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How Batteries Will Change the Power Business
Topic Started: Jun 11 2018, 12:34 PM (158 Views)
thoughtless
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STERLING, MASS.—Until recently, this tidy, quiet town in central Massachusetts was best known to outsiders for its eight-acre corn maze out by Davis Farmland, and for a little statue near the corner of Main and Park immortalizing the lamb that is said to have followed young Mary Sawyer to school one day in 1812, inspiring a well-known poem. Lately, however, Sterling welcomes visitors from far away who don’t come for outdoor fun or nursery rhymes.

LINK
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thoughtless
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A few recent developments have made Sterling’s experience suddenly relevant to large-scale power players. The cost of renewable power, especially wind, has fallen low enough to attract the interest of profit-minded businesses rather than just do-gooders (see table on page 21). Last year, in fact, it became profitable for the first time for the owner of a typical coal plant to build a wind farm to replace it, according to a yearly analysis by Lazard, an investment firm. Storage has become a cheap and useful add-on for renewable power projects. Bids for a project in Colorado published late last year showed that developers were willing to build combined wind and storage capacity for $21 per megawatt-hour, compared with just over $18 per MWh for wind alone.
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Demagogue
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Here is a link that gives the article without the pay wall.

http://www.cetusnews.com/business/How-Batteries-Will-Change-the-Power-Business.S1pa1kKl7.html
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I am a bit curious as to how they classify nuclear power plants as costly. Nuclear plants cost a great deal to build initially but very little by comparison to run. Since the vast majority of US nuclear power plants were finished long, long ago, they have mostly if not completely paid for their construction cost by now. At this point, running those nukes is arguably very economical.

Regardless, it was an interesting article and the concept of massively overbuilding renewables and then combining them with storage so that they are functional as a power plant is not a bad one. The problem comes when folks fail to realize that they need around 600% more solar generation than they have load along with enough storage for at least 72 hours of no generation for it to be stable.

Even if massively overbuilt, it will still need to be backed up by some other on-demand type power source. So don't mothball the coal and nuke plants just yet.

It is nice that the article agrees with my statements that I have made for years that it won't be until 2025-2030 that renewables truly become competitive.
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thoughtless
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Demagogue
Jun 11 2018, 03:10 PM
I am a bit curious as to how they classify nuclear power plants as costly. Nuclear plants cost a great deal to build initially but very little by comparison to run. Since the vast majority of US nuclear power plants were finished long, long ago, they have mostly if not completely paid for their construction cost by now. At this point, running those nukes is arguably very economical.

Regardless, it was an interesting article and the concept of massively overbuilding renewables and then combining them with storage so that they are functional as a power plant is not a bad one. The problem comes when folks fail to realize that they need around 600% more solar generation than they have load along with enough storage for at least 72 hours of no generation for it to be stable.

Even if massively overbuilt, it will still need to be backed up by some other on-demand type power source. So don't mothball the coal and nuke plants just yet.

It is nice that the article agrees with my statements that I have made for years that it won't be until 2025-2030 that renewables truly become competitive.
Economical mass storage offers a lot of advantages to a utility.

I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago that's heading up a task force to study mass storage for a good sized utility. They are pretty pumped up because they can distribute the storage to their advantage, and save money on equipment. For example, putting mass storage at a sub-station might allow them to avoid upgrading the transmission lines and transmission/distribution transformer as the distribution load increases. Those loads are steadily increasing due to population growth, and modern facilities like data centers, etc. When electric cars become common place, the loads are likely to skyrocket.

Almost all the equipment in an electric utility system is designed for the maximum peak load that they incur a few times a year, and most of the time the transmission and distribution equipment is working at a fraction of it's capacity.

Reliability is another factor.The vast percentages of outages are less than 5 minutes, and those can be readily handled by available mass storage.
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Opinionated
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Aren't batteries of this type made from rare earths that for the most part come from China?
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thoughtless
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Jun 11 2018, 11:13 PM
Aren't batteries of this type made from rare earths that for the most part come from China?
Lithium is the main component, but it's not a rare earth element.

Currently, 89% of lithium comes from three countries, Australia, Chile, and Argentina.
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EmperorNortonII

thoughtless
Jun 12 2018, 09:01 AM
Opinionated
Jun 11 2018, 11:13 PM
Aren't batteries of this type made from rare earths that for the most part come from China?
Lithium is the main component, but it's not a rare earth element.

Currently, 89% of lithium comes from three countries, Australia, Chile, and Argentina.
My understanding is that a lot of lithium ion batteries contain cobalt- half of which comes from the DRC and is mined in near-slavery conditions.

The article doesn't ever say what kind of lithium-ion batteries they are using, though.
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EmperorNortonII
Jun 12 2018, 03:49 PM
thoughtless
Jun 12 2018, 09:01 AM
Opinionated
Jun 11 2018, 11:13 PM
Aren't batteries of this type made from rare earths that for the most part come from China?
Lithium is the main component, but it's not a rare earth element.

Currently, 89% of lithium comes from three countries, Australia, Chile, and Argentina.
My understanding is that a lot of lithium ion batteries contain cobalt- half of which comes from the DRC and is mined in near-slavery conditions.

The article doesn't ever say what kind of lithium-ion batteries they are using, though.
That's true.

However, I believe, but I'm not sure of this, that cobalt is used in the leading formulation for electric automobile batteries, which are optimized for weight, the ability to fast charge, safety, and durability.

A stationary battery bank has different requirements.

Besides, there's a ton of research going on now, and we can expect performance breakthroughs in the coming years.

Without geometry, life is pointless.
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thoughtless
Jun 13 2018, 09:37 AM
EmperorNortonII
Jun 12 2018, 03:49 PM
thoughtless
Jun 12 2018, 09:01 AM
Opinionated
Jun 11 2018, 11:13 PM
Aren't batteries of this type made from rare earths that for the most part come from China?
Lithium is the main component, but it's not a rare earth element.

Currently, 89% of lithium comes from three countries, Australia, Chile, and Argentina.
My understanding is that a lot of lithium ion batteries contain cobalt- half of which comes from the DRC and is mined in near-slavery conditions.

The article doesn't ever say what kind of lithium-ion batteries they are using, though.
That's true.

However, I believe, but I'm not sure of this, that cobalt is used in the leading formulation for electric automobile batteries, which are optimized for weight, the ability to fast charge, safety, and durability.

A stationary battery bank has different requirements.

Besides, there's a ton of research going on now, and we can expect performance breakthroughs in the coming years.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-18/here-are-the-firms-feeding-china-s-battery-revolution

Quote:
 
China is spearheading the auto world’s push toward electrification, a shift that is transforming once-niche materials like cobalt and lithium into hot commodities. And it’s Chinese companies leading the way in securing the raw materials needed for a massive expansion in battery capacity. From mines in Africa to huge metal and battery material plants in China, here are some of the suppliers with a key role in feeding the country’s electric vehicle ambitions.


My concern is that if we shift over to a battery/renewable energy based power grid, we may become dependent on Chinese imported materials. And if that happens, we're basically at their mercy.
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thoughtless
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Opinionated
Jun 13 2018, 09:54 AM
thoughtless
Jun 13 2018, 09:37 AM
EmperorNortonII
Jun 12 2018, 03:49 PM
thoughtless
Jun 12 2018, 09:01 AM
Opinionated
Jun 11 2018, 11:13 PM
Aren't batteries of this type made from rare earths that for the most part come from China?
Lithium is the main component, but it's not a rare earth element.

Currently, 89% of lithium comes from three countries, Australia, Chile, and Argentina.
My understanding is that a lot of lithium ion batteries contain cobalt- half of which comes from the DRC and is mined in near-slavery conditions.

The article doesn't ever say what kind of lithium-ion batteries they are using, though.
That's true.

However, I believe, but I'm not sure of this, that cobalt is used in the leading formulation for electric automobile batteries, which are optimized for weight, the ability to fast charge, safety, and durability.

A stationary battery bank has different requirements.

Besides, there's a ton of research going on now, and we can expect performance breakthroughs in the coming years.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-18/here-are-the-firms-feeding-china-s-battery-revolution

Quote:
 
China is spearheading the auto world’s push toward electrification, a shift that is transforming once-niche materials like cobalt and lithium into hot commodities. And it’s Chinese companies leading the way in securing the raw materials needed for a massive expansion in battery capacity. From mines in Africa to huge metal and battery material plants in China, here are some of the suppliers with a key role in feeding the country’s electric vehicle ambitions.


My concern is that if we shift over to a battery/renewable energy based power grid, we may become dependent on Chinese imported materials. And if that happens, we're basically at their mercy.
If this were like the race to the moon 50 years ago, China would be first, and we'd be tied with Mexico.

Without geometry, life is pointless.
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thoughtless
Jun 13 2018, 12:42 PM
Opinionated
Jun 13 2018, 09:54 AM
thoughtless
Jun 13 2018, 09:37 AM
EmperorNortonII
Jun 12 2018, 03:49 PM
thoughtless
Jun 12 2018, 09:01 AM

Quoting limited to 5 levels deep
My understanding is that a lot of lithium ion batteries contain cobalt- half of which comes from the DRC and is mined in near-slavery conditions.

The article doesn't ever say what kind of lithium-ion batteries they are using, though.
That's true.

However, I believe, but I'm not sure of this, that cobalt is used in the leading formulation for electric automobile batteries, which are optimized for weight, the ability to fast charge, safety, and durability.

A stationary battery bank has different requirements.

Besides, there's a ton of research going on now, and we can expect performance breakthroughs in the coming years.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-18/here-are-the-firms-feeding-china-s-battery-revolution

Quote:
 
China is spearheading the auto world’s push toward electrification, a shift that is transforming once-niche materials like cobalt and lithium into hot commodities. And it’s Chinese companies leading the way in securing the raw materials needed for a massive expansion in battery capacity. From mines in Africa to huge metal and battery material plants in China, here are some of the suppliers with a key role in feeding the country’s electric vehicle ambitions.


My concern is that if we shift over to a battery/renewable energy based power grid, we may become dependent on Chinese imported materials. And if that happens, we're basically at their mercy.
If this were like the race to the moon 50 years ago, China would be first, and we'd be tied with Mexico.

I don't disagree. Perhaps the wise approach would be to move into battery grid technology as it exists today, with a long term plan to research technology that doesn't rely on materials controlled by China.
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thoughtless
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Opinionated
Jun 13 2018, 01:22 PM
thoughtless
Jun 13 2018, 12:42 PM
Opinionated
Jun 13 2018, 09:54 AM
thoughtless
Jun 13 2018, 09:37 AM
EmperorNortonII
Jun 12 2018, 03:49 PM

Quoting limited to 5 levels deep
That's true.

However, I believe, but I'm not sure of this, that cobalt is used in the leading formulation for electric automobile batteries, which are optimized for weight, the ability to fast charge, safety, and durability.

A stationary battery bank has different requirements.

Besides, there's a ton of research going on now, and we can expect performance breakthroughs in the coming years.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-18/here-are-the-firms-feeding-china-s-battery-revolution

Quote:
 
China is spearheading the auto world’s push toward electrification, a shift that is transforming once-niche materials like cobalt and lithium into hot commodities. And it’s Chinese companies leading the way in securing the raw materials needed for a massive expansion in battery capacity. From mines in Africa to huge metal and battery material plants in China, here are some of the suppliers with a key role in feeding the country’s electric vehicle ambitions.


My concern is that if we shift over to a battery/renewable energy based power grid, we may become dependent on Chinese imported materials. And if that happens, we're basically at their mercy.
If this were like the race to the moon 50 years ago, China would be first, and we'd be tied with Mexico.

I don't disagree. Perhaps the wise approach would be to move into battery grid technology as it exists today, with a long term plan to research technology that doesn't rely on materials controlled by China.
That would make sense.

We'll probably just reopen more coal mines.
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Demagogue
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I don't know about reopening any coal mines but we probably need to ease up on retiring coal power plants. During the Obama admin many of the closures were driven by impending regulations. Today they are driven by economics and fear of the next president reinstating the Obama regulations. I don't have anything against renewable energy combined with energy storage as a source. If it can be done for a reasonable cost I say run with it.

Where I currently have an issue with closing many of these coal plants (some of them with decades of life still) is the energy security. Natural gas is wonderful, fairly clean burning stuff and it is an incredible resource but generally speaking, we don't store it at the power plants where it is used. If someone drives a rider truck into a major pipeline hub we are going to lose tons of generation in short order. Solar and wind are great but they are intermittent.

A coal power plant can run at a minimum for weeks without being refueled. Some with larger yards can run months. Due to economics, many utilities have been backing off of using their coal plants and that is fine but some have also stopped making long term fuel purchase agreements for coal like they used to. I don't know how this is playing out in the Western part of the nation but here on the east coast large coal plants are being shut down left and right and some utilities are basically getting completely away from coal.

From an environmental and economic point of view I can't blame them. From a national security point of view they are starting to make me nervous.

If things keep progressing at their current rate I can easily see some terror cell with a few rental trucks causing major blackouts on the east coast.

It is going to be interesting to see what the long term solution to this problem is if we are going to get away from coal generation.
Edited by Demagogue, Jun 14 2018, 09:19 AM.
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thoughtless
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If you're concerned about securrity, read Ted Coppel's book "Lights Out".

There are thousands of transmission class transformers in use that have a replocement lead time of over a year. I don't know the repair time of a damaged pipeline, but assume maybe a couple of weeks.
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Demagogue
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thoughtless
Jun 14 2018, 12:01 PM
If you're concerned about securrity, read Ted Coppel's book "Lights Out".

There are thousands of transmission class transformers in use that have a replocement lead time of over a year. I don't know the repair time of a damaged pipeline, but assume maybe a couple of weeks.
I am fully aware of the transformer issue. We discuss that one fairly regularly. The worst case often are the large step up transformers at generation stations. Those jokers are custom built with incredibly long lead times. They are also very hard to kill and usually reside inside the perimeter of generating station behind multiple layers of fencing. They can be gotten at but it will take more than a trip to the truck rental store.

Now, your large step up and step down transformers that you seen in a typical distribution yard are more vulnerable but they are also more easily replaced.

Here is the thing about those big step up transformers at generating stations, there are lots of them. Basically every generation location has a step up to whatever the transmission voltage is in the area.

Now lets look at the pipeline.

Posted Image

You hit 4 or so of those blue lines at junctions on the east half of the USA and we got a problem and it will take more than a couple weeks to fix it.

The fun part is that the infor is readily available with a handy, user friendly interface.

https://pvnpms.phmsa.dot.gov/PublicViewer/
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