Blowout Week 70

This week we feature Tesla and its new energy storage battery. Is it a game changer, or just another battery?

WSJ: Will Tesla’s newest battery pan out?

Tesla announced Thursday that it is repackaging the lithium ion batteries it now uses in its electric cars to sell them as electricity-storage devices for homes, businesses and utilities. The battery packs are meant to absorb electricity when it is cheap and plentiful—during a sunny afternoon for a house with rooftop solar panels, for example—and release the power when electricity is expensive or scarce. So far the market for electricity storage remains small, though growing quickly; last year about $128 million worth of such batteries were installed around the country, mostly at utilities, according to GTM Research, which tracks the renewable energy industry. Just 1% of the capacity was installed at homes. Tesla plans to change all that. At an event to formally announce the battery products, Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, said it is “trying to change the fundamental energy infrastructure of the world.”

The Ecologist: Tesla’s battery just killed fossil and nuclear power

Tesla Energy’s new mains power battery has just transformed the energy market – giving a huge boost to small scale renewable energy and killing off both fossil fuelled and nuclear power in the process. The announcement of its two domestic-scale lithium batteries, rated at 7kWh and 10kWh of energy storage was widely trailed. But what no one expected was the price – which came in at a half to a quarter of market expectations: “Tesla’s selling price to installers is $3,500 for 10kWh and $3,000 for 7kWh. (Price excludes inverter and installation.) And according to energy analyst Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education, that equates to a life-cycle cost of about $0,02 per kWh stored and released, or a little over 1p in UK money. And that is transformational. With grid power prices typically 14p / kWh in the UK, or $0.12 in the US, it’s just a fraction of the cost of buying power in – for the first making it economic for small scale generators to ‘save and re-use’ their power surpluses.

More below the fold, including a predicted oil price rebound, OPEC’s civil war in Yemen, Luxembourg and Austria to file suit against Hinkley, the EOn/Uniper spinoff, German miners march, the Church of England puts coal in the sin bin, a solar powered aircraft that flies when the wind isn’t blowing, Richard Muller on the need for temperature adjustments and how climate change triggered the Nepal earthquake.

Oil Price:  Key Signals That Oil Prices Are On The Up

PIRA Energy Group, an energy research firm, is convinced that the oil markets have turned a corner. “PIRA believes that vast majority of the bearish news is already out and that the price lows for global crude oil markers are in,” the company wrote in its weekly energy recap. PIRA predicts that the oil stock build will peak in May and then start to decline somewhere between June and August. U.S. oil production is already showing signs of decline, demand is picking up, and even a flood of Saudi oil has been swallowed by markets. Oil prices have risen by nearly 30 percent since March, and have appeared to stabilize for the time being (WTI in the mid-$50s and Brent in the mid-$60s). “The magic of price is working to tighten oil markets and higher oil prices are in the offing,” PIRA concluded.

Economic Times India:  US shale firms revive hedging as oil rebounds,

US oil producers are rushing to take advantage of the rebound in oil markets by locking in prices for next year and beyond, safeguarding future supplies and possibly paving the way for a rebound in production. The flurry of hedging activity in the past month will help sustain producers’ revenues even if oil markets tumble again, which is bad news for OPEC nations, such as Saudi Arabia, that are counting on low prices to stunt the rapid rise of US shale and other competitors. Oil drillers are racing to buy protection for 2016 and 2017 in the form of three-way collars and other options, according to four market sources familiar with the money flows. In some cases, that means guaranteeing a price of no less than $45 a barrel while capping potential revenues at $70. US crude futures traded just below $60 a barrel on Thursday.

PressTV:  OPEC, Russia becoming unlikely allies

Russia will meet with OPEC on June 2-3 to discuss production adjustments in order to arrest falling oil prices, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in Moscow. The meeting will be held before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries gathers in Vienna on June 5 to discuss the global market. According to Russian officials, the country is on course to lose $180 billion this year from slump in oil prices. Russia is the world’s biggest energy exporter but its tribulations have been compounded by Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict. Excess oil in the market coupled with the global economy slowdown has sent crude prices crashing into almost half their level of 10 months ago. “Oil price has fallen from $100 to about $50 per barrel. This would result in a decrease in Russian export revenues of $180 billion a year,” Maxim Oreshkin, an official at the Russian finance ministry, has said.

Energy and Capital:  OPEC Civil War Erupts in Yemen

Make no mistake about it: What we’re witnessing in Yemen today is nothing more than a proxy war between two of OPEC’s biggest members. The Saudis are accusing Iran of arming and training the Houthis, while Iran fires right back, arguing that the Saudi air strikes are a much more egregious case of intervention. The Ayatollah went so far as to even suggest the Saudi-led air strikes were on par with a major crime, even genocide. But is this more than another round of Sunni vs. Shia? Even though Yemen isn’t counted among the world’s largest oil-producing countries, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor is much more important for global supply stability than you might first think.

WSJ:  The US surrender on nuclear power

The ghosts of Lenin and Mao might well be smirking. Communist and authoritarian nations are moving to take global leadership in, and profit from, the commercial use of nuclear power, a technology made possible by the market-driven economies of the West. New research and development could enable abundant, affordable, low-carbon energy as well as further beneficial products for industry and medicine. Yet outdated and burdensome regulations and restrictions have stifled nuclear innovation in the U.S. and other Western nations, and are pushing these opportunities to China and Russia. China is joining Russia to build five new reactors in Iran—regardless of what becomes of the current negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program. Beijing and Moscow are also marketing nuclear technology and infrastructure to other Mideast and Asian nations. China and Russia have a clear commercial and strategic purpose in advancing nuclear technology abroad, technology that the West seems loath to exploit. If the world is serious about shifting to low-carbon energy, nuclear energy is the most direct path. Nuclear power is the densest (in watts per square meter of land) and safest (in deaths per joule) form of energy known to man. Yet the expansion of nuclear power and other commercial applications of nuclear reactions have stalled in the West since the 1980s.

Energy Live News:  Turkey constructs its first nuclear plant.

The Russian-designed Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in Mersin on the Mediterranean coast is the first of three nuclear plants the country plans to build. Turkey hopes the $22 billion (£14.3bn) project will boost its economy and reduce its dependence on fossil fuel imports. Construction on the first 1,200MW reactor has begun. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız was reported as saying: “[Economic] development cannot take place in a country without nuclear energy. If the Akkuyu plant had been built a decade ago, Turkey would have saved $14 billion (£9bn) in natural gas purchases and nuclear power would today cover 28% of the country’s electricity demand.” The project is expected to create around 10,000 jobs and be completed by the end of the decade.

Luxemberger Wort:  Luxembourg and Austria plan legal action against Hinkley Point

Luxembourg and Austria are planning legal action against European Commission subsidies for the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK. As of April 29, Luxembourg and Austria have two months to file a complaint and present it in front of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Financing an “unprofitable and unsafe energy source” with public funds is not the purpose of a consistent energy policy, said Luxembourg Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg in parliament. Additionally, Greenpeace has also expressed its objection to the EC’s decision, arguing that it is not compatible with EU regulations concerning state aid.

World Nuclear News:  EOn to spin off nuclear assets to Uniper

The German Energiewende has forced the early shutdown of some nuclear units, curtailed the operating lives of others, and put commercial pressure on fossil generation by preferentially subsidising renewable sources. Formerly one of Europe’s strongest utilites, EOn has responded by splitting in two: a renewable and customer-focused company will continue with the name EOn, while a much larger company called Uniper will continue with coal, oil, gas and nuclear generation and engineering as well as energy trading. In the face of renewable subsidies, EOn and other German utilities have struggled to profit from operating even brand-new fossil power plants. The German Association of Wind and Water said that the economic viability of more than half of Germany’s planned power plants was called into question by government policies. Last weekend saw big demonstrations on both sides of the debate – a human chain to ‘end coal’ and a march by fossil fuel workers calling for a ‘just energy transition’.

Mining:  German workers march against coal-plant levy

A proposed levy on Germany’s oldest, most polluting coal-fired power plants has caused opponents to take to the streets. Reuters reported on Saturday that thousands of coal miners and workers in coal-fired plants marched in Berlin. The government wants to impose penalties on the plants in order to cut coal-sector emissions by a further 22 million tonnes by 2020. But opponents say it puts 100,000 jobs at risk and will damage the coal industry. In Berlin, a crowd estimated by police at 13,500 marched from the economy ministry to the chancellery holding placards that read, “Hands off our brown coal”, and “We oppose the social blackout in our region”.Meanwhile, 6,000 environmental campaigners formed a human chain over 7 kilometers long at an open cast mine owned by RWE in Garzweiler, western Germany to protest against environmental damage caused by brown coal. reported last fall that Germany is likely to miss its 2022 climate targets and greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, as the country’s use of coal continues to increase.

Financial Times:  Church of England blacklists coal and tar sands investments

The Church announced on Thursday that it would sell £12m of its holdings in thermal coal and tar sands companies, two of the most polluting fossil fuels. “Climate change is the most pressing moral issue in our world,” said the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nick Holtam, lead bishop on the environment. The move comes nearly three years after the appointment of Justin Welby, a former senior executive at the now defunct Enterprise Oil company, as Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church, which has an investment portfolio worth more than £9bn, will no longer put its money into any company that gets more than 10 per cent of its revenues from extracting coal burnt for energy or oil from tar sands.

BusinessGreen:  UK smashes low-carbon power record in 2014

Low-carbon electricity supplied a record 38.3 per cent of power in 2014, despite a number of nuclear power outages in the second half of the year, new government figures have suggested today. Provisional data released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) revealed major growth in renewable energy generation from wind, solar, biomass and hydro helped make up for a shortfall in coal and nuclear generation. Coal accounted for less than one third of the UK’s power supply for the first time, after a number of plants came offline or switched to biomass. Nuclear generation fell by 9.7 per cent, due to a number of plant outages in the second half of the year. Overall power supply dropped last year, helping the share of low-carbon power to increase from 34.6 per cent in 2013 to 38.3 per cent last year. Gas’ share of the power mix similarly rose from 26.6 per cent to 30.2 per cent over the same period. Total generation during the year fell 6.7 per cent as demand fell, further fuelling hopes that energy efficiency measures are continuing to reduce the energy intensity of the economy.

Solar Power Portal:  UKIP dismisses solar and pledges to abolish DECC

The UK Independence Party has outlined plans to withdraw all subsidies for solar PV in its election manifesto, deeming the technology too expensive. The party’s manifesto includes an energy plan for the UK which it claims would offer increased energy security, focusing on coal, nuclear and gas as the primary sources of electricity. UKIP said it “supports and will invest in renewables”, but only when they can deliver electricity at competitive prices and considers hydro to be the “only major technology that meets this test”. The party said it would withdraw all subsidies for both solar PV and wind, stating wind power in particular to be “hopelessly inefficient” and dropping subsidies would “ensure a level playing field for coal”. UKIP also said it would repeal the Climate Change Act claiming it to have done “untold damage” to cost competitiveness, estimating its cost to the UK to be £720 billion between 2010 and 2050. UKIP also saved ire for the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which it has pledged to abolish on the basis that its duties could be carried out by other existing governmental departments.

Solar Power Portal:  Conservatives omit solar from 2015 manifesto

The Conservative Party has omitted solar from its 2015 election manifesto and pledged to stop support for other renewable energies, prompting criticism from industry and environmental groups. Conservative leader David Cameron launched his party’s manifesto today and outlined its energy strategy for the next parliamentary term. However, unlike Labour and the Green Party, the Conservatives have not expressed commitments to solar or renewable energies in general, instead outlining support of fracking and nuclear power. The party also detailed plans to axe public funding of onshore wind farms and tighten planning controls, claiming them to be “unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires” and lack public support. The manifesto does include pledges to provide start-up funding for promising renewable technologies and research, but qualifies this by stating that significant support will only be granted to technologies that “clearly represent value for money”.

WSJ:  California Gov. Brown Orders Major Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

California will develop North America’s most stringent greenhouse gas–reduction standards over the next 15 years under an executive order signed on Wednesday by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. Mr. Brown ordered that, by 2030, greenhouse-gas emissions be 40% below 1990 levels. The targets align the nation’s largest state with standards set by the European Union last October and come ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year. The new order comes as Mr. Brown has aimed to make climate change a signature issue of his administration, while also dealing with an extreme drought.

Daily Mail:  Winds hamper solar flight

Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are having to wait to continue their groundbreaking flight. They are attempting to fly around the world powered only by the sun with their Solar Impulse 2 plane. However the plane has been grounded in China’s southwestern city of Chongqing for two and a half weeks. The plane needs optimal conditions and cannot fly if wind speeds are above four knots (4.4mph or 7km/h)

Vencore:  Weakest solar cycle in more than a century

The sun is almost completely blank. The main driver of all weather and climate, the entity which occupies 99.86% of all of the mass in our solar system, the great ball of fire in the sky has gone quiet again during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. Not since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906 has there been a solar cycle with fewer sunspots. We are currently more than six years into Solar Cycle 24 and the current nearly blank sun may signal the end of the solar maximum phase. Solar cycle 24 began after an unusually deep solar minimum that lasted from 2007 to 2009 which included more spotless days on the sun compared to any minimum in almost a century.

Carbon Brief:  Muller: Not adjusting global temperature records would be “poor science”

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), Lord Lawson’s UK-based climate skeptic lobby group, has announced it is launching an inquiry into the integrity of global surface temperature records. Of particular interest, the group says, is whether “adjustments” to the raw data to account for gaps and inconsistencies have increased the warming trend over the industrial period. Carbon Brief has spoken to Prof Richard Muller, physicist and self-professed skeptical scientist, who carried out a very similar inquiry a few years ago as part of the Berkeley Earth surface temperature ( BEST) project, based in California. Muller tells Carbon Brief:”From a scientific point of view, it would be irresponsible not to adjust … it would be considered poor science to avoid such corrections … [and] they do not affect the substantial results.”

Carbon Brief:  Human activity responsible for three out of four heat extremes, study finds

A new study says 75% of extreme hot days and 18% of days with heavy rainfall worldwide can be explained by the warming we’ve seen over the industrial period. In a future world with 2C warming above pre-industrial levels, almost all extreme hot days and 40% of heavy rainfall days will be down to rising temperatures, say the authors. The new study, published today in Nature Climate Change, is the first to estimate how climate change has favoured some types of extreme event right across the globe. And the message for policymakers is “striking”, says Prof Peter Stott, who leads the Met Office’s climate attribution team but who wasn’t involved in the study.

Newsweek:  More Fatal Earthquakes to Come, Geologists Warn

The untold – and terrifying – story behind the earthquake that devastated Nepal last Saturday morning begins with something that sounds quite benign. It’s the ebb and flow of rainwater in the great river deltas of India and Bangladesh, and the pressure that puts on the grinding plates that make up the surface of the planet. Recently discovered, that causal factor is seen by a growing body of scientists as further proof that climate change can affect the underlying structure of the Earth. Because of this understanding, a series of life-threatening “extreme geological events” – earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis – is predicted by a group of eminent geologists and geophysicists including University College London’s Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards. “Climate change may play a critical role in triggering certain faults in certain places where they could kill a hell of a lot of people,” says Professor McGuire. Some of his colleagues suspect the process may already have started.

Harvard Politics:  For Young Voters, Climate Change Takes a Back Seat

Some seem to think we are living in a world where climate change is widely acknowledged as an irrefutable fact. New data from the Harvard Public Opinion Project tell a very different story. Only 55 percent of survey participants agreed with the statement, “Global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities such as power plants.” Twenty percent held the belief that “Global warming is a proven fact, and is mostly caused by natural changes that have nothing to do with emissions from cars,” and the remaining 23 percent who answered the question believe that “Global warming is a theory that has not been proven yet.” Even more surprising, these numbers are the same across the board for participants between 18 and 29 years old, with 51-56 percent agreeing that global warming is a fact and is caused by fuel emissions across age groups. In fact, the age group that least agreed with the first statement was that of 18 to 20-year-olds. Consequently, young Americans are often unsupportive of government measures to prevent climate change that might harm the economy. Less than a third of those surveyed agreed with the statement, “Government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth,” and only 12 percent strongly agreed with it.

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50 Responses to Blowout Week 70

  1. As an alternative to Telsa’s DIY energy storage, instead build new massive pumped-storage hydro-schemes to provide grid energy storage to back-up and to balance the intermittent power supplied by renewable energy generators such as solar and wind.

    I have one such plan for a pumped-storage hydro-scheme which could serve the grid energy storage needs for all of Europe.

    World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?

    • I doubt that 6.8TWh of storage would come close to serving the needs of a renewables-powered Europe. In the post linked to below I estimated that 8TWh of storage would be needed just to convert the solar electricity generated in Germany in 2014 to constant year-round baseload power, and only 5.7% of Germany’s electricity was generated by solar in 2014.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Hi there Scottishscientist. This is of course “totally bonkers” but I also like it 😉 I like it because it acknowledges and illustrates the scale of the problem of energy storage.

      To fill or empty the reservoir in a day would require a flow rate of 51,000 metres-cubed per second, the equivalent of the discharge flow from the Congo River, only surpassed by the Amazon!

      Your scheme has storage capacity of 6.8TWh. Lets assume average UK consumption = 35GW then we use 35*24 = 840 GWh per day. Thus your scheme could provide 8.1 days of continuos supply for the UK. Enough to span a 7 day wind lull. Its effective at the UK consumption scale but not at the European back up scale, though it would probably have to suck in surplus power from all over Europe to fill it. If it were to produce at 35GW it will need 35GW of power lines feeding in from all over the UK and Europe. Do you really want to do this to The Highlands? Beauly – Denny is bad enough IMO. Part of the new world is distributed supply. This would be the biggest concentration of supply ever built. I think the Hoover Dam is rated at 2.1 GW.

      If the objective is to Save Our Souls, then I think a scheme such as this may pose all sorts of severe hazards. For a start this will disturb the hydrology of the whole area with the likelihood of salt water incursion into the surrounding ground water – Nessy won’t like it! And I’d also have questions about tectonic loading and unloading adjacent to what is one of Europe’s main fault lines.

      I did a post on Choire Glass some months back. Your scheme certainly is not puny. But would we not be better off and a lot safer simply building 12 * 3GW nukes?

      If I can find time I may do a post on this topic since amongst everything else it is a good discussion point.

      • Leo Smith says:

        But would we not be better off and a lot safer simply building 12 * 3GW nukes?

        Aye, there’s the rub.

        Years ago peole who didn’t have politicians and greens breathing down their necks did their cost analysis and decided that whilst Dinorwig would save one nuclear power station and cope with the post Corrie surge in electricity demand as the Great Unwashed popped the kettle on for a brew, the bulk generation ought to be nuclear =- at least for te baseload.

        That all fell to pieces due to political muddling and te high interest rates of te 1970s, coupled with North Se Gas, when the l;ower capital investment required for gas turbines made them the cheaper alternative.

        In today’s zero interest rate quantitative easing climate nuclear is – or would be – far and away the cheapest option, except for yet more green meddling in the shape of regulatory ratcheting, which has strangled the nuclear industry to near extinction.

        The only party that recognises pure cost benefit fact based policy is UKIP, who are as the article says, in favour of junking the whole politically inspired green energy junket in favour of gas and coal short term, and nuclear long term, with hydro assessed on a case by case basis.

        Get’s my vote anyway.

  2. Joe Public says:

    The CoE’s attitude towards climate change is most touching.

    It owns perhaps the largest portfolio of oversized, underused, poorly-insulated edifices in the UK. Some are 10m – 12m tall, for congregations little more than 2m tall; many having Middle-ages constructed roof with contemporary standard of insulation; generally used a couple of days a week;
    and, in winter their thermal inertia is such that often they require 12 hours or more of pre-heat period before a service.

  3. Willem Post says:

    Regarding TESLA.

    This article shows TESLA also offers 100 kWh units.

    They can be bundled in large numbers for use by utilities to stabilize the distribution grids with many grid-connected PV solar systems.

    Instead of installing such units in each house, it would be much more cost effective for utilities to have its own TESLA installations to stabilize its distribution grids.

    Utilities would save money by buying less energy during peak periods.

    NOTE: The specification sheet states 92% DC round-trip efficiency, meaning DC from PV panels into batteries and DC out of batteries.

    But that DC has to go through the DC to AC inverter of the PV solar system, which have efficiencies of about 90% (from 20% rated output to 100% rated output), meaning a 10% loss from DC to AC, in addition to the 8% “round-trip” loss. But it gets worse!

    The inverter efficiency drops to 50% at about 10% rated output, and 25% at about 2% rated output, meaning most of the energy out the batteries gets converted to heat by the inverter at these lower output levels.

    All is explained in this article:

    NOTE: During winter months solar energy is much less than during summer months. There may not be much energy to store into the TESLA units. Also, for many hours, the PV solar system inverters would be operating at low output levels.

    – Solar energy is zero about 65% of the hours of the year, minimal early mornings and late afternoons, minimal much of the winter, and near-zero with snow and ice on the panels.

    – During winter in New England, solar energy, on a monthly basis, is as low as 1/4 of what it is during the best month in summer; 1/6 in Germany.

    All is explained in this article:

    • Euan Mearns says:

      And where was all that Lithium to come from?

    • Luís says:

      In other websites folk are saying you can do away with the inverter and simply use a charge controller (DC to DC). But as far as I know there is no detailed information from Tesla confirming this. I believe there is a lot of precipitous analysis going around on this topic.

      • Willem Post says:

        If the energy is to be used by AC devices, going through an inverter will be required.

        The point I made, if little energy is drawn from the battery and then through the inverter, the latter will operate at a low percent of rated output and low efficienc, i.e., create much heat.

        • Leo Smith says:

          Er no. It will be probably making the same amount of heat for much less output power.

          Inverters tend to have a constant energy loss – so the more power you draw the more efficient they are, but they dont get hotter as you reduce power.

          • Willem Post says:

            Were are talking percentages.

            With 50% efficiency at 10% of inverter rated output, the heat would be 5% of rated output.

            With 90% efficiency at 20% of inverter rated output, the heat would be 10% of rated output.

            The inverter would be cooler at low percentages of rated output.

            During periods with low percentages of inverter rated output, much of what goes into the inverter is wasted as heat.

      • roberto says:

        The “precipitous analysis” will end abruptly soon after a large number of stocks of TESLA will have changed hands… making veeeery rich a few smart guys at the expense of many who will have taken for granted the commercial stunt of Mr. Elon Musk.

        I bet Tesla will not be in business anymore 10 years from now.


  4. Nador says:

    For the Tesla battery at 3500 dollars for 10 kWh to provide 0.02 $/kWh cost of storage it would have to withstand 17500 charge cycles (not counting losses). That seems quite a lot.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      Assuming one charge cycle a day gives a battery life of 47.95 years. I will be nearing my 121st birthday in 47.95 years but at two cents a kWh I may get one for my rooftop solar system anyway. 😉

      • Willem Post says:


        Would you be so kind to calculate the 2 c/kWh to verify Gundersen’s number?

        TESLA gives a 10-year warrantee.

        Do we know how many charges and discharges the 10 kWh unit would have in 10 years?

        What would be the allowable maximum Depth of Charge for 10-year life, 20-year life?

        According to TESLA, there is an 8% round-trip DC loss, but the DC has to go through a DC to AC inverter which entails at least an other 10% loss.

        Our local utility plans to sell the 10 kWh units to ratepayers with solar panels. See my above comment.

        What would be the monthly charge for the utility to get a 11%/yr return over 10 years, not counting any subsidies and tax savings due to depreciation?

        • Willem Post says:


          The reason I would like to see your calculations is to make sure our local utility will not be pulling one over on gullible ratepayers

          • Willem Post says:


            If a household has a 10 KW solar system, plus a TESLA-type vehicle, then the PV system would charge the wall-hung battery unit and the DC output of the battery would charge the car battery.

            In that case there would be no inverter losses.

            Battery capacity is measured in ampere.hours, Ah.

            Go to note 4 at the end of this article and you will see a standard method of seizing battery capacity for a 2,000 sq ft, highly efficient, off-the-grid house.

            (24) 12 V-batteries; 6 racks of 4 wired for 48 V; capacity 100 Ah/unit; total capacity 2400 Ah, cost about $300/unit; total cost $7,200, plus installation.


          • roberto says:

            @wilelm post…

            “(24) 12 V-batteries; 6 racks of 4 wired for 48 V; capacity 100 Ah/unit; total capacity 2400 Ah, cost about $300/unit; total cost $7,200, plus installation.”

            Hi: just wanted to say that this is not comparable to the lithium batteries, as standard 12 V batteries can’t take many deep discharge cycles, they may last many years on cars, where they are constantly recharged by the alternator, practically never get discharged.


      • Willem Post says:


        I did some calculations for a grid-connected house.

        A plug-in EV would consume about 12,000 mi/yr x 0.30 AC kWh/mi = 3,600 AC kWh/yr, which would provide 3,312 DC kWh/yr to the EV batteries, if the charger efficiency is 0.92.

        A NEW 2.7 kW PV solar system in New England would produce 2.7 x 8,760 x 0.143 = 3,382 AC kWh/yr, or about 3,382/0.92 = 3,676 DC kWh/yr (no PV inverter losses), which would be more than adequate, including after PV panel aging.

        TESLA Battery Unit: If a wall-mounted, 10 DC kWh, TESLA battery unit, costing $3,500, plus installation, is provided, the DC output of the above 2.7 kW PV solar system could be assigned to the TESLA unit.

        Round trip DC loss of the TESLA unit would be about 8%, i.e., about 3,676 x 0.92 = 3,382 DC kWh/yr would be enough to charge the EV batteries.

        Seems to me a lot of money for a next to nothing gain.

        • Willem: 3,382 kWh/year would be enough to keep your EV batteries charged if New England got the same amount of solar radiation year-round, but as you noted earlier it gets four times as much in the summer as it does in the winter. So to get maximum bang for your Tesla buck you would have to drive about twice as far as you wanted to in the summer but you would only be able to drive about half as far as you wanted to in the winter – unless of course you bought enough units to store the surplus summer energy for winter re-use.

    • Joe Public says:

      David MacKay mentions 1k cycles. Even if extremely conservative, there’s a chasm between your 17,500k & his figure.

      You mention $3,500; but that’s like buying a ‘car’ and finding you have to buy other essentials like engine & wheels to make use of the energy stored in the fuel tank.

      • Joe Public says:

        The above was intended as a reply to Nador.

      • Nador says:

        Sure, with a more realistic calculation I would have got a few times 17500 cycles for the 0.02 $/kWh price given in The Ecologist article. But 17500 charge cycles are already very implausible, so I did not bother with anything more accurate.

        • Willem Post says:

          TESLA provides a ten year warrantee, after which I assume the unit would be recycled and replace with a new one.

    • Leo Smith says:

      typical lithium ion will do around 200-500 cycles

  5. A C Osborn says:

    Some realism on Tesla Batteries.

    The main factor in all this is that the more you the less “Off Peak” electricity you are going to have as Night time demand will equal day time demand.

  6. Roger Andrews says:


    I can’t answer all of the questions you asked yesterday, but here’s a crude analysis of battery storage requirements for an “average” American household that wants to go 100% solar.

    The average American household consumes 10,800 kWh/year, which works out to 1.2 kWh/hour. For simplicity I assume a constant household demand of 1.2kW throughout the year.

    To generate 10,800 kWh/yr of electricity in a year at a solar load factor of 15%, which is about the average for the US, the homeowner needs 8kW of solar panels. A year or two ago solar panels in the US cost about $5,000/kW installed exclusive of subsidies. They may have come down a bit since then but if not we are looking at an installation cost of $40,000.

    How much battery capacity might the homeowner need to store this 10,800 kWh of solar electricity to provide a constant 1.2kW output? To survive a cloudy week with effectively zero solar generation he/she would need 7 times 24 times 1.2 = 200 kWh, which works out to twenty 10kWh Tesla batteries costing $35,000 (exclusive of installation), weighing two tons and occupying 240 square feet of wall space when butted up against each other.

    And at the end of the week the the homeowner had better hope that sun comes out and stays out long enough to recharge the batteries. 😉

  7. Euan Mearns says:

    from The Ecologist

    that equates to a life-cycle cost of about $0,02 per kWh stored and released, or a little over 1p in UK money. And that is transformational. With grid power prices typically 14p / kWh in the UK, or $0.12 in the US, it’s just a fraction of the cost of buying power in – for the first making it economic for small scale generators to ‘save and re-use’ their power surpluses.

    They seem to think the PV electricity is free. The owner of the PV system would normally expect to sell it to the grid at an inflated Green price (to pay for the panels). And so if they use it themselves they forgo that income. The $0.02 per kWh is in fact the additional cost of going the storage route – is it not?

  8. Luís says:

    Scientists have long found evidence that Global Warming causes earthquakes. The energy of earthquakes has increased dramatically the past decades due to Global Warming.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      The Climate Audit article you link to actually says exactly the opposite. Phrases like “a complete pile of rubbish” are hard to interpret any other way.

  9. Luís says:

    Hi Euan, I think this whole thing with the Tesla battery deserves a good deal of reflection.

    I try to follow the battery technology as close as possible since it can indeed have a profound impact on the market in the following years. It is totally surprising that the media (and even outlets like yours) make such a fuss about a battery that costs 350 $/kWh and last perhaps years. There is nothing special about it.

    Alternative technologies such as liquid metal or flow batteries are coming on the market with price tags under 200 $/kWh and expected lifetimes counted in decades. However they hardly get any media coverage.

    So why is Tesla getting all this attention for a technology that far from innovative, looks even outdated? I can only see one reason: the articles floated around by the media must have been paid for. Tesla has the big bucks for the marketing while other companies do not. In great measure it reminds me of Apple, that is able to generate huge waves in media with pretty banal products.


    • JerryC says:

      Elon Musk is a master hype-generator.

    • Leo Smith says:

      At last someone who gets it. Its nothing special. In fact for domestic usage the lead acid is less cost per unit storage, and is a well proven technology. When you dont care about weight.

      Weight is important in automotive and aircraft use, not static installations on the ground.

      Tesla is relative bollocks really. Bu the speed with which the eco brigade leap on it shows how embarrassed and desperate they are with the dire state of ‘renewable’ technology.

      It’s past a joke now, and only the Germens, who seem to have no sense of humour at all, can’t see the funny side

  10. Hugh Sharman says:

    I follow the “green” press and “green” companies closely. Electricity storage remains of huge personal interest to me. Nothing that Thomas Edison said in 1883 has changed very much!

    “The storage battery is one of those peculiar things which appeals to the imagination, and no more perfect thing could be desired by stock swindlers than that very self-same thing. Just as soon as a man gets working on the secondary battery it brings out his latent capacity for lying.”

    The core belief of the modern day “green” press is that Moore’s Law applies to electricity storage devices. Curiously, this belief includes lithium chemistries where the price of storage cannot possibly fall below the cost of the scarce and expensive materials of its construction. The bankruptcy of dozens of lithium ion battery makers who were selling below cost in order to capture “market share” is living proof of this belief!

    The simple fact is that Moore’s Law cannot possibly apply to the Periodic Table! The more lithium batteries are sold, the scarcer and more expensive those materials will become.

    No matter how “visionary” Elon Musk appears to be, shares in his battery-related operations, all based on massive investments into lithium-based chemistries, will tank unless he finds literally “unlimited” sources of lithium, cobalt and manganese!

    BTW, mining the foregoing metals, along with copper and aluminium is very far from “green”, quite the opposite. Each mine, most often, these days in grossly under-developed nations, is an environmental horror! This is another fact very conveniently and hypocritically forgotten by the Hallelujah greenies!

    • Lithium is the 33rd most common element in the Earth’s crust – more common than lead – and large quantities of lithium are known to exist dissolved in brines in enclosed drainage basins, such as the Salton Sea, California. I’ve done no research into the question but I would guess that the ultimate constraint on lithium production will be price, not resource availability.

      • roberto says:

        AFAIK lithium is common but cannot be mined unless it has a mimimum concentration… most like uranium, which is also ubiquitous on earth but cannot be extracted everywhere.

        “As of January 2010, the USGS estimated world total lithium reserves at 9.9×10^9 kg (economically extractable now) and identified lithium resources at 2.55 × 10^10 kg (potentially economic). Most of the identified resources are in Bolivia and Chile (9 × 10^9 kg and 7.5 × 10^9 kg, respectively). World lithium production is currently on the order of 2 × 10^7 kg per year. [3]”

        … taken from

        … at 10 kWh/kgLi and at the 10^7 kg/year production rate, mankind should be able to store an additional 10^8 kWh/year more, every year, which is not that much really!… 🙂


        • roberto says:

          Interesting counter-analysis…

          ““To support grid defection, we believe the size of the battery needs to be very large, something akin to two-months’ worth of consumption,” Moody’s concluded. “The cost of electricity using that much storage would cost around 552¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh) on a levelized cost of energy basis.””


        • lithium is common but cannot be mined unless it has a mimimum concentration

          You can mine any metal at whatever concentration you like if the price is high enough. Some mines profitably extract gold at concentrations as low as 0.2 parts per million. Lithium concentrations in Chilean and Bolivian brines are in the thousands of ppm range

          • roberto says:

            No. There are also some physical limits to what can be extracted for a given concentration… and there’s the (rather logic) limit of not extracting at a cost of X unit of energy what costs Y units with Y>X.

          • Roger Andrews says:

            There are no physical or chemical limits that I know of that would preclude the recovery of lithium at any concentration. What happens is that percent recovery tends to drop as concentration decreases and production costs go up as a result. But you’re right that it makes no sense to produce lithium if it takes more energy to produce it than you get out.

        • Graeme No.3 says:


          Uranium From Seawater Advances
          Posted on 27 April 2015

          The Japanese had developed a method to extract U from seawater using plastic mats with specially formed attachment points for metal ions on the surface. These folks enhance it (on a cost basis) by making the surface very much finer. The Japanese idea was to anchor these deep of the coast where it is dark enough that algae do not grow and in the Japan current so there is no pumping cost, then pull them up a year later and take the U out. The cost, IIRC, was about $140 / unit when U from land was selling for about $120, so not an economical competitor, but would still make electricity vastly cheaper than wind turbines or solar

          • roberto says:

            Hi: that’s not a very recent news… anyway, the japanese can do it because they have one of the strongest sea currents of the planet next door… the kyushu (or whatever the name is)… try to do that in the Mediterranean and it is a dead horse… no way.


    • Luís says:

      Claims like these are very common but I am yet to see any factual confirmation. Lithium remains a very small cost in the production chain of Li-ion batteries. If the price of Lithium doubled overnight you would hardly see it in the end price of the batteries.

      The high conductivity metals will rock the boat well before any visible problem with Lithium supply ever comes up.

      The main issue with Li-ion batteries remains longevity. If it can not be brought into the order of dozens of thousands of cycles their application will remain limited to mobility applications, and will likely be obliterated by other technologies in the coming decade.

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