Monthly Archives: November 2020

At a lower cost … compared to what exactly?

Just an update on previous post about new big batteries to be built in New South Wales. In that post, the author made the claim that grid-size batteries are cost-effective and come at a low(er) cost. Here are the instances in the article were such claims are made (my emphasis):

In doing so, TransGrid will demonstrate that batteries can provide the most cost-effective solution for NSW’s projected upcoming inertia shortfall,” Miller said.

This innovation will help accelerate the industry’s transformation to a low-carbon energy system, at a lower cost to customers” she said.

Batteries offer a solution to this challenge at a small fraction of the cost of traditional technologies such as synchronous condensers.

Research and results from the trial will be shared to support future projects and help demonstrate that battery technology is a low cost and technically viable solution to the emerging challenge created by the transformation of the generation sector.

Again, this looks impressive and also confirms the narrative of the media and some researchers that renewable technologies are cheap. If this is really true, then migrating to a combination of solar, wind and batteries seems the most logical thing to do.

However, not everything is what it seems.

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As effective as 18 gnats peeing on a fire

It seems I keep stumbling upon hooray stories about Australian grid batteries. I found this reneweconomy article about a new Tesla battery that will be built in New South Wales. The article is titled “Transgrid to build Australia’s first Tesla Megapack big battery in western Sydney” and the author is Giles Parkinson. I remember him from a cheering and one-sided article about the Hornsdale Power Reserve and this article seems not much different.

The first paragraph provides the crux of the story (my emphasis):

Transmission company Transgrid is to build the first big battery in Australia using Tesla’s recently introduced Megapack battery technology, and what is likely to [sic] the first of more than 10 big batteries to be built across NSW as it they are important in face of the looming retirement of its ageing coal fleet..

A new big Tesla battery will be built, this time in New South Wales and likely 10+ big batteries will follow. More, these batteries are built in preparation of the retirement of the New South Wales coal power plants over the next 10 to 12 years…

This all sounds pretty impressive, but I wonder what order of magnitude we are talking about here.

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