I’m terrible at the sciencey bit

CEP Energy said its $2.4bn battery at Kurri Kurri, north-west of Newcastle, would have a power capacity of up to 1,200 megawatts

I’m not sure but…..

1.2 gigawatts is about a big nuclear power station, isn’t it? Therefore it’s costing $2.4 billion to have the battery store the output – the equivalent output – of a large nuclear plant for one hour?

Have I got that right?

18 thoughts on “I’m terrible at the sciencey bit”

  1. I can’t find a MWh rating for that battery. Other big batteries in this industry frequently seem to be rated to supply the peak output for 4 hours. If that is the case here it would be 4,800 MWh so it could match that large nuclear plant for 4 hours. After that it will take some time to recharge.

  2. Energy Storage News has this:

    It’s important to note the phrasing “up to 1,200MW”, meaning the final design and size of the scheme is still in development and the company has not given an indication yet of the planned capacity or discharge duration of the project.

    But as AndyF says, most big battery projects seem to have capacity for 4 hours at full power. (Sometimes only 2 hours.)

  3. the fact that they chose to express it in terms of megawatts (not even megawatt hours but just plain old megawatts), means that it’s some energy PR flack that doesn’t have enough engineering experience to know that batteries should be measured in amp hours, not megawatt hours.

  4. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    But pretty close, Andy. Which makes me wonder, why hasn’t the future yet sent us the technology we need to ensure that there is a future? Worrying, innit?

  5. ‘Therefore it’s costing $2.4 billion to have the battery store the output – the equivalent output – of a large nuclear plant for one hour? Have I got that right?’

    It’s even worse.

    A nuke power station can provide an output of up to 1,2GW continuously (assuming total efficiency), that is it can supply 28,8GW every day at the rate of 1,2GWh.

    The battery can supply up to 1,2GW once (although batteries keep up to 20% of charge), until it is recharged. Over what period it can supply in one charge cycle will depend on demand. How often it can supply depends on time taken to recharge, and availability of sunshine.

    Current UK demand is 38GW, which means at least 33 of those batteries would be required, if no other source, but the lights would go out after about an hour if demand did not change.

  6. The battery on my bike is 12 volt with a capacity 10 Ah, far more than earlier batteries. Still bloody useless when it’s flat though.

    And the bottom line with all ‘renewables’ is that there MUST be a base load / dispatchable backup, so you cannot just build wind or solar farms, you have to have the fossil / nuclear stations as well.
    We have Gunfleet Sands wind farm off the coast here. £350M+ to build, output 53mW. Langage gas turbine power station – £400M to build, output 700mW.

  7. >it can supply 28,8GW every day at the rate of 1,2GWh.
    A nitpick: you’re using your units exactly backwards. The Watt (and GigaWatt/GW) is the unit of power, the Watt-Hour is the unit of energy.

    So 28.8GWh per day, at 1.2GW.

    >batteries should be measured in amp hours, not megawatt hours.
    The amp-hour is used for cells because their voltage is known and fixed (or at least nominal), and therefore we can calculate the energy by multiplying the charge by the voltage, yet more easily compare the qualities of cells in different-sized batteries without having to divide by different voltages. Using Amp-hours instead of Watt-hours or Joules makes it easier to compare batteries.

    But for a battery that’s millions of cells and isn’t really a battery so much as a power station, should you not use the terminology of power stations to make it easy to compare power stations? i.e. “1,200MW for 1-2 hours” not “3-6kAh at 400,000V”?

  8. power stations typically don’t pump out “at 400,000V”
    That’s done at the ppower station transformer so that it’s very high voltage to reduce I2R losses in transmission.

    And also there’s the rub. Batteries are DC tech. There may have been improvements, but turning the output of a battery to usable AC is a lossy process.

    Why are we deliberately building inefficiencies into our power supply infrastructure?

  9. This is indeed expensive tech, and they’ve built a smaller one not far from me on an old power station site (first came the coal, then came the gas, now it’s a battery). I never did find the cost, but it’s only 23MWHr and is designed to do 46MW for 1/2 hour – in theory. In practice, they will never do that to it as it would be hard on the batteries.
    It’s main function is very short term (second-by-second) grid control/stabilisation so it might be exporting for a few minutes, then importing (and recharging), and so on.
    It’s a very modular system, I’ve been to a talk about it. Racks and racks of battery packs, inverters and chargers – so they could start off filling it from one end and bring sections into use as they were fitted out.
    If anyone thinks battery sheds like this will substitute for dispatchable generation sources is living in cloud cuckoo land.
    As pointed out, this is the largest in the world, and still only the size of ONE nuclear power station, and will probably have an hour or two capacity at most. What it WILL do is allow them to lop the peaks that would normally be handled by a fast response generator like a gas turbine – which will significantly reduce the maintenance costs on that plant. But, it’s cost is a significant chunk of the cost of that nuclear power station it’s been compared with !

  10. Apparently Musk’s battery in SA is pretty much useless for storage like Dinorwig but is excellent for second-by-second frequency control. They can charge lots for the electrons going out but can buy the ones coming back in for a lot less, so it’s quite lucrative. I’ve no idea when they’ve covered the initial cost though and when it becomes pure gravy.

  11. About all I can say is that SA needed to buy the diesels to back up their grid after they blew up the Port Augusta power station. I don’t really expect the NSW battery to do any better than Musk’s.

  12. >power stations typically don’t pump out “at 400,000V”
    >That’s done at the power station transformer so that it’s very high voltage to reduce I2R losses in transmission.
    This is true, but it’s done this way for logistical reasons that do apply to turbines and don’t apply to batteries. There’s nothing stopping you putting a hundred thousand cells in series and accepting 400,000V directly.

    >And also there’s the rub. Batteries are DC tech. There may have been improvements, but turning the output of a battery to usable AC is a lossy process.
    This is also true, but you need to also ask “why is the national grid AC?”. The answer is that it makes arc quenching simpler and lets you use transformers. If you don’t need transformers, you don’t need AC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-voltage_direct_current

    >Why are we deliberately building inefficiencies into our power supply infrastructure?
    Backwards compatibility, I imagine. As you add batteries and HVDC trunks, you’d be taking inefficiencies out.

  13. Shame on you all – everyone knows that electricity is measured in Homes Powered (HP) and that according to Greenpiece’s lawyers grid scale baseload batteries will power everything by 2030.

  14. JohnB–So 33 bats at 2.4 billion each= 80 billion to keep lights on for one hour while techs race like madmen to restore main power.

    80 billion for a big game show in effect. Call it “Fight the Dark” and televise it. If the power goes out you know they lost.

    Still 20 billion cheaper than Operation Moonshit would have been.

    What a shame those LST tests collapsed Bogus Johnsob’s casedemic numbers instead of boosting them. All that money must be burning a hole in his pocket.

  15. This is the free market in action. The battery’s owners will buy off-peak energy when it is cheap and sell it at peak time. Simples.

    We need more of that and less central planning. In the past the capital intensity of developments was so great that taxpayers had to underwrite returns. This required central planning. Now low capital solutions like wind turbines and solar panels mean that we can return many decisions to the market.

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