Batteries Necessary To Support Solar and Wind Power Don’t Exist

giant battery 2

Fact or fantasy?


With the wind industry under siege around the Globe, in order to deflect attention from the unavoidable fact that wind power delivery is a matter of serendipity – rather than electrical engineering dictates (such as frequency control and grid balancing) and hoary old economic chestnuts (such as matching supply with demand) – the talk in the mainstream media has turned to ‘mega-batteries’ that can – for a ‘few dollars more’ (subsidised, of course) – store the stuff that’s produced when it isn’t needed for use when it is.

The line starts with guff about ‘advanced grid management’ and ends with the line about battery technology ‘improving all the time’.

As to the first pitch, if South Australia’s (Australia’s wind power ‘capital’) routine load-shedding and state-wide blackouts are any sign of advanced grid management, then break out the blankets and candles.

As to the second, there isn’t a single example of grid-scale battery storage of electricity operating anywhere in the World. The bulk storage of electricity is a fanciful pipe dream: an engineering impossibility and, if not, the cost of storing Terawatt/hours of power would be astronomical; and the resulting cost of the power that might be delivered, an unmitigated economic disaster.

But to even get to the point of wrecking the environment (think billions of tonnes of spent lead-acid batteries or even more toxic cadmium etc) and crushing economies with even more insane power costs, there’s the small issue of engineering.

Study: Batteries Necessary To Support Solar Power Don’t Exist
Daily Caller
Andrew Follett
13 September 2016

Batteries don’t work well enough to support solar power in a cost effective manner, according to research published Monday by Belgian scientists from the Université libre de Bruxelles.

The scientists analyzed data from local energy suppliers, ran it through computer simulations and found it isn’t possible for homes to generate most of their own electricity from solar power and store it in batteries. Researchers determined that the batteries’ short lifetime and high prices — as well as fundamental problems — will likely prevent solar power from ever being viable without lucrative financial incentives from the government.

“Photovoltaic [solar power] systems coupled with lead-acid batteries do not ensure electrical self-sufficiency for a residence at a reasonable cost,” states the study’s press release. “The problem starts with the bad timing of solar energy and energy consumption: while the sun shines at its maximum around midday, most homes consume the most in the morning and in the evening. Add to that the fact that in many countries most of the solar energy is available in the summer months and you’re set for dark times.”

This is not the first research to conclude solar power doesn’t work without batteries that don’t exist — scientists from the University of East Anglia reached a similar conclusion in May.

Other researchers found as the amount of green energy entering national power grids increases, the negative impacts of wind and solar’s volatility will also increase unless better batteries are developed. Additionally, scientists suspect that it may be physically impossible to build those better batteries.

The research highlights the fact that it is currently impossible to economically store power for times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Purchasing enough batteries to provide just three days of storage for an average American household costs about $15,000, and those batteries only lasts for about five years and are very difficult to recycle.

In order for the power grid to function without large-scale energy storage, demand for energy must exactly match supply. Power demand is relatively predictable and conventional power plans, like nuclear plants and natural gas, can adjust output accordingly.

Solar and wind power, however, cannot easily adjust output. They also provide power unpredictably relative to conventional power sources.

On an especially cloudy or windless day, the electrical grid can’t supply enough power from solar or wind alone. Wind and solar also run the risk of producing too much power, which can overload and fry the power grid. 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.

This is true for home power storage as well, even with the latest batteries, which were invented to make rooftop solar panels and wind turbines economically viable for consumers. A Tesla Powerwall capable of powering a home costs $7,340 to buy.

A conservative analysis estimates a Powerwall can save its owner a maximum of $1.06 a day. An Elon Musk Tesla Powerwall battery would take almost 40 years, or roughly four times its warranty period, to pay for itself, according to analysis performed by the Institute for Energy Research. Tesla only offers five to 10 year warranties on its Powerwalls, and predicts they will last for only 15 years.

One of the world’s largest and most powerful batteries, located in Fairbanks, Alaska, weighs 1,300-metric tons and is larger than a football field. It can only provide enough electricity for about 12,000 residents, or 38 percent of Fairbanks’ population, for seven minutes. That’s useful for short outages, which happen a lot in Alaska, but isn’t effective enough to act as a reserve for solar and wind.

Currently, the best way humans have of “storing” power is pumping water up a hill, which actually accounts for 99 percent of all global energy storage.
Daily Caller


It’s possible …

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Hi,

    I started a petition “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the RESIGNATION of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and 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. Battery power, what ridiculous crap. Do the sums, convert the power output of a coal fired power station into battery ampere hours, and you will find it’s the biggest no brainer in history. The scientist’s 200 years ago knew that wind wasn’t reliable and that’s why they worked day and night to get steam power up and running. It’s 200 years later and our genius politicians falling for the lies and corruption of the wind industry cannot come the same conclusion that the man in the street already has. Wind Turbines just don’t work .

  3. Great post and well put together facts and your blog has some good points about wind power and perhaps the people affected.
    I will however respectfully disagree with you on how battery power can be an effective part of an energy solution especially in new developments and localised.
    I have a post regarding a similar matter and the blackouts in SA recently if you wish to understand my view a bit more.

    • Obsqur, we don’t have an issue with battery storage in small scale, off grid applications, where the economic cost of connecting to and maintaining grid connection is greater than a solar, battery, diesel generator composite system: remote communities, sheep or cattle stations are obviously suited. But, in recent times, wind power advocates have been pushing the myth that grid scale storage in terms of terawatt hours is on our doorstep. That argument is patent nonsense. We are already subsidising a pointless power source, and now we have to subsidise storage for its chaotic output as well. None of which makes economic or environmental sense.

      • I agree terawatt hour battery storage systems is a long way off. I guess my point was more directed at your points to powerwalls etc which hold a place within the grid of the future but is not cost effective YET and hence the subsidies.
        I also can not agree that wind is a pointless power source. However I have yet to read all the posts on your blog (of which there are many). My belief at this stage (and that is all it is what it is) is that wind is part of an overall solution but like most things I will and always do remain open minded and there are issues with it that need to be resolved as your blog points out. Will keep following your posts with interest on this subject. Feel free to browse a post I put up which touches a little on how I feel about these matters.

      • Obsqur, glad to hear you have an open mind on wind power, which tends to suggest that you’re not a resident of South Australia: paying the highest power prices in the Nation, by a factor of 2; dealing with regular brown outs, load shedding (ie regional blackouts) and statewide blackouts – all due to a power source that was abandoned as soon as steam was harnessed as motive power. Keep trawling through our work – which comes courtesy of energy market economists and electrical engineers (one of whom designed the Eastern Grid).

        Wind power does not work on any level, as SA is learning to its own embarrassment.

    • Obsqur your confidence in the development of cost effective batteries may prove justified in years to come, but in my view that’s a long, long way off. Meantime our modern society needs safe, reliable and affordable electricity now.

      Governments are notorious for stuffing things up when they interfere with otherwise orderly, efficient, markets. There’s no more glaring example of this than the utter mess that’s been created in the Australian electricity market by state and federal renewables legislation.

      If wind was ever going to be a viable source of grid power that would have become evident decades ago, but its ongoing reliance on large compulsory subsidies puts the lie to that claim. Likewise if grid scale battery storage has the potential to be a competitive means of grid storage then let it be developed by venture capitalists with the confidence to risk their own development capital, rather than mandating yet another tax funded gravy train for green crony capitalists.

      • Fair point Bon. Just out of interest I wonder however how many power generation facilities that have been built without state or federal money? Do you know of any? I will be doing a search over the next few days to see if I can find any Major power generators independently developed by VC’s in Australia without Public Money.

      • It is probably true to say most major generation plant was built under state control and later privatised. However, wind power generation is built with mandated subsidies drawn from power consumers in the form of the REC, the capital assets that pays for is privately owned and the profits retained by the owner: most of whom are foreign.

  4. Try Candles

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