Wednesday assorted links


4. From the linked article: "Battery storage is entering a dynamic and uncertain period. There will be big winners and losers, and the sources of value will constantly evolve depending on four factors: how quickly storage costs fall; how utilities adapt by improving services, incorporating new distributed energy alternatives, and reducing grid-system cost; how nimble third parties are; and whether regulators can strike the right balance between encouraging a healthy market for storage (and solar) and ensuring sustainable economics for the utilities." That last factor presents a classic conundrum: utilities may wish to participate in the market for energy storage (a new revenue source), but only enough to discourage customers from actually storing much energy. That seems about the "right balance". Is it accurate to say that energy storage today isn't much more advanced than when the cave men (and women) first discovered fire?

Yep. If scale matters, and it almost certainly does, than the utilities are going to utilize it first. You'll still get the high-tech equivalents of preppers who think it's cool to have their own power at home, and that market will be real, but it won't be common.

The deflationary pressure of advancing technology makes it way more complex than that. Sure, utilities have economy of scale, but consumers can just wait, and the price of these batteries will be less. So a utility could move forward with a utility scale battery at a certain price point, one that would discourage consumers from buying their own at home battery, and 6 months (or whatever timeframe) the consumer battery is a fraction of the price, making it attractive again and screwing up the financial case for the utility scale battery.

Batteries are large, not every consumer has available space at home. Also batteries are potentially toxic to install them next to the fridge. Batteries are flammable, is it a good idea to install them in an apartment or office building? Retrofitting while complying with safety guidelines can be a challenge.

Utilities don't have any of these problems.

Batteries don't work to store power on a large scale. Perhaps using water might work (pumping it up then letting it flow back down) but that's capital intensive.

As for now, I think the status quo for electrical power of natural gas replacing coal, and renewables being constant, remains in place.

Hot stock tip: buy Royal Dutch Petroleum, undervalued. 9 out of 10 of my stocks is up for the year (Macy's is a bit down, but it's a buy). Coincidence?

"... battery-pack costs are down to less than $230 per kilowatt-hour in 2016".

Wow! That cheap! So for a mere 100 billion or so you could store enough power to supply a 1000 homes. What is wrong with this picture.

And somehow I suspect that the new super low price of a mere @230 per killowatt-hour includes $730 of federal state and local subsidies.

What "green" power is all about is mining subsidies. It is sustainable, it isn't affordable and it isn't practical. However with enough tax payer money it can be very profitable for a few rich scammers.

Frankly my dear I don't give a damn. Non-Green power is subsidized since externalities (yes, CO2 is an externality) are not taxed. The USA really should tax Chinese imports for their greenhouse gas footprint.

CO2 is making our food plants produce more and if you believe the warmies it is making the environment more moderate (warm). If anything CO2 should be subsidized not taxed.

Is it just me or is that battery article a bunch magical thinking all based on a rather reasonable decline in relatively new Li Ion battery technology? I mean, some of the topics are rather muddled. I looks like they even reversed the energy cost graphs for the "grid defection scenarios." The rightmost graph makes the case for full grid defection and the left graph for partial defection, not the other way around.

No way to know. The trend is our friend, but trends stall. It will be interesting to see how the various state level experiments work out.

I agree. After all, the advantage of Li-ion is low weight. Weight is at a premium in consumer batteries, as is charge density. But for a utility, weight is almost irrelevant, and so is charge density. What is important is cost, and Li-ion are still much more expensive than even lead acid batteries.

I agree with The Engineer. WHat is needed for the next gen battery, which still has not been solved, is a new way of preventing batteries from shorting themselves out internally as the energy density they store increases, always a problem.

These guys work with a different storage technology and seems to be working

I was going to mention that Aquion Energy has a sodium ion battery which they claim costs the same per unit of storage as lead-acid, contains no hazardous materials, and has much longer cycle life than lead-acid. But they went into bankruptcy in March. I can't even remember the names of all the battery start-ups I've seen go into bankruptcy or mergers with massive losses to shareholders.

Wow, nice one. Look at Aquion Energy's C.V., from Wikipedia, if anybody should have succeeded it should have been these guys:

The company raised funding from Kleiner Perkins, Foundation Capital, Bill Gates, Nick and Jobey Pritzker, Bright Capital and Advanced Technology Ventures, among others.[5]

In 2011, an individual battery stack was promoted to store 1.5 kWh, a pallet-sized unit 180 kWh.[6] The battery cannot overheat.[7] The company expected its products to last many charge/discharge cycles,[8] twice as long as a lead-acid battery. Costs were claimed to be about the same as with lead-acid.[9][10]

In October 2014 they announced a new generation with a single stack reaching 2.4 kWh and a multi-stack module holding 25.5 kWh.[11][12]

In 2015, the company announced it would supply batteries for a Hawaii microgrid to serve as backup for a 176-kilowatt solar panel array that would store 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.[13] In April 2015 they announced they have been cradle-to-cradle design certified.[14][15] It was also reported they were reducing headcount.[16]

In September 2015, Whitacre won the Lemelson–MIT Prize.[17]

In March 2017, Aquion Energy filed for voluntary bankruptcy under Chapter 11. [18]

It isn't just you.

There are so many state level initiatives, some storage, some not:

FilmStruck, the streaming service from Criterion/TCM, is a great source for the early Kurosawa films. 8 films before Rashomon. Besides "One Wonderful Sunday", I also liked "Stray Dog" (1949) a lot.

I'd make a case for Stray Dog being Kurosawa's best movie.

#5 - He's hard at work on a novel about a young real estate developer in NY City who bonds with some underworld friends to buy up property along Fifth Avenue.

I snorted out loud at work

Computer centers already contain batteries sufficient to run without outside power for some time - the UPS - and of course have paid for the inverters, switchgear, and control logic required for this. It occurs to me that in a scheme with a time-variable electricity price they could draw down their batteries a little towards the end of the high tariff time and recharge a little when the low tariff started. This reduces the safety margin a little against power failures that occur while the batteries are below peak level, but as compensation it tests the ability to provide power regularly. You could look at this as a way to trade high tariff electricity for low for the cost of the battery capacity consumed alone, since the other electrical equipment required to store and supply power is already paid for.

rayward - this example shows that not all customers will face the same cost to store energy, and it is even possible that some will face effective costs as low as an existing electricity utility.

You are also consuming cycle life, so the value reaped from arbitraging electricity in time would have to be weighed against the cost of replacing batteries more frequently.

A similar scheme has been proposed with electric cars, called vehicle to grid or V2G. The electricity might come from batteries or hydrogen fuel cells in the vehicle. If it provided headroom for dealing with surges in demand, the utilities could cut back on the reserves they otherwise would have to maintain on hot standby (the spinning reserve), which would make the grid more efficient.

"You are also consuming cycle life, so the value reaped from arbitraging electricity in time would have to be weighed against the cost of replacing batteries more frequently."

In every case I've seen, the wear on the battery outweighed the marginal savings on electricity costs.

"Computer centers already contain batteries sufficient to run without outside power for some time – the UPS – and of course have paid for the inverters, switchgear, and control logic required for this. "

Server room UPS's don't store that much energy and they don't last that long. For the most part, they are designed to keep the servers running long enough to bring the back up generators on line.

#3 "Shere Khan doesn't want to be fed, he wants to hunt"

This particular incident brings up an interesting question. Why don't zoos do more live feedings like this outside of the herpetarium/bird exhibits? Although zoos are controlled environments, the current thinking is to replicate the animals' habitats in the most realistic way possible. If some of the safety/animal health concerns could be resolved without much trouble, I see no reason that family's shouldn't be exposed to the leopard's in the exhibit pouncing on and eating a baby impala. It may in fact be more educational.

I see no moral difference between feeding the leopard with raw meat versus feeding the leopard live stock so long as the stock is also not under the stewardship of the zoo (i.e. feeding the leopard with other zoo animals).

Excellent points made by EverExtruder. You will note from the video of the incident, found here (for now, I think YouTube might take it down): that the tigers hardly even know how to hunt live animals anymore, struggling to kill the donkey, as they are so used to eating prepared meat. I thought at the end the donkey might even kick the tiger in the mouth and break it's jaw (a death sentence in the wild). Sad!

#1 apparently the ability to suffer platitudinous banalities doesn't hurt either

1. Learn a trade.

5. Qatar delenda est.

1. Actually the incums of economists follow a well-known bimodel distribution.

#1: bugger off and earn an honest living.

1. Best advice from a mentor: Always be curious.

3. Zoos are archaic, underfunded zoos are a barbaric form of torture.

4. I would love off-grid power solutions to complement my 10,000 gallon cistern and vegetable garden. Grid defection or diversification is a worthy goal. Imagine community power generation/storage based on whatever power source is most abundant in your area. The super battery is the fulcrum towards this green revolution.

5. Bullies suck, especially when they feel out of control. The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Tyler - more on 'complacency' in Australia - 26 years of hardly interrupted economic growth

1. At leastRoth and Shiller seem cheerful.

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