1. I think the phrase in that “100 Day Promise” is “from contract signature”. They know that no contract can be signed by a government instantly – there are bureaucratic and potentially legislative processes to go through.

    If SA seems to be serious, Tesla would start stockpiling batteries and related equipment (and possibly even shipping it to a warehouse/depot for holding in SA close to the final site ahead of time) in the 3 or 6 months it takes to get the contract done, meaning that they have a LOT longer most likely, than 100 days, to get the equipment manufacturing and engineering work done.

  2. I really wish the WWSB group (Wind-Water-Solar-Batteries) would stop portraying this technology to be the grand answer to every energy woe we have. Jacobson’s paper has been thoroughly called out, and was called out well before even an official peer review stamped call out was placed. Grid level battery storage is something that will continue to evolve, like everything else we believe is worthy of attention, but it’s just not ready and won’t be for sometime, based upon these myths about how long we can run off of them. Can’t we just say that and ditch these non-grounded lines of thinking? When a power plant trips, it takes more than 80 minutes to get back online. No one can put a timetable on when the wind will blow again or the sun will come out again. The sheer scale of what grid level storage will need to provide just seems incredibly daunting when you really start talking about what we would expect it to provide in the interim. I could see it some smaller applications (hospitals, areas prone to severe weather, even residential applications or data centers) but I’ll take good ol’ reliable nuclear every time.

    1. A battery system does have one very important advantage:  it runs as “spinning reserve” with zero fuel consumption.

      If you have an hour of battery capacity, and can start your 350 MW gas turbine from cold in 15 minutes, you have a very comfortable margin.

      1. I think GE has presented a hybrid battery-turbine product which does just that. Pretty good idea to eliminate spinning reserve, given low partial throttle efficiency in gas turbines. Their latest simple cycle turbines are pretty incredible too (44-45% efficiency).

  3. Tesla just needs to focus on delivering what I believe would be a significantly better gain to their bottom line and the environment: producing the Model 3 at an affordable and efficient volume to satisfy the impacts on the environment from the transportation sector. Make a deal with the utilities to power your charging stations along the major corridors with high capacity factor and non-CO2 emitting nuclear plants.

  4. To the extent that I understand South Australia’s grid problems, this Tesla utility scale battery will do little beyond some frequency control. South Australia requires a dispatchable generator of at least 500 MW rating, ready to be ramped up before the wind fails, either too high or too low.

  5. Rod’s commentary seems typically cynical for this site. Almost as though he would rather large scale energy storage remain a pipe dream, rather than evolve into being a part of our energy future. What will you people do when the intermittency problem is solved, or mittigated to a degree that any reasonable person would have to consider wind and solar a huge benefit to the grid and a godsend for our planet? I am overjoyed that Tesla is jumping in with both feet, and spearheading a technological evolution that may mean great things for our planet. You should be too.

    1. @Jon Hall

      Guilty as charged, though I would prefer to describe my attitude as “skeptical” rather than cynical in this context.

      I’m a technologist by education, training and personality. I enjoy understanding how things work and appreciate people and companies who figure out how to make them work better. I’m even more appreciative of people who devise new tools and devote themselves to the continued refinement of those tools.

      However, I am a lousy salesman – as you and others have often pointed out here. One of my favorite counsels to people is “under promise and over deliver.” That part of my personality makes me intensely dislike the hard sell and the people who will promise anything to land a contract or to promote their “brand.”

      Battery storage is exceedingly useful. I expect that I have at least 100 batteries in my house of various shapes, sizes and capacities. However, there are well known limitations to the chemical and physical properties that tell me they will never be more than bit players on large power grids. I say this as a guy who has put his life into the hands of very large storage batteries and who has closely followed the development of the technology for several decades.

      1. I never thought I’d say it, but perhaps for this topic we should consider one of the pet phrases of Amory Lovins from the “soft” energy path musings of the 1970s: match energy source to end use. Battery storage for small appliances, tools, computers, cell phones, other portable devices? Great. A very nice match. Automotive electrical systems? Sure, another good match. Aircraft? Probably okay for smaller units. Marine propulsion? Pushing the limits a bit, but with reliable primary systems, a reasonable application. Grid-based systems? Maybe the kind of thing E-P suggested above, but not much else. Large-scale, utility-wide grid storage? A very poor match, on balance.

        1. “Large-scale, utility-wide grid storage? A very poor match, on balance.”

          Yes, of course, though the mismatch doesn’t stop Musk. In his recent talk to the US governors conference, Musk once again pitched the all-solar-dream, that US generation could be replaced entirely by a 100 miles x 100 miles of solar PV, and then also tossed in that the “batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile.”

          Further details on a square mile of batteries:
          -Cost: at an improved ~$300/kWh, assuming a 500 GW load and 12 TWh/day, $3.6 trillion per 24 hours of backup. Replaced every decade or so.
          -Mass: 92 million tons (7.7 kg/kWh Tesla Powerpack). By comparison, US annual steel production is ~80 million tons/yr. Cobalt required, 2 million ton, with global cobalt production ~0.1 million ton/yr.
          -Time to produce: 342 Gigafactory-years (35 GWh/yr).
          -Number of Gigafactories to maintain w/ 10yr life: 34

          And then there are seasonal lulls.

          Musk once had wonderful practical sense of skepticism about him in his earlier days, saying things like “success should be one of the possible outcomes”. Too many magazine covers.

  6. On a J/Kg basis, the safest energy storage medium is a nuclear reactor. Unlike a battery, a nuclear reactor doesn’t lose energy due to leakage, can actually generate more energy than was used in fabrication, and can be extended using breeder technology.

    1. It can also produce power when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining.

  7. No doubt Musk &Co are good salesmen and equally the SA government are suckers just waiting to be ripped off.
    The Australian electricity system,from generation through distribution to retail,has been a mess for many years. This is mainly due to privatization ,deregulation and the attempt to create a market in an area of a natural monopoly.
    Add to this the current irrational craze for large scale solar and wind generation and we have a disaster waiting to happen.

  8. A year, two years, down the road this conversation would go differently. It constantly amazes me that the prejudice here against renewables seems to be based on the premise that they are static technologies, that will not enjoy advancements. Truth is, since I have been commenting here, there have been major technological advancements, an exponential expansion of application, and an ever increasing percentage of energy contributed to the grid. There have been advancememts too, from what I can gather, in NE technology as well. But NE is going in the opposite direction here in the US, as far as usage and grid energy contribution. So it will be interesting to watch the narrative here in the next few years. Thank God innovative minds prevail over the skeptics and the naysayers. Its the Musks amongst us that have us flying, walking on the moon, driving electric cars, using batteries to saw lumber and drive screws…yadayadayada…

    I guess you guys just need to get out of the way before you get ran over. Or get on the train, and quit sniveling.

      1. Naaahhh….you just can’t read, Brian. I’m celebrating.

        I’ve been commenting here for some time now. And if one thing is consistent here, its the constant claim of victimhood that the NE advocates use as their excuse for the fall from grace that NE has experienced. Its the government’s fault, with its stifling regulations. Its the fault of its detractors, that have the public’s ear, like Lovins, spreading fud. Its the fossil fuel industry’s fault, conspiring to bring NE down. Its the left’s fault…blahblahblah….

        Seldom do I see any constructive introspection, or creative ideas for going forward. Whine, whine, whine. And you are one of the poster childs for it here. So hows all this sniveling working for you and your energy darling, Brian?

        1. Celebrating what? That government retirees in South Australia have to hang out in public buildings this winter, because they can’t afford to heat their own homes? That, because of an energy policy heavily favoring “renewables,” electricity can now be considered a luxury?

          If that’s success, I’d hate to see what failure looks like.

          Or perhaps you are celebrating the comments here. That would make you a garden-variety troll. You’re not the first one here, and I’m sure you won’t be the last.

  9. Where are the nuclear industry masters of promotion? This is an absurdity. It takes 2,300year for a Tesla gigafactory to produce enough battery to store just 1% of 2015 domestic electric consumption. It take only 10min to calculate the insanity and horror. Elon Musk is a blood drinking parasite.. Even the obsolete 1940s reactor tech is superior to the best VRE+battery garbage. Nuclear industry should come out full blast and eradicate all of this BS at the root. The nuclear industry itself is anti-nuclear..

    1. “The nuclear industry itself is anti-nuclear”

      I’ve been saying that here for some time now. Change your messaging, develop a wise and loud PR program, or continue to lose to renewables. And lose the adversarial tone towards anyone that disagrees with you because they are victims of the superior PR employed by competing technologies.

      1. Rod has pointed out a number of times that there really is no “nuclear industry” as such.  Aside from a few operating specialists like Entergy, the industry consists of utilities which often own all types of plants, and engineering and construction firms whose businesses are almost all non-nuclear.  They all go where the money is.

        You also have utilities newly empowered by repeal of PUHCA.  They are again free to set up fuel-dealing arms outside their regulated businesses and charge their customers a markup for changing the putative ownership of fuel twice instead of once.  A CEO would be removed for failing to do this.  This, of course, favors fossil fuels at the utility level.

        Against the tiny nuclear sub-sector is arrayed a bunch of dedicated anti-nuclear organizations backed by people with deep pockets.  It’s a grossly unfair fight.  You don’t help by criticizing those who call attention to how unfair it is, which at least gets nuclear a bit of appreciation for being the underdog.

        1. @Engineer-Poet

          Aside from a few operating specialists like Entergy, the industry consists of utilities which often own all types of plants, and engineering and construction firms whose businesses are almost all non-nuclear.

          From the context, I think you meant Exelon, not Entergy.

          Entergy is one of those utilities that has a wide range of power plants with nuclear making up only a moderate portion of its portfolio. It is currently in rapid retreat from the merchant nuclear plant experiment that it conducted by purchasing a few plants in the northeast at fire sale prices in the 1990s and early 2000s. The company has decided that it’s core competencies are much better suited for operating as a monopoly, regulated and integrated utility.

          1. The Entergy Nuclear fleet, even with the closing of the North East merchant units, is still the money maker. There are plans to continue building CCNG units in the next couple of years though in the South. Renewables are barely a blip in the portfolio at this point, but the CEO has stated that this position will be changing with technology advancements.

    2. The other thing that struck me in the original post is that all of that gear and land consumed by the Mira Loma facility just to store 80 MW-hr of energy, which is equal to just a little less than 130 seconds of Diablo Canyon operation. I know one is storage and the other production, but something is drastically wrong when we’re throwing away energy producers that absolutely dwarf anything the so-called renewables can muster. We’re deploying monstrously huge and visually scarring generators across hundreds of miles of territory to gather comparatively tiny amounts of energy be stored in huge, ungainly facilities that amount to a pittance compared to what a nuclear plant can produce, reliably, dispatchable, and emissions-free.

      1. @Wayne SW

        IMO, a fueled nuclear reactor should be considered “energy storage” in a similar sense as the water in the lake behind a pumped storage hydro plant. Only real difference is that the nuclear plant’s storage is charged every 18-24 months by delivering new fuel assemblies while the pumped hydro is charged far more frequently by pumping water uphill using grid electricity.

        1. I guess its all storage until used, but it appears the primary function of Mira Loma is storage vs. the primary function of DC or SONGS is (was) production. Somehow it seems like we’re losing ground when we expend enormous sums of both capital, material, and land to store something in the 80 MW-hr range, but we throw away generators in the 2200 MW range for political expediency and temporary distortions in the market.

        2. I call these things “energy stockpiles”.  A newly-fueled LWR has 17-23 months of stockpiled energy inside it.  A hydro plant might have a fraction of a year of energy stored up behind its dam.  A coal-fired plant might have a month or so in its heaps of combustible rock, a gas-fired plant with oil backup may have days; without oil, it dies when the pipeline cuts it off.  Nuclear FTW.

          1. @Engineer-Poet

            And for an even bigger geopolitical win for nuclear, countries with a history that makes them worried about fuel source interruptions can also comfortably store additional nuclear fuel reloads. They aren’t terribly expensive on a per unit energy basis and they require a lot less infrastructure that something like a Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

            This, by the way, is one of the reasons that established powers are not terribly keen on their dependent trading partners or political rivals becoming strong in the nuclear energy field. It can lead to the scary prospect of fewer profitable sales, more independent thought, and greater freedom of action.

            For some global superpowers, that outcome would be totally “unacceptable.”

    1. It’s pretty obvious that you didn’t click through to the source paper, because what the breathless press release giveth, the fine print taketh away:

      Thus, ESS resources with 4-hours duration were assumed to provide a capacity contribution comparable to a new natural gas combustion turbine (CT) in terms of serving resource adequacy in MISO.

      Additionally, we assumed a new storage resource’s capacity value in Minnesota is comparable to the capacity value of a new CT built in the same year, rather than using other possible metrics or forecasts. Because solar PV output partially coincides with MISO peak hours, a smaller battery size was used in solar + storage scenarios (<4 hrs.)

      In other words, this is not a 100% renewable solution.  It is not even a carry-the-grid-overnight solution.  It’s to replace the last few percent of MWh generated by a few seldom-used peaking units, mostly in the 2 PM-6 PM time slot (HE15 to HE18).

      Know what would be a real boon for nuclear power plants running as base load overnight?  A whole bunch of empty batteries waiting to be charged up after being emptied to serve the evening peak, that’s what.

    2. @Jon Hall

      Thank you for the link. Interestingly enough, I’ve been corresponding with the leader of the study group to understand more about the assumptions and limitations of his findings. There should be a pretty decent article coming soon. You might view it as throwing cold water on an optimistic view of the future, I view it as trying to help people look past the sensationalism and hype associated with finding that appear to reinforce popular belief systems or to sell products.

      1. Whatever the limitations of Minnesota’s battery addition to the grid, what they are doing would not have been possible 5 years ago. 5 years from now? Who knows? But whatever tech evolution takes place, we can rest assured that many here will be naysaying. Its obvious that our energy future isn’t a concern here. Instead, the concern is wholly self serving, to a technology that is being out-marketed by its competitors. And lagging behind in innovation. Its a losing strategy, this self serving attempt at demonizing competing technologies. It ain’t working, but you cling to it like mussels on a piling. Good luck with that.

        1. @Jon Hall

          Are you sure that grid-level battery storage systems were not possible 5 years ago? There’s no doubt that solar power systems were available.

          As an admitted non-technologist, what do you know about the actual advance in energy storage capacity, cost per unit, cost of competitive options, etc. besides what you might read in summary publications? Do you honestly believe that there have been massive breakthroughs with step changes in capability in recent years?

          Please keep your snide insults to yourself. I’ve devoted much of my working life and spare thinking time to solutions to energy problems that will work over long periods of time and in a large number of different conditions.

          I am not just promoting any particular technology, even though I do share my enthusiasm for an under-appreciated and much maligned technology with which I’ve had an intimate relationship.

        2. Whatever the limitations of Minnesota’s battery addition to the grid, what they are doing would not have been possible 5 years ago.

          Nonsense.  Trivially possible, just uneconomically expensive.

          a technology that is being out-marketed by its competitors. And lagging behind in innovation.

          Because it’s all but prohibited from innovating.  If it takes you five years and many millions of dollars to get permission to experiment with something, innovation is nigh-impossible.  Look at how long Lightbridge worked just to get its fuel into testing, and it hasn’t even been allowed to add thorium to it yet.

          we can rest assured that many here will be naysaying. Its obvious that our energy future isn’t a concern here. Instead, the concern is wholly self serving

          You are so not paying attention.

          The problem for the 100% ruinables utopia is that 4 hours of storage is grossly inadequate compared to what you actually need.  You require on the order of 160 hours in your stockpile, and you’ll still have significant periods of sub-par wind and sun which drive your storage close to “E”.


        3. (part 2, properly threaded)

          Those energy stockpiles need to be HUGE.  Ruinables need the cost of storage to fall by another factor of about 40 to be serious contenders to displace fossil and nuclear w/o backup.  4-8 hours of storage, though, plays right to nuclear’s main strength:  running flat-out 24/7/365 (literally in many cases).  If batteries get cheap enough that they can set a floor price on overnight generation, nuclear’s big problem (negative pricing) goes away.  You feed the electric cars and grid buffers during the 10 PM-5 AM time slot and handle the afternoon/evening peak with the grid buffers… and you can do it every day because, unlike ruinables, your energy supply is always there.  Nuclear’s main stockpile isn’t in a battery, it’s in the uranium.

          1. You guys did notice further down that “Jon Hall” is actually POA? Wasn’t the name “Jon Hall” used by an actual thoughtful contributer back when, or am I misremembering?

        4. Jon,
          I work on energy storage professionally. I go to conferences and know the market and the players. The stuff I’m working on is likely to be some of the biggest in capacity and cheapest to implement (I know they all say that).

          Despite this, I can confidently say we are monumentally far away from where we’d need to be to seriously move away from our current grid structures to a fully variable generation grid. We may be able to enhance the economic integration threshold of renewables to a higher value, but going to 100%, or even 80% will take an incredible, almost implausible jump in technology. The challenges are exponential as you go higher.

          However, what’s so wrong about a mixture? I’m all for wind and solar when they make sense from an EROI and economic sense with all externalities factored in. A hydro + wind + solar + nuclear + energy storage + backup peaking gas grid seems fine to me.

          1. Cory, have you had a look at this yet?

            I’m still trying to understand my own numbers, but I might have something in the pipeline as well.  If it’s patentable I won’t be able to talk about it until I file, of course; if I decide it’s not worth it I’ll dump it on the world.

          2. Neat stuff for sure. Our technology is very low-tech by comparison.

            I think the F35 uses some nano-tube reinforced resin systems for their composites. Prices are already trending towards 80-85M flyaway cost, so lowering nano-tube cost might help drop those even further, as I’m sure that cost isn’t small!

            There might be some capacitor breakthroughs from this, no?

            New materials are always exciting. We’ve been hearing about nano-tubes for a long time, so it will be nice to see it come to fruition. It could have significant implications to nuclear plant design too!

          3. “However, what’s so wrong about a mixture?”

            You’re asking the wrong guy, Coey, I have argued for a mixture here for a coupla years now. But thats a pretty lofty goal for a pro nuke crowd that wants to make enemies out of everyone and their cousins.

            1. @Jon Hall

              You’ve been here a long time, but you still don’t get it. When we point out weaknesses in other technologies, it is not to say that they don’t have a place, but to say that their promoters are overselling.

              I personally reserve a special place of contempt for those who claim that we should be aiming for a 100% non-nuclear, non-fossil fuel energy system supplied only by wind, water and solar. I have nothing in common with those people and see no reason to either ally with them or give them any respect.

          4. You’ve been here a long time, but you still don’t get it.

            I don’t think he can get it.  He’s either paid not to get it, or lacks the ability.

            How many times have we shown him, with calculations and references, that making “renewables” do what fossil and nuclear do is prohibitively expensive if it’s possible at all?  Too many to count, but he still thinks technology is a magic wand which can fix any problem.  He’s stuck at the mental level of a cargo-cultist, but worse because he speaks the language and presumably had an education but still doesn’t get it.

            The only thing you can do with some people is give them a boot and tell them to STFU and let the adults handle things.

          5. Perhaps if Jon read and could possibly understand the magnitude of the problem as described in this article in Forbes — http://preview.tinyurl.com/y8q7budw — he might get the Idea.
            This article was reposted on another site (that Jon would never visit due to its sceptical nature) wherein sever people have commented that the number in Forbes are at least 10 times to conservative and closer to 100 time to conservative [meaning that the magnitude of the problem described in the Forbes article, in terms of number of batteries, volume of batteries, quantity of raw materials, etc. is at least 100 times larger using todays technology.] Also not discussed in the article is the losses due to heat load and the necessary cooling systems needed to keep the battery cool while charging and discharging. Don’t know what I mean? Then place your cellphone case on a sensitive portion of your skin after a lengthy “update” or while tethering it to a laptop or other device.

          6. Cory:  It worked for me, try again.

            Rich:  I share the opinion of the commenters at that article.  It’s a fairly weak critique, no matter how much I might agree with some of the conclusions.

          7. “(That Jon would never visit due to its sceptical nature)”

            Egads, some of you people are as bad, if not worse, than that lying POS Trump. If I’m not receptive to reading scepticism or opposing viewpoints, what am I doing reading and posting here? Your comment was informative, pointed to a good article to read, but you had to throw in that obnoxious dig. This insulting crap doesn’t serve you well. What, how do you expect people to react to it? Its like two thirds of you haven’t got a lick of common sense as far as how to interact with anyone not trapped in your own tunnel of opinion.

          8. “He’s either paid not to get it, or lacks the ability.”

            Yeah, thats it, you blathering buffoon, I’m paid to post here. And Pizzagate is a credible news story. Idiot.

          9. Yeah, thats it, you blathering buffoon, I’m paid to post here.

            Don’t get your panties in a twist, I’m perfectly happy with the explanation that you’re innumerate and scientifically illiterate.  You can be that way and still be perfectly successful as a carpenter.

            And Pizzagate is a credible news story. Idiot.

            With a massive bust of almost 900 pedophiles in May (related to the Playpen darknet site), and rumors that there was a bust of about 3000 elite pedos which has been completely blacked out of the lamestream media, there’s a lot of fire to go with that smoke.

            This is likely why there are rumors of friction between DJT and Sessions.  It’s a smokescreen to keep the targets from going to ground while indictments of the really big fish are drawn up.

            If a good fraction of the Senate goes down in felony indictments, they’ll all be anti-Trumpers regardless of whether there’s a D or R before their state.  That will clean out the oppo to pro-American legislation and executive appointments.

          10. “With a massive bust of almost 900 pedophiles in May (related to the Playpen darknet site), and rumors that there was a bust of about 3000 elite pedos which has been completely blacked out of the lamestream media, there’s a lot of fire to go with that smoke.”

            Of course, no sourcing for that assertion, because it is the same caliber BS as the Pizzagate BS. Why, when yoi blather such idiocy, anyone would find anything you say credible, is beyond me. Its my belief that Dr. Shu no longer comments here because of you. One go around with you was plenty for him to flee in disgust. You are truly a detriment to the credibility, and the integrity, of this site.

          11. Brian, your link, and EPs assertion, are completely unrelated. But, you know that. Being openly disingenuous ain’t exactly a benefit to this site either. Its amazing to me that you would think it is. You just insulted the intelligence of anyone, and everyone, reading this thread.

          12. Made my day….thanks”

            Yep. No doubt. Disingenuous BS and absurd conspiracy crap really gets your kudos, doesn’t it? Another Pizzagate fan working hard to make this a credible site?

          13. Nope, just that phrase being backwards made me smile during a hectic day of splitting atoms at the power plant. I honestly don’t even know what the hell “Pizzagate” is, nor do I care. You mentioning it 5000 times is enough to convince me to stay away from learning about it.

            Thanks for your continued effort with being a complete asshole though. At this level, it must be a full time job!!

          14. In other words, you don’t even know WTF EP is talking about, or Brian. But you thought you’d just jump in anyway. So who’s the a*shole? You really should look into Pizzagate, its a story you’re bound to swallow, like the a*shats Brian and EP. And while you’re at it, ask EP about eugenics, and those gentically inferior darkies. Another school of thought I’m sure is right down your alley.

          15. The common phrase “open mouth, insert foot” being typed “open foot, insert mouth” made me smile. It’s as simple as that. You know nothing about me or what’s right down my alley. So who is the asshole now, asshole?

  10. Coincidentally, I just tuned into the Formula E race that is about to be ran on the streets of NY. A decade ago, who could have imagined these state of the art electric cars being raced in a race series of Formula 1 quality?

    Again, EP and Rod argue their points as if large scale battery storage technology is static, incapable of evolution. Recent studies in photosynthesis are opening the window to further understanding and advancement of energy storage. Meanwhile, investors are piling on board the energy storage wagon, here, and overseas. To read EP’s commentary, its as though he expects a relatively new application of battery technology to provide 100% of our needs in its fledgling stage. And if it can’t do so, its not worthy of employment. Nonsense. Advancement will come by application, as it does with all technologies. Do you have any doubts that this year’s E Formula cars are faster, better, than they were at the beginning of the series a few short years ago? Do you really expect large scale energy storage to be at the same stage ten years from now as it is at this moment? Perhaps your energy would be better spent concentrating on marketing the assets of your favored technology, rather than constantly running down your competitors? Perhaps remembering that you have shared goals would be an important aspect of a successful manner of marketing. And Rod, years of pursuing a single agenda isn’t always an asset. Thinking in a tunnel can block the sunlight of invention.

    1. O-kay, fisking time.  I think this might have to run to 5 parts, so here’s 1/n:

      investors are piling on board the energy storage wagon, here, and overseas.

      Just like everyone jumped on the wind wagon, and the auto companies jumped onto the PNGV wagon and then off it and onto the fuel-cell Freedom Car wagon.  Because subsidies.

      Because USgov killed PNGV, I had to wait another 10 years before I could get a decent plug-in hybrid.  These things have costs.  We still don’t have any way to drive a hydrogen car coast to coast.

      To read EP’s commentary, its as though he expects a relatively new application of battery technology to provide 100% of our needs in its fledgling stage. And if it can’t do so, its not worthy of employment. Nonsense. Advancement will come by application, as it does with all technologies.

      You sound a lot like an innumerate.  Maybe if I spell it out in detail.

      When batteries are heavy, expensive and low-capacity, there are relatively few things you can afford to do with them.  Standby duty for power for telephone exchanges is one of them.  You used to be able to buy surplus lead-acid batteries from the phone company, huge 2-volt units with terminals that took busbars.  I recall several living-off-grid articles which mentioned buying 6 or 12 of them.

    2. Part 2/3:

      Along the way we got decently small, stable NiCd cells; lighter, more power and longer-lived.  They quickly found homes in things like power tools.

      Then we got NiMH.  More energy in the same package, no cadmium.  Good stuff.  The first Prius models and the RAV-4 EV used NiMH.

      Then Li-ion came along.  This was a HUGE improvement which essentially made laptops feasible (as opposed to the old “luggable” computers we loved to hate).  Instead of powering your bag phone with a lead-acid gel-cell, your flip-phone ran off a lithium-ion cell (electronics shrinking in size and power demand helped a lot too).  And as they got lighter and more powerful, they let us make things like tiny electric drones.  But the big thing was cost.  Cheap enough to put into toys was a milestone.

      Picking a nice, round number of $1200/kW at the terminals, supplying 4 hours of power requires batteries to cost $300/kWh.  Tesla’s PowerPacks are currently a bit over $400/kWh, so this will come soon.  Musk says that the materials for the cells only cost $80/kWh, so there’s quite a bit of room to cut costs.

    3. Part 3/3:

      However, supplying 160 hours of power at $1200/kW requires batteries to cost $7.50/kWh.  This is less than 1/10 the cost of the materials for a Li-ion cell.  You cannot create your PV-battery utopia with lithium cells.  Not even Don Sadoway thinks his “dirt battery” will go much below $160/kWh.  If you assume fabrication is free and materials are $80/kWh, you hit the $1200/kW limit at 15 hours of storage.

      15 hours of storage would let you run an almost 100%-nuclear grid.  You would not need much else, and you’d probably be able to get by with 6-8 ($480-$640/kW).  Even at $150/kWh, the cells for a Tesla would cost only $15,000 and a 30 kWh Leaf would pay just $4500.  (Bye-bye, gasoline!  I’d like to say it was nice knowin’ ya, but I’d be lying.)  But you have to have 99.9% reliable on-demand energy to charge those batteries, or your EV is worthless.  Your PV is gone at night and severely impaired on cloudy days.  It won’t work with “renewables” because it cannot work.

      Do you get it yet?

  11. Whew….long litany, the product of a “we can’t do it” mentality. Yeah, I “get it” EP. I “get” that it will take the passage of time for you to figure out a way to naysay and malign any and every tech advancement that continues to render NE less and less attractive in the public’s mind. Do you really think this constant harangue of negativity towards renewables is advancing the interests of NE? Well, whatever. You guys are losing, yet I see no willingness to take the necessary steps thst are imperitive to your goals. If you don’t figure out a way to join the renewables in messaging of motive, you will continue to lose. Convince the public that your concerns and motives parallel those of the renewable camp, and you just might manage to refloat a sinking boat. As it is, your approach creates enemies, not friends.

    1. @Jon Hall

      Your constant lecturing and assertions that you speak for “the public” are beginning to become tiresome.

      Have you ever considered the possibility that you don’t speak for everyone and that your pronouncements, though perhaps valid in your CA bubble, might not be universally applicable?

      1. Tiresome or not, Rod, I think the current state of affairs validate my assertions. Yes, California may be a far more progressive environment, but NE is being phased out nationwide, while renewable usage is being expanded nationwide. That doesn’t occur without public sentiment being a factor.

        And I would differ with your opinion about who is looking at it from inside a bubble. I am willing to accept most of the claims made here about the essential need, and the wisdom, of expanded NE energy usage. What I have consistently differed with is the absurd messaging and adversarial approach to PR that NE advocates employ, self destructively. Yet it doesn’t seem to be working for you, at least not domestically. Yet you just keep doing it. Its not my fault the idiocy of your messaging bears repetitive mention. Its as though many of you are thinking “Well, this strategy sucks, so why change?”

        Pretty weird, if ya ask me. Butcha didn’t, so carry on.

        1. @Jon Hall

          In the U.S. Southeast, we have 4,400 MWe of new nuclear under construction and virtually no wind. I cannot lay my fingers immediately on the magnitude of solar in our region, but I’m pretty sure its not much larger than our under construction nuclear plants.

          In addition to the four plants where cranes are moving every day, there are at least five more units that have been granted their COLs and can proceed with construction at any time.

          The only nuclear plant in the region that has been “phased out” is Crystal River unit 3. That was a special circumstance where the owner broke the containment dome and could not come up with an economical way to repair it. It was also a single unit nuclear facility and only produced about 800 MWe.

        2. @Jon Hall

          I’d be more on board with your suggestion of a non-adversarial approach if I had personal experience with a non-adversarial approach from the no-nukes side. I have tried the non-adversarial approach and all I have ever gotten from the other side in return is a kick in the groin. I have attempted to find common ground but whenever ideas like a fleet of load-following BWRs to supplement a reasonable portion of renewable generation, or a combination of baseload nuclear and intermittent peaking with storage has been suggested the knee-jerk response always trends back to the nukes=bad paradigm, and no amount of seeking common ground seems to change that. So while you may chide those here who push NE as the key to energy security and decarbonization of the electricity generating sector for having tunnel vision or living in a bubble, my experience going on 40 years in the business is that it is the renewables-only gang that takes the implacable adversarial position.

    2. Reply 1/2:

      Whew….long litany, the product of a “we can’t do it” mentality.

      Just as I thought, you’re innumerate and probably a scientific illiterate.  You have not ONE fact in rebuttal.  You view technology as a magic wand which can make everything perfect if we just wave it hard enough.

      We DO have a solution to this problem.  You hate it because it is not YOUR solution.  As a matter of fact, you are trying to kill the only proven solution we have and crowing over your success.

      Yeah, I “get it” EP. I “get” that it will take the passage of time for you to figure out a way to naysay and malign any and every tech advancement

      Meanwhile, South Australia’s attempt to run on renewables with some natural gas backup has led to many episodes of load-shedding and several outright blackouts.  This is despite the interconnection with the grid in Victoria (I can find the voltage of these interconnects but not their capacity in MW).

      When the blackouts start forcing the closure of businesses and people lose their jobs, I predict that South Australia will burn coal again and the “renewable” experiment will be deemed a failure.  This cannot come too soon.

    3. Reply 2/3 (looks like 1 is stuck in moderation):

      that continues to render NE less and less attractive in the public’s mind.

      There you go:  “in the public’s mind”.  The public believes a lot of utter crap about nuclear energy; this negative public perception is 100% due to these false beliefs.  Who’s been feeding them this crap?  People like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC… and you.

      We try to straighten them out, and you tell us that nuclear power is unattractive.  We try to protect nuclear power from predatory pricing and compensate it for being a non-emitter as “renewables” are, and you reaction is all negative.  The problem has a face, and it looks a lot like you.

      If we’re serious about solving this problem, we need a laboratory.  South Australia may be just the place after its “green energy” experiment is over.  The SA grid has an average load of about 4 GW, which is much too small to accommodate a standard-sized nuclear plant and its spinning reserve.  However, it’s perfect for about 80 NuScale units.  Losing 47 MW on a 4 GW grid isn’t a serious issue.

      1. Either you can’t read, or you’re an argumentative jacka*s. I DO NOT bad rap NE, here, or elswhere. I do bad rap obnoxious opinionated clowns like yourself, no matter who their energy darling is.

    4. Reply 3/3:

      Maybe Adelaide can use some heavy industry.  An enrichment and fuel fabrication plant would be a good way to turn the uranium production from Olympic Dam into value-added products, and a company with heavy metalworking experience could set up a forge to build reactors under license from NuScale.  It could become the regional hub for 24/7 clean energy.  (Unless ThorCon beats them to the punch and establishes the center in Indonesia instead.  I’m fine with that too.)

  12. “Given current technology (and assuming 20% efficiency), we’d need to cover 506,000 square kilometers in area in solar panels to generate enough electricity to meet our global electricity demands by 2030.
    But even if we wanted to build that many solar panels, we couldn’t do it—there’s simply not enough silver in the world.
    Here are the numbers, Each standard 1.8 square meters uses 20 grams.
    There are 1 million square meters in a square kilometer: this means that we’d need 11.1 million grams, or 11.1 tons, of silver per square kilometer of solar panels.
    This means that 5,616,600 tons of silver would be required to build enough solar panels to power the world.
    That’s way more silver (7.2 times more) than we have—or that exists.
    Solar power’s a dead-end.”


    Now do some calculations for the rare earth metals in the Wind Turbines,
    Next do some calculations for the material in the existing battery technology Musk is building, or the “Super Efficient” replacements he is working on. What state will they cover with batteries?

    1. There are always new advances leading to substitutions of materials. Continued exploration finds new concentrations.

      I am usually quite unimpressed with the argument from scarcity of resources.

      1. It has been my experience over the last 50 years that the newer, faster, more powerful, stronger, lighter, etc., etc. Further, these exotic materials are usually rarer and thus more expensive and available in less friendly countries. For example look at the countries producing Lithium and the rare earth materials use in the magnets in the Wind turbines. Then look into why they are called “Rare Earth” materials.

        1. Rare earth elements are actually not rare. A mistaken name for the lathanide series elements.

    2. You don’t cite anything for your claim about silver.  Where’s it used, and why are there no substitutes?

      Aluminum (and indium oxide?) was used for the front current collectors, but I expect that graphene will be substituted soon.  Graphene is transparent, and at about 600 ppm by mass of ~1 ton of atmosphere per square foot, there’s no way we’re going to run out of carbon.

      The problem is storage.  It takes about a cubic mile of lead-acid battery to do the job for the USA, and that’s the cheapest technology we have.

      1. First two hits on Google, YSMV
        “Average silver loadings per cell have sunk from more than half-a-gram 10 years ago to barely 0.1 grams for ‘best in class’ PV products according to industry data.”


        “Using standard solar cell technologies, around 120 to 150 milligrams of silver are required, which makes up around 20 per cent of the total cost for a solar cell, according to Thomas Söderstrom, head of Technology & Process Meyer Burger, which focuses on the development of high efficient solar cells and machinery. The company is aiming to reduce that amount down to 30mg, he says. ”

        Have been following Graphene for the last few years. Hype is much like “cold Fusion” Lots of potential, lots of hope, lots of research and investment. However, I have not read of any actual commercial. Is it going to follow the history of Aluminum, Discovered in the 1820s, received much hype also, first practical use was in the early 1900s, and did not have any real use till after WWII – with aircraft.

        1. Can’t help but bring to mind the huge advances in composite materials and epoxies that have revolutionized the marine and aircraft industries. Human innovation and invention is never static, no matter how firmly tunnel visioned or closed minds consider it so.

          1. Again, where are all of these commercial applications for something scientists have been playing with for over 50 years?
            Yes there are a few mentioned on Wikipedia, but none that have revolutionized the world.

          2. Are you kidding Rich? Composite materials are replacing metals in automotive, marine, and aeronautics, in a myriad of applications. To state that they are not being applied commercially is absurd.

          3. And again where is this wonder material Graphene used? According to the hype published by the proponents it can replace steel in buildings, copper even silver in conductors, make solar panels, LEDs, Lasers, smart windows, etc. Many of the articles I have read look more like a sales brochure than an analysis of it’s actual use.

          4. I have no idea about graphene, Rich. Nor did I offer an opinion about it. But to point to one material, and use it to make sweeping generalizations about the many modern innovative materials being utilized widely, in many industries, is kinda foolish, don’t you think? Edsels and Titanics are a fact of life, as are i-phones, GPS, and Lasik eye treatments.

        2. You failed to read the comment I made that you chided me on. I was responding to EPs comment implying how Graphene is going to solve the shortage of materials needed to achieve 100% renewables. Yes, eventually, graphene may be as common as aluminium, but I don’t think that will be before the end of this century and definitely not in time to make the USA 20% renewable before 2030.
          Read EPs and my comments again. You might get it.

          1. “You failed to read the comment I made”

            Jon is clearly not bothering to read the messages to which he is responding at this point. He has failed to actually address a single salient point in this discussion. At this point he is responding in the pattern of a paid troll.

            I do not remember Jon behaving this way in the past. I suggest the possibility that the actual Jon Hall’s account has been hijacked by one of our perennial hecklers.

          2. Of course I’m POA. Did it take a stroke of genius for you to figure that out? And yes, of course anyone that strongly disagrees with your marketing strategies, or your demonization of renewables, must be a troll, right?

            Which one of you think that this administration is going to buck the API’s efforts to bury NE by protesting and fighting the governmental subsidation of NE? Think Tillerson will wage battle against API? What about Perry? I mean hey, its not like API is a strong force in Texas, right? Its a clown show,this administration, and the biggest clowns of all are those supporting it. Idiots.

          3. “You failed to read the comment I made that you chided me on.”

            Oh horsesht. You directly replied to my comment. Don’t blame me if I misunderstand your mistake. Next time, reply to the person that you intend to reply to.

  13. Why is Jon Hall still posting on this website? He is a troll who vomits on great threads and discussions. He is abrasive, an asshole, unable to grasp simple concepts and facts while being a total distraction to this wonderful, insightful website.

    I say can his POA ass.

  14. Doing weekly searches on battery innovation is a great convincer to bring the storage naysayers to heel. Innovation, discovery, and groundbreaking advances are occurring at a high rate of speed. When I apprenticed in custom furniture, we drove screws with yankee twist push screwdrivers. Later, as a young man striking out on his own, Makita was a saviour, with its 9.6 battery powered tool line. Since that time, in the seventies, the batteries have gotten smaller, far more powerful, charge faster, power a wider range of tools. From the heavy screwdrivers of the seventies, we have come to the point, just in my trade, where I can power a field table saw with batteries. Drive finish nails with battery powered nail guns. And not a week goes by when the tools of my trade don’t get lighter, more powerful, longer lasting…


    1. not a week goes by when the tools of my trade don’t get lighter, more powerful, longer lasting…

      That’s nice, POA.  Now, at that rate of improvement, how long will it be before you can run 10,000 horsepower industrial pumps on such batteries?  How much will 24 hours of backup for the country cost, in terms of annual GDP?

      You realize that unless you can quantify these things and get acceptable answers, you have nothing?


      Sodium-ion.  Great idea.  It would completely obviate the lithium scarcity issue… if you can find a workable chemistry with adequate rate performance, cycle life and self-discharge is ever invented that can be built in high volume at low cost.  (Do you remember the rapid rise and fall of EEStor, or Sadoway’s “any day now” talk for the last ten years?  Don’t believe everything you read.)

      In case you weren’t counting, that’s FOUR hurdles which must be leapt, and failing any ONE of them either puts the technology into niche applications or makes it totally useless.  Apparently the sodium-nickel-chloride (Zebra) battery has failed in most commercial niches because it must run hot.  Frankly, I think we’re likely to see molten-salt carbon batteries eclipse Sadoway and render his stuff moot.

      1. The people that improve our lives with technologies see challenges and open road.

        People like EP see pitfalls and dead ends.

        1. The people that improve our lives with technologies see challenges and open road.

          If you saw open road in front of the Zebra battery and bet your vehicle company on it, your company would have failed.  Grid-storage companies aren’t using Zebra batteries either.

          People like EP see pitfalls and dead ends.

          Seeing pitfalls and dead ends allows you to maneuver around them.  People like POA, who think magically and don’t understand that technologies have limitations which are ultimately backstopped by the laws of physics, are too dumb to get it.

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