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Holy Battery Powered Australia: Chris Bowen thinks we can store electricity “like water in a dam”

Someone needs to tell the Australian Energy Minister the bad news about batteries

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen says we just need more renewables and more storage:

Bowen says we can store water, we should be able to store power

“You can say the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Well, the rain doesn’t always fall either but we managed to store the water,” Bowen said.

Is this Chris Bowen’s Zuma-numbers moment with electricity?

He doesn’t seem to realize that electrons won’t politely sit in a shoe box waiting for the day they run your toaster. When South Australia got the worlds biggest battery in 2017 everyone got excited but few realized it would only power the state for two whole minutes before it ran out. South Australia is just 6% of the total National Energy Market, but if we were trying to make it truly 100% renewable with a reasonable battery backup Paul Miskelly and Tom Quirk calculated we’d need 7.5 million tonnes of lead acid batteries and a spare $60 to $90 billion dollars.

In a recent “record winning moment” in solar and battery powered excitement one of the smallest and sunniest towns in Australia made headlines when it managed to run off 100% solar and battery power for a whole 80 minutes. Onslow is a metropolis of 847 people. As I said at the time, we’re only 520,000 minutes short of a year.

Last year one new Tesla Megabattery in Victoria caught fire soon after it started operating. Since it took 76 hours to stop the fire we can honestly say it burned for three times longer than it provided electricity.

That’s how ready we are to power a nation of 26 million people on solar and wind and big batteries

Storage can be more than batteries, but we’re already spending $10 billion plus on Snowy Hydro 2.0 — the giant renewables-storage scheme that will waste 20-30% of the renewable energy fed into it so we can make a non-despatchable generator into a partly-despatchable one.

Hydrogen is hardly the answer. As David Archibald says it’s is such a reactive gas that there is no source of it in nature. The only naturally occurring hydrogen is the flammable part of farts. Otherwise, the cheapest way of making hydrogen is a water shift reaction with natural gas. But about 60% of the energy contained by the natural gas is wasted in the process — if you just wanted a source of energy, obviously, you’d use the natural gas.

As a fuel, hydrogen has some big shortcomings. It’s has low energy density, so a big, high-pressure tank of the stuff doesn’t take you far. It has an explosive range in air of 18% to 60%. It causes embrittlement of steel. There is a plot at the moment to add hydrogen to the natural gas distribution system — which then might start leaking like a sieve. It has a colourless flame, so leaks that have caught fire can’t be seen. In the days before infrared cameras, workers at a rocket fuel factory in Texas used to detect hydrogen leaks by walking with a straw broom in front of them. When the broom caught fire they had found the leak.

— DAvid Archibald

There’s more information on why Hydrogen is not the answer either here, thanks To Rafe Champion.

Like a third world nation we’re rationing electricity in winter:

Watch the fiery moment Energy Minister loses it at a journalist for suggesting more coal was the answer to the energy crisis

Last night hospitals were ordered to reduce electricity use and millions of people urged not to use basic appliances.

The potential for mass blackouts has increased with about 1800MW of coal-fired power not operating in Queensland and 1200MW of capacity offline in the states of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

The Tomago aluminium smelter in NSW, the country’s biggest electricity user, was also forced to cut production to reduce the chance of a blackout.

h/t Old Ozzie

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