Australian Company To Elon Musk: We’ll Supply Twice The Storage in 100 Days For Half The Price

wetwatts tower

Aggregated, wireless power transfer can enable massive storage to be rolled out very quickly and very cheaply.

These are, quite literally, dark days for national energy security.

The South Australian grid is in disarray and blackouts threaten to engulf other states as soon as summer rolls around again or adverse weather conditions strike.

In an attempt to shore up energy security, the federal government has promised to fund a $2 billion pumped hydroelectric scheme in the Snowy Mountains, but the project will take years to complete.  Meanwhile, the Weatherill government in South Australia is seeking tenders for both reserve gas generating capacity and large scale battery storage.  It is even considering an offer  by American billionaire and entrepreneur, Elon Musk, to provide 100 megawatt-hours of Tesla Powerpack battery storage.  While Musk has offered to get this built within 100 days, the cost will not be cheap.

But one Australian company says the energy storage required to stabilize the grid already exists and it can bring it online at next to no cost.

The innovative Australian start up company, WETwatts, claims it can use the energy storage capacity already existing in wireless devices to supply power and stability to the grid as needed.  They will conduct the first large scale tests of their technology in the Sydney CBD later this month and create a wireless virtual power station.

The first three letters of WETwatts’ name stands for Wireless Energy Transmission.  Their virtual power station will be the first to make use of the storage capacity of wireless devices such as mobile phones, ipads, laptops, and the new Nintendo Switch.  The founder of the company, Auric DeKalb, says it not only has the potential to disrupt both the battery storage and electricity generation industries, but the entire world.

How WET Works

A conventional virtual power station, such as the one AGL recently turned on in Adelaide, connects multiple battery systems distributed over a wide area through the internet and has them work together as one large battery.  WET has the ability to do the same, but using the batteries in wireless devices.

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The existing battery capacity in mobile devices is staggering.

There are over 50 million wireless capable devices in Australia and each has an average storage capacity of 14,500 milliwatt-hours.  This comes to a total of 750 megawatt-hours of storage, which dwarfs Australia’s current on-grid battery storage capacity of under 40 megawatt-hours.

If Australia’s wireless battery storage capacity transmitted just 10% of its stored energy to the grid over an hour, it would provide twice as much power as Tesla’s comparatively puny 100 megawatt-hour battery bank.

WETwatts Plans To Become Ubiquitous

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Auric DeKalb, the founder of WETwatts at South Australia’s Monarto Zoo.  At first he was far more interested in discussing animal conservation than his business, but after almost an hour he told me:

“The amazing thing about project WETwatts is only software is required.  The necessary hardware is already in place.  All wireless devices, and particularly mobile phones, are made to convert radio waves into electricity and vice-versa.  This process can be up to 95% efficient.  Our technology will enable the amount of battery storage available for use by the grid to be increased by more than an order of magnitude at next to no cost.”

 

“WETwatts’ software will never drain a device below a preset amount chosen by its user, and we expect the typical device to only transmit power for around 20 hours a year when wholesale electricity prices are at their highest.”

 

“WETwatts Phase I consists of testing in the Sydney CBD.  In terms of raw wattage, it is one of the most active wireless locations on the planet.  We have almost 10,000 devices fitted with our software and we expect to eventually be able to get a peak of around 100 kilowatts from them.”

 

“In Phase II, we will make our mobile phone app available to anyone who is interested in making the world a greener place, completely free of charge.”

 

“In Phase III, we expect our software to become ubiquitous across wireless platforms with people receiving reductions in their internet and mobile phone bills for the energy they supply.”

 

“In Phase IV, everyone who is currently in the company gets a paid holiday, on me.  They will have deserved it.”

He told me this as we were strolling past Monarto’s lion enclosure.  When I asked him what phase V would be, he paused to admire one of the great blonde beasts and said:

“That would be letting the cat out of the bag.”

Auric DeKalb: Australian Entrepreneur

Like Elon Musk, DeKalb was born in South Africa.  He emigrated to Australia 40 years ago, after spending several years in Argentina.  Also similar to Musk, he has an obsession with space travel, but he doesn’t want to go nearly as far.  When I asked him about his interest in space, he told me:

“I have no interest in running away to another planet.  I think this fragile globe we stand on is the most beautiful thing there could be in this universe.  It has given us life.  But do we protect it?  No.  We burn coal, we pollute rivers, we raze forests, and we exterminate species.  Currently, I am fighting to stop this.  But it is my sincere wish that one day I will be able to look down on the earth from above and watch as the application of advanced technology removes humanity’s pollution from its surface.”

Australia:  More Open To Innovation Than Japan

WETwatts is active in Japan and they originally planned to test WET technology there first.  When I asked why Australia was chosen instead, DeKalb said:

“Because of the entrepreneurial approach the Australian government takes with regard to public services, there are certain ‘barriers’ that have to be overcome in other countries that are not present here.”

 

“Initially, the Japanese government expressed interest in our technology.  Japan has been having difficulties with their energy supply since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, or nuclear opportunity as I prefer to think of it.  We were working our way towards large scale testing and were even at the point where we were renting cheap office space in a disused nuclear power plant, when we were tied up in red tape.  The Japanese bureaucracy demanded we prove before we started testing that there was no possibility WET would interfere with their emergency broadcast system and made completely unreasonable safety demands.”

I asked DeKalb if there were any safety concerns that Australians should be aware of, and he replied:

“No!  None at all!  While the radiant power of 13 typical mobile phones is enough to cook the human pineal gland like a quail’s egg that is being cooked, we have investigated this situation intensively and concluded the odds against the frequencies and resonances all lining up in the right way are astronomical.  The universe could die of old age before it happens even once, accidentally.”

WETwatts Is Ready To Disrupt Energy Incumbents

WETwatts has claimed it will disrupt both conventional battery storage and fossil fuel electricity generation.  Because of the political opposition renewable energy has received from the Coalition Government in defense of fossil fuel incumbents, I asked DeKalb if he thought WETwatts would face similar opposition.  He replied:

“Creative destruction is necessary for life itself.  Politicians know this, but they fear it.  I embrace it.”

 

“When I was five years old on my parents’ farm in South Africa, I was woken by noises in the night.  I looked out my window and saw a great lion in the moonlight.  It had such power, such savagery, such will to destruction!  It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  It was eating my father.  Then my mother shot it dead.  This was when I learned we must sometimes destroy to protect that which we love.”

 

“When a species does not adapt to changing circumstances, it goes extinct.  It is time for the fossil fuel dinosaurs and all that serve them to meet their end.  At WETwatts we are creating the technology to make this possible.  The number of wireless devices is increasing exponentially.  People like to play with their laptops, their smartphones, iPads, fitbits, and what is that thing with the cartridges that make you want to vomit?   …Nintendo Switches.  And the more they play, the more we will be prepared to take power from them.  For the good of the planet.”

Future Developments

WETwatts has claimed their software can allow a wireless device with a microphone to generate power from sound.  When I asked DeKalb about this feature he said:

“A microphone is a piezoelectrical device which generates electrical current from the energy in soundwaves.  The amount produced is only trivial, but there is no reason why the effect could not be increased and in the future mobile phones could be partially powered by the sound of people’s voices.  They could even have their batteries charged by screaming into them.”

I asked DeKalb if he thought screaming into mobile phones to charge them would ever be more than just a gimmick and he removed his monocle and said:

“I believe in the future there will be much screaming.”

About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. And where does all that energy come from to charge the wireless devices? Largely from fossil fuels. Unless all you devices are charged by renewable energy who would want to do this? IMO it is DOA in its current form or vision. And last, have you actually seen a demonstration of his technology? You do not seem to mention that at all.

  2. April fools!

  3. Almost had me…

  4. April Fools Day right Ron?

  5. StephenG says

    that time of year again…

  6. don firth says

    and on April 2 it all went flat- someone had left the lights on overnight even though there was no-one home

  7. Jack Wallace says

    Are we overlooking the truism that “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch””?
    aka (the nerd’s version):- ” Perpetual motion is impossible” . Unless they’ve found a way of getting around the first and/or second laws of thermodynamics.
    ie Sloshing power back and forth like pigswill in a trough requires more energy than it saves. That’s why grid-connected mouse-powered power-generators never took off.*

    The only real option is produce more OR use less.

    Go out and give your horse half a carrot, young feller, and persuade him that if he chews it hard enough and long enough it’ll really produce a whole carrot’s worth of yum-yums. ………….Or…… 😉

    *https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Pet-Jogging-Hamster-Mouse-Mice-Small-Exercise-Sports-Toy-Running-Spinner-Sports-Wheel/32782405605.html?source=%7Bifdyn:dyn%7D%7Bifpla:pla%7D%7Bifdbm:DBM&albch=DID%7D&src=google&albch=shopping&acnt=494-037-6276&isdl=y&aff_short_key=UneMJZVf&albcp=756822904&albag=35305934810&slnk=&trgt=58177019336&plac=&crea=en32782405605&netw=g&device=c&mtctp=&gclid=CIWOivTigdMCFQybvAodAgAIug

  8. liteceeper says

    Watt day is it?

  9. Max Hamilton says

    I was thinking, while reading this, that it seemed rather implausible but the monocle was the clincher.

  10. Ronald, can you please explaiin how the the entire emitted power from my phone gets into the grid? My phone doesn’t transmit as a maser (radio equivalent of a laser) so the power received at the nearest tower, about 20km away, even if my phone is transmitting at say 3W, is likely to be measured in microwatts, not watts. So if all my neighbours installed WETwatts, the received power at the nearest tower would be a tiny fraction of a milliwatt, not even enough to make one LED glow dimly. Even if I had a million neighbours at half the distance to the tower, it might still struggle to make it to a few watts of usable power.

    • Jack Wallace says

      Size is irrelevant…unless you’re listening to my girlfriend. Matter/energy ) cannot be created nor annihilated.

  11. Very droll for April 1. Thank you Ronald :=)

  12. Thanks for the joke 🙂

  13. Jack Anqer says

    What day is it today?

  14. Ian Cargill says

    Nice one Ron. I’ve decided to install WETWatts in my car so they can drain its battery too. Just not at the traffic lights, please! 🙂

  15. I should have looked at the calendar before posting 😉

  16. It is April 1st isn’t it.

  17. Where do I buy shares!!! Quickly I need to get it done before the end of the day and the opportunity evaporates.

  18. Graham Johnson says

    Love the In Nimmitabel style
    On this and batteries generally, at the moment a grid connected system can feed back excess, the grid has to balance and maintain itself, and the feed in only returns 8 c/kwhr or similar. There are reasons for this arrangement.
    In the new scenario with a battery, excess is stored and saves consumer at normal price rate, and therefore batteries still expensive.
    But on the idea above, if grid has access to your battery -most demand in early evening – and could draw down say 10% of battery capacity (with cut out at per diem cycle value) then this would have system balancing benefits, worth to the power company much more – perhaps as much as the general tariff. In which case the consumer could go into the power generation business if they chose and make a bit of a profit.
    (note different email on your system because I am out of the country and bigpond does not work)
    Economics in this case should be more in favour of batteries.
    It would also solve the limits to commercial systems problem, and a few batteries here could deliver very useful energy in a system balancing way, when everybody goes home at 6:00 and the sun sets.

  19. What’s the date today? 😀

  20. Julia Cox says

    Genius.
    Automatically read it aloud in a South African accent to my boyfriend while he cooked dinner. Both laughing hysterically before the monocle punchline. No idea.

  21. Published on 1st April, before mid-day?

  22. Erik Christiansen says

    Ronald, this is your finest moment. The punchline still has me half curled up cackling as I type this. Exquisite!

  23. Chris Thaler says

    The only problem I foresee is the need to wipe down the transmitting device with a WETwipe every morning to ensure the maximum retransmission of its internal power.

    Of course we then run the risk of clogging our sewers with FATbergs very quickly.

  24. Ray Williams says

    It must be April 1st.

  25. Enjoyed reading this piece… and wondered if we were being hoaxed. It was, of course April 1st. 🙂

  26. Good one!

  27. fantastic idea. Too bad it is the April 1st 😉

  28. Very nice work on a day such as the day this article was posted.
    Very nice work indeed.
    Or to quote Hancock, ‘Good job!’ 🙂
    One day when device efficiencies are high, and so tech consumption (like LED lights) is very low, wireless charging and direct powering may be common.
    One day.

  29. Nice April Fool’s day try there Ronald.

  30. Graham Alexander says

    The downside. You need permission from every user. Every user will want payment for their energy. A large amount of devices need ro be readily available at any one time.
    Dream on.

  31. Maurie Wedlake says

    Very early into reading this article, the little man called ‘Common Sense’ who normally sits on my shoulder, started shouting, uncontrollably.
    In order to pacify him, I looked at the date that this article was posted.
    Good one Ron – no wonder you’re no longer welcome in Toowoomba, but keep up the otherwise good work on all things solar.
    Maurie, Buronga. NSW.

  32. Mine goodness. What a lot of good folk you netted, Ronald… . (Must admit I read this with some excitement initially, but common sense prevailed.) 😉

  33. Oh yeh and my name is meat pie and my wifes name is eatme

  34. When you wrote WETwatts did you mean We Twatts that’s rather rude, isn’t it?

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