11 January 2018, The Conversation, A month in, Tesla’s SA battery is surpassing expectations. It’s just over one month since the Hornsdale power reserve was officially opened in South Australia. The excitement surrounding the project has generated acres of media interest, both locally and abroad. The aspect that has generated the most interest is the battery’s rapid response time in smoothing out several major energy outages that have occurred since it was installed. Following the early success of the SA model, Victoria has also secured an agreement to get its own Tesla battery built near the town of Stawell. Victoria’s government will be tracking the Hornsdale battery’s early performance with interest. Generation and Consumption Over the full month of December, the Hornsdale power reserve generated 2.42 gigawatt-hours of energy, and consumed 3.06GWh. Since there are losses associated with energy storage, it is a net consumer of energy. This is often described in terms of “round trip efficiency”, a measure of the energy out to the energy in. In this case, the round trip efficiency appears to be roughly 80%. The figure below shows the input and output from the battery over the month. As can be seen, on several occasions the battery has generated as much as 100MW of power, and consumed 70MW of power. The regular operation of battery moves between generating 30MW and consuming 30MW of power. Read More here
12 July 2017, The Guardian, Commentators who don’t understand the grid should butt out of the battery debate. Criticising South Australia’s battery for not meeting peak demand is akin to raging at your smartphone because it can’t send a fax. he Australian electricity grid’s most recently announced extremity is a gargantuan battery system in South Australia, designed to bolster grid security. The facility has been met mostly with a warm welcome, interspersed with weird, interesting and tense hostility. Buried in the mix of reactions are clues about how a new phase of grid transition might play out, as we switch from the rapid build out of zero carbon power sources to building and integrating them into a system designed for fossil fuels.Before we interrogate the misunderstandings of South Australia’s new battery, we have to step back and look at the system as a single, electric organism. Read More here
7 April 2017, The Conversation, The stampede of wind farm complaints that never happened. National Wind Farm Commissioner, Andrew Dyer, has just released his much anticipated first annual report. In its first year of operation until the end of 2016, the National Wind Farm Commissioner says his office received: 46 complaints relating to nine operating wind farms (there were 76 operational wind farms in Australian in 2015)
- 42 complaints relating to 19 proposed wind farms
- two complaints that did not specify a wind farm.
The commissioner’s office closed 67 or these 90 complaints, with the remaining 23 complaints still in process. Of the 67 now-closed complaints, the office closed 31 because the complainant did not progress their complaint. This suggests these complaints were minor. The office closed the file on another 32 after it sent complainants more information about their complaints. This leaves only four, which the report describes two as being settled after negotiations between the parties, and two given the ambiguous category of “other”. These figures are frankly astonishing. The complaint investigating mechanism was set up after a Senate enquiry report that cost undisclosed millions to deal with a “massive” problem with wind turbines. But the hordes of people who apparently needed a way to help them resolve matters have now gone shy. Chair of the Senate Committee on Wind Turbines was ex-Senator John Madigan, a public critic of wind farms. Read More here
24 March 2017, Renew Economy, Fear and loathing about renewable grid in Coober Pedy. There is uproar in Coober Pedy, the iconic mining town deep in the South Australian desert that is known as the Opal Capital of the world. What should have been a positive story about a project to shift the town from diesel to a renewable-focused mini-grid based around wind and solar and storage is causing outrage among consumers and councillors, and embarrassment to the developer and the federal agency that backed it. Last year, as we reported at the time, the final plan for the Coober Pedy Renewable Diesel Hybrid project was unveiled, featuring 4MW of wind, 1MW of solar and a 1MW/250kWh battery to provide up to 70 per cent of the power needs of Coober Pedy. The idea was that it would dramatically reduce the amount of diesel consumed from the existing 3.9MW diesel power station, reduce costs, and provide a possible blueprint for the rest of Australia to follow. But what should have been a flagship project for the country – as ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht touted it at the time – looks like turning into a disaster for the town and an embarrassment for the renewable energy industry; and a legal dispute between the council and the developers. It has now emerged that the cost that will be charged to the council, which owns the local grid, and which will subsidised by the government, will be more than double other alternatives. Graham Davies, from Adelaide-based Resonant Solutions, who completed an assessment on behalf of council last year, says that the average cost of generating electricity, not including distribution but including rebates, will be 48c/kWh. The deal signed by council will translate to total cost of $192 million over 20 years, a saving of a dismal $5 million over the diesel only grid staying as is for 20 years – which would simply not happen. The company’s own presentation on the project, made last May, appears to confirm that there is little difference between the ongoing cost of diesel and the solar, wind and storage grid. (see graph below). Renewable energy experts say that is absurd. Read More here