July 13, 2017

Did Someone Say "Government Boondoggle?"

Not our government this time, but that of South Australia (which should be thought of as "like Canada" because down under it gets colder as you go south, not warmer, and because they have a higher than average propensity for telling people what to do, and going along with what they're told.)

Elon Musk's Tesla has contracted to provide the "world's largest battery storage facility" for connection to South Australia's electrical grid. The 100 Megawatt, 129 Megawatt-hour array of thermally-managed rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs "will be able to power around 30,000 homes at max capacity, which Tesla says is equivalent to how many were without power during a storm that caused a state-wide blackout in South Australia in 2016. The real goal, however, is to help stabilize the South Australian electric power grid, by controlling power delivery according to peak demand."

Nevermind that the storm lasted for days, and the battery can power all of those homes for just a little more than an hour, the real necessity is grid stabilization. Not because loads fluctuate any more than they ever have, but because generation by wind is inherently variable and unreliable. And if wind speeds are either too low, or too high, for more than that hour-plus, the same problem would occur.

But why is SA in this situation?

South Australia needs this project because of decisions by its political leaders:

Over the last three years, South Australia has decided to shut down its coal-fired power stations and instead rely on wind, solar and gas.

I won't debate the merits of such policy here except to wonder whether building additional gas-fired electrical generation would be a far less costly and more reliable solution than relying on wind and batteries.

Fear not - they're doing that too:

The system will not solve South Australia's grid woes by itself.

The response plan also includes a new government funded, A$360 million, 250 MWe fast reacting gas turbine power plant, a bulk electricity purchase contract designed to encourage construction of a new privately owned power plant, a taxpayer financed exploration fund for additional natural gas supplies, special powers granted to the SA energy minister to order plants to operate, and a requirement for electricity retailers to purchase a fixed portion of their power from SA generators.


Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe Magical Unicorn Farts Oil and Energy We're from the government, and here to help. Posted by JohnGalt at July 13, 2017 2:49 PM
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