Sunny Thoughts

Mike Hewson
Mike Hewson
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The advising consultancy is

The advising consultancy is Canberra based. Lawks, there's a surprise. Still, I can't absolutely deny that they may know some physics anyway. Hope springs eternal. :-)

Cheers, Mike.

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter ...

... and my other CPU is a Ryzen 5950X :-) Blaise Pascal

Jonathan
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Sadly here in Holland

Sadly here in Holland everything is flat, so we can't really use dams for large scale batteries.

Chris S
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The name Nether-lands

The name Nether-lands literally means the Lower Country where about only 50% of its land exceeds 1 metre above sea level. Amster-dam and Rotter-dam were places where dams were built across rivers to protect people. But yes, hydroelectric power is not feasible there, which is why they have 2 nuclear power stations and the rest are mainly natural gas or coal fired.

 

Waiting for Godot & salvation :-)

Why do doctors have to practice?
You'd think they'd have got it right by now

Jonathan
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Yup, we can fight the water,

Yup, we can fight the water, but it does not fight for us :(

Gary Roberts
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Mike Hewson wrote:Tesla was

Mike Hewson wrote:

Tesla was awarded the contract for the energy storage component of South Australia's grid. It could store 100 MW/129 MWh .... despite being the largest lithium ion device of it's type some think it is not enough. Patience ! Personally I'm waiting for Rent-A-Riot to turn up & complain that light from the star Vega is being adversely deflected by this project .... :-))))

{ My only problem is ".... the South Australian Government as a leader in renewable energy ...." should be leavened with ".... the government most likely to bot energy when their failed infrastructure fails even more .... ". Mind you they paid a premium to buy from more reliable sources. Storage is the key to intermittent generation and so this grid storage should service their state far better. But it is true that everyone is watching to see how they go. }

I don't remember that 2nd paragraph when you originally posted the first one :-).  A later addition perhaps? :-).

However the two together remind me of further comments I'd like to make about the pros, cons and other side issues associated with the different types of 'battery' storage.  These are just random thoughts that have had little or no research done to support them.  I make no claim as to their accuracy or completeness.  Here is a bit of a list, in no particular order.

  • From your figures above, the Tesla unit can deliver 129mWh per charge.  The hydro battery can deliver 5,000mWh (previous link provided).

  • Multiple Tesla units could be installed quite quickly.   A single hydro battery would take many years to design and commission.

  • Tesla units would have a much shorter lifetime than a hydro battery but the ongoing maintenance costs would be a lot less.

  • There would be more flexibility with the siting of single Tesla units close to end users.  Hydro batteries could only be built where there were existing large storage reservoirs and suitable terrain.

  • Australia is very fortunate in this regard.  The bulk of the population wants to live on the east coast.  There is a suitable long mountain range for the full length of this coast.  There is an existing network of large reservoirs servicing the population all along this coast.  Retro-fitting these reservoirs with hydro batteries would seem to be quite a viable option for the longer term.

  • I discovered last night when browsing the details of the WPS, that the state government transferred the ownership of this asset to a government owned corporation a few years ago.  It is apparently being run along private enterprise lines to return profits to government coffers.  It should be quite easy to get  private enterprise interested in building more of these.  Why would they want to do that, you ask?  I reckon the answer is contained in your opening post.  They could pump water when power is cheap and quickly reverse things when high usage peaks occur and make a lot of profit in the process.

  • As you point out, you need energy from somewhere else to charge any battery.  If you were going to allow private enterprise to build and profit from hydro batteries, couldn't you tie the approval for that to a requirement to build an additional set amount of solar/wind generating capacity for every battery?  Without a nuclear option, Australia is going to need non-renewable base load capacity for quite a while yet.  This would be an ever decreasing need if extra renewable capacity tied to profitable battery installations proved to be a viable business model.  Battery charging would progressively transition from non-renewable to renewable over a longer time frame.  This should help to avoid SA type problems.

 It seems to me that those charged with the task of planning for the future energy needs of this country should have been able to foresee the current predicament and do something about it quite a long time ago.  It's quite perplexing that the merits of the proposed upgrade to the Snowy Hydro Scheme have only (and suddenly) surfaced now, rather than 25 years ago.  I guess it's hard to be both a visionary and a salesman at the same time :-).

 

Cheers,
Gary.

Jonathan
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Gary, on the cons for the

Gary, on the cons for the tesla battery I'd like to add safety. Batteries tend do burn well. And there are not a lot of dams breaking causing floodings or anything.

Chris S
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But when they do go they

But when they do go they cause a heck of a sight more damage. Remember the damaged spillways at the Oroville dam in California in February 2017, where nearly 200,000 people were evacuated? Repairs will cost $400 Million.

Waiting for Godot & salvation :-)

Why do doctors have to practice?
You'd think they'd have got it right by now

Gary Roberts
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Jonathan wrote:.... dams

Jonathan wrote:
.... not a lot of dams breaking causing floodings ....

Chris S_2 wrote:
But when they do go they cause a heck of a sight more damage.

Hey Chris,
You are inventing a problem that just doesn't exist (for hydro batteries) :-).

Lake Oroville - Area=64.75 km2   Volume=4.36 km3   Lots of downstream damage and danger to the public if that breaks.

Splityard Creek dam - Area=120 ha   Volume=23,300 megalitres.   A power station cops it but not the public.  A virtual drop in a bucket goes straight into lake Wivenhoe which wouldn't even notice the difference.  Zero risk of a downstream flood.  That's a nice safety feature for all hydro batteries.  The water just gets back to the main storage a little faster than intended :-).

 

Cheers,
Gary.

Gary Roberts
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Just a small request. This

Just a small request.

This thread is about renewable energy (particularly solar generation) and methods for storing it.  If you want to discuss quite unrelated matters, please start your own thread rather than hijacking this one.

Thank you.

 

Cheers,
Gary.

Mike Hewson
Mike Hewson
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Gary Roberts wrote:Mike

Clear the thread ! Long train coming through ................ toot toot !!! :-))

Gary Roberts wrote:
Mike Hewson wrote:

Tesla was awarded the contract for the energy storage component of South Australia's grid. It could store 100 MW/129 MWh .... despite being the largest lithium ion device of it's type some think it is not enough. Patience ! Personally I'm waiting for Rent-A-Riot to turn up & complain that light from the star Vega is being adversely deflected by this project .... :-))))

{ My only problem is ".... the South Australian Government as a leader in renewable energy ...." should be leavened with ".... the government most likely to bot energy when their failed infrastructure fails even more .... ". Mind you they paid a premium to buy from more reliable sources. Storage is the key to intermittent generation and so this grid storage should service their state far better. But it is true that everyone is watching to see how they go. }

I don't remember that 2nd paragraph when you originally posted the first one :-).  A later addition perhaps? :-).

Yeah, sorry. What was missing is the simple fact that energy from whatever generation type is storable in batteries. The spin on a lot of stories is that only 'green' electrons can .... one has to be careful to separate out the technology from the hubris about the technology ! However well intended. :-)

Gary Roberts wrote:
However the two together remind me of further comments I'd like to make about the pros, cons and other side issues associated with the different types of 'battery' storage.  These are just random thoughts that have had little or no research done to support them.  I make no claim as to their accuracy or completeness.  Here is a bit of a list, in no particular order.
  • From your figures above, the Tesla unit can deliver 129mWh per charge.  The hydro battery can deliver 5,000mWh (previous link provided).

Yup, the simple physics is Energy = mass * g * height of fall/rise. Water is close enough to one kilogram per litre, g is close enough to ten thus we have 10 Joules per litre of water per vertical metre.

{ One Joule may be defined here as the energy given/taken when a force of one Newton is applied over one metre. For example 10 Megalitres of water up one metre will be 100 MJ stored, the same amount going up 100m will be 10 GigaJoule. The time rate of charge/discharge is (mega)Watts as usual, so one GJ if transacted in 100 secs will be at 10MW. Etc. }

This of course ignores all the dissipative aspects so one needs to account for them ( per installation ) to get available/useful energy. You lose on the pump-up as well as the fall-down. But electric batteries have this too. If you like hydro schemes do have the equivalents of internal resistance etc. It is reasonable to think of the fall/rise height as like voltage, time rate of volumes ( ie. bulk water flow ) as like current. I wouldn't confuse matters by trying to find inductance/capacitance analogs, but one probably could. Let's stay with a DC model for our water storage. :-)

Gary Roberts wrote:
Multiple Tesla units could be installed quite quickly.   A single hydro battery would take many years to design and commission.

Dams are landscape altering and thus collide with many public issues outside of energy management.

Gary Roberts wrote:
Tesla units would have a much shorter lifetime than a hydro battery but the ongoing maintenance costs would be a lot less.

Dams have a huge on-cost and far lower maintenance. Construction and usage are well beyond current public policy timelines.

Gary Roberts wrote:
There would be more flexibility with the siting of single Tesla units close to end users.  Hydro batteries could only be built where there were existing large storage reservoirs and suitable terrain.

The tension is between micro vs macro grids ie. what is the physical scale encompassed by an arc involving generation -> storage -> usage. This thread started because I wanted to do all of that on my modest residential block ( 0.9 acre ). There are many other models which differ in that scale. Alas this goes beyond technical points as the supply side is largely monopolistic or at least cartel dominated : despite contrary reports the market acts 'as if' interior knowledge is being exchanged and Occam's razor on that says guess what ? :-)))

Gary Roberts wrote:
Australia is very fortunate in this regard.  The bulk of the population wants to live on the east coast.  There is a suitable long mountain range for the full length of this coast.  There is an existing network of large reservoirs servicing the population all along this coast.  Retro-fitting these reservoirs with hydro batteries would seem to be quite a viable option for the longer term.

Well we have a massive interior desert where only the hardy survive ! But you are correct, the Great Dividing range forms the precipitation trigger that benefits the coastal side and corresponding rain shadows that prejudices the inland side. This indeed was the logic of the Snowy Mountain scheme : to divert flow inland that would have gone to the eastern ocean. Hence the irrigation belt down the Murray River through to South Australia and into the Bight instead. We wouldn't have those lovely Barossa wines otherwise ! The hydroelectric component was a lesser motivation compared with enabling cropping where only seasonal pastoral use would persist.

{ I've found a great background source on the hydrology of SE Australia : Nature's Line. This is the story of George Goyder, a government surveyor ~ 150 years ago. You can tease out true long term trends as measured from much modern speculation that has no observational support. In effect he discovered the El-Nino/La-Nina oscillation that dominates land use cycles here. He defined a line on the map which would reliably separate those lands for which agriculture could sustain populations vs. boom/bust pastoral leases. We now call it Goyder's Line. All of his assertions remain true today. }

Gary Roberts wrote:
I discovered last night when browsing the details of the WPS, that the state government transferred the ownership of this asset to a government owned corporation a few years ago.  It is apparently being run along private enterprise lines to return profits to government coffers.  It should be quite easy to get  private enterprise interested in building more of these.  Why would they want to do that, you ask?  I reckon the answer is contained in your opening post.  They could pump water when power is cheap and quickly reverse things when high usage peaks occur and make a lot of profit in the process.

On paper that's a great idea. The present reality is finding any willing private enterprise that will be a co-party to a contract with extant governments down this way. Without getting into messy political detail the commercial imperative is to avoid legislative risk, that being the ability of the sovereign entity to totally re-define the entire basis of the transaction by suitable retrospective legislation. That includes all terms, especially price, and long after contract agreement. The example I have in mind involved an over $1 billion AUD loss. Repudiation of sovereign debt, or threat of it as a negotiating tactic, has now been normalised. Two out of the three major civil contractors ( capable of immense works ) in this country were burnt badly and have literally left the state. They were forced to settle for much less than the actual tort against them, and keep quiet to boot. For another ( human ) generation I reckon all such matters would have to be cash in advance of works strictly. Sad but true. This will close the option of amortising construction costs over very many budget cycles which is the typical method for this category of public works.

Gary Roberts wrote:
As you point out, you need energy from somewhere else to charge any battery.  If you were going to allow private enterprise to build and profit from hydro batteries, couldn't you tie the approval for that to a requirement to build an additional set amount of solar/wind generating capacity for every battery?  Without a nuclear option, Australia is going to need non-renewable base load capacity for quite a while yet.  This would be an ever decreasing need if extra renewable capacity tied to profitable battery installations proved to be a viable business model.  Battery charging would progressively transition from non-renewable to renewable over a longer time frame.  This should help to avoid SA type problems.

See above. While these issues are interesting, they are of minor rank in importance compared to simply honoring a well conceived contract. It really has descended that far. It is notable that for the SA battery scheme all major providers are foreign. This is not just a matter of technical expertise or production capacity, the locals simply wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. :-((((

Gary Roberts wrote:
 It seems to me that those charged with the task of planning for the future energy needs of this country should have been able to foresee the current predicament and do something about it quite a long time ago.  It's quite perplexing that the merits of the proposed upgrade to the Snowy Hydro Scheme have only (and suddenly) surfaced now, rather than 25 years ago.  I guess it's hard to be both a visionary and a salesman at the same time :-).

The greatest difficulty in SA was micromanagement by political entities of technical matters. That has been the prime determinant of the present situation and thus driving historically revisionist narratives offered now ie. what has been left out of the discussion. Last year's storm simply revealed the actual quality of the projects. My kindest remark could be that they moved too far and too soon, and are now ideologically trapped and won't even partially row back. Human pride ultimately. Visionary is one of those ambiguous adjectives. It could mean an Einstein-like once-per-millennium intellect or a total fool with his head up his own colon. Can one see for light years or only a few centimetres ? Go on. Guess which I think applies here .... :-)))))

Cheers, Mike.

( edit ) Caboose : Don't I pontificate ? A bit. I was once semi-offered a run for parliament. My reply was that my only good work within government chambers would be with an automatic weapon. A decade later that remark isn't quite so funny though .... nor has the offer been revisited. They may have thought I really meant it. Either way it was a hostile response to the proposal ..... like I care to be a member of that club. LOL. :-)))

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter ...

... and my other CPU is a Ryzen 5950X :-) Blaise Pascal

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