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Grid-scale battery storage ready to go in Australia: Garnaut

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Leading Australian economist and energy policy advisor Ross Garnaut has called for the adoption of grid-scale battery storage on Australia’s National Electricity Market, which he says would provide an “immediate” solution to integrating increasing amounts of grid-connected wind and solar and preventing future electricity price spikes.

Economist Ross Garnaut

Economist Ross Garnaut

In an opinion piece published in the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday, Garnaut – who currently chairs integrated community renewables and storage provider ZEN Energy, as well as the recently launched IIG Solar Fund – said the recent South Australian “energy crisis” had highlighted the need for urgent energy market reforms.

In particular, he said, a solution was needed to stabilise the short-term variations in supply frequency and price.

“An immediate answer is grid-scale batteries, which are being deployed in other developed countries to balance increasing volumes of wind and solar energy,” Garnaut wrote.

“Batteries can respond to the need to add or absorb power in less than a second – much more quickly than gas generators,” he said.

“If optimised to maximise value in provision of grid stability services, the battery can store surplus power from excess generation from the midday sun or overnight wind for use in the evening and morning peaks at total costs that are lower than the prices of wholesale hedge contracts, or than exposure to the wholesale market at these times.

Garnet also said that the application of grid-scale solar and battery storage solutions could be of particular benefit to major industrials, to lower total costs of power.

As we have reported on RE, a group of South Australia’s major industrial groups were some of the noisiest critics of renewables during the recent pricing incident – although they had more than a year’s notice of potential supply constraints from the upgrade of the interconnector.

As Giles Parkinson noted a couple of weeks ago, “they don’t seem to have adequately hedged. If they had struck the same sort of power purchase agreements as the ACT, these large energy users probably would have been paid to use the electricity.”

But according to Garnaut, solar and battery storage could be used by industrials to hedge against the future risk of real electricity prices rising.

“While solving their own power problems in this way, they would incidentally reduce peak and general demand and therefore lower power price and volatility for all other energy users in the state,” he said.  

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  • Analitik

    He’s an economist and yet he can’t calculate the staggering amount of storage and hence the ridiculous cost needed for even overnight demand for a windless period?

    How did our leaders ever trust him on climate change assessment?

    • MikeH

      Oh no another troll. Did you read the article before appraising us of your ignorance?

      >In particular, he said, a solution was needed to stabilise the **short-term** variations in supply frequency and price.

      And look. Unlike you, the actual electricity utilities see the value

      >ZEN Energy is talking to energy companies and large users and aims to start work on a grid-scale project in the first half of next year.

      >ZEN Energy’s battery systems were tried and tested. Greensmith has installed about 50 grid-scale battery systems, including a grid-support system between Los Angeles and San Diego, and a system in Illinois used to stabilise the grid.

      Hang on. According to you that can’t be happening. LOL.

      Whenever I see your name in future, I will remind myself that you don’t have a clue.

      • Leith Elder

        He didn’t really say “variations in supply frequency” did he? They are not now and never have been a problem, short term or otherwise.

      • Analitik

        What about the statment?

        “If optimised to maximise value in provision of grid stability services, the battery can store surplus power from excess generation from the midday sun or overnight wind for use in the evening and morning peaks at total costs that are lower than the prices of wholesale hedge contracts, or than exposure to the wholesale market at these times.

    • Barri Mundee

      Do you have something reasonable to contribute or are you just another FF troll, working to try to delay efforts to switch to a more sustainable society?

  • valvolux2

    What the renewable pushers need is people who know what they are talking about from a technical perspective – Ross Garnaut is an absolute laughing stock whenever he opens his mouth. Every single so called expert (at universities, employed by governments) are technical nuffies. THis bloke may have worked for an energy company at one point, but he is still a technical dumbo. There is no grid scale battery tech available now for the sort of scales we are talking about, he is dreaming. He has previously suggested we should also all deploy concentrated solar as the tech is ready – whilst its failed to get anywhere near design targets anywhere in the world at massive losses to those who invested in them, whilst the owners run away rich from all the government grants. Here’s a problem no one speaks about – the batteries use lithium. Lithium is a finite resource – currently the known resources in the world would be enough to make one round of batteries to backup the world’s energy generation….and that’s it. All gone. THese batteries last on average 10 years. Then what? A million open cut mines built to power us for 10 years? Now there’s plenty of undiscovered reserves sure, and different battery chemistries…but it’s so foolish to think this is the holy grail. It’s a temporary solution.

    • Ah, another troll appears. Ergon energy is introducing grid based storage and say it will reduce costs of network upgrades by around one third. So our assertion that no grid scale battery tech available now is completely wrong.

      • valvolux2

        This is the problem with you guys. So quick to call people trolls yet you read anything and believe it. So prove to me what Ergon has done thus far. Surely they have installed this technology and its enough to store power for 100,000 plus homes? I mean only this would show this is ready to go. Hint – they are trialling something on less than 50 homes. It is small scale stuff that at best will save a couple a hundred bucks a year per household…not enough to pay it off and only if you are stay at home family.

        • Hint. They are rolling out more than 100 of these grid level storage – over and above their home storage trials – and they expect to save millions, possibly tens of millions. ditto with western power.

          • dangerman

            These are just hubs full of small batteries – they arent large scale storage solutions in the slightest. They are effectively home scale batteries bunched in a box because people wont install them at their house themselves. Good enough to power a few homes for less than a day. As a smoothing mechanism they are only good for small spikes. What SA experiences are large disruptions.

          • The UK’s National Grid went out on enquiry for 200MW of battery storage and were flooded by respondents.

          • dangerman

            It says what i said. They install boxes full of 50 small batteries. Which would be enough to power 50 homes at night im guessing. Its just taking home batteries away from the home and putting them on the grid. As they say elsewhere – its just because home users are relictant to install these expensive batteries themselves.

          • You didn’t read their statement did you. It’s not to provide power at night, it’s to help meet peak demand. one battery units are modular, like solar panels, others are much bigger, like the 1MWh installed by Ausnet in Victoria for same purpose, achieving similar savings on grid costs.

        • MikeH

          LOL. You can’t even read Giles three line comment without confusing yourself

          >Ergon energy is introducing grid based storage and say it will reduce costs of network upgrades by around one third

          **grid based storage**, not the home battery trial.

          But maybe you don’t know the difference. That would explain your other comments.

    • Rob G

      Always entertaining to hear a voice from the minerals council, even if the conversation is completely factless. One thing to keep in mind though, you are talking to an educated audience here, this is not a Liberal/National Party convention.

      • valvolux2

        Show me how educated you are by leaving out the insults and proving me wrong. I know you cant.

        • MikeH

          Leaving out the insults. LOL That would have helped

          From you

          >Ross Garnaut is an absolute laughing stock … technical nuffies. … technical dumbo.

          And the following is complete nonsense.

          >Lithium is a finite resource

          You don’t have a clue. There are lakes of the stuff in Bolivia, you ignoramus.

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/slideshow/lithium-flats-of-bolivia/

          • dangerman

            You can drill a hole in the earth anywhere and fine most minerals. To extract and process it into something useful in a costly fashion without doing more damage to the environment than the final product supposedly prevents, is the issue.

        • Rob G

          I don’t need to prove you wrong. Just try reading up on this site (and others). Remember if YOU make claims the onus is on you to PROVE them (not me to unprove). And your initial comment contained plenty of insults so you don’t have a valid case to feel offended.

          • valvolux2

            I thought so rob. You are uneducated.

          • Thanks and goodbye. Off you go back to News Ltd.

          • dangerman

            Or back to a job as an electrical engineer at origin. They would have the same opinion.

      • iampeter

        This is the same LNP which first introduced a greenhoues gov department in this country, first proposed a cap and trade policy, introduced the RET and now have a cap and trade quietly in place since 1st July. These guys are more left wing than the Labor Party on environmentalist issues.

        I don’t understand why a party that has done so much to advance environmentalist policies in this country gets so much hate on this site.

        There is absolutely no mainstream opposition to what is been advocated on this site and hasn’t really been since the 90’s.

        • Rob G

          If you believe the LNP are friends of the environment and renewables then you must have been asleep for the past 3 years. Numbers don’t lie.

          • iampeter

            What numbers do you mean? I just listed why I think the LNP are massive supporters of the renewables lobby.

        • Barri Mundee

          I presume you are joking?

          • iampeter

            Hey, I really wish I was joking. But here’s how it looks from where I sit:
            Both Major parties and the Greens support the climate change agenda and in the case of the LNP have implemented massive legislation to that effect that is in the process of crippling our country.

            Most major news publications have sections now dedicated to Climate Change, even the much maligned news corp. Man made climate change is simply accepted as fact even though the basic premise doesn’t make any more sense than the idea of an after life or something creating creation.

            Most private organizations, some of the biggest ones in the world (e.g. GE, Berthshire Hathaway) are giving up trying to make money in the over-regulated markets and have entered the game to score as many state handouts as possible before it all collapses anyway.

            Schools are teaching climate science completely uncritically in classes.

            There are more environmentalist NGO’s in our country alone than I can shake a stick at, but how many truly pro-reason, pro-industry groups are there? I can count them on my fingers and probably not need both hands.

            The Greens are a party that has pushed the same message for decades with barely a change in terms of their presence in parliament, yet still have legions of unpaid volunteers and supporters and in some cases record breaking donations.

            A pro-reason party that has actually started slowly pulling itself onto the political scene (the LDP) doesn’t even get a single media phone call during the election campaign.

            You guys are absolutely everywhere.

            And where does anyone hear an alternative viewpoint? The occasional random like me on the internet?

            So no, I’m not joking I’m afraid. We are living in an age of anti-reason and anti-industry.

            May Gaia have mercy on our souls 😉

    • MikeH

      Oh dear. The old “concentrated solar” troll. How boring.

      Solar Reserve, the company behind the Crescent Dunes CSP with molten salt storage plant has

      1. A $2 billlion dollar contract in China to build CSP with storage plants.

      2. A $2 billion dollar contract in Chile for combined 24/7 CSP with storage and solar PV

      3. Is building a new plant in Redstone, South Africa

      4. Has 30+ prospective clients on the order book.

      The anti-CSP crowd usually distinguish themselves by being unable to tell the difference between the Ivanpah plant which has no storage and Crescent Dunes. I think our “technical nuffie” above fits that bill.

      • valvolux2

        Oh you guys get butthurt so easily. Did you really just use CD as a good example? Its capacity factor shooting around the 40s when it finally works…and is so far producing as little as 10% of its design output for months at a time? I know you might think thats a success…and that because people putting in orders means its working. In the real world, thats called a failure.

        • MikeH

          “… for months at a time”

          LOL. Crescent Dunes was only commissioned 6 months ago in Feb 2016. There are no “months at a time”.

          Your expertise in making stuff up is only exceeded by your ignorance.

          • dangerman

            6 months a long commissioning period for a power plant. Extremely long. If its not hitting desigb capacity, i can tell you it never will.

          • Nuclear plants usually take a year or two

          • JeffJL

            Keep the facts out of this Giles.

          • MikeH

            “i can tell you it never will. …”

            LOL. I really listen to anonymous know nothings on the internet.

            You really don’t have a clue do you?

            The plant will take 12 months to get to full capacity. That was part of the plant’s 25 year PPA with NV Energy.

          • dangerman

            You havent heard of gemasolar have you? It was suppose to reach capacity 5 years ago…never did. it has never come close to the 74% annual capacity factor they said it would. If you look at it on a monthly basis – it still sometimes achieves less than 20%. Which is the way you need to look at renewables. Short term. Because it doesnt matter if you achieve 100% one month with 12 hours storage, if the sun barely shines the next month.

          • I’ve heard of Gemasolar. In fact I visited the plant in January, got a guided tour from the manager. Your numbers are made up, They running well ahead of their forecast capacity, have gained all sorts of efficiencies, such as ramping, calibration etc, so much so that they dumped their gas plant after a year cos they didn’t need it.

          • Barri Mundee

            Show us the evidence for you claims with links to your source(s).

          • Rob G

            danger man, your not valvolux2 reformed are you?

          • Well spotted Rob. Same IP address as Valvolux, trying to locate it.

          • Barri Mundee

            I am sure there are astroturfers on this site Giles. The very fact that they are here (increasingly) trying and lying, desperately (and failing) to convince readers that there are huge problems with renewables is a strong indication that the industry they shill for is very worried about the impact of your site on their business model.

            Real “last fart of the ferret” stuff!

    • Peter Campbell

      Recycle the lithium to make new batteries after 10 years. The Li doesn’t get used up. Just like you can recycle the lead from a lead-acid battery.
      [Actually, they might last longer than 10 years – My LiFePO4 cells are still doing fine in my car driven nearly every day for over 7 years.]

      • valvolux2

        Current battery tech dies after 10 years. Most under 5.

        • Peter Campbell

          Nonsense. My cells in my converted electric car get thrashed. They are over 7 years old and were not of the quality that can be made now. How come they are still working? How come I still leave most other cars behind at the lights, driven by 7 year old cells?
          And you didn’t address the main point – that the Li can be recycled.

          • Chris Fraser

            From what I hear about LiFePO4 stability and no need for special housings … congrats on a good choice there.

          • dangerman

            Car batteries are tiny. It powers a car. Not a city. Battery life decreases as they get bigger. Thats why large scale batteries arent used for wind/solar.

          • Peter Campbell

            The battery that can accelerate a tonne of metal to 100kph in a not very many seconds could easily run my house – a much easier load. No reason that can’t scale up. The same manufacturer makes the same battery in much larger formats.

          • dangerman

            What is an average car engine? 100 kW? An average power station is in the hundreds of MWs. Even Tesla says battery tech doesnt scale up. If it did – it would be done by now. Thats why the only real hope using batteries is if everyone installs them at their house. But its just not cost effective and for most users will never pay itself off.

          • Tesla says it does scale up. That why they doing it.

          • Peter Campbell

            Taking your numbers – not necessarily ideal but anyway: 100s of MW for a power station is only 1000x a car engine. A 1000x what I have occupying only slightly more than the spare wheel well of my small car is not a big deal in an industrial setting rather than in part of the luggage area of a small car.

          • Barri Mundee

            Lots of claims, very little evidence to back it up. Put up or shut up.

          • nakedChimp

            “Battery life decreases as they get bigger.”
            ?!?
            Not heard that one before.. got a new list of stuff to throw around, Mr. Shill?

        • dangerman

          The Li is not recycled for use in batteries. Isnt 7 years under 10?

          • Peter Campbell

            Yes, 7 is less than 10, but
            1) mine are not ‘current tech’ – they were relatively cheap types from over 7 years ago,
            2) 7 is more than ‘Most under 5’,
            3) Li might not be recycled now but that is because there is not much supply of dead Li cells. The ones made in the early days of 7-10 years ago are few and tend to still be going strong.

        • Steve

          Nope. Current batteries use one of multiple technologies and there is plenty of lithium to go around. Lithium batteries last much longer than ten years. Lithium doesn’t usually come from open cut mines. University professors tend to be pretty good at their jobs. The CSP plants in Spain and Europe seems to be going great.

    • iampeter

      “It’s a temporary solution.” To a problem that doesn’t even exist.

      You gotta remember no one goes into the alternative energy industry to make energy. It’s all about the grants and subsidies.

      You touched a bit on it in your post as well when mentioning the finite nature of lithium but in fact all the materials used in alternative energy construction are finite. The problem is that instead of been put to productive use they are been used to build windmills in the 21st century.

      Anyone who was really concerned about the environment should be outraged at the waste.

      • nakedChimp

        Wow, new trolls.
        And so eloquent points that they bring with them – not.
        Not even worth replying..

        • Barri Mundee

          Yes the fossil fuel interests have realised the vacuous slogan using trolls were not pitching their noxious wares at the right level so we now have new and improved trolls in their place. As I said to Giles, these new trolls are an indication that the Minerals Council or other FF interests are very worried about the impact of renewables on their business model, hence the double down effort to (try and fail) to discredit them.

          • iampeter

            You guys keep attacking your allies. The Mineral Councils reports and papers on this issues also include “subsidies” for fossil fuel. They don’t understand anything either. With friends like that, people who just want to live well on this earth don’t really need enemies.

          • Even the Minerals Council has it wrong? It may well mean that you, alone in the world, understand what is going on. That means you might be God. In which case you won’t mind if i cancel your Disqus access to RE. Thanks for your contribution.

      • Barri Mundee

        Further unsubstantiated claims. Show us your sources or fuck off

        • iampeter

          Hi Barri, what sources do you need from me? You have eyes and a brain right? Let’s put them to use.

          You know from the evidence every time you look around and from even the most basic knowledge of history that fossil fuel power industrial civilization has lifted mankind to the unprecedented levels of prosperity we enjoy today. This means you also know that it can’t be destroying our environment.

          The only way that you can believe that we are destroying our environment is if you believe that fossil fuel powered industrial civilization has been reducing our standard of living. You know that isn’t true.

          This is the glaring contradiction that once you resolve renders the entire environmentalist agenda completely refuted.

          Having said that, even if we were wrecking our environment the solution wouldn’t be the kind of regulation/subsidy/consumes-more-than-it-produces contraption building as advocated by the alternative energy lobby. The solution wouldn’t be to basically turn ourselves into Venezuela or North Korea.

          The solution would be reason and free markets.

          • Barri Mundee

            FF was good for civilisation once but it is not anymore. The science of climate change makes that clear. If you do not accept the science fine.

            But if so that means you are not convinced by reason and evidence but are a shill for the fossil fuel industry.

          • iampeter

            I’m not so much fussed with fossil fuels, only to say that the people who built and run these companies are the heroes of the industrial age and should be recognized as such – NOT as black hearted, environment raping villains.

            My ultimate point is that the market should determine the products and you and I should both be able to choose the best product for our particular circumstances. if wind/solar works – it has nothing to fear from the market.

            In terms of reason: Reason means the non-contradictory integration of information provided by your senses. This is the only means of knowledge and understanding for human beings on this earth.

            So what I’m asking you to do is to use your reason and decide: is fossil fuel powered industrial civilization a net benefit to human life or a net cost? It can’t be both.

            Once you can make that call you will understand, but for now you and many, many others are evading the reality of the situation and enabling a huge anti-human movement. The consequences of this will not be good for anyone.

    • Ian

      Tesla has despatchable gigawatt hour storage available right now made of scaleable 100 kWh units. Check it out.

  • Charlie

    Only wish the debate is not too ideologically driven – it only works to blind us. Four things need to be clarified (1) there are many grid scale storage systems in operation; (2) storage doesn’t have to be battery. It can also include hydro, gravitational, flywheel, compressed air, chilled water, many more; (3) battery storage doesn’t have to be lithium-ion. It could also be sodium sulfur, zinc bromine flow, etc; and (4) speaking of the sexiest – lithium-ion battery storage, the largest operational system is 48MW (Gyeongsan Substation ESS), and the largest contracted is 100MW ( AES Alamitos Energy Storage Array). US DoE maintains an up-to-date database for grid-scale storage systems.