As the wind power debacle unfolds in South Australia – leaving it with an erratic power supply and rocketing power prices – one of the mythical solutions being peddled is that South Australia need only pop out to the shops and pick up a few terawatt/hours worth of battery storage.
The way it is being pitched – by the likes of Federal Energy and Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg and SA’s hapless Labor government – it’s as if some forgetful nincompoop failed to order grid-scale electricity storage at the same time Australia was rolling out its 3,771MW of wind power capacity.
There is no example of grid-scale bulk electricity storage operating anywhere in the world.
Where geography and water resources permit (which rules out billiard table flat and desert dry South Australia) pumped hydro can operate as a viable, but expensive store of energy (not electricity) and is the one option being considered in California, as a response to its surfeit of chaotically delivered wind and solar power.
If there were such a thing as storing electricity in bulk using batteries, then California would be the first place in the world you might reasonably start looking.
However, alas, just like everywhere else, when the sun shines and the wind blows, mountains of power is squandered because its weather dependent delivery has no regard for the selfish strictures that surround human activity: running business and industry 9-to-5; shutting down on weekends; and winding down after dark, say.
If only people were a tad more flexible, then there would be no need to store erratically delivered wind power at all.
Anyone peddling battery storage as an answer to the chaotic delivery of weather dependant power is probably not playing with the full deck. On that account, what Andrew Follett of the Daily Caller has to say about California is equally applicable to the debacle unfolding in South Australia; and the nonsense that its wind power fiasco problem has a ‘plug-and-play’ solution just waiting in the wings.
California Wastes Tons Of Wind And Solar Power Due To Lack Of Energy Storage
The Daily Caller
24 July 2016
Solar and wind forced California operators to waste enormous amounts of power by cutting green energy from the grid in mid-July, because there’s nowhere to store the power.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out Friday the best way to store the electricity generated by wind and solar power is still a century-old technology that involves moving large amounts of water. Reports by the state’s utility, California Independent System Operator (CAISCO), confirm wind and solar power were wasted due to lack of storage capacity.
Academic calculations indicate that to match the amount of energy contained in a single gallon of gasoline, hydro-pumped storage units must lift 13 tons of water 3,280 feet high. The estimates state storing enough electricity for a single day of demand would require roughly 2,500 facilities, each of which would require as much concrete as exists in the Three Gorges and Grand Coulee dams combined.
This lack of energy storage capacity and serious difficulties in building more is one of the reasons solar and wind power only accounted for 0.6 and 4.7 percent of the electricity created in America during 2015, according to the EIA.
Without large-scale energy storage, the power grid needs demand for energy to exactly match supply to function, or blackouts and brownouts will occur if too much electricity is generated. This is why electrical companies will occasionally pay consumers to take electricity. Germany paid wind farms $548 million to switch off last year to avoid grid damage. Blackouts have already threatened California, and grid operators think the state could be facing them again this summer.
Green energy also runs the risk of not producing enough electricity on an especially cloudy or windless day and tends to provide electricity at times which don’t coincide with when power is most needed; peak energy demand occurs in the evenings when solar power is going offline.
The Daily Caller