Grid-Scale Storage of Renewable Energy: The
According to a study conducted by "Energy Matters," a group started by
Euan Means, entitled Grid-Scale Storage of Renewable Energy: The
Impossible Dream, available online at
providing firm power from wind and solar for a year in conditions with
variability for the year 2016 in England and Scotland, would require
about 390 watt-hours of storage per average watt of installed
capacity, or about 70 watt-hours per peak watt. Total energy
consumption in Britain, in electricity equivalents, for 2015, was
1610.75 TWe-hours. Solar and wind provided about 40 TWe-hours
electricity (and nothing for transport or any of the non-electric uses
for industry, commerce, domestic...). The rest was provided by coal,
oil, gas, nuclear, hydro, which have capacity factors of about 90%. So
total average electricity-equivalent capacity was 1755 GWe. Using
Means's factor of 390, 680,518 GWe-hours of storage would be necessary
to provide 1755 GWe firm power in an all-electric energy system, with
2016 variablilty, in England and Scotland.
The Big South Australian Battery has a capacity of 0.129 GWe-hr. So
5,275,334 of them could have assured an all-electric British energy
system with firm power if the yearly variation were as in 2016. At an
estimated cost of $50 million for the BSAB, the cost would be "only"
$263,766 BILLION! And lithium batteries only last five years or so. So
the cost would be about $52,753 BILLION, PER YEAR for storage alone!
British GDP for 2016 was $2,619 billion. So Britain would need "only"
19.69 times their 2016 GDP, per year, for batteries alone.
I made a rough calculation and concluded that an all-electric US energy
economy, using heat pumps instead of resistance for space heating and
some medium temperature industrial processes (food, plastics), direct
reactor-core heat for industrial processes up to 1000 degrees
Fahrenheit, electricity for higher-temperature processes (steel), and
making liquid hydrocarbon fuels for ships, airplanes, heavy
construction, and farming, would require average capacity of 1,700 GWe.
So an eventual American economy that succeeded in making that transition
would have about the same requirements, and would need five million or
so of those big batteries -- maybe somewhat fewer because of our
different climate conditions. US 2016 GDP was $18,570 billion. We
would be spending about 2.8 times total 2016 GDP for batteries alone.
How much storage will be needed when we have another eruption like
Tambor, which gave us 1816, the "year without a summer?"
Over-reliance on wind and solar is starting to look not only
prohibitively expensive, but positively dangerous!