Bulk Battery Storage of Wind Power a Myth: With No Storage California Dumps Mountains of Wind & Solar Power

giant battery 2

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
Andrew Follett
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


Looks like we’ll be late for work again …

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. estherfonc says:


    I just started a petition “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the resignation of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and also 15,000 household POWER DISCONNECTIONS, frequent POWER BLACKOUTS and the JULY 2016 POWER CRISIS” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

    Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

    You can read more and sign the petition here:


    Please share this petition with anyone you think may be interested in signing it.

    Thankyou for your time.

  2. Costs to consumers should be of great concern to COAG members and properly addressed. Rising energy and daily living expenses have not reversed with the introduction of wind energy or renewables. This fact should have caused some alarm to our Energy Ministers; ‘Network costs have caused electricity prices to rise by 70% from June 2007 to Dec 2012’- 8.11.13 ABC Fact Check.

    Since 2007 surplus, ineffective wind turbines have hooked up to the subsidies and the national grid. This proven to be inadequate network is now to be expanded further by inter-connectors and backed up by batteries making evaluating the credibility of wind energy and heeding the recommendations of the Senate Inquiries into wind farms essential to prevent further economic and environmental damage.

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    If those who believe our world is on the road to imminent destruction then any thought of storing energy in water is a false hope, as they also believe drought is going to be a major factor in the destruction.
    The ability to store energy is going to be a question to be considered by scientists for many years to come, as its not actually been one that has been a concern until quite recently, as we have since the beginning of the industrial revolution focused on the production and use not storage.
    Even the hopeless Mr Koutsantonis appears to be looking at production rather than storage – maybe he has come to understand the restrictions on such a thing – we can only hope he has found a brain.
    However, any thought he may have found a brain is dashed when you hear he is now putting pressure on Victoria and NSW to allow coal seem gas production, ‘fracking’ to you and me.
    Does he actually believe destroying eco-systems, water supplies, food production land and a healthy environment and life for all is in line with supporting his wind energy push for the purpose of saving the world.
    Following a quote from Australian Financial Review 8.8.16, Mr Kouotsantonis said ” a crucial element in the shift towards a clean-energy economy as a transitional, low-carbon source generation that can be used in tandem with renewables”.
    This country has plenty of conventional gas supplies, the problem is we sell it all cheap overseas. Stop this and use it for our own security of energy supplies and future economic safety, with Governments including SA’s supporting the upgrading and installation of plants to process it into energy would relieve the pressure on and need to build connectors between States.
    But that’s a step to far for him and many others with the ability to make a difference for the Nation and not destroy massive areas of this wonderful country.

  4. Many people had high hopes that Josh Frydenberg would be one of the few voices of reason in our new Liberal “progressive” government. Sadly Josh has been parroting the kind of fact free nonsense that we are accustomed to hearing from the likes of Greg Hunt. His recent delusional comments about battery storage show that he has no idea about the realities of grid scale energy storage.

    Leaving aside the astronomical cost of grid scale energy storage using batteries, many times as expensive as pumped hydro, the fact is no proven reliable battery technology for such levels of energy storage exists.

    Someone needs to take Josh aside and explain to him that his departmental bureaucrats have been snowing him. In reality you just can’t build a reliable, affordable modern power grid on moonbeams and fairy dust, hoping that suitable technology will turn up some time in the future.

  5. Gregson14 says:

    Wait a minute!… “… as much cement as exists in the Three Gorges and Grand Coulee Dams combined!…” Isn’t Cement Production one of the primary contributors to man-made CO2 emissions!…

    So… the facts aren’t really important to the rabid Environmentalists or their very partisan Progressive cronies… It’s just another version of the “Noble Lie” and the emotional optics that drive the victimhood narrative!

  6. Crispin Trist says:

    With both the government and energy providers considering the roll out of battery storage in the home en masse for the backup of renewable energy, perhaps now might be a good time to take a look at the problems Boeing have been having with lithium-ion batteries and thermal runaway incidents on their 787 Dreamliner aircraft.


  7. Paul Miskelly says:

    Well done STT. You have gone straight to the nub of the issue yet again: intermittent wind and solar PV require storage for balancing, and the only way to do it at present is with hydro, presuming that there is the necessary favourable geography.
    However, even presuming that there are geographically favourable sites still available, to allow the building of a necessary new Hoover or Grand Coulee Dam, we need to remember that the quarrying, the crushing of the rock, the transporting to site to build the dam wall, the manufacture of the concrete and steel that would also go into the structure, all of this costs fossil energy, and produces rampant amounts of CO2. ALL of these CO2 emissions must be counted against the intermittent generation, because this storage is an absolutely fundamental requirement to justify their continued use. All of it. And, as George rightly says above, there are the losses due to the necessary double conversion to add in as well. So I think it is safe to say that the case re emissions savings by wind or solar PV is looking increasingly shaky if going the hydro pumped storage route.
    Now let’s look at the other route suggested by the hapless Mr Frydenberg: battery storage. Even presuming that batteries at utility scale could work, let’s not forget that the absolutely necessary lead, lithium, nickel, cadmium – whatever is the active element or set of elements chosen – all of these have to be mined, the rock crushed, the ore extracted, chemically refined, formed into the necessary batteries, transported at every step. All of this extraction and manufacture results in a massive CO2 emissions cost. Then of course there remain the millions of tonnes of waste rock, waste heaps that generate masses of sulphuric acid, toxic metal and arsenic wastes, all of which run into rivers and streams. As STT says so succinctly above, many people see “batteries” as the “solution”. They fail to understand that batteries do not simply “grow on trees” waiting to be picked.
    It has been great fun for the wind and solar PV promoters, but the electricity crisis in South Australia tells us once and for all that the great big wind party is over. The task is to wake up Mr Frydenberg to that fact prior to the forthcoming COAG meeting.
    Once again, congratulations STT on a great article.j

  8. We’re noticing the same glib talk about storage in the UK, from certain Scottish Government politicians in particular. Perhaps not implying that there is currently storage, but that it will be with us in no time.

    With regard to the UK’s constraint payments, we’re already on nearly £40 million (and Scotland’s storms of yesterday will not have been included) so on target to meet last year’s constraints of £90,494,271

  9. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  10. The other factor that I don’t see any storage advocates discussion is the conversion loss.

    Say 10MW of excess is used to pump volumes of water upstream, the amount generated when the water flows back down may be only 2MW. Then factor in the conversion losses between DC to AC, transmission losses etc, the final results may be another 10-50% less (depending on distance).

  11. Terry Conn says:

    What are the chances that the facts set out in the Daily Caller article will see light of day at the COAG meeting on ‘energy’ on 19th August? Nil is my guess.

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