Friday, July 07, 2017

SA battery thoughts

There's this worlds largest battery project going on in South Australia.

Tesla sold a financial product. The government needed to cover some of the risk of when power lines go down, or if something goes wrong in another part of the network. It needs to cover this risk quickly for political reasons.
The chance of another similar storm knocking out the power lines again, which now have bigger maintenance crews, is very small. But if there is another blackout and they didn't do anything? They'd be in big trouble with the newspapers.

So Tesla really sold a risk product. Since SA could have spent the money on more generation. But not all people understand that.

The 100MW stage of that wind farm cost $250 million, and took some years to reach agreement, and some years to build. By promising to build the battery quicker, they have covered that risk during the time they need it.

They could have installed another wind farm the same size in a different part of the state in order to reduce the risk, and fill up the valleys of power generation. That has been proven to work too, and the benefit is you have more power generation in the peaks.

The cost of the blackout was estimated to have cost $367 million to business. 12% of the businesses had backup power generators themselves, and about a third of the businesses had bought insurance for such situations. Life critical systems are required to have independent backup power.

By the time the battery is built there will probably be a similar amount of solar power installed as the battery (by current rates of installation). There's 2,034 MW of industrial solar being constructed in Australia for 2017. This doesn't include stuff going onto roofs of houses, of which there are millions of houses already covered and more being done. Solar installed in Australia can be done for $5,000AUD or less for a 5KW system on a house(1.25% of the median house price in SA, or 75% of the average monthly household income in SA for one month). That's $100 million AUD for 100MW on 20,000 homes installed at retail prices. Since the blackout happened, way more than 100MW of solar power has come online already.

The group that runs the grid predicts that by 2023 the entire state could be powered by rooftop solar.

There's also a lead smelter which is being upgraded, so it will have modern equipment which lets it use power more dynamically... effectively making it a battery. It can take in power, or not, as it needs. They can also shut down their power hungry desalination plant if needed (which they don't really need when there is not a drought). Additionally there is an extra interstate power connector also running, which was down during the storm for upgrades.

So now they have a backup battery in the works, a backup gas power plant in the works, backup power lines to another state, more efficient industrial power users, and hundreds of thousands of small independent solar power generators.

They've definitely covered their arses.