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Jeremy Warner’s Battery Revolution

March 6, 2017

By Paul Homewood

 

image

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/03/04/old-energy-order-draws-close-amid-battery-storage-revolution/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AndZZhQbwD1q

 

Jeremy Warner still thinks batteries will solve all our energy problems:

 

Most revolutions are noisy, violent affairs with often destructive outcomes. But some creep up on you unawares. One such is the coming upheaval in energy supply. This promises to transform the way power is delivered to the consumer, with potentially dramatic implications for existing generators and distributors.  And as if to prove the point that not all revolutions are bad, it also promises a world of much cheaper prices.

Changes that began as a regulatory response to global environmental concerns have developed an unstoppable momentum, and are now much more about a transformational tech shift.

The key ingredient here is the rapidly accelerating technology of battery storage. Over the last two years, battery costs have fallen 40pc, with further falls to come as economies of scale take hold.  Rapid growth in the market for battery storage, forecast by Goldman Sachs to increase by a thousand-fold from $258m (£210m) last year to $258bn in 2025, should in turn remove a number of the key economic constraints on renewable forms of energy. 

Wind and solar are intermittent forms of energy, and hitherto have therefore required complementary back-up generation to ensure there is enough power in the grid at all times to service demand. The great promise of storage is that it should lend renewables the same “always on” characteristics of more conventional forms of power, allowing electricity to be drawn when the wind is blowing, and given out again when it is not.

As things stand, conventional power generation, with relatively high operating costs, is required as back-up for still, sunless days, significantly increasing the costs of power supply in the round. The irony is that the heavily subsidised nature of renewables has rendered the back-up grids required to function at all times commercially unviable; no sane investor would risk his money in an unsubsidised conventional power plant that only operates when it is needed; the economics don’t stack up. This in turn limits the scope for growth in marginal cost renewables. In investment terms, it creates a vicious circle of decline.

By removing some of the need for alternates, battery storage helps solve the problem. Nobody can say how quickly the transformation will take place. Self interest plainly drives some of the more starry-eyed forecasts. But estimates from Paul Massara – a former chief executive of Npower who now runs his own battery storage business, North Star – that at least half of all UK households will have installed battery storage facilities within 10 years, seem at least plausible.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/03/04/old-energy-order-draws-close-amid-battery-storage-revolution/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AndZZhQbwD1q

 

This bit is the nub of his argument:

 

The irony is that the heavily subsidised nature of renewables has rendered the back-up grids required to function at all times commercially unviable; no sane investor would risk his money in an unsubsidised conventional power plant that only operates when it is needed; the economics don’t stack up.

 

So what he is suggesting is that we should keep on increasing our use of heavily subsidised renewables, and then have to spend more money on batteries to make up for their intermittency. Somehow, this is expected to lead to cheaper prices!

 

Whether the declining cost of batteries will make them a cheaper option than conventional standby capacity is irrelevant. The question is, will batteries do the job?

How many batteries, for instance, would we need to store enough solar power in summer, for use in winter?

Is Warner aware that, according to govt statistics, solar power in the UK only runs at 4.1% of capacity during the October –December quarter, about a quarter of the output in summer, when of course demand for electricity is at its lowest?

 

And how many batteries would we need to cover this amount of intermittency in wind power?

We are certainly talking about a lot more than a few hours worth.

 

image_thumb79

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/wind-power-down-to-0-6-today/

 

In their Fifth Carbon Budget Technical Report, published in 2015, the Committee on Climate Change gave three central scenarios for 2030:

 

 

image

https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sectoral-scenarios-for-the-fifth-carbon-budget-technical-report/

 

According to Jeremy Warner, nuclear is an old fashioned, dead duck, which rules that one out then! And if CCS ever becomes viable, it would destroy the case for wind/solar, and thus batteries.

Which leaves us with the High Renewables option. Note that the conventional sources of gas, nuclear and biomass are still projected to supply 196 TWh, more than half of total generation.

With so much conventional generation still necessary, there is no economic argument for building more battery storage for standby.

Wind and solar are forecast at 143 TWh and 34 TWh respectively. We can do a back of the fag packet assuming that all of the wind and solar output had to be supplied on demand, via battery storage:

1) It would not be unreasonable to demand at least a full month worth of wind output, as this could dip close to zero for weeks at a time in winter.

That would therefore equate to 12 TWh.

2) It would also be necessary to store about 6 months worth of solar power for October to March, another 17 TWh.

 

Therefore in total we would need enough battery storage to supply 29 TWh, equivalent to about the UK’s total electricity generation in a whole month.

But it gets worse. If Warner had not noticed, batteries are not a source of energy. If we do away with all conventional capacity, we would need to at least double wind/solar capacity, meaning even more battery storage.

Does anybody honestly believe we could store so much power?

 

Warner often states that market forces eventually override policy. The answer then is very simple.

All wind and solar farms should be required to provide their own integrated battery storage, in order to be able to supply on demand.

And wait for the howls of anguish from the renewable lobby!

 

Don’t get me wrong. I am sure that battery technology will continue to develop and play a role in future energy scenarios. Companies, for instance, will make use of them to qualify for DSR subsidies, and to reduce demand in peak periods.

But to believe that it will play any more than a peripheral role in the foreseeable future is, in my view, living in La La Land.

 

 

I have noticed that when Warner writes these pieces on energy policy, he never seems to quote actual hard data, preferring to pass on a few tasty titbits fed to him by the renewable industry.

I suspect this indicates that he actually knows nothing at all about the subject.

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43 Comments
  1. March 6, 2017 11:29 am

    Beware economists making predictions, especially about the future, and even more so about technologies that don’t yet exist. What ever happened to proper journalistic scepticism when faced with someone from a battery company forecasting a rapid growth in demand for … batteries.

    • March 6, 2017 11:57 am

      It has always puzzled me why the Telegraph allows their business and economics editors etc to write about technological issues that they not understand. It is just like the so-called BBC allowing an English graduate (you know who I mean) to write about energy and the environment. Of course I never believe any of these types of articles at the Telegraph or at the so-called BBC.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 6, 2017 2:01 pm

        No different to having an English literature grad write the Climate Change Act or having a railway engineer/sexual harasser lead the IPCC. Question their decisions or warmist reports and not be a climate scientist, you are subject to abuse for not being a suitable person to comment. Hypocrisy, that great left wing tenet at work.

      • Sheri permalink
        March 12, 2017 3:48 pm

        Gerry: Technically, that’s not true. The English Lit grad and the railway engineer are not claiming to be scientists. They are telling us what EXPERTS and the CONSENSUS of climate scientists say. So they do not need to be real scientists. On the other hand, if you question warming, you are questioning the experts and consensus. You better have experts on your side (that 3 or 4 that published are not enough, by the way). You can never overcome the consensus problem, so you’re stuck with that one. If you only QUOTE science, you don’t have to be a scientist. Ask Skeptical Science—they will verify this over and over and over and over…..

  2. March 6, 2017 11:30 am

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. March 6, 2017 11:32 am

    So distributed storage? The grid becomes so unreliable we have to systematize distributed storage batteries? Then why not also distribute generation? If costs get much higher and the grid gets increasingly unreliable – then you will see growth in distributed hydrocarbon generation.

    That will upend the the traditional market. Decreasing demand for electricity is already playing havoc with the electric company’s business model. What if grid demand stops trickling away and becomes a flood?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      March 6, 2017 12:57 pm

      For practical purposes we had a grid with quite localised generation until they started building windfarms offshore and in remote Scotland and relying on interconnectors to foreign countries and closing down the local power plants.

  4. AlecM permalink
    March 6, 2017 12:00 pm

    Journalists like Warner became Journalists because they were phuque all good at any other occupation and can’t distinguish between the nameplate data on a facility and the long term average operability data.

    Thus 1 Tesla Wall can, in principle, provide 14 kW storage, enough to power a small home with 0.7*14,000/230 = 43 A for 1 hour. Over 14 hours it can supply 3 A, enough for lighting only. They also need a maintenance contract to replace duff cells on a 6 hour lead time basis, so it’s best to have 2 such Walls/house. That cost is £10,800.

    The alternative is a CHP fuel cell, which replaces the existing gas boiler. The fuel cell part has 40,000 hours life, at 8 hours/day about 14 years. Total cost including installation is ~£6,000 with say £1200/year 24 hour guaranteed call out maintenance.

    How much is Warner being paid to promote batteries?

  5. March 6, 2017 12:39 pm

    But Jeremy Warner is an Ex Spurt in all things….why else would the Telegraph employ him

    • David Richardson permalink
      March 6, 2017 7:02 pm

      False balance is my bet. – No, come to think of it, actually he isn’t even that good.

  6. Joe Public permalink
    March 6, 2017 12:47 pm

    “Is Warner aware that, according to govt statistics, solar power in the UK only runs at 4.1% of capacity during the October –December quarter, about a quarter of the output in summer, when of course demand for electricity is at its lowest?”

    During the month of greatest demand, solar is lucky to achieve 2% capacity factor.

    Earlier this year all of our 7,129 windmills failed to achieve 10% capacity factor over an entire week.

    • Sheri permalink
      March 12, 2017 3:50 pm

      Last year, in “windy Wyoming”, from March through August, there was not wind over 10 mph more than 15 days total and that was not all day. How much battery storage is required for FIVE months of low to no wind?

  7. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 6, 2017 12:52 pm

    The real problem for storage is that the economic return is already low. If we look at demand profiles across the 24 hours we can see that peak demand is now just a small rush hour hump on top of a fairly steady level during daytime. There is still a swing between night time and daytime that is most pronounced in winter, which sets the demand side envelope for storage on a daily basis. Overnight storage at least allows 365 opportunities a year to earn a return on the difference in price between daytime and night time after allowing for round trip energy loss, with perhaps an extra premium in prime rush hour.

    However, the really big demand for storage is seasonal (consider the difference between the minimum, summer based, and maximum, winter based demand profiles in the chart), only offering a single stock turn per year on a solar surplus in summer to cover shortage in winter for instance. That means that the return is little better than 1/365th of that for overnight storage. Moreover, losses are inevitably higher for long periods of storage. Wind is little better: if we convert daily wind production to an even baseload flow of just 3.5GW it would have required about 4TWh of storage in 2016, with an average stockturn of just 2 – assuming no round trip loss.

    That is not an economic basis for storage. Contrast with the Extended Frequency Response battery projects that aim at short term power injections to replace the loss of grid inertia probably have a rather different profile. I hope to have a go at analysing the performance required of these units. There is a useful introduction in this presentation:

    http://www2.nationalgrid.com/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=8589935426

    and more information and data available here:

    http://www2.nationalgrid.com/Enhanced-Frequency-Response.aspx

    The presentation makes clear that a single frequency event produces a maximum requirement of 15 minutes of output. Of course, storage to cover multiple events is probably required given the limitations on recharging. For sure, this is far too complex for the likes of Jeremy Warner to understand.

    • bea permalink
      March 6, 2017 1:00 pm

      If you are going to replace hundreds of millions of tons of fuel in the winter, you are going to need hundreds of millions of tons of batteries.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        March 6, 2017 1:50 pm

        At the current stage of battery technology you will need THOUSANDS of millions of tons of batteries…

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 6, 2017 2:03 pm

        And with such demand, especially if they are to be lithium batteries (and in competition with all those electric cars we are supposed to be driving), prices are likely to rocket.

      • Jason Calley permalink
        March 6, 2017 3:22 pm

        Not only will you need those millions of tons of batteries, but they must be of such a design that they cannot catastrophically fail. If you have ten thousand tons of coal in a stockpile and it catches on fire, you have a huge fire that may rage for days. If you have the equivalent energy stored in a battery bank and the bank shorts out catastrophically, you have an energy release equal to a small nuclear weapon.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 7, 2017 1:05 pm

        A quick calculation for an all solar solution suggests at least 125TWh of storage would be needed. Call it 30 trillion AA cells.

      • March 10, 2017 1:22 am

        Jason Calley – That is something few people seem to get. Any process capable of storing energy rapidly and efficiently is also capable of releasing it rapidly and efficiently. Kaboom!

  8. bea permalink
    March 6, 2017 12:57 pm

    Everything of this sort – just scams out of U.S.A. Universities.

    Might as well throw your money into a wishing well.

    • March 6, 2017 9:00 pm

      Magic battery not shown nor independently tested.

      • Sheri permalink
        March 12, 2017 3:51 pm

        As always.

  9. March 6, 2017 12:59 pm

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “The irony is that the heavily subsidised nature of renewables has rendered the back-up grids required to function at all times commercially unviable; no sane investor would risk his money in an unsubsidised conventional power plant that only operates when it is needed; the economics don’t stack up.”

    Jeremy is tripping on (battery) acid. Literally.

    Not to mention the horrific “mining” (that greens are so into) needed to dig for the rare earth minerals needed for an horrific amount of batteries to balance system demand. I.e. When the wind stops and when the sun goes to bed.

    More madness from the feel-good “unrealiable” energy brigade. #WTF

  10. Dave Ward permalink
    March 6, 2017 2:11 pm

    Guess what – storing surplus “Green” energy actually raises CO2 emissions!
    http://www.thegwpf.com/household-solar-storage-increases-co2-emissions-study-concludes/

    And in Australia, at least, those with Eco credentials use MORE energy than the rest of us who have to subsidise them:
    http://joannenova.com.au/2017/02/solar-homes-use-more-grid-electricity-than-non-solar-homes/

  11. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 6, 2017 2:27 pm

    As you pointed out, Warner fails to see that batteries are not a source of energy. He fails to see that in order for his theory to work the turbines need to charge the batteries when the turbines are producing, and that this output is not available for consumers’ use at the time. With an average PF of 25% you would need to double your turbine’s rated output in order to supply and supply/charge until the batteries took over. And in order to double the rated output of a turbine, doesn’t that mean quadrupling the size for the blades?

    According to my last leccy bill I last used 270kWh over 30 days, an average of 9kWh per 24 hr day. I wonder what size turbine/battery power-wall I’d need to satisfy that need….

    Silly me. If he says it will be cheaper, who am I to argue?

  12. Gamecock permalink
    March 6, 2017 2:40 pm

    The battery solution!

  13. Gamecock permalink
    March 6, 2017 2:53 pm

    ‘By removing some of the need for alternates, battery storage helps solve the problem. Nobody can say how quickly the transformation will take place.’

    I can. It’s not going to happen. It is nonsense.

    ‘If Warner had not noticed, batteries are not a source of energy. If we do away with all conventional capacity, we would need to at least double wind/solar capacity, meaning even more battery storage.’

    Not nearly enough. We would need SIX times the capacity, just to backup the wind/solar capacity, to make that – somewhat – reliable. Supplying the grid with only wind/solar/battery is simply impossible.

    Intermittency is an incurable defect. It is not possible to have enough capacity and storage to fix it.

    We have forgotten what our parents knew.

    • March 7, 2017 9:08 am

      A battery at home might keep the fridge and freezer going until the power comes back on, but that’s about it.

  14. March 6, 2017 3:29 pm

    Fortunately for our wallets 2016 was a poor year for the renewable energy scamsters. Average capacity factors were only 31.8% for offshore wind, 23.8% for onshore wind and a whopping 3.7% for solarPV.

  15. CheshireRed permalink
    March 6, 2017 6:24 pm

    Subsidised renewables require back-up from conventional energy which therefore isn’t viable because it’s just back-up so nobody will invest in conventional energy and instead will invest in renewable energy which will then need back-up and because conventional energy isn’t gaining investment will instead need back-up from batteries which currently don’t exist.

    Of course, this all makes perfect sense!

    Therefore instead of simply sticking with tried and tested gas, nuclear and coal which actually work, are abundant, reliable, cheap and don’t need any back-up from anything we’ll ditch that proven strategy and go for batteries which despite not yet existing are the future.

    Can’t see anything going wrong here at all.

    • neomarxistwatch permalink
      March 7, 2017 2:04 am

      Nice one CheshireRed. Bad craziness accurately summed up there.

  16. Tom O permalink
    March 6, 2017 8:31 pm

    Let’s see, we take this “free” energy from the “not so free” windmills and solar panels and store that in the “not at all free” batteries that will have to be replaced every 5 or so years, being brought to you over “anything but free” infrastructure that has to be specially built to bring the energy to market. Of course, it will be all new windmills and solar panels in 25 or so years as well, so this “free” energy really cost quite a bit, doesn’t it? Then again, what’s a little taxpayers’ pocket change, right?

  17. March 6, 2017 9:33 pm

    @Paul always worth checking what he’s up to on Twitter.He’s in bed with ECIU
    https://www.twitter.com/search/live?q=JeremyWarneruk+battery

    @davey1233 said
    @JeremyWarnerUK Did you just cut and paste Ambrose Pritchard Holy Grail of Battery storage
    http://linkis.com/euanmearns.com/BOdnp

  18. Svend Ferdinandsen permalink
    March 6, 2017 10:20 pm

    Wonder why the windmills do’nt put in battery storage, so that they could deliver when the wind do not blow.?
    Rethoric question. Because they are not ordered to do it even if they are paid generously to produce when they can and guaranteed to sell what they produce.
    When wind parks are comparable to real power stations they need to be able to deliver like real power stations. I dont care how they do it, batteries or back up power or negotiations with other power stations or Norway hydro. It is all up to the wind parks.

    • Joe Public permalink
      March 6, 2017 10:37 pm

      ‘Cos they’d use any battery power to keep the blades turning to prevent bearings brinelling (& more importantly, present the illusion of generating!)

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 7, 2017 1:29 am

      ‘Rapid growth in the market for battery storage, forecast by Goldman Sachs to increase by a thousand-fold from $258m (£210m) last year to $258bn in 2025, should in turn remove a number of the key economic constraints on renewable forms of energy.’

      $258bn seems like a sufficient economic constraint.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        March 7, 2017 1:48 pm

        Were Golden Sacks not the ones who said everything was rosy in the Greek economy and they should join the euro? Lots of EU contracts ensued of course.

        And haven’t the forecasts of economists recently been shown to be complete rubbish?

  19. Peter MacFarlane permalink
    March 7, 2017 7:57 am

    “I suspect this indicates that he actually knows nothing at all about the subject.”

    I suspect that too.

    I read the article thinking (from the headline) that he was about to announce some long-hoped-for breakthrough in battery technology.

    But no; same old same old: “could” do such and such “if” amazing developments occur, as expected by computer models probably. Just the usual sunbeams-from-cucumbers stuff. The Telegraph is hopeless these days; nothing but frocks and nonsense like this. Only Allister Heath, and sometimes Roger Bootle, are worth your time.

  20. 2hmp permalink
    March 7, 2017 9:20 am

    As a one time economist in industry I sometimes find Warner’s economics wild and woody if not downright wrong.

  21. Sheri permalink
    March 12, 2017 3:53 pm

    Battery storage is always just over the horizon—always. Meaning it never actually reaches said horizon. It’s like that rabbit on a pole that grayhounds chase around a track.

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