now added a 20KW diesel generator with auto start which allows them to have power 24/7. Fortunately they have a large propane gas tank for cooking and heating.

    Apply that to a whole nation and it can be seen that it won’t work without some very large nuclear or coal backup – gas would work but only if fracking was allowed to provide that gas for the turbines.

    ‘Renewable’ unreliable energy production has two uses. First and foremost it provides extra income for those that are wealthy enough to own the equipment – that income being paid by all in higher power bills than they would get if reliable coal or nuclear were the only generators. Second, it allows governments a measure of virtue signalling to the rest of the world totally disregarding the needs of the population (examples of this are California and Germany).

  34. oldbrew says:

    Renewable Storage Myth Busted: Elon Musk’s Great Battery Conjob Exposed
    February 11, 2019 by stopthesethings

    So at peak demand, in the renewables paradise of South Australia, 97% of their electricity was coming from fossil fuels.

    Over the afternoon, I estimate the ‘’world’s biggest battery’’ delivered only around 100 Mwh of electricity – compared to 2000Mwh by the diesel generators.

    The facts should be clear from the evidence that it’s a dangerous delusion that Australia can run the economy with solar/wind backed up by big batteries.

    But sadly once leftists have been radicalised by green propaganda – evidence, engineering & economics no longer matter, because their belief is a semi-religious one based on feelings and emotions and their minds are closed to rational thoughts and logic.

  35. tom0mason says:

    @David says:
    February 9, 2019 at 8:38 am

    “If we built our own Tesla style gigafactory for approx £5B we could produce at least 35GWh of lithium Ion storage cells per year. …
    … So after 10 years, with just one factory, we would have 10 hours of storage for an average of £160 per household.”

    Tesla batteries of the Li types and do not have much charge retaining viability in 7 to 10 years.
    There is no place in Europe that can economically reprocess the mineral components of these batteries, so add in that cost if you wish to reuse/recycle the batteries.
    As the site https://app.croneri.co.uk/feature-articles/dealing-waste-lithium-batteries-0 says (reported in 2013, has Lithium’s price risen enough since then to make it profitable?)

    “Furthermore, although battery recycling conserves valuable metals, according to US statistics recycled lithium is five times more expensive than lithium obtained through mining and uses six times as much energy as the processing of virgin ore. Lithium-ion batteries only contain a very small percentage of lithium, which is not economic to recycle.”

    Safety and security are major issues with large batteries installations as they will hold considerable energy — a small failure could precipitate a major explosion and fire. Probably the suicidal terrorist would view these battery plants as legitimate targets.
    And I also propose that this battery plant be built as close to you as possible.

  36. oldbrew says:

    Has anyone tried generating electricity by burning worn-out lithium batteries and heating up water to create steam pressure? A whole new industry beckons 😁

    Batteries are not renewable.

  37. Paul M says:

    Whilst it’s true that lithium-based batteries do degrade with age and cycles, accelerated by temperature, there are alternatives like flow batteries which last a lot longer, even indefinitely.

    one consideration is that the UK power grid wasn’t originally engineered for the end user pushing power back upstream. I think a better solution would be to have storage at local substations which give a better economy of scale, and the localisation means better able to respond to sudden surges in demand, as well as take up power from domestic PV exporters.

  38. Paul M says:

    p.s. Tom Mason wrote “Tesla batteries of the Li types and do not have much charge retaining viability in 7 to 10 years”

    Not fully correct.

    Domestic Tesla Powerwall batteries have a warranty of ten years OR a throughput limit, whichever comes first. I worked out that if you fully cycle them every day, the warranty expires in about 8.3 years, so by then you might only have 80% of the original capacity. That will continue to fall. This inevitably means that the payback time for a domestic PV + powerwall installation will be extended from “maybe” to “probably never”.

    There are battery vendors targeting domestic installations who give a ten year unconditional warranty, allowing you to fully cycle them every day, and even recharge at the cheapest rates (e.g. 1am to 4am) to avoid morning peak tariffs. Even then, the payback is still “maybe”. However, it is possible to use these in “Island” mode for off-grid use, which for some people is a huge benefit.

  39. oldbrew says:

    Grid storage batteries are trying to address a problem that doesn’t need to exist.

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