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Britain’s £246m battery challenge won’t solve energy storage problem

July 29, 2017

By Paul Homewood

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Renewable energy’s share of British electricity generation from wind and solar technologies reached record levels of 26% in the past year. This is excellent news for our national carbon emissions, but the grid is under increasing pressure to manage this intermittent power supply.

The on-and-off nature of renewable energy means that to avoid unexpected blackouts and surges it must be integrated into the national electricity grid alongside energy storage. That is the challenge that lies in the background as the UK government announced it will invest £246m in research funding on a four-year energy storage strategy focusing on battery innovation.

It is hoped that the “Faraday Challenge” will break down barriers to new battery technologies and introduce new business models. The plan is to establish a Battery Research Institute and drive innovation, particularly for the electric vehicle industry. However, the plan’s size and scope sends mixed signals to the energy storage sector and brings confusion on the longer-term direction.

The Faraday Challenge is focusing on known technology, looking for innovation in established and publicly recognised lithium-ion batteries. But on top of the well-known lead-acid (car) and lithium-ion (electronics) batteries, there are many alternative technologies for energy storage.

These include a range of other electrochemical storage devices, such as sodium-sulfur, metal-air, sodium-ion, flow batteries, and supercapacitors, as well as other energy storage devices such as pumped-hydro, flywheels, compressed-air (CAES), and superconducting magnets (SMES).

As shown in the graphic below, these technologies can be assessed by their power output and by the duration for which they can deliver this power (energy stored).

The US, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Korea and China are all ahead of the UK in lithium-ion technology. The government’s intervention is dwarfed by Tesla’s Gigafactory, built for US$5 billion (£3.8 billion) to produce half a million car batteries a year when in full production – and by the recent announcement about the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in Australia. China produces 55% of all lithium-ion batteries globally. These are daunting glimpses of the scale at which competing nations are tackling battery storage technology.

In truth though, it is not investment in more lithium-ion research that would give Britain a foothold. It should be genuinely original and fundamental research into new, breakthrough technologies, perhaps with a focus on sustainable and low-cost materials. The Faraday Challenge fund, so far, does not seem to consider real innovation, but is looking for ready-to-roll technology – it is more like a grid subsidy, cloaked as a research fund.

No surprise then, that within a day of the Faraday Challenge launch, the government announced a ban on new diesel and petrol cars from 2040, coupled with a £255m fund for councils to tackle emissions. With such a deadline – and rising demand for electric vehicles globally – is the government forcing the hand of energy storage researchers to focus solely on lithium-ion innovation? Furthermore, the National Grid committed more than £66m to deploying medium-scale frequency response energy storage projects last year, all based on lithium-ion technology.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/britain-apos-246m-battery-challenge-145541722.html

It is a sign of the times when a supposed energy expert can’t even get her numbers right about electricity generation:

Renewable energy’s share of British electricity generation from wind and solar technologies reached record levels of 26% in the past year

The actual figure for wind and solar is 14%, with the other 12% coming from burning trees and hydro:

image

As for the gist of the article though, I suspect the authors are right that the relatively small amount of money offered will make little difference.

As they note, China already produces 55% of the world’s lithium batteries, and no doubt that they will continue to dominate.

While their appeal for more money for breakthrough technologies is understandable, they show naivety about the position the government has boxed itself into.

The mad rush to decarbonise needs solutions now, not in 20 years time. Any objective observer would realise the logical answer would be to suspend decarbonisation until technology comes along with something better that works.

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59 Comments
  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 29, 2017 7:01 pm

    Paul

    It is my belief that a fundamental problem caused by wind & solar intermittents is being ‘solved’ under the more publicly-acceptable guise of providing additional (battery) storage.

    The public can perceive a benefit of additional storage, so it’s accepted by them.

    However, the less-well known but far more serious problem caused by the rapidly (wind gusts, cloud cover) varying intermittents is grid destabilisation.

    Batteries provide the most rapid stabilising response, but if the renewables industry admitted that wind & solar NEED expensive batteries, the public would be up in arms. Also, someone might demand that every subsidy-farm provides its own stabilisation at ITS cost.

    https://www.younicos.com/case-studies/schwerin/

    What is interesting, is the Renewable Energy Assoc’s “Energy Storage in the UK
    An Overview” Table 3.2 UK Energy Storage projects – which lists the priorities of the projects (Service 1, 2, 3 or 4)

    For a number of *mainland* battery projects, their prime or secondary raison d’être is *not* ‘storage’ (Electric Energy Time Shift), but ‘voltage support’ or ‘frequency regulation’.

    https://www.r-e-a.net/upload/rea_uk_energy_storage_report_november_2015_-_final.pdf

    This cynic also suspects that *declared* Service ranking for some projects may be being fiddled for public relations / political expediency.

    • July 29, 2017 8:02 pm

      Batteries might one day solve the intermittent supply problem, but they will never solve the grid stability problem because, like both solar and wind, they supply nomgrid inertia. Grid inertia comes from syncronous spinning of many multihundred ton masses–generators. It can be complemented by synchronous condensers, which are just multihundred ton undriven generators. Yet another added renewable cost.

      • July 30, 2017 6:30 am

        You beat me to it. I was going to say that inertia was fundamental to grid stability.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 31, 2017 11:30 am

        I think it is an interesting question whether electronics attached to a battery ( including capacitor banks) can begin to mimic inertia adequately. It’s clearly a grid level experiment in the UK and South Australia.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      July 30, 2017 10:59 am

      I assume that anyone offering supplemental supply to the grid has to conform to strict parameters of supply: frequency and voltage. But what about availability and reliability. How come wind and solar farms can get away with dumping whatever they have whenever they like and leave it to the grid to pick up the pieces? Wind and solar should be made to deliver within strong availability and reliability parameters and pick up their own costs for doing so – and large fines when they don’t.

      It seems that our ‘green’ civil servants have managed to create contracts that only benefits the subsidy farmer.

  2. July 29, 2017 7:01 pm

    To solve the battery problem it seems to see that the Government needs to give out supporting grants to change to change the fundamental laws of Physics and Chemistry. It then needs to learn some simple mathematics.

    Never forget that the late Professor David Mackay former Chief Scientists at DECC called the use of Renewable Energy to power a developed country.

    “an appalling delusion”.

    see his final interview minute 13

    For the effectiveness of Weather Dependent Renewable Energy using recent 2016 data from Renewable Energy industry sources see:

    https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/renewable-energy-the-question-of-capacity/

    https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/renewable-energy-cost-and-performance-in-europe-2016/

    • HotScot permalink
      July 29, 2017 7:08 pm

      David Mackay’s TED talk is a case in realism, from a committed green.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 30, 2017 10:40 am

      A period of study on economics and the markets is needed by the government and MPs as well. But then since they are just different shades of socialist there is little hope that they would learn anything.

    • July 30, 2017 11:16 am

      I beg to differ cos in the clip at 14:00 he says its’s not worth having wind co CCS would be solving the problem.
      ..And we know that CCS was last year’s magic solution.
      This years is batteries.

  3. HotScot permalink
    July 29, 2017 7:05 pm

    Paul,

    you heathen, denier, activist. You dare suggest that the market will prevail, you must be a blind Capitalist!

    I mean look at the facts, you are tapping away on a PC. There is one in almost every house in the western world, indeed there are 3 laptops, and one desktop machine in our household of 4 people. We also have 3 tablets and 4 high end mobile phones.

    Every single gadget mandated by our government to drive the digital revolution. I was also compelled to install broadband to keep up with progress.

    Sorry…….what?

    There was no government compulsion. You mean I bought all this hardware/software in response to market forces and my own desire to take advantage of the digital revolution?

    Are you trying to tell me market forces have revolutionised our world, and that we are in the digital revolution? The biggest movement since the industrial revolution, and I did that voluntarily?

    Away an’ bile yer heed man. Government mandated EV’s are the future.

    But I’ll buy my Land Rover anyway, just in case.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 30, 2017 10:43 am

      Private enterprise built our railways and our canals as there was an economic gain to be made. When government gets involved it is on vanity projects with no economic gain. H2S anyone? A stinkingly bad idea.

  4. bea permalink
    July 29, 2017 7:15 pm

    A picture of Faraday!!

    He must be spinning in his grave (can we generate power from this?)

    He was all about the dynamo, not batteries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. July 29, 2017 7:56 pm

    The proposed UK amount over 4 years is equal to what DoE spent on energy storage research in 2013-2014 alone. It is fantasy to think anything will get accomplished.

    There are no miracles. The only two potentially interesting energy storage developments are the Fiskar Nanotech LiC hybrid device (discussed in a guest post at Climate Etc. on vehicle decarbonization) , and the solid state ‘glass’ LiB electrolyte being developed by Goodenough at U.T Austin and Toyota in Japan (google will find some high level writeups). For vehicles, LiC might well be a path forward IMO as an SME–but it isn’t even out of the lab yet, and the accompanying patent applications have not yet published. Technically possible for sure, but until working prototypes have been wrung out you never know how the energy density, power density, cycle life, and cost tradeoffs work out.

    • July 30, 2017 10:56 am

      General consensus? We are going to need to replace fossil fuels at some stage. There is no compalling need, except in the warped minds of the eco-activist and the proto-communists in the UN, to do so in our lifetimes, or our children’s lifetimes, or probably our grandchildren’s lifetimes. Yes?

      So, rud, the fact that any or all of these potential solutions aren’t “out of the lab yet” is unimportant — as I’m sure you agree. What is important is that they are already in the lab! As, we hope, will other possible solutions as yet undreamed of. None of the things you mention was “dreamt of” 30 years ago when the CO2 panic was launched on an unsuspecting world.

      But what is going to happen to this research if we insist in impoverishing ourselves and ukitmately those great-grandchildren who are going to need and discover and develop these fossil-fuel replacements in 80 or 100 or 200 years time? If we keep pouring money into the elephant traps of wind and solar power or the bank accounts of shysters running biomass plants that do more damage to the environment than CO2 has ever done or any of the other scams that have piggy-backed themselves (at great profit to the perpetrators at the expense of the hard-pressed consumer) onto the Master Scam of climate change there ain’t gonna be none left when we need it for that!

  6. Roy permalink
    July 29, 2017 8:54 pm

    This is a ‘solution’ to a self-inflicted problem we didn’t need to have. The term Heath Robinson springs to mind.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 30, 2017 10:45 am

      I think that is an insult to all things Heath Robinson which are put together to achieve a useful purpose. The government’s – I nearly said ‘our’ but then who among us agrees with it or voted for it – energy policy does nothing of the sort.

  7. July 29, 2017 10:13 pm

    The Chinese solved the problem in a very realistic way – they introduced huge curtailment, throwing away about 30% of all that lovely “free” renewable energy from wind and solar, and building lots of modern coal-fired power stations. Intermittency problems had crashed their entire grid – they have now run for over three years with no problems. Carbon emissions? Well, they have undertaken to reduce the CO2 per $GDP by 30% by 2030. Their CO2 emissions can grow at 2%/annum compound, and their GDP by only 5% per annum, and they will hit that target with ease. Only galloping US inflation will save the world!

  8. bob nielsen permalink
    July 30, 2017 12:00 am

    Off the subject. Paul it would be nice to have a general comment page to leave postings on other subjects where the mainstream media is going loopey. For example the current panic over US chicken being too clean.
    American chicken – like EU chicken also seeks the prevention of microbes. However the USA goes a step further and disinfects with a mild chlorine wash as well. So US chicken is twice as safe as EU chicken.
    Furthermore we have chlorine in our national water supply – which we drink! And when we go to a swimming pool we bathe in chlorinated water. We chlorine wash ourselves! But these morons are saying its not right to wash chicken the same way we wash ourselves in public pools??!!!
    I’m all for chlorine washed chicken – safer than the stuff served in EU and UK today! Now off to the swimming pool to get chlorinated!

    • Sheri permalink
      July 30, 2017 2:48 am

      Same thing for organic produce in the US. Alternatives are being sought, but as in most cases, the alternatives do not seem as effective. People who complain about washing chickens in chlorine most likely have huge filters on their tap water, etc and swim only in non-chlorinated pools. Kind of like the wind turbines and solar panels being 19th century that are now being propped up with expensive batteries. People want the 21st century but none of the “man-made” chemicals and energy production that go with it. They cling to the least effective methods of doing things and then wonder why things don’t work out and create a cascading failure.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 30, 2017 10:55 am

      If you want to understand why the US needs to wash its chickens in chlorine you need to look at the awful conditions under which they are raised. Article in today’s Mail shows it. The chlorine wash is to mask bad practice. You also need to realise that the US and the EU have two different philosophies on food production. The EU opts for ‘farm to fork’ whereas the US is just on the market and produced as cheap as possible. Important point is that there is NO evidence that either method is better but in the UK the public would recoil in horror at the US methods.

      The incompetent Tories are putting our whole farming system at risk by crashing out the EU with no deal as access to our food market will be at the front of every potential trade deal. Cheap imports will wipe our agriculture out bar a few niche areas such as organic. And even then the depth of the economic crash will curtail luxury spending.

      • bob nielsen permalink
        July 31, 2017 1:54 pm

        Again gerry you are believing the one-sided media. Have you seen the ‘awful conditions’ inside a uk battery chicken farm? The birds are in a terrible state with less than half their feathers. There are EU/UK chicken farms every bit as squalid as some US ones. Again you fall for the trap of assuming that because some are squalid – all are squalid. Every country has good and bad farms including the UK. The answer is not to be distracted by the chlorine wash non-issue, but to to set minimum welfare and space standards. The issue is not chlorine but agreeing a welfare standard with or without chlorine wash.

  9. Graeme No.3 permalink
    July 30, 2017 12:01 am

    I wonder if £246 Billion on batteries would be enough? No, it would require £751 Billion just to cover for 1 day with no wind (assuming no backup and electric cars only).

  10. July 30, 2017 12:07 am

    It’s simple. The Climate Change Act and all the warmist drivel that led to it is the reason we are faced with this economically illiterate nonsense. What drives it is the political dogma of world governance that rejects scrutiny from those who legitimately question it.

    • July 30, 2017 6:36 am

      Yes, the objective observer is ignored because he conflicts with the political agenda.

    • Dung permalink
      July 30, 2017 10:56 am

      Exactly right!

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 30, 2017 11:00 am

      The new Little Ice Age can’t come soon enough to end the global warming scam. I feel sorry for all those who will perish because of it but it is the only way to kill it off. Donald is doing his best but he has a lot of swamp to drain. The signs are hopeful as South America suffers its second brutal winter which won’t feature on the BBC or Guardian pages. The El Nino heat has gone and there is an area in Russia which is held up as a good climate barometer and they are having frosts already.

  11. Dave permalink
    July 30, 2017 6:15 am

    In principle, this is the right approach. Even out the variability of wind/solar generation so that a predictable power supply can be bid into the market.
    In practice, the costs, due to battery decay and loss etc, are daunting.
    I bet a full cycle economic analysis would show this is crazy
    But that wont happen – it will all be hidden in the economic subsidy washd

  12. July 30, 2017 6:41 am

    I am always amused by the fact that pumped storage is considered by the Government to be electricity generated (Table 5.1). Thus, according to the PTB, If the country built lots more pumped storage, then we wouldn’t need any other generators at all.

    • July 30, 2017 8:02 am

      Yes, pumped storage only stores water and the pumping system is a net user of electricity. Handy for sudden increases in demand or losses of supply, but that’s about it. When it’s gone it’s gone and more pumping is required.

      • Derek Buxton permalink
        July 30, 2017 10:22 am

        But try telling that to a politician, or the “National Grid”. they are all happy in their own stupidity…..it will not affect them!

    • July 30, 2017 11:05 am

      Sounds a bit like “back radiation” to me, Phillip!
      Actually you can count it as electricity generated. An accountant would be able to explain why because of where you record it “in the books”.
      What you then cannot do is count the electricity generated in the first place that created the “fuel” for the generation that was actually put to use via the grid.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 31, 2017 11:23 am

      I am always amused by the fact that the BritNed connector is supplied with coal fired power at the other end in Maasvlakte. Never counted against our emissions…

  13. John Peter permalink
    July 30, 2017 7:05 am

    GWPF is one of my must check Web sides. Nothing new in this reference, but will explain what is going on between scientists removed from reality and politicians with no practical experience.
    http://www.thegwpf.com/scientists-are-mostly-wrong-or-why-published-research-is-untrustworthy/
    “As much as 90% of the published medical information is flawed according to John Ioannidis, one of the true experts on credibility of medical research [1], and former BMJ editorin-chief, Richard Smith, has claimed that “most of what is published in journals is just plain wrong or nonsense.”
    So it will be fair to say that 97% of all “climate change” research is wrong and that is how we have ended up where we are. Anyone with any sense can see that batteries are no better than solar and wind as when they have been run down (very quickly) they need an external dispatchable source to recharge. No guarantee that wind or solar can then take over again and provide energy to the grid and recharging.
    I am constantly amazed at the muddled thinking amongst, scientists, commentators, politicians and, therefore, also he public at large. It is brainwashing on a scale that would make Goebbels approve.

  14. David Davenport permalink
    July 30, 2017 8:16 am

    It is a tad confusing and frustrating that the vast majority of people on the coal face of this industry that I have the pleasure of talking to believe that there is no appetite for funding hybrid renewable sites. It is also disappointing if government is funding battery technology which has probably been the widest worldwide funded energy source in R&D when there is supercapicitors and hydrogen power which could yield environmentally friendly storage solutions with enough investment. The recently released nation grid paper does not give any clarity or direct support for hybrid/storage which is astounding. UK need to get on a same page forward thinking mode or we will never be the world leaders but followers of directives and solutions developed elsewhere. One area we should be cracking on with NOW is the Swansea Tidal Bay reactors, the world’s first to provide flow and ebb energy provision.. but will still require some level of storage to provide 100% of energy 24/7.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 30, 2017 11:02 am

      The cost of power from a Swansea tidal barrage will make Hinckley Point look cheap!

    • July 30, 2017 11:25 am

      David, any system that is not capable of producing the energy required at the flick of a switch has only a small part to play. Hydro works because you can pump the water back up the hill at nil cost when there is no demand. Wind doesn’t work, not because you can’t store the electricity but because you can’t store the fuel! Batteries are inefficient and expensive and the technology is still years away from overcoming the limitations.

      Tidal power has the same problem as wind. It is marginally more predictable since we know when but we never know how much and there is nowhere to store the fuel.

      And Gerry is right: Swansea Bay would make Hinkley Point look cheap. So why are are doing it? Why is the UK suddenly taking a masochistic pride in making its electricity as expensive as possible? And has anyone considered the CO2 emissions (increasingly irrelevant as they appear to be becoming!) for the whole of Swansea Bay — not forgetting the essential back-ups — as compared with CCGT giving equivalent reliable output.

      Not to mention the environmental implications. Which our environmentalists seem conveniently to have forgotten.

    • July 30, 2017 11:27 am

      And the reason the rest of world has nothing like Swansea is cos they are more stupid that the UK or smarter than UK.
      Every white elephant project begins with the false belief it will make us world leaders.

      Big projects should never be implement unless the small pilot project has been shown to work.

      Swansea is just subsidy farming
      It demands a big price, but it’s electricity has lower value cos it’s not available on demand.

      • July 30, 2017 9:29 pm

        And in the looking-glass world of modern energy policy, stewgreen, the fact that it has lower value means we end up paying more for it. What sense is there in that?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 31, 2017 11:11 am

      Swansea Bay produces highly intermittent power that peaks when the difference in levels between the sea and the lagoon is highest – that is at new moon with a spring tide. Power output is much reduced a fortnight later with the full moon and a neap tide, and falls to zero when the differential head drops towards a metre. Moreover, it is unlikely that there will be both ebb and flow generation – ebb only would make better economic sense, since turbine efficiency is greatly reduced when operated in reverse flow, and restricting the flow to extract power would limit the depth achieved inside the lagoon before the tide turns.

      Adding other lagoons doesn’t solve the problems. Read about it here.

      http://euanmearns.com/green-mythology-tidal-base-load-power-in-the-uk/

  15. bea permalink
    July 30, 2017 8:32 am

    It is the stubborn attempt to manufacture science out of shoddy cloth, and the hubristic attitude that the world must conform to the preconceived ideas of “experts,” and the worship of process over understanding, that plants the dragon seeds of error.

    If you read the published experimental journals of a real investigator such as Faraday you will find that there are no flaws. There are dead ends, negative findings, equipment that does not work properly – but Faraday regarded this as just gentle chastisement by Nature to make him think harder.

    The Science of the 19th Century was unique in its total rejection of AUTHORITY.
    Now, once again, authority is everything – and nothing.

  16. July 30, 2017 8:55 am

    Batteries do not produce any energy at all; so where will these EVs get it?

    • bea permalink
      July 30, 2017 9:07 am

      A hundred trillion Hamsters running in wheels. At the rate they breed, it won’t take long to build up supply.

      • July 30, 2017 11:07 am

        Sadly they will all have to be fed. Will there be any food left for we poor humans?

  17. Bitter&twisted permalink
    July 30, 2017 9:24 am

    Adding batteries to renewables will mean they falll below the “break even” point of “energy input to energy output” required to power a technological society.

    Oh silly me, that is the point!

  18. Bitter&twisted permalink
    July 30, 2017 9:32 am

    The idiocy of battery storage is well documented over at Bravenewclimate.com
    “The catch-22 of energy storage”.
    The congenital idiots in Government should be forced to read it.

  19. Europeanonion permalink
    July 30, 2017 9:33 am

    The state seem to have employed a soothsayer, forsooth! Did Nostradamus foresee this situation? As Paul states in this article, the need for that breakthrough moment is now not in twenty years, now. To base the integrity of the whole country on a whim such as this makes Brexit seem such a minor issue worth little consideration. We see that thing of the auction here where you can quite often walk away with something which is overpriced simply through the excitement of the occasion. For nations to want to outbid each other on their commitment or daring or modernity by making such rash promises is to move in haste only to repent at leisure.

    There is something counter intuitive and quite telling about this commitment. It is good to talk of Faraday, to address the science of his day which was peopled by diverse individuals largely unknown to each other who, through their isolation, could come to innovation without the influence or misdirection of others. Today we are committing the majority of the resource to prove the existence of phlogiston (or its equivalent) which means that we are wedded to the support of one idea that will be hidebound by the technological understanding of today, not that glimmer of twenty years time. Meanwhile, wild ideas and surmises will be starved in order that the ‘battery’ cuckoo can survive. It;s just not wise. It is just not British.

  20. Athelstan permalink
    July 30, 2017 10:19 am

    Back in the day, we had energy storage down to a tee, it was called a petrol tank or Gasometer, coal/nuclear provided the base load and gas made up the difference – genius.

    Then some idiots decided we needed to produce lots of electricity when we didn’t need it and in all sorts of bonkers inaccessible places and then, when we really need electricity – the place is dark with no wind……………….still that didn’t stop em, thcy carried on buggering about and now the system is designed around the intermittent’s – and if that’s not madness, then tell me, what is?……………..

    Soooooooooooo it’s over to [ancient technology] and batteries to solve a problem of our own boondoggle design?

    How fekkin stoopid can it get?

    Carbon capture?

    • Dung permalink
      July 30, 2017 11:06 am

      Carbon ‘alarmist’ capture would be more effective but that also would need storage ^.^

  21. Dave Ward permalink
    July 30, 2017 11:15 am

    “No surprise then, that within a day of the Faraday Challenge launch, the government announced a ban on new diesel and petrol cars from 2040”

    And within a week sales of diesels are beginning to rise!

    http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/834591/diesel-car-ban-sales-boom-despite-plans-tackle-air-pollution

    Once more, the law of unintended consequences comes along to bite the greens on their a**e

    • July 30, 2017 11:28 am

      I predict that my 20 year old Mercedes diesel will become an expensive celebrity Status symbol in the years to come.

  22. July 30, 2017 11:16 am

    Batteries are merely energy storage devices. The world’s battery lies beneath our feet in fossil and nuclear fuels. It took millions years to charge it up.

  23. Gerry, England permalink
    July 30, 2017 11:19 am

    When you read one of these articles it is difficult to know where to start since they usually managed to cram a huge amount of bollocks into so few words.

    In my understanding, the batteries are intended to kick in when the wind and solar drop quickly – mainly wind and I would think even our morons know about night and day. Wind can drop quite quickly as there is many an evening when I come home, find a nice breeze blowing to cool the house and find that an hour or so later it has gone. The batteries buy time for proper generation to kick in. BUT…as Paul has shown here before many a time, with more and more wind and solar, unless there is a huge wad of taxpayer cash handed over, no private company will be running any fossil fuel generation as it won’t be economic to do so. Who knows, we may see the plant nationalised as the companies just hand it over and challenge the government to run it.

    Note the piece in one paragraph ‘…focus on sustainable and low-cost materials.’ So an admission that all these ideas trotted out above aren’t either of these?

    ‘…and rising demand for electric vehicles globally…’ Really? Is this just not understanding the power of using percentage increase in sales while studiously ignoring the numbers sold and in relation to the total number of vehicles sold? Sell two in year 1 and four in year 2 is a huge percentage increase but I don’t think you will get rich on it. And how much of this demand is not just in response to government tax schemes?

    And still they think that China is in on this idiocy as opposed to shrewdly noting that the western economies are trying to commit economic suicide and take advantage at every turn to make themselves money. If the dumb westerners want batteries let’s make them for them. Nothing wrong with that and as an avid DIY fan I am truly grateful for cheap Chinese manufacture for providing lots of power tools I otherwise couldn’t afford or justify for occasional use.

  24. July 30, 2017 12:20 pm

    Small modular Thorium based molton salt nuclear reactors can potentially solve most of our future energy needs; but there is little investment in developing this technology.
    These operate at atmospheric pressure thus there is no danger of radio active cloud contamination. The molton salt freezes should it escape and is thus completely containable.
    The process is stable, in that it controls it’s own shut down in the event of a problem without need of complex safety measures. They can partially consume the waste products from older nuclear plants. They do not generate weapons grade fuel so curtail proliferation.
    In volume modular production the generation costs per Mwatt.hr could well match that of current coal generation costs.
    As I see it the only thing that is preventing development of this technology is our current instinctive fear of all matters nuclear, although it has been well established that deaths due to nuclear generation in the past have been negligible in comparison with other processes.
    Add to this the additional safety factors involved in Thorium generation and the case is clear.
    So how do we remove this fear from the minds of the general population?
    Aye- there is the rub.

    • Ross King permalink
      July 30, 2017 10:55 pm

      Easy….. Floating Nuclear Power Stations, FLONUPS, comprising massive r.c. floating caissons with massive cellular compartmentation, each cell housing a modular marine..style reactor such as is found in ice..breakers, submarines, aircraft..carriers (known, proven technology and safe). Moored, in FLONUP fleets, in deep water, out of sight, out of mind, beyond NIMBY territory, tsunami..proof, and mass..produced incrementally according to power demand growth, down slipways as were Mulberry Harbour units, fitted..out in (supernumerary??) N.Sea Platform yards.
      ALARP risks diminished to comparative insignificance. Planning and Pubic Hearing constraints decimated.

      • tom0mason permalink
        July 31, 2017 4:29 am

        Heck cut out the middle man and go for nuclear powered vehicles instead. It’s about as practical as battery/solar/windfarm option.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 31, 2017 11:18 am

        IIRC NASA did use a plutonium fuelled power source for some of their lunar experiments. Or perhaps it was just the satellites they dispatched to the farther reaches of the solar system.

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