Billionaire’s Gambit – Why we should accept Musk’s offer.

deal

Last Thursday in a trendy re-purposed Substation near Melbourne, Elon Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive claimed he could solve SA’s energy woes in 100 days.

How?

By installing 100-300MWh of batteries.

Big Call.

A day later, via Twitter, Aussie tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes asks Musk if he’s serious about “100MW1” of batteries in 100 days. Musk wagers he’ll deliver and install them in 100 days or it’s free.

What is Musk Actually Proposing?

Musk & Rives’ “solution to SA’s power woes” is “100 – 300MWh” of energy storage.

The batteries they want to use are the Tesla Powerpacks. These are are steel cabinets with 15 Powerwalls worth of batteries in each. A single power pack can provide 210kWh of storage, which can be punched out to the grid at a max power of 50kW.

So 100-300MWh of storage will come with a corresponding 23.8MW – 71.4MW of power.

In the scheme of things 23.8MW is not very much grunt. For context it’s about the same as 10 modern wind turbines operating at full power.

So I’m going to work with the upper end of Tesla’s offer: 300MWh and 71.4MW.

At what cost?

Musk later tweeted that Tesla don’t do ‘mate’s rates’ but can do these batteries – to anyone buying over 100MWh – for US$250 per kWh.

That works out at a nice round $100 million AUD per 300MWh. But that’s at the factory gate. You still need to ship those 1500 x 1.6ton power packs to Australia (about a tenth of the capacity of a modern cargo ship or 20 x 747 cargo planes worth).

What is also not included in that $100 mil is the inverters, site works, cabling, installation, substations and commissioning.

My guess is that the total, installed cost could easily be double the headline cost of AU$100m. It is going to be installed by Australian labour, and have you seen the cost of Aussie tradies these days?

Will it work?

Depends what you mean by ‘work’.

Elon has promised to have it “working in 100 days or it’s free”.

As far as I’m concerned, ‘working’ should mean: ‘up and running and preventing any more blackouts in SA’.

But Elon is not crazy enough to make that promise. And he can’t, because 71MW of battery power is not enough to magically make the SA grid invincible.

What Elon has promised is that the batteries will be installed and commissioned in 100 days.

I have no doubt that, if Tesla send over their best engineers, they can get the batteries bolted down, wired, up and operational (although 100 days including shipping them from the US is ambitious).

So what will a fully operational 71MW Tesla battery do for the SA grid?

A large(ish) battery will definitely contribute to grid reliability. But the one proposed is too small to prevent all future blackouts – especially as wild weather becomes more frequent and fossil generation gets older and more fragile2.

Here’s what 300MWH/71MW of batteries can do:

  • Potentially help stabilise the grid with fast acting synthetic inertia, and frequency control. Batteries can inject power in to the grid instantaneously3.  This can prevent minor wobbles in grid frequency and voltage becoming wild fluctuations that lead to blackouts. When large amounts of generation (fossil or wind) suddenly drop out this is a real problem and the battery proposed could be useful in these situations.
  • Reduce price volatility.  The battery could slightly reduce average wholesale prices by reducing (but by no means eliminating) the number of times we go into peak price territory where every generator is paid thousands of dollars per MWh for short period.
  • Help out  for short time periods when the interconnectors hit their power limits.

But the batteries can only do this if the rules of the electricity market are changed.

What 300MWH of batteries won’t help with:

  • Shifting any substantial amount of solar to the evenings.
  • Covering for wind turbines on days with low or no wind.

And if the batteries are all in one place they won’t:

  • reduce network congestion (i.e reduce the need for more poles and wires)

In other words, Tesla’s offer of batteries can help stabilise the grid and make a contribution to lowering average wholesale prices, and that’s helpful.

Tesla’s ‘fix’ is not a magic bullet.

Integrating lots of renewables in to the grid is hard. There are underlying issues with our grid and our regulations which need to be fixed. It is not as simple as simply adding stacks of batteries. If we just add 300MWh/71MW of batteries and expect no more incidents going forward we risk being mightily disappointed.

So should we decline Elon’s offer?

No. We should embrace it, accept it and get cracking with building it while there is so much public enthusiasm and bipartisan support.

Technically, Elon is not offering any new solutions or being any more innovative than the likes of Adelaide’s Zen Energy who have been proposing such a battery for at least a year now and could deliver in a similar timeframe.

But Elon’s stroke of PR Genius looks like it might be able to solve the one seemingly intractable problem that has eluded everyone else up to now: punching through the toxic politics and risk averse energy bureaucracy in Australia.

With one twitter storm Musk and Cannon-Brookes might just manage to:

  • Break the public perception that “renewables are unreliable” and “baseload is the only answer” that the Libs have been stoking since the big SA storm last year.
  • Force a very quick change to the grid regulations that the fossil lobby has been pushing back on for years.
  • Punch through the political inertia that looked inpenetrable just a week ago and get the Libs and Labour and even far right nutters like Bernardi to agree on taking a risk on a big cleantech investment.
  • Promote an influx of private investment into Australia and SA.
  • Reward SA for being a global leader in renewables and refusing to back down in the face of the bullying Feds and a hostile media.
  • Kick start a large scale storage industry in Australia and the world, that local companies like Redflow, Zen and others can jump into.

I wish that we could deliver all the above with careful, reasoned argument and good engineering alone. But in a Trumpian world, the public and media seems to reject numbers, logic and debate but latch onto 140 character claims that batteries are the magic bullet. So we should ride this wave whilst it’s available to us.

But we need to be busy in the background.

We just need to make sure that in the background, under cover of the Mike & Elon show we get on with the real energy innovation that is fixing the underlying grid, changing the regulation, market rules, gas supply and tarrifs so that by the time the red ribbon is cut on the big battery, the renewables-intensive SA grid is running like a well oiled machine.

Let Elon & Mike take the credit – they  absolutely deserve it. Even if their 300MWh of batteries play only a small part in creating a renewable powered future, Tesla & Mike Cannon-Brookes will have played a big and important role by finally getting the public and pollies to believe that ‘energy security’ and ‘renewables’ really are compatible.

Footnotes

  1. Later corrected to 100MWh
  2. The deterioration of our gas turbines is being accelerated by the constant ramping forced on them by renewables
  3. Although I have no idea if the Powerpacks can achieve this in practice – see athomas’s comment
About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. jon gaul says:

    Should be looking at pumped storage hydro down the Great Divide linked with HDL as per Prof. Andrew Blakers, ANU

    • Colin Hoving says:

      Yes I agree. For large scale power solutions, pump-ups are the best use of Australian land, resources and know-how. Batteries come into their own in point solutions like houses, micro-grids and telecom installations.

      • From a business model point of view domestic self generation and storage that makes consumers less reliant on the grid has to be a bit of an issue for conventional generation and distribution. The opposing forces are privatised generators and distributors want to make money and consumers want to save money. Who is going to be the winner at the end of the day? If you had 2b to spend would you be upgrading the Snowy Mountains Scheme in an environment where the volume of energy consumed is likely to continue to reduce as has been the case in recent years. The problem in SA claimed by many was not about under supply especially when there was a surplus to requirements of generator capacity not made available when required. I would think that the 500m proposed by the SA government is about having a backup facility over which they have absolute control. Energy production in the hands of public ownership has the potential to bring another competitive force to bare as a method to price control. Not sure that those who previously purchased the public assets involved in energy production and distribution are likely to be very happy.

  2. Judging by blogs posted elsewhere there is the perception that batteries source of power is strictly Solar. What needs to be made very clear is that they can store energy from any mix of generator type be it Wind, Solar, Gas, Coal and/or Hydro just to name a few.

  3. All spot on Finn. A good assessment of where it’s at.

  4. Really looking forward to what Jay Weatherill announces today at 11 AM SA time in relation to this.

    It’s a real shame we have such a backward thinking federal government with MT looking after the big end of town (far right) interests and their fossil fuels. All they seem to do is try and de-rail renewable technologies with endless spin campaigns.

    Although maybe the penny has finally dropped for MT as I saw him in a picture recently with solar panels in the background.

    I would like to hear more about what the Australian companies are offering for a battery array solution before we go jumping in to any deals.

  5. Jack Wallace says:

    How about buying (stealing when the sailors are on leave?) the batteries out of Australia’s fleet of submarines? Top quality (since the military doesn’t stint on costs), proven efficiency over long periods, and home-grown.
    We have the materials in abundance ~ and could always use the extra jobs from mining through to switching on the lights.
    ……And if you don’t like the name ‘Ocker-Shockers’ we could even think up a foreign name for them, since that seems to be so important these days.

    • Leith Mudge says:

      The submarines are still in-service and are not due to be retired for many years. I assume your comment is of the “tongue in cheek” kind.

      • Jack Wallace says:

        Certainly tongue-in-cheek……unless you can actually get away with getting your hands on one!
        Point is that basic lead-acid batteries can not only do whatever job is required of them, but are dirt cheap in comparison to the stuff being touted around the traps.
        And ~ allowing for the given limitations and the source ~ easily as reliable. A mate recently dumped a battery-bank bought second hand (from the defunct SEC) after nearly 30 YEARS of powering her house. And ~ from memory ~ they cost about $9 (yep: NINE dollars) per unit.
        Modern Hi-tech is wonderful!….Until some small thing goes wrong and you lose the whole system (Unless you’re lucky enough to have a ‘fixable’ fault that can be repaired by an extremely expensive ~ and suitably qualified ~
        nerd. Any replacement parts, of course, will cost and arm and a leg….assuming they’re available.
        The highest cost you’ll face with a LA bank is the price of a new battery.

        ps…if anyone out there has a wet-suit (and/or water-wings) and is interested in checking out the submarine thing DO get in touch. Odds are there are NO security safeguards protecting their battery-banks.

  6. As a matter of urgency you need to compare this to what AGL is doing with the Virtual Power Plant – how will this affect the existing plans etc

  7. Start by making it a criminal offence for a private generator selling into the wholesale markets to withhold power when it is needed. What was done by by GDF Suez Australian Energy, a subsidiary of Engie, in withholding power supplies on a day of expected high demand ought be made criminal with the controlling minds (ie directors and senior executive team) also being guilty of a crime unless they have made all reasonable endeavours to avoid it happening.

    • You need to put away your big stick because if that is your argument then there would not be a business in Australia that did not from time to time run the risk of committing an offence. Contracts usually have financial penalties where the terms and conditions in relation to a contract of supply are not met. These are sometimes known as guaranteed standards of performance which may include exceptions where proper notice has been given by either party or in relation to a disruption in supply or where circumstances were beyond the control of the supplier.

    • Jack Wallace says:

      What is it you don’t understand about PRIVATE generator?? Next thing you know some people will want to criminalise using ( or NOT using) your toothbrush on Sundays.
      If I own something then there can NOT be any constraints (other than freely-entered contractual ones) on what I do/how I use that plant/product/whatever.
      The bloody Police State World is running amok ~ and should be resisted
      wherever it raises it’s flag!

      It was a huge effort to abolish Sunday Trading bans; next thing there’ll be some idiot wanting to criminalise NOT opening the corner milk-bar o9n Sundays.
      Christ! This country needs a civil insurrection! (It’s the ONLY country in the world that’s never staged a revolution!)

  8. “Help stabilise the grid with fast acting synthetic inertia, and frequency control. Batteries can inject power in to the grid instantaneously.”

    Batteries with those capabilities are expensive, and not like consumer grade cells found in Tesla’s Powerpacks.
    To protect the cells, the Powerpack’s DC/DC converters will operate in constant power mode, so are not capable of fast injection.

    The Powerwalls are known to duck under transient load, and oscillate every 30 seconds as the inverter attempts to stabilse output.

    Tesla have delivered a total of 300MWh of storage in 2 years, and very much need sales.

    • Thanks – I’ve updated the article to include your observation.

    • If I am not mistaken they currently have a greater need of battery production to be able to release the Tesla Model 3 [the third step in their three point marketing plan for electric vehicles]. I would have thought obtaining the order was more about gaining a marketable reputation rather the cashflow. But given I am not part of the Tesla circle like you I am only guessing.

      • The Model 3 is some way off. Tesla projected that 30 to 50% of cell production would be for storage. Sales are small. That’s their problem, but shouldn’t be Australia’s. I

        It’s clear that the battery won’t solve the problems suggested in Musk’s tweet, but perhaps it can do something else.

        But, there’s a difference between what grid storage may offer, and what Tesla’s batteries may offer. There are many cell designs, because no one cell can fulfil all applications. Tesla have one cell, and limit the applications to suit it. The Powerwall’s dubious technical performance is an example, and it’s a subset of the Powerpack.

        Perhaps Tesla could present a Powerpack a full specification, warranty and proof of performance to this blog?

        • I’m not sure exactly what the chemistry is that Tesla uses. It’s not LiFePO4 which we know is can comfortably punch out it’s whole capacity in under an hour, meaning it is 1:1 kW:kWh. But it is not the highest power density by volume or weight, and that is more important for Tesla for their cars.

          Then look at the PW2, 14kWh capacity and it can punch that out at up to 7kW peak. It is the inverter that limits it to 5kW continuous. So the battery is 1:2.

          The PP2, 200kWh capacity but can only punch out 50kW. Which makes it 1:4.

          We know the cells inside are identical. It is the way they are put together, the internal wiring and so on that induces this constraint. I believe it has been done to improve the serviceable lifetime out of the PP2. By not pushing them as hard they should provide more charge/discharge cycles.

          • The more important factor is cell current. The converter limits current to within the cell’s capability. Form factor is important, and high capacity small wound cells have limited power density.

            The PW2’s intial capacity and efficiency are defined at 3.3kW output.
            The capacity retention warranties refers to initial capacity, so are also specified at 3.3KW. The DC version was destined to be coupled to Solaredge, which limit battery input to 3.3kW so is 4:1.
            The same as 200kWh/50kW. They are identical modules.
            Transient reponse is important to fast delivery, too. The PW1 will balk at transients, and starve the inverter, which then goes looking for another way of maintaining the load.

            Tesla’s image invites favourable assumptions, but the product speaks for itself. The Powerwalls are a sea of changing specs, restricted warranties, hidden costs and unspoken limits.

          • When you talk of 3.3kW I can only assume you are referring to the original PW?
            The PW2 has a 5kW (continuous) inverter, (7kW peak).

            Form factor is important. Tesla chose to use cylindrical cells because they are higher density and capacity. They store more energy and can punch it out faster per unit volume or weight.
            It is because they can be more easily mass produced with finer tolerances and less materials whilst maintaining reliability, than other form factors.
            If weight and volume wasn’t such a priority, we’d probably find large prismatic cell form factors. They aren’t quite as efficient in use of materials, but can store much more per cell. Personally I think prismatic cells are better suited to fixed installations and cylindrical is better suited to mobile applications.
            Tesla has chosen cylindrical primarily for its cars, but producing them in large volume for fixed storage as well. Economies of scale going all out with one process.

            Furthermore, consider the 100kWh battery pack in the Model S. It can punch out over 450kW for short periods. Electrically the cells clearly can punch out way more than they actually do when fitted in either PW2’s or PP2’s. In these applications it would only be done to increase the cycle life of the cells.

    • Jack Wallace says:

      Why is it unflinchingly assumed that civilisation actually DEPENDS upon being gridded??? For 2 million years homo-sapiens managed without even a soap-opera to watch on our energy-guzzling big-screens.
      These days technology decrees that we don’t need to go without all the ‘modcons’ ~ even without that new-age form of enslavement called The Grid. As far as I’m concerned a reliable source of dunny-paper is far more important.

  9. Stuart Snyder says:

    Thanks Finn for your insightful comments. Yes, while this is not the panacea for all of SA’s power problems, it is a short term fix to reduce the need for load shedding and price spikes. While it would be good to look at Australian battery technology like Zen and Redflow, I would be surprised if they could match Tesla’s capability in terms of economies of scale and environmental friendly manufacturing. Let’s say all up this cost $100M, that is still relatively low compared to other infrastructure projects and the state budget. Why not give it a go and make SA a world leader in renewable energy?

  10. Paul simpson says:

    Since batteries don’t produce any extra electricity, how will that help with a gas shortage?
    The same amount of gas will be required whether the batteries are there or not won’t if?

    • No.
      The whole point of storage is to be able to provide energy during peak periods when generation is limited. For SA one of the sources is via the Heywood inter-connector to Victoria. But since it’s only rated at 650MW that is a constraint. After the peak period and demand is less than available supply, the batteries can be recharged from energy from Victoria. The inter-connector stays within its capacity constraint but is up there for more hours each day.

      So it is possible to supply a peak period higher than total gas generation and inter-connector combined by using stored energy.

      • What needs to be understood is Battery Storage is not generator type dependant. The generator can be wind, solar, hydro, gas, coal or any other technology which can be located anywhere on the State grid an/or on an inter-connector. Setting aside the issue of a guarantee of power during peak periods batteries actually offer a business opportunity and that put simply is to store energy when it is cheap [during periods of low demand which sets the price] and sell it when peak demand sets the price. Even in a domestic situation you do not need to have PV [Solar] on the roof to avail yourself of the financial benefit delivered by Storage. You could install a battery charge it when the tariff is at its lowest [time of use] and use that energy when the tariff is at its highest. If the average household uses 12 kWH of energy during the day and the tariff is 0.27c kWh and 5 kWh overnight when the time of use tariff is 0.22c kWh then the estimated savings per annum could be as much as (12 kWh * 0.05c) * 365 = $219.00. Of course the financial benefits delivered by a properly sized domestic installation of PV and Storage is another configuration than can deliver incredible savings in the cost of household energy usage.

  11. I’m assuming you and Ronald talk to each other?!!

  12. Would it be efficient to offer more incentives for households and businesses to install both solar cells and batteries, ie. totally distributed generation and storage with the ability of distributors to call on batteries in peak times.
    It seems to me that we should be operating the grid like the internet which is a distributed network, generating ideas and storing that information randomly across it and capable of being accessed from any point.

    • In recent years the demand for energy was reducing but the costs were going up. Perhaps that phenomenon can be attributed to the take up of PV [Solar] here in Australia. If that is the case then with the projected up take of domestic storage this will seriously affect the generator/distributor business model if individual consumers are less reliant on the Grid.

      Energy is all about money at risk, asset value, return on investment, taxes and royalties so given your idea perhaps you might like to share with readers the generator/distribution business model with emphasis on the issue of who pays for what.

      Your idea may work if energy was re-nationalised and the assets held in public ownership. There should be no profit margin in the production, distribution of energy, The argument that privatisation would introduce competition to the energy market and competition would produce cheaper or stable consumer cost has proved to be NOT TRUE.

      • Sorry, I’m not qualified to answer that. It was just an idea that we should treat the grid like we do the internet.

  13. @DJR96
    You say “Tesla chose….because”.
    When you perhaps mean “Tesla say”

    An EV is not a storage battery. A car is an application where repeated full cycling is not common. Full power output is a brief occurence. The car’s battery is a 400V stack, without limiting converters.

    Storage demands repeated full cycling, and where output is continuous. For those batteries, Tesla use 50V stacks with limiting converters, to restrict the application to within the cell’s ability.

    The evidence for the cell’s use as a storage battey, is Tesla’s storage batteries, where fact does not the meet verbal claims. The PW1 was great deal less than expected. Promotion suggested the PW2 could accept solar, but doesn’t. The specifications are limited by caveats, and so is the warrranty.

    Teslas’s verbal claims made for storage batteries should be carefully considered, then carefully rejected.
    Whether South Australia needs storage is another question, but definitely
    not Tesla’a batteries. It’s embarrasing that a tweet should raise so much fuss, and where attention is distracted to the irrelevant 100 days, because
    that is all Musk offered.

    • Thank you for your rendition however you claim no special qualification that supports your statement to the effect that Tesla’s batteries are not a storage option for South Australia. I am assuming now you are not part of the Tesla Inner Technical Circle and have solely based your commentary on information published in the public domain not considered commercial in confidence. There is a saying which I would like to share with readers and that is assertions without evidence however convincing they may appear to be can be dismissed without evidence.

      • But, I am an engineer. Cells, batteries, power electronics, etc.
        Since you can’t offer a technical rebuttal.

        • Since we are disclosing our weaknesses I am a retired National Manager IT that was responsible for, Strategic Planning [Computer + Computer Processes], On Line Real Time Core Banking, including an ATM Network, Internet and Network Distributed Telephone Banking, Call Centre, Server Farm supporting Thin Clients, in 52 Branches Australia Wide [on-line real time processing], Digitised Record Management [archiving and network distributed retrieval] supporting over 200 plus staff and 75,000+ active customers. Happy to provide you a rebuttal of your choice.

          • How about cost and value for money? Not a challenge, Ant, but perhaps you are not aware of Tesla’s ways, nor how capacity/power ratio influences price, and the effectiveness of a battery. I have no vested interest in the storage of home battery market, BTW, but don’t like Australia being used
            as a battery dumping ground.

            The lamentable history of the Powerwall, its specifications and warranties, are recorded here, and may well indicate what to expect of the grid batteries.
            The Powerpack is technically poor, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

            In May 2015, Musk announced the Powerpack 1 as US$250/kWh.
            A tweet records: “$250/kWh for utility scale is the real kicker”.
            The battery finally appeared April 2016, as a 2:1 product, for US$470/kWh
            Tesla went silent when that was price difference was noticed, and the home and storage batteries went into hiautus.

            Later came the Powerpack 2, for US$250/kW, but as a 4:1 product.
            Certainly cheaper per kWh than the Powerpack 1, but half the power.
            Not only is the battery less useful for stabilisation, but the lower power reduces rate of income when trading on the marke against more powerful sources.

            In the US, the Powerpack 2 has been accepted as being $250/kWh, and the price often attached to the installation at California’s Mira Loma.

            The ‘special price’ of $250/kWh for Australia, and ‘mates’ is the standard US price for the 4:1 product.

            Australia has a program in place for grid storage tenders, and a process that is already underway.
            Far from being the force that jumpstarts, Tesla did not have product ready until February 2017, so are now directly lobbying the Prime Minister in the hope of jumping the queue, while gathering public and media support to push it through.

            There is a tender process to be followed, and that hopefully will produce a better and more rational choice, than accepting a salesman’s offer that serves only Tesla.

          • Nice response a thomas There is more than one story to tell when it comes to batteries so when it comes to domestic storage its more about cash flow than payback and/or return on investment. We installed an Enphase 1.2 kW battery in September 2016 and so far it contributes approximately 1.03 kWh per day [averaged] to consumption. At $2,200 [$1,833 per kW] installed it simply does not make economic sense. In my view the cost per kW would have to be something less than $800.00 for it to start making financial sense in a domestic setting. Our charge and discharge rate is about 60 watt-hours approximately per fifteen minutes [report interval for charge and discharge values] so sizing a system is likely for many including slick Willie Super Salesman is likely to be a bit of a challenge. In my working career I have only ever occupied the position of Master and I am never ever going to be the servant of an energy supplier if I can help it that is. I really don’t care what Tesla’s motives are at the end of the day the system who ever the supplier is has to be fit for the purpose. Not sure I would like to write the standard of performance specification more than happy to leave that to others better qualified because if they get that one wrong the death of ones reputation [figuratively speaking] involving punishment of the political kind could follow soon after.

          • Jack Wallace says:

            AHA!!!! ~ So YOU’RE the bastard responsible!!

  14. It’s very simple. Using a cell designed for portables can offer high energy density. But, unless power density increases in proportion ( which relates to cell life) additional cells must be added to support power output, and would appear to be a disadvantage. But markerting via bulk capacity, sells more batteries, provided power output and response bandwith are sacrificed.
    I am not in Tesla’s inner-circle, but I can reverse engineer their products.

    • The Tesla debate has been reduced to the technical which is one component as to whether Storage [not necessarily Tesla] is commercially viable and is suitable for the purpose for which it is intended. The average joe blow really does care or needs to know whether the batteries are round square oblong deliver mAh, Watt-hours, Kw, kWh, the battery chemistry where and how they are charged, how long they will last. The consumer is only interested two things, reliability and cost. Whats my interest well the business case because finance is my background.

      • Reliability and cost, quite right.

        But as you should know, the capacity in MWh’s is not everything.
        Having a “big” 300MWh battery which can only supply 75MW of power is going to cost a lot more than a battery with 150MWh’s that can still supply 75MW of power.

        My point, and I think athomas is also saying, is that the Tesla configuration is an expensive way to obtain that 75MW of power. And because of where the constraint is in their product, it can’t be increased. Adding more inverters won’t help because the batteries can’t provide the power any quicker. Perhaps in future models they will use higher capacity DC/DC converters within the batteries to achieve this. But the PP2 is what it is now.
        Configuring a system with components from other manufacturers should be able to achieve the same amount of power output at a lower cost because they wouldn’t have as much storage capacity.

        I trust that clears things up.

    • And the point I’ve been trying to make, is that the Tesla CELLS are capable of very high power densities. However, when configured and packaged into the Powerpack BATTERIES they are constrained by the DC/DC converters built in to them. And that doesn’t make them a bad product at all. It does skew it better for longer cycle times rather than higher power applications. So they are fine for load shifting over several hours.

      In my original post on this topic, I was trying to say that for grid support (frequency regulation and voltage smoothing), much higher power densities would be better suited.

      I think you have been trying to say the same thing whilst disputing me for some reason. Which is unnecessary and not appreciated. If someone has really stated something wrong, there is no need to slam them. Just provide the correct information, preferably with references, and we’re all better off.

      REGARDLESS, any storage added to the network will be beneficial. That’s not disputable.

  15. Don Macrae says:

    Disclaimer: I am not in Tesla’s or anyone else’s inner circle and have no relevant qualifications. What Ronald Brakel’s and this post of Finn’s did for me was focus on the types and role of storage in our grid. The relevance of this in the age of wind and solar is obvious, I suppose. Ronald observed that battery storage could well become cheaper than pumped hydro in the, um, I can’t remember what term. So, surely, our national/State/whatever plan needs to include a storage plan: how much, where and what type. Batteries are obviously seductive: you buy them like an appliance and can get them working quickly. Great if you’ve forgotten to do any planning. Pumped hydro sounds like something that would take a much longer time to bring online, would obviously be constrained in terms of location – you need a hill and some nearby water – but feels like valuable infrastructure, which I assume the pumped hydro at Tumut 3 is, for example. The economic comparison I expect would be very much case by case, and depend upon urgency as well as project and ongoing costs. In relation to SA, if the recent blackout could have been avoided if that gas generator had been switched on then the solution to that problem is not batteries.

    • Based on what I know which is probably very little there is no one solution [one size fits all]. What needs to be costed is the best mix of generator type, storage and distribution based on known and future technology. Australia is known to be an early adopter of technology and that’s why companies like Tesla, Enphase and others have given priority to both Australia and New Zealand in respect to the release and availability of their products. My guess in the mix what is being discussed is the extent of consumer reliance on the grid when disruptive technologies are put in place by individual consumers. What will the grid look like in the future, will it be the major supplier of energy or will it simply be reduced to providing backup power if and when required.

      I have just done a dungeons and dragons on my Enphase MyEnlighten Battery Management System where I can determine when I top up the batteries. For example at the lower time of use tariff and exactly when within the 24 hour time period I make Storage available to consumption like when seasonal demand charges are calculated between 3:00pm-9:30pm. It now becomes a question as to who when it comes to energy is the master and who is the servant I just think that Storage is just another nail in the generator/distributor coffin.

    • You said ‘ In relation to SA, if the recent blackout could have been avoided if that gas generator had been switched on then the solution to that problem is not batteries.’.

      If it is not batteries then the question is what would have been the cost to fire up the gas generator and would the return on the energy produced in the time required cover the cost and if it did not cover the cost who then paid the shortfall?

      As for hydro the drawings I have seen pump sea water. So unlike wind and solar they have addition water piping cost associated with the location.

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