Renewables Reality Check: Giant Batteries No Solution to Wind Power’s Chaotic Delivery

South Australia is Australia’s wind and solar capital: resulting in an unstable grid and the world’s highest power prices.

One wheeze in purported answer to the debacle above was Elon Musk’s giant 100 MW lithium-ion battery. It cost taxpayers a cool $150,000,000 and delivers occasional spurts of power to the grid, whenever the sun sets and/or calm weather sets in.

Its principal purpose is to allow the nearby 200 MW Hallett Power Station a few minutes lead time to fire up its 12 unit, open cycle gas turbine plant, to thereby avoid a total grid collapse when wind power output collapses – as it did on 24 January (see above), when the state was hit by heatwave and 29,000 households were left powerless.

The dual fuel plant can run on gas, but, more often than not, it’s running on diesel and spewing tonnes of filthy, noxious, particulate matter into the atmosphere:

Oh, so clean, oh, so green!


Now that plenty of ordinary Australian power punters understand that wind and solar can and will never replace conventional generation – mass power cuts continue to help with that revelation – renewable energy rent-seekers and zealots keep ranting about the need for ‘storage’ – ignoring the fact that conventional generators need no such thing, and just work, delivering power as and when it’s needed, 24 x 365, whatever the weather.

The power re-delivered by SA’s mega-battery to the grid is trivial; the cost of that power is astronomical: there is absolutely no economic case for giant batteries. Otherwise, the world would be awash with them, right now. It isn’t. Paul Homewood explains why.

Misconceptions About Battery Storage
Not a Lot of People Know That
Paul Homewood
27 January 2019

There is a very common misconception that battery storage can solve the problems of intermittency arising from renewable energy sources.

For instance, there was this little exchange on the Telegraph article today about wind farms along the HS2 route to power the trains:

What the public at large, represented by Mr Truth, don’t seem to understand is just how limited the amount of energy that can be stored really is.

As we know, Elon Musk sold his 100MW battery storage system to South Australia a couple of years ago. 100MW sounds impressive, but as his own specifications made clear the maximum output was only 129 MWh. And for this tiny amount of storage, the Australians paid an estimated A$150m, about £80m.

Hornsdale Battery Storage – South Australia


The only way to increase this capacity is keep building more and more batteries.

To put storage into perspective, let’s take a typical 5MW wind turbine, the sort we see plastered across the countryside.

Based on utilisation of 28%, one turbine would, on average, generate 1022 MWh/month.

Now, suppose that we had a month with relatively little wind, and output declined to 10% of capacity. This is not an unrealistic assumption, as we went a full week earlier this month with wind power down to that sort of level.

In this scenario, output during the month would fall to 365 MWh, leaving a shortfall of 657 MWh against the norm.

If this single wind turbine was to provide enough storage to make good this shortfall, how many Tesla batteries would be needed?

Tesla’s South Australian storage system can provide, as we have seen, 129 MWh. So we would need five of these, at a cost of £400m.

Remember, this is to guarantee supply for just one tiny wind turbine.

The Australian scheme consists of around 600 Tesla Powerpacks, each rated at 210 KWh, and each about the size of a large fridge.

Our local 5MW wind turbine need some 3000 of these. Apart from filling up the countryside with millions of fridges, the cost of providing this sort of storage would kill wind projects stone dead, if they had to pay the cost themselves.

It may be that to need such large reserves of power would be a rare event, a reliable grid needs to cater for all contingencies.

Meanwhile, Claire Perry whittles on about smart grids and storage, and a gullible public falls for it.
Not a Lot of People Know That

About stopthesethings

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


  1. The Horndale battery quietly arbitrages the difference in cheap wind overproduction and selling into higher cost shortages. Then some income from FCAS. Has very little to do with making an over committed State wind generation viable.

    Made Elon smile though and a dewy eyed Weatherdill had a peak life experience being on the stage with him.

  2. Hi there , here is something you should try.
    Do your own mini survey, and ask people what % of the atmosphere is CO2.. You will be surprised at the answers you get..
    it is is because this fact is deliberately not revealed to the public..

  3. “…South Australia is Australia’s wind and solar capital: resulting in an unstable grid and the world’s highest power prices….”

    Australian politicians are wilfully ignoring burgeoning developments in advanced nuclear power reactors, with the pick of the bunch being the BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor. It is the simplest, and therefore most cost-effective, nuclear power plant that could possibly be designed.

    In 15 years time BWRX-300s will be available at AU$840 million each. Their Emergency Planning Zone is at the boundary fence of their tiny sites, so they can be in close proximity to centres of population. 110 of them, costing AU$92.4 billion would supply all of the 24/7, low-carbon electricity Australia uses – for 60 years.

    1 of them would supply the 87,000 or so households in a city the size of Hobart with all of the electricity needed – domestic; commercial; industrial – for 60 years, sited on an out-of-town industrial estate.

    It’s not unreasonable to think 50,000 of these households, with an average annual income of AU$86,000 might be able to invest AU$3,500 a year for 5 years, to buy their own BWRX-300. They’d then get 24/7 electricity for 60 years at the wholesale rate, which is, more than likely, less than half the average rate being paid now across Australia. Sounds a much better bet than solar panels.

    Has anyone tried to put a figure on how much all of that wind and solar with [any form of] backup would cost the Australian people?

  4. cajwbroomhill says:

    Should be read by Claire Perry, who should be impressed, if not in the Deben trap.

  5. Andre Den Tandt says:

    It’s quite simple really: storing all the excess production for later use would be a great improvement, but only if that storage is massive, inexpensive and flexible ( versatile ). None of this is the case now, not even close. Nuclear can give us all of the above. It’s that obvious.

  6. cajwbroomhill says:

    Claire Perry should read this column daily, if she wants to optimise her policies, or has she fallen into the Deben trap?

  7. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  8. Jackie Rovensly says:

    The way these companies and Governments lie to us about these things is nothing short of criminal.
    We pay these MP’s and we demand they tell us the truth.
    The whole saga of the Hornsdale Battery has been a mine of misinformation and lies. It began with the Labor Government and Mr Weatherall turning this State into a pansy to Elon Musks dirty little desire to entrench himself as the worlds biggest con man.
    These companies and their Yes men/women constantly lie from the moment they open their eyes in the morning until they close them at night and probably still lie as they dream of new ways to ensure those beholden to them do their bidding.
    Wind turbines cannot and never could deliver anything like their name plated capacity in anything like an acceptable, reliable manner. They are reliant on the vagaries of the wind and their very existence changes the wind direction wherever they are plunged into the ground, causing changes to our farming environments.
    Batteries cannot be charged unless there is something to recharge them which is usually from electricity or some other fuel such as petrol or diesel or even gas, so they are unreliable and cannot be expected to perform other than to shoot out a shot of energy to help prevent failing of our grid system. When they fail we have blackouts, brownouts and shedding.
    Panels designed to ‘capture’ heat from the sun are only useful when the sun shines, when it shines through cloud there is little heat to be captured – ask anyone who have solar powered panels for hot water, if its cloudy the water can hardly be called hot, so if we are relying on panels to capture the heat from the sun we need the sky to be free of cloud. But cloud brings rain and rain/water is something we need to survive – just ask the drought ravished people of large areas of Australia at the present time.
    Wind – wishing for the wind to blow to power turbine blades to generate our energy is like praying for strong winds to blow constantly, to blow the soil from the dry ground, to blow in storms and cyclones, to blow to fuel bushfires that will clear the land so the sun can dry it and the wind can blow it to the ‘four winds’.
    Yes we need to thank those who encourage and promote wind and solar to produce the energy we need to function don’t we as these forms of energy production will provide us with all we need and make our lives so much happier!

    • Jackie,

      Solar panels do not generate power from the “heat from the sun” they recieve photons of light from the sun.

      The sun does not send heat across the void of space to heat the earth, electromagnetic radiation in the IR, visible light & UV spectrums is emitted and recieved from the sun.

      This energy is absorbed by the surface etc and converted to heat energy as per the 1st law of thermodynamics.

      Also not mentioned in the article is 30% of the battery capacity is for government use and used to keep the grid frequency stable ergo only 70% of that 129MWh is available to keep the lights on when we run out of power next.

  9. Anthony Gardner says:

    STT and Paul Homewood are mandatory daily reading. Keep it up guys.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: