Craig Kelly Calls SA Big Battery A Failure – After It Works Exactly As Expected

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly MP and the Big Battery

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly is upset the SA big battery is not magical.

Craig Kelly is…

  • A Liberal Member of Parliament.
  • A supporter of health damaging and environmentally destructive coal power.
  • The only Federal MP with a nuclear reactor lodged in his seat.
  • A man who resembles a big cuddly koala bear with a shaved face.

Recently he published a 419 word essay on his facebook page titled, “THE GREAT BATTERY CONJOB EXPOSED”.

I was very interested to see which particular battery “conjob” he had uncovered.  Was he referring to:

  • Battery installers who tell porkies to potential customers about what kind of savings they can receive from home battery systems?  I happen to know that at least one of them is a Clean Energy Council Approved Retailer.
  • Does he mean the South Australian Home Battery Scheme?  This is more a waste of resources than a con job as people aren’t being lied into buying batteries.  But perhaps Craig Kelly thinks it’s like a con job because the subsidy may mislead many people into thinking they’ll be better off with a battery when they will actually only lose money.
  • Perhaps he is referring to how the states seem to be conning themselves into thinking battery subsidies will lead to state based battery manufacturing?  This is like politicians in the early 80s trying to kick start local video recorder production by giving people subsidies to buy VCRs.
  • Or perhaps this is some bizarre battery related con job that resulted in the theft of a space between words?  This would explain why Kelly has been forced to do without a gap between the words con & job and had to spell it as “CONJOB” in his title.  Which I think would be a great name for a Carmen Sandiego villain.1

I was very curious to see just what con job or “conjob” involving batteries Craig Kelly was about to expose.  Then I read the first sentence…

“To keep the subsidies flowing and the public hoodwinked, green-rent-seekers have peddled the delusion that the intermittency of solar/wind can be solved with ‘’big batteries’’.”

And I realized I just got on the crazy train to Stupidville.  I felt like giving up there and then because I didn’t think I could write anything that would make Craig Kelly rush up to his mate, Tony Abbott, and say, “Tony!  Ya gotta read dis!  It’ll blow ya mind!  It turns out that coal power is actually bad!”

But I suppose I have to try.  Sometimes you’ve just got to kneel down and beat the crabs of stupidity with a stick.

If what I write helps just one person it will all be worthwhile.  Especially if that one person is some kind of wizard who can give Craig Kelly a heart or a brain or the courage not to stand by his convictions.

A Values Check

I am of the opinion that Australia and other nations should shut down coal power stations as rapidly as possible because:

  • Coal pollution has health effects that kill people and cause suffering.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal contribute to global warming, which also kills people and causes suffering.
  • While not a major problem in Australia, pollution from coal power stations — especially ozone — reduces agricultural productivity, with crops such as wheat, pulses, and cotton being most vulnerable.  This is a serious problem in China and a number of other countries.

The negative effects of coal use are real.  You may not believe they exist but the universe doesn’t care.  They will occur whether you believe in them or not.  The evidence is strong.  There is no good evidence breathing coal fumes is harmless.  There is also no good evidence burning coal won’t affect climate.  If you have a personal conviction that burning coal is harmless and think that outweighs the evidence, you are an idiot.  The same way you are an idiot if you think your belief that smoking is harmless outweighs the evidence and give your children cigarettes.

While you won’t find any good evidence that burning coal is harmless, what you can find online are plenty of excuses to be an idiot.  And to be clear I am using the word “idiot” in its modern sense.  In the past it referred to someone who had difficulty thinking clearly.  But in our modern, well educated world, it refers to someone who decides not to think.

Craig Kelly believes his personal conviction that the health and climate effects of burning coal are not dangerous outweighs the evidence it is harmful.  In a furniture salesperson this might not be a large problem, but he is a Federal MP who makes and influences decisions that affect how much coal pollution our families will be exposed to and what quantity of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere.  So on this topic he is not only an idiot, but a dangerous idiot, as he is in a position to get people killed.  At the moment he is basically the Minister in charge of trolling people who give a shit about the future.

The Gist Of Craig Kelly’s Battery Conjob

I’m not going into every stupid thing Craig Kelly has written.  It would only upset me.  While my doctor has said I should try harder to become worked up and infuriated, that’s only because he’s trying to kill me.  Also, I’d need 10,000 words to respond to his 419, which would take me all day.  It’s an unfortunate fact that “stoopid” can be half way around the world by the time “occasionally checks wikipedia” has gotten its boots on.  Instead I’ll summarize his main frothings with some bullet points and then go into more detail on why his position is as problematic as a meat tray raffle at a vegan restaurant.

  • South Australia has a large battery.
  • The battery was used during the heatwave on the 24th of January.
  • Because the battery performed exactly as expected and didn’t somehow magically provide more energy than was possible it is an enormous failure along with renewable energy.
  • This is despite the fact South Australia with no coal capacity didn’t suffer a blackout due to a lack of supply while Victoria suffered rolling blackouts due to 40% of its coal capacity being out of action when it was needed most.

If you want to learn about the Hornsdale Power Reserve, or the Tesla Big Battery as it is often called, you can read this article I wrote.  It contains some actual information.  If you want to learn more about Craig Kelly’s problems with information processing, then read on.

Craig Kelly Is Sad The Big Battery Isn’t Magical

Kelly had some very high expectations of the Hornsdale Power Reserve.  He wrote:

“…at around 4.30pm ‘’the world’s biggest battery’’ started to dribble in 30MW to the grid.

The 30MW was less than 1% of South Australia’s total demand, and less than 0.1% of the National grid’s demand.

The world’s biggest battery continued to dribble out around 30MW until 7.30pm, then it ran flat, rendering it completely useless as peak demand hit at 7.30pm.”

“Over the afternoon, I estimate the ‘’world’s biggest battery’’ delivered only around 100 Mwh of electricity”

When new, the Hornsdale Power Reserve had 129 megawatt-hours of storage capacity with 10 megawatt-hours reserved for ancillary services.  This means it would only be possible for Neoen — the company that owns it — to supply not a lot more than 100 megawatt-hours of stored electrical energy.

No one who wasn’t a complete loony expected the battery to supply more energy than it could actually provide.  Can Craig Kelly name one person — who doesn’t talk to their own boogers — who expected the battery to supply more energy than the laws of physics allowed it to?

But Kelly appears think the lack of magical performance and the battery only working exactly as expected means it’s a horrible failure:

“The facts should be clear from the evidence that it’s a dangerous delusion that Australia can run the economy with solar/wind backed up by big batteries.”

He says it’s clear from the evidence but I don’t know what evidence he’s referring to because during the heatwave South Australia didn’t suffer any blackouts due to a lack of electricity supply, but Victoria did suffer rolling blackouts because 40% of that state’s coal capacity was out of action either due to breakdowns or because it was undergoing maintenance in the middle of record breaking temperatures.

If Craig Kelly thinks South Australia is a failure then he’d have to think Victoria is a smouldering hellhole of a disaster zone.  Surely that’s the only logical conclusion.

Craig Kelly May Hate Private Enterprise

Kelly does not like South Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve or Big Battery and says it is…

“…a complete con job…”

But the Power Reserve is owned by the private company Neoen and they are making a good profit from it, so they’re not being conned.  The State Government gets ancillary services provided at a lower cost than in the past, so they’re not being conned.  And the citizens of South Australia have their electricity bills lowered by a small but real amount thanks to the battery, so they’re not being conned either.  I think Craig Kelly may have conned himself on this one.

Or maybe he’s upset that a private company owns the battery and is making a profit from it instead of the state.  If that’s the case I can’t wait to hear his plan to renationalize the electricity sector.  It will be very entertaining to watch Comrade Kelly battle private ownership.

Craig Kelly Doesn’t Understand How The Grid Works

Kelly wrote that South Australia

“…needed spend several hundred million on emergency diesel generators to keep the lights on just before the state election…”

So it’s clear he meant the diesel generators I wrote about here.  However, he wrote this about diesel generation during the heatwave:

“Meanwhile the emergency diesel generators (chewing through a reported 80,000 litres of diesel an hour) were doing the real work in SA, pumping out over 400MW at a time on demand – and they continued to so as demand peaked at 7.30pm, when the world’s largest battery had given up the ghost.”

Well that’s pretty damn magical how the “emergency diesel generators” supplied over 400 megawatts when they are only capable of supplying around 309 megawatts under optimal conditions and maybe 240 megawatts during a heatwave.  I’m guessing Craig Kelly is the kind of idiot who complains about diesel generation being used without understanding that Australia was using diesel generation during periods of high demand long before there was a single solar panel or wind turbine in the country. In addition to the new capacity there’s another 273.5 megawatts of diesel generation in South Australia that’s been in use for a long time.

Diesel generators get switched on when the price of electricity is high and it always goes high during heatwaves.  That’s the way markets work.  The high price is what results in demand being met in our market based system.  But this is something Craig Kelly doesn’t like as he complained:

“…prices in South Australia surged to $14,500 Mwh (they averaged around $40 Mwh before all these ‘cheap’ renewables flooded into the grid)…”

I guess Comrade Kelly may not like markets either.  I am looking forward to his proposals for stronger price controls or the elimination of electricity markets entirely.

Kick The Bastards Out

Craig Kelly thinks he knows better than medical professionals, climatologists, economists, and the majority of Australians.  He probably even thinks he knows better than me, which is clearly unpossible.  Fortunately, this country has a solution for politicians who ignore evidence and put people at risk by doing so.

If Thunderdome happens to be booked, we can always vote them out.  We’ll have an opportunity this year.  And when you think about it, kicking them out is the kindest thing to do.  Craig Kelly would clearly be far happier working for a mining company than the people of Australia.  That is, if he can find a mining company that will have him.  I have a feeling that when it comes to ex-Coalition politicians it will soon be a buyer’s market.


  1. I was watching Carmen Sandiego with a young lady the other day.  A very young lady, in fact.  After all, I’m young and she was 4 years younger than I am…
About Ronald Brakels

Joining SolarQuotes in 2015, Ronald has a knack for reading those tediously long documents put out by solar manufacturers and translating their contents into something consumers might find interesting. Master of heavily researched deep-dive blog posts, his relentless consumer advocacy has ruffled more than a few manufacturer's feathers over the years. Read Ronald's full bio.


  1. “Unpossible” had to reach for Google for that.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Actually, I should add that link to the article so people will know the precise way in which I am using the word.

      • Jack Watson says

        LUVVIT! That’s the English of Shakespeare: utterly expressive.

        “Lend me your ears!…. That was the most unkindest cut of all”….
        …… and all without a single watt of coal-fired power.

        • Ian Thompson says

          Ha, Jack
          Final statement not quite true.
          The Chinese started burning coal (for heat and light) around 1,000 BC.

          About 2,600 years before Shakespeare…!

          Although the watts were not electrical.

          • Jack Watson says

            …….um…hadn’t thought of it like that. But MUST ask (as when our blackfellas tell us they have a 50,000 year history (or whatever the number is this week):-
            How do you know?
            ( Though that might be why the Chinese are importing mountains of OUR coal; they’ve run out.
            …..and an afterthought: If they’ve been burning coal for 3000 years (check your arithmetic!), and burning coal is an environmental disaster….. how come there’re so MANY healthy, happy Chinamen? 😉

        • Ian Thompson says

          I read a book…
          I think they used carbon-dating.

          I thought Shakespeare lived around 1600 AD, and read the Chinese started burning coal around 1000 BC.

          1600 + 1000 = 2600.

          What’s wrong with my arithmetic?

  2. Finn Peacock says

    The politicians who criticise the big battery all seem to think it was deployed as an energy battery.

    It was deployed to be a power battery that will arbitrage energy as a secondary revenue stream.

    This graph from AEMO shows how much more valuable power is than energy for this application:

    AEMO battery revenue

    This is the problem when the pollies are mostly ex-lawyers, ex-furniture salesmen or have only ever worked in politics. No engineers anywhere.

  3. Ronald,
    With regard to responding to Craig Kelly, it is probably best never to forget Mark Twain’s truism
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience!”


    • Jack Watson says

      ….. problem is, the other party is thinking exactly the same thing.
      And how would you decide which one is right?

  4. RB: “The only Federal MP with a nuclear reactor lodged in his seat.”

    Helps explain his pained expression.

    What an a/hole… .

  5. Ian Thompson says

    Just trying to be the Devil’s Advocate here…

    Perhaps he has misinterpreted the information provided from his staff?

    Perhaps someone told him “our share” of the big battery could only run the grid for 8 minutes – forgetting to mention that that is all it needs for FCAS?

    Perhaps he was trying to indicate – poorly – that if the big battery only provides 8 minutes of total draw (nothing else working), then we would need a much, much bigger battery – therefore much, much more expensive – to cover possible future wind doldrums at night (like much of Europe experienced some years ago – I was there – causing Germany to re-commission several coal stations)?

    Or – perhaps he’s just an idiot?

    • Don’t be too hard on Craig Kelly. In times past he has championed the causes of some worthwhile things (such as more defence spending, funding for disability sector).

      As well, we should remember that in a democratic system, an elected politician has a duty to represent the interests of the people of his electorate, even though at times he might privately hold views that differ.

      In the end, ‘reality always wins’. The announcement to-night that China is — for various reasons – banning the import of Australian coal at its northern Dalian Port is yet another indicator of the future of coal. ( see this link: )..

      So too is the decision by major mining company Glencore to cap its GLOBAL coal output, in response to pressure from its major shareholders to re-position it’s entire business by focusing on its non-coal mining activities, because of declining coal demand.
      See this link here:

      Way back in June 2013, an Australian survey conducted by Essential Media found that…
      ‘… 76% of people supported building wind-farms to generate renewable energy, including 82% of Labor voters, 71% of Liberal and National party voters and 89% of Green voters. ‘ (see this link: )

      It seems though that some Federal politicians, after having completely messed up our national ‘energy policy’ over a period of years, now seem hell-bent on also doing their best to wreck or delay as long as possible the transition to renewables which is occurring world-wide.

      • Lazarus Long defined ‘democracy’ as a system based on the principle that two morons are smarter than one genius.
        He was right.
        Marx described it as ‘The dictatorship of the proletariat.’.
        He was right, too; but forgot that the proletariat was the proletariat because it was too stupid to be the ruling class.

        Politics is the only occupation in the whole world that requires absolutely NO qualifications. The only thing more stupid and destructive is the amorphous mass that elects politicians…… and has no problem with handing over their money to feed the bloody things.

  6. “….Doesn’t like markets…”?

    This has really got to be THE most rigged market that was ever contrived in the entire history of capitalism.
    The RET system with it’s bidding on 30 minute supply intervals completely negates that which large rotary generators do best: supply a large amount of base load power very cheaply and efficiently over a long period of time.

    An ideal system (cost-wise, talking minimal cost, NOT save the world stuff) would source the bulk of the supply at a cheap rate, and allow bidding on the peak supply demands. Coal or gas fired steam turbines can supply at around $50 mW hr, (ie 5 cents per kWhr) whereas the capped peak supply bids of $14,500 are $14.50 per kWhr) …. which is the very and only reason the big battery is showing a profit, it ONLY supplies that demand.

    But, it is all working. Power companies are smart enough to see which way the system is set up, so they are closing down the big steam turbines, and going with that they can get paid for. In fact, they have tripled profits in the last two years.

    Only the consumer loses, having to deal with unreliable power, loss of manufacturing industries and the employment that brings, and all that with power bills which have trebled. But, they are OK with it, because they believe they are saving the world (when in fact we have simple ‘exported supply’ and the associated emissions to countries which are a little less idealistic.

    Unfortunately our idealist greens, our over confident economists and our vote grabbing politicians all got this one wrong. If you really want to save the world while still running a viable economy, you need to work on the demand side of the equation and establish a different way of life for the citizens.

    Though they may have half that aim happening: make the economy collapse, for sure you’ll cut back emissions.

  7. What a shame. I wanted to read that article, based on the summary, but it was devalued to nothing by “A man who resembles a big cuddly koala bear with a shaved face.”. Oh, well.

  8. Craig Kelly say no more Glencore capping coal due to investor concerns & environment priority and this morning Financial bloke on ABC said Solar energy getting down to 4c a Kwh in the US

  9. Dave Keenan says

    Ronald, You’re my hero.
    If I can’t laugh, it’s not my energy revolution. 🙂

  10. Phewie. I bet he’s glad he’s not a woman. Imagine what a pasting he’d get!

  11. The central issue is the cost.
    I have calculated the cost of battery backup of one days usage.

    Total use by Ausgrid area (Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter Valley) = 25,695,836 MWh (for 2016-17 year)

    = 70,399 MWh per day.

    Cost of Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) = US$ 50 Million

    Capacity of HPR = 129 MWh

    number of HPR equiv. required per day = 546

    Total cost = 546 x $50 M = $27,286,647,552

    = US$ 27 Billion

    Total number Ausgrid customers is 1,700,348

    Cost per customer $16,047
    Spread over around 10 years say.

    So about $1,600 added to an annual bill (not counting maintenance and running cost).

    Which is expensive I think.

    • Ow, my aching straw-man.

      Which day are you planning to have 100% of the available supply options – be they renewable or conventional, baseload or peaking – all offline simultaneously for 24 hours? Is the sun due for a bulb change?

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Scott
        Well, yes – the sun IS due for a bulb change – it happens once a night…!
        And, long-term loss of wind has occurred – it happened in Germany, Austria, Hungary, etc., all at the same time some years ago. I was there, and had been wondering as we travelled past numerous wind farms, why none of the turbines were turning.
        Germany was forced to import power from neighbouring countries – at greatly escalated cost to them. They responded by re-commissioning I think 4 major COAL fired power stations – I hope since shut down again.
        I had noticed a couple of nuclear stations were absolutely and quitely HAMMERING out power – you could tell by the massive amount of steam coming from there cooling towers.
        This went on for many months, at least – maybe years.

        I don’t think we can simply bury our heads in the sand – long term, even short-term inadequate power supply, rolling blackouts, shutting down industry etc., is simply unacceptable – SA should know this, after the expensive damage done to blast furnaces during their State-wide dark – any mix of power supplies MUST include allowances for even rare weather occurrences.

        You cannot build pumped hydro at various locations throughout Australia overnight – or tidal, or nuclear, or whatever. Whatever provides stand-by power, must be able to provide a large percentage of total power demand.
        Even peaking gas CCGT needs pipelines and wells scaled to provide maximum designed demand – but these assets might spend most of there time in stand-by – therfore hugely expensive.

        We need some sensible PLANNING – I’ve yet to see any solution that makes sense.

        • That’s a silly equation – how about spending $US7.5 billion on an IGCC coal plant (that was only going to capture 65% of CO2 emissions) then abandoning the project due to cost overruns and turning it into a gas turbine generator in the US. (Kemper IGCC). If it had been completed (who knows what the final cost would have been) and if it never shut down for maintenance, you still would have needed 5 of them to supply the Ausgrid area. (582 MW x 24 x 365 = 5,098,320 MWh). That’s $US37.5 billion and they never finished it. And it costs a lot more to run and sequester the CO2 it does capture. So what’s your point? Supplying electricity has a large upfront cost whichever way you look at it. And supplying it from coal powered stations has higher ongoing costs.
          We all want an orderly progression. I’d have loved to see the ideological battle against nuclear abandoned years ago, but now it costs similar amounts of money to build.
          I think AEMO has a pretty good plan but it needs govt’s to back it and private enterprise will hop on board.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Hi Mondo

            I’m not sure why you are writing about a “IGCC Coal Plant” in the context of anything I’ve written – I’ve never suggested coal – I want us to eliminate coal ASAP, and I am not particularly an advocate for nuclear, but we should make absolutely sure it has no place in our mix, as it does not emit CO2 – are you sure this was meant for me?
            What equation is silly?
            Just in case this threw you off, when I mentioned nuclear in Europe – my point was only that conventional dispatchable power was (necessarily) being used to the maximum – I guess because it was cheaper than importing power – I did not mean to imply support for nuclear – this is just what happened. And it resulted in further use of coal.
            I fully agree with George – full capacity backup standby is needed, should the wind fail over a broad area, and solar not work because it is night-time or heavily overcast.
            This is not conjecture – it actually happened in Europe. I live in sunny Perth, but even we have still, heavily overcast days in winter – sometimes lasting a week.
            This backup does not have to be batteries – it could be via heavy duty full capacity transmission lines from a full capacity source far, far away – also expensive to be “stranded” most of the time.
            Do you have details of the AMEO’s plan? Why has no-one mentioned this, in some financial detail?

          • Declan Power says

            I do not understand in the least why anyone would talk about use of a battery as a replacement over time for general grid power. Gosh does no-one bother to read up and find out what the purpose of the SA battery and others like it is?

            Or understand that Australia is not a small state or two in Europe, but a whole bloody big continent, surrounded by some VERY BIGLY oceans, with varying weather patterns and huge amounts of open space. None of this is news, you can read about it on this site itself – don’t you bother to read it? There are many other sites where you can find information that is credible, well researched and evidence – if I really have to tell you, try CSIRO, APH Library (Craig Kelly clearly doesn’t bother with that one, even though it is just down the corridor, and they will even do the research for you!) or various University websites.

            CSIRO have clearly modelled our weather and shown that with dispersal of solar and wind power across Australia, some hydro/pumped hydro and grid connection and stabilisation with some short term batteries (like the Adelaide one) to support distribution of inputs and power across the continent, Australia could easily run on 100% renewable power 24hours per day, 365 fays per year, meeting current and future demand well into the future. All with currently available technology.

            If you can prove CSIRO wrong, please present your evidence. If not, and you are operating on beliefs and not evidence, then you are in the same basket of idiots as Craig Kelly.

            Foolishly, I expect better from people who come to this site, where Ron makes such a great effort to provide factual, clear and understandable information to assist people understand the world of renewables better. Maybe I expect too much.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Hi Declan

            Whether you meant to or not, I feel your statements smack of ignorance, condescension, and arrogance. And, are mostly misleading and erroneous.
            Perhaps your problem is one of comprehension?

            Re- your “gospel”:

            1a. No-one appears to have suggested only batteries for long term grid supply – although one contributor did undertake some calculations to demonstrate the extremely high cost of such an approach (using the Big Battery for base data concerning cost and capacity). Did you not understand that?
            1b. I believe most contributors DO understand the purpose and action of the Big Battery and others like it. Do you not understand the principle of load shifting – which the larger component of the big battery performs? Same goes for home batteries. Ron wrote an excellent article on this – it would be useful for you to read it.
            1c. But – we DO need backup/time shifting to support the uptake of renewables – no expert denies this, and leading experts support this.
            When the first bromide flow battery was conceived, it was touted as a possible city-scale storage (read: time shifting) technology. If this does not imply capacity to supply general grid needs, I’d like to know what does.
            1d. Interestingly, despite your statements to the contrary, SA, WA, and I understand other states, are setting up projects and providing incentives for the uptake of domestic batteries to facilitate the setting up of VPP’s. Surely, these provide general grid-level time-shifting support – as well as possible FCAS if the communications protocols are fast enough.
            1e. Of course, backup/time shifting is not limited to only batteries – pumped hydro and long transmission lines can and will play a part.
            1f. The Chief Scientist has stated that both nuclear, and even “clean” coal (let’s hope not) may form part of the “mix” required to provide adequate, secure dispatchable power – have you never heard of this?
            2. Your comments regarding the size of Australia, compared to Europe seem highly parochial. Europe is BIG, has more people, and consumes much more power (and has much more manufacturing) than Australia. The general wind failure of which I wrote was across virtually most of Europe – not just over a small range of tiny adjacent tinpot countries as you imply. You have evidently never travelled – so have no idea of the concept of scale.
            3. Australia COULD criss-cross itself north and south, east and west, with massive transmission lines – but that would prove extremely expensive (and I believe unnecessarily so), especially as this is a big, and fairly empty country. Even then, the WHOLE of Australia goes dark for about 8-10 hours each night – so how would you then time-shift solar PV? Is your solution to provide MASSIVE amounts of wind over-capacity, mostly idle, to allow for the worst-case scenario? I am sure that with no regard for cost, anything is possible.
            4. Your comments about the infallibility of CSIRO is deplorable – have you absolutely no concept of the scientific method? To my knowledge, all scientists, and all engineers, expect and encourage peer-review – very few would think that their ideas are complete, and perfect – they accept they may possibly have “missed something”, or may have new ideas or information presented that can trigger further improvements. CSIRO do not appear to have anticipate the urgency of SA’s big battery requirement.

            No, I suspect you belong in the Craig Kelly basket of idiots – or otherwise have been blindsided by the confirmation bias of devout, unthinking mantras. I, personally, have learned much from Finn & Ron’s articles – and from the concepts and thoughts of numerous contributors.

            Go read something.

  12. Who has suggested it is a cost effective solution to buy battery backup batteris for 24 h of the Ausgrid?

    • Daniel Debreceny says

      … and which mental institution have they escaped from?

      This begs the questions whether Labor should be proposing additional funding for security of mental institutions?

      A further question is whether Labour politicians should be provided suites in the above mental institution. They can argue the point with all of their Liberal peers that involuntarily participated in “the great loony-bin escapee round-up of 2019”.

      I suspect Craig Kelly will be in the “special” ward. He’s dangerous.

    • I never said having 24hour battery backup power was a realistic option.
      Just trying to give an idea of the relative cost of batteries.
      There will be days when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.
      Full capacity backup would be needed.

      • Jack Watson says

        Full capacity needs to be reduced. I currently park between two train-parking lots ~ and all might long there are eight or ten 6-carriage trains parked there ~ ALL of them with all their lights going and the motors rumbling away non-stop. Add to that a plethora of huge floodlights and other unnecessary crap (like staff-members zooming around in electric vehicles try to catch graffitiists) and they waste more power than would be needed to run a medium-sized city. At a guess I’d say you could multiply that number by perhaps ten to accommodate all Victoria’s trains.

    • Jack Watson says

      Not me. But I CAN show you figures that show it’s cost-effective to go off-grid altogether using lead/acid batteries (which are very cheap and hi-tech these days) and do a balancing-act with a stand-by generator for the big consumers like (in my case) the microwave and power-tools etc. (which ~ if you’re a real stickler you can run off a bit of DIY biogas or whatever.
      ( there are all sorts of alternatives which I’ve employed over 35 years.)

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Jack

        It’s good that you can economically go off-grid – using diesel power to pick up the shortfalls – wish I could find a way to do that myself, but my economics don’t work out.

        But I have to ask a couple of questions:

        1. Did you manufacture the stand-by generator, microwave, and power tools youself – from raw materials you dug up?
        2. Are you totally self-sufficient for all your food, and fertiliser and water to grow it?
        3. Do you own a vehicle – if so, how was the iron ore dug up, transported, steel refined, engine parts machined, etc.?
        4. Did you cut down trees and mill the timber then build your own house from raw materials?

        If you didn’t do all of the above yourself, perhaps you get my drift.

        We need power for industry, for agriculture, for transport, for water supply – the generation of energy is not only concerned with our private residences. If we rely on subsidies to hopefully make things economical for us, you can be sure we (and others) pay for this with increased taxes.
        There are no free lunches.

        • Certainly there are no free lunches; Big Mal told us that. But we’re able to CHOOSE between a baked rabbit, potato and salad and a 14-course banquet starting with 5kg of imported caviar ~ though of course the Joneses would be more impressed with the latter. A crisis of obesity is a given ~ and not just in terms of bodily overweight.

          Whilst living in the forest out of Marysville I used to shoot a deer every couple of weeks to feed the dogs, and the rest would go down to the local shelter.
          At the same time the yuppie tourists up in town would ‘dine’ (as opposed to eating a meal) at the local ‘Genuine BlackForest Restraurant’ and pay $45 (about 1/3 of a week’s wages at the time) for 100-odd grams of ‘venison’.
          ….. and come out walking four inches taller, noses pointing skyward and discussing the (deserved!) luxury of dining on such expensive venison. …aka dogfood ~ and all just unprocessed shit after all.
          The main difference was that, as dogfood virtually none of it was wasted; though not quite a ‘free lunch’ @ $1.20 a bullet. As venison perhaps 90% or more WAS wasted. …quite apart from extra costs like transport, refrigeration, preparation, disposal/taxes, etc. You do the arithmetic.

          ps….. there was actually a move afoot at one time to ban ordinary Holdens and Fords from the tourist carparks in case they contaminated the BMWs and Alfas. 😉

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Jack

        Firstly, my apologies concerning my earlier email – it was not directed particularly at you, and I did not mean to appear mean spirited – I think it’s great that you have the DIY skills, and drive, to make it all happen – few people have these combined attributes – and every little bit helps.
        I had a brain-snap last night after reading through a lot of posts – where many were simply focused on their individual benefits from tax-payer funded subsidies – with no idea of the bigger picture.
        Again, my apologies.

        • Jack Watson says

          That’s fine mate. No offense ~ or anything! ~ taken. I have no problem whatever with others’ points of view ~ and count myself lucky that I come from a line of (now Serbian) peasants that predate the Romans. I’ve seen the graves, and, for better or worse, have inherited the very nature of the beast.

          I understand the sort of argument you make, but (briefly ~ time is short here just now) make the point that all the things you mention are a matter of ‘inculcated desire/need’ when the reality is a lot more basic.
          T he Blackfellas have known that for millennia.

          I’m currently living in my Econovan because my house burned down. It’s not convenient, but workable. My greatest worry was what I’d do without the 4000-odd books and 1800-odd LPs I’d accumulated….. until I realised I only used them a few times a year.
          Another worry was –> getting back home when I’d gone somewhere…
          It took a couple of months to dig deep into my instincts and realise that, where-ever I was, I WAS home. Cut traveling time/energy/transport/etc. by 50% in one hit! ie… reduced my consumption of petrol and production of co/co2 by half!
          I think the same attitudinal perspective applies to the ‘subsidies’/Centrelink/whatever thing too. We get so used to it that we get tpo not being able to conceive of living with it.

          Gotta go ~ theuy;re closing the library (wildcrafting wifi!) but am happy to discuss the possibilities. Not sure this is the correct forum, but your’e welcome to contact me —> [email protected] (as is anyone.)

          Meantime, google up ‘Calamity Jill’ and have a look at some of the possibilities still available… though Big Brother is closing the loopholes quickly.
          til anon, to quote Bill!

          • ” My greatest worry was what I’d do without the 4000-odd books and 1800-odd LPs I’d accumulated….. until I realised I only used them a few times a year.”

            That was a problem I faced when I moved into a fairly small flat with a library of about 500 or so books and several hundred vinyl records and cassette tapes, as well as hundreds of colour photographic slides. Whilst it took me several years, I digitised this unwieldy collection, using a scanner and a 1970 vintage vinyl turntable and digital cassette tape copier. Since I work at my computer during the day, I was able to do this work without losing too much time. I found that the most time consuming part was washing each individual vinyl disc to minimise pops and crackles. It’s comforting to know that if there’s a fire or something I’ve only got to grab a single 2TB drive to carry away much of my life to safety.

            Now if only I can copy several hundred DVD’s!!!

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Jack

        I WOULD like to see the figures showing off-grid cost effectiveness.

        Ian Thompson

        • Jack Watson says

          Sent you a quick example, but it hasn’t appeared for whatever reason. (Far too low-priced compared to the quotes available here?

          Also composed a longer rundown of (proven) alternative ways of setting up/using solar and other systems, but that managed to disappear into the back-blocks of my computer……er…’system’.
          If it surfaces I’ll send it on.

  13. Ian Thompson says

    100% for 24 hours, 50% for 2 days, 25% for 4 days…?

    You are correct CU – it might not be enough.

  14. ARTHUR PALMER says

    What was the reason SA purchased battery storage from Musk rather than an Australian Company such as Redflow or Zen ? Be interesting to know the balance of payments issues for Australian with foreign imports of solar & large scale wind turbines. After Musk’s disgraceful criminally libel comments on the Thai cave diver most people wont buy his expensive cars now even if they were affordable?

    • Declan Power says

      I believe there were several factors. One was cost (including the fact it was free if not delivered and running within 90 days), capacity to actually supply the batteries and rapidly build it, proven scaleable technology.

      It was delivered on time and budget and worked properly straightaway. That’s what small Australian companies couldn’t compete against. I have struck similar problems when sourcing high grade high durability electronic systems in the past – while Australian companies do good work, they could not do the rapid proptotyping and move to production, plus rapid scale increase, of large overseas companies. Cost was also higher hear, although in the specialised industries I was involved in that was not such a big issue.

      • Ian Thompson says

        So, why was the big battery done in such a desperate god-awful rush – if CSIRO knows everthing as you say, could not the need have been identified much, much earlier, and the build planned more efficiently to give Australians a chance to develop our indigenous capabilities – so that further examples of FCAS and load shifting and scaleable capabilities could be demonstated then be available for installation at further locations throughput Australia to reduce energy cost and faciliate greater uptake of renewables technologies?
        What has been done seems disgraceful.
        Or did Elon make such a compelling last minute offer, that we simply ignored the ongoing advantages of the above for short-term and short-sighted (or selfish) sub-optimal outcomes.

        Oh – but then you are the cause of much of the problem – by sourcing overseas yourself, you have denied Australians the chance to develop shortened prototyping timeframes, then production and rapid upscaling capabilities, and reduced costs (even though this was not so important to you).
        Who knows – if you went to China (not Germany), I guess your product was manufactured using energy from Australian or other coal – and contributed to more carbon pollution either way.
        None of this seems justified to me – and clearly CSIRO does not have all the answers – only some of them.

  15. ‘Numbers numbers everywhere and not a stop to think’ !~ with apologies to the Ancient Mariner.
    One might suggest that the problem lies not at the production end end, but at the consumption end.
    I’ve known many people who’ve raised their families with a 5kw solar system (and sometimes rather less) the production of which was stored in big old lead-acid batteries which these days can be bought for a pittance. Moreover, you could often get them for next to nothing. (eg I used to pick up 1140 Ah batteries from the tip ~ discarded by the timber industry on a on a scheduled recycling basis; for free.

    Point being that people (all animals in fact) survive by living within their means. Anybody who whines about needing expensive-to-run air-conditioning has no business bitching about the price of production ~ commercially or environmentally.
    One hypothetical solution might be to provide everybody with a solar system of suitable-to-location size and shut down power-stations altogether ~ on the basis that they can NEVER be as efficient as a DIY system within which the owner MUST live.

    And addressing pragmatic problems with emotional apple-pie statements should be prohibited. If the reference-point is that “which also kills people and causes suffering.” were to be the benchmark we’d have to address the biggest cause of suffering and death on the face of the earth: birth.

    It’s the BIG issue, and will be the cause of extinction of every living thing on the planet… sooner rather than later. Talk about environmental pollution!

  16. Ian Thompson says

    Oh, I get it (maybe)…?

    Have misinterpretated the acronym CCGT (I note you wrote GTCC).

    CCGT is a standard acronym for “Combined Cycle Gas Turbine”. These are fast responding high efficiency devices, ideal for responding to intermittent supply changes (wind, PV).
    These would use natural gas as a fuel – which produces much less CO2 than coal for the same energy produced.

    Yes, high capital costs are involved, for ALL forms of power generation. We all know that – but why would we not want to optimise this? Why have gross over- capacity, and concomitant costs, for building plant that may be rarely used?

    Yes, nuclear builds are similar in cost to equivalently powered coal plant, but:
    1. Nuclear operation doesn’t produce CO2 emissions.
    2. Coal costs don’t currently include a carbon tax.

  17. Ian Thompson says

    Yeah, Jack

    I’ve felt for years that as a Nation we are living well beyond our means – by “selling the farm” – wasted opportunities, no sustainability (electrical enegy aside). We are a resource pit for overseas interests.


  18. Craig Kelly is a very silly Nelly
    His brain is in his underpants
    Both its cells are made of wood
    He thinks that he’s misunderstood
    That silly Nelly, Kelly

    We understand him all too well
    Corrupt and out of touch
    Sold his soul to keep his Seat
    Empty words from tweet to tweet
    We can hear him going Ding Dong Bell

  19. Personally, I think it’s more important to find out where I too can sign up to fire dogs out of a bazooka.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Probably best to ask Vladimir Putin. You can summon him by placing a dry American biscuit on the ground and chanting the words “Putin on the Ritz” three times.

  20. Hi,
    Just a quick question on Electricity Generation, if I may?

    OK, burning coal does do the earth not much good and solar still only works during the daylight, wind only works when it is blowing and tide works all the time, bar the phases between run in and run out. Se I did listen to some of the stuff at school and yes I did go to one.
    So why do we not go the Nuclear Power? Is it because of the big russian bear catastrophe at Chernobyl, or is it because of the radioactive waste at the end of the rod’s lives? I think that there would be sufficient brains in Australia now, that could develop a fail safe system that could be used to generate power. Or is this a word that can’t be used so that it does not offend our shrinking violets of today.
    Surely that type of generation (see didn’t use the “N”word) would stop the coal residu (gasses etc) that every greenie want’s chucked out, including sarah two-dads, but can’t put forward a plan to replace the coal with what?
    Sure we need to fix our way of life, but how and when and how much is it going to cost? and would it be sustainable?
    Would geothermal be feasible, would the “N”Power be feasible (once it is made safe to operate and shut down)?

    I am not a dumb ass nor a smart ass (dropped the R’s), just the average joe that worked hard then served his country and is now looking at the sundown of life. Please comment, I don’t take offence unless you start abusing me, just interested in the other Joe’s comments and ideas on how to fix this little problem that we have.

    Have a Great Day Peeps.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Nuclear power is an option but it’s not being considered because it’s too expensive. Even if there were no nuclear waste and we could be absolutely certain there would be no dangerous release of radioactivity the cost is still much more than other alternatives. Electricity from Hinkley C will be around 20 cents per kilowatt-hour and no one is offering to provide new nuclear power much cheaper.

      • Greg Flint says

        Additionally, cost aside, there’s the unfortunate fact that whenever there is a facility designed to contain LARGE amounts of power (energy discharge – usually as heat for turning water to steam with our old legacy technology), there’s the concomitant risk of that management not being 100% successful. Even THAT wouldn’t be too bad if the resulting uninhabitable area could be limited to, say, 10,000km².

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Ronald

        Interesting that you should quote the 20 cents per kilowatt-hour figure for Hinkley C – which is actually closer to an expensive 16.8 c/kWhr if you use the agreed “strike price” of 92.5 pounds sterling per MWhr and an exchange rate of 0.55. Their original estimate was actually closer to 4.4 c/kWhr – the change primarily due to EDF’s cost-of-capital at 9%, instead of the 2% government rate expected then, but also due to small changes mandated after Fukushima (which has to date resulted in only 1 radiation-related death). If only Solar PV and Wind were as safe per Terrawatt hour of energy produced.

        Interestingly, people in Bristol pay about the same for power, as those in SA.

        They started pouring the concrete pad for the first reactor in December 2018, and expect to be operational in 2025 – so I feel the cry “they take too long to build” can be pretty-much ignored as misinformed – pumped hydro will take as long, or longer. There must be SOME reason why the UK is prepared to continue with Hinkley C – perhaps they want to take the pain now, to get extra cheap energy in the future (after the capital is paid down).

        Lazard put the LCOE 2018 for nuclear in the range 11.2 – 18.9 c/kWhr, and rooftop PV at 16 – 26.7 c/kWhr, but I don’t know if the PV is being lumbered with the necessary externality cost of storage in these figures.

        Given the USA experience of 3-4 c/kWhr operating cost of nuclear (after the capital is repaid), it is clear to me that the big issues for nuclear are the cost of capital, and the time available to pay this off. The US are already, or are planning, to provide 40 year duration Contracts-of-Power Provision, instead of the more normal 10 year period (which increases the operator’s risk). They have also extended the operating life from 40 years, to 60 years for some plants (after intense investigation, and some modifications in some cases) – so I guess they will go on to produce power at the 3-4 c/kWhr figure.

        So, Ronald – I think your 20 cent figure is probably on the pessimistic end of the scale – and also does not allow for innovative financing and payment schedule options that might become available if the will is there. Certainly the marginal cost of nuclear compares well with the low-end cost of on-shore wind, and is better than PV in general – unless that is subsidised (I can’t understand why you wouldn’t include the cost of the subsidy?).

        Anyway – presumable the Tassy “Battery of the Nation” will solve all storage and stability issues, and we can afford to pay more for solar and wind to charge this battery up as required – so perhaps any argument for some baseload non-carbon supply becomes irrelevant.

        My summary:
        Rooftop PV is quite an expensive option
        Utility thin film PV is somewhat better, but not great
        On-shore wind is the best.

    • Foresooth says

      A good question – Ron has pointed to the main cause, cost, even if the radiation and waste issues can be managed. It is very expensive compared to the alternatives and would take quite a while to build while alternative energy is getting even cheaper, making it vastly more expensive in future years. It could never pay for itself..

      And of course, you are right that the sun don’t shine for 24 hours on this wide brown land, and the wind isn’t always blowing at yours or my place all the time. Wave power works, but is expensive for a low yield at this stage.

      However, this is a big country and there are ways to store power. Lets start with the big country bit. The sun shines over a lot of Australia a lot of the time. Because we are so big, it can be shining in Perth long after it has gone to bed in Sydney or Tassie. And vice versa. If we connected east and west, north and south of Australia with a truly national grid, we would have solar power over a much wider span, and lots of it. And since the winds are always blowing in a number of places around Australia even when it was dark, we could also be feeding in power when the sun is down. And because this generation is very widely spread, we don’t have to strengthen the grid as intensely as if a big lump of it was concentrated in one place eg Snowy Hydro 2.

      This would not provide all our reliable power needs though, so we need some storage capacity in this model. Smaller, distributed pumped hydro using natural features eg valleys close to the sea or disused mines and underground water (there is one just outside Broken Hill operating already) and so could also distribute storage, with some Li-Ion or others eg, like the SA one, to provide stability in the grid.

      The CSIRO and the ANU have modelled how a multi mode, distributed system like this can supply 100% of Australia’s power needs now and into the future.

      It requires some infrastructure to be built and that costs. But if the government focussed on the grid to support the private sector putting in the generation and storage, it is practical and achievable at a fair cost.

      Much less than nuclear or coal, without the risks and damage they cause.

      Pumped hydro is one, but really big systems in one place are expesnive

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Foresooth

        You say running full capacity transmission lines north and south and east and west across our huge country will require “some” infrastructure costs – really!
        How about HUGE infrastructure costs…

        You seem to have forgotten that PV only tends to work at significant output, for about 6 hours of sunny days (half power point, equinox, Perth), for about 280 days a year (if you’re lucky). So we can extend that to about 8 hours, if we span the country as you say. Then you say wind can pick up the shortfall at night.

        So, what you are suggesting is that someone invests in enough wind and PV infrastructure on the west coast of WA, to be able to power all of NSW, Vic, and Qld – after it gets dark there, on days the wind doesn’t blow – then that massive amount of costly infrastructure (including the transmission lines) is to sit idle during the most of the day, when it is sunny and blowing on the East coast.

        Doesn’t sound like much of a plan to me.

        I am also trying to understand why, if nuclear is just so very, very expensive, that so many countries (including the UK – who have good access to on and offshore wind generation), are going ahead with building large nuclear plants – all over the place. I have heard of nuclear operating costs being only about 3 to 4 cents (AU) per kWh – therefore the additional 16 cents cost Ronald speaks of must be capital cost recovery – which is variable – in the USA they have adressed this, by making power supply contracts span 40 years, instead of only 10 years – obviously over a longer timespan, capital can be recovered at a slower rate.

        You talk about “risks and damage” – but are you aware of industry data that shows Solar PV has historically resulted in one hundred times (100x) the fatality rate per terrawatt-hour of energy produced? Wind is a little better – only about 4 times the fatality rate of nuclear.

        I would have liked all coal power stations to have been shut down yesterday – but we can’t do it yet – the AEMO is already partially curtailing renewable power production for 26% of the time in SA (for grid stability), and are talking about introducing curtailment in Vic and WA – this can only become worse, as more and more intermittent renewables come online – effectively curtailing the FiT for new customers.

        What we need is STORAGE, not hugely expensive transimission lines (which will also take a long time to fund, aquisition land, and build) – but I’m not aware of much in the way of pumped hydro being built (which will also take a long time).
        Soalr PV costs must include the cost of storage, if it is going to prove effective – as does wind. At the moment, we mostly fall back on coal, or natural gas, to provide backup power. Even diesel engines (Vic). I’d like to see this change sooner, than later.
        I’m not convinced that nuclear should not be part of the energy mix (the Chief Scientist has said as much) – if we don’t dilly dally, we could have a cheap, carbon emissions free power structure that much quicker – which would include PV and Wind.
        After huge expenditure, Solar Thermal appears to have died, Wave Power in WA’s south has gone belly up, and I understand wave power in SA has sunk. And, what happenned to CO2 sequestration from coal flue gasses?

  21. Joe Blake says

    Also there seems to be a renewal of interest in using gravity storage WITHOUT needing water and/or natural height differences, constructing systems such as this experimental Swiss one, but on a larger scale.

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Joe (et al)

      Storage problem solved (without having to go to hair-brained unproven schemes, many of which have already failed, after squandering huge amounts of taxpayer funds as largesse for their executives).

      Saw a Promo by Scomo yesterday – apparently, Tassy is to become our Battery of the Nation (BOTN) – using pumped hydro and a trans-Bass submarine cable and interconnector.

      I do hope they’ve thought of redundancy – as shorter submarine cables between N and S Island NZ have been known to fail. I’m not sure that Tassy’s existing Hydro water turbines can be reversed to perform as pumps – certainly not the Pelton Wheels I’ve seen – but hopefully someone has thought of that.

      Of course, Bill could skuttle the whole idea.

      Not sure how WA is going to be serviced by this “battery” – didn’t see any discussion of huge transmission lines mentioned.

Speak Your Mind

Please keep the SolarQuotes blog constructive and useful with these 5 rules:

1. Real names are preferred - you should be happy to put your name to your comments.
2. Put down your weapons.
3. Assume positive intention.
4. If you are in the solar industry - try to get to the truth, not the sale.
5. Please stay on topic.

Please solve: 27 + 4 

Get The SolarQuotes Weekly Newsletter