How many so-called grid-scale batteries are meretriciously appending themselves to your electricity system? In Australia only two have hit the headlines in recent years. One at Hornsdale in the state of South Australia, with a strong Elon Musk association; the other in Victoria, the so called Big Battery. However, apparently, there are fourteen more dotted about the country and many more on the drawing board. Another 98 are planned between now and 2026.
My energy-realist friend Rafe Champion dug out the numbers from a web site which specialises in selling the renewable-energy green dream. When 2026 is done, if all planned installations go ahead, there will be 114 batteries storing all told, wait for it, 50GWh of power; compared with 17GWh at present.
The biggest of the planned batteries is to be sited in Eraring in New South Wales, where sits Australia’s biggest coal power station. This is no coincidence. The power station is scheduled for closure in 2025, the same year as the big battery in question is due to come into play. Memo to climate-change scammers, you’re not fooling anyone. The battery in question will deliver 2.8GW for just one hour. Eraring coal power station delivers 2.9GW each and every hour.
Take all 114 big batteries combined; every last one of them. They could replace the output of Eraring coal power station for just 17 hours. Then, flat as a tack, they’d need recharging.
What would be the likely cost of 114 batteries delivering 50GWh? Hard to say. There are various convoluted estimates of the cost of batteries. Good luck if you’re searching for something understandable and consistent across different sources and countries. The Australian government-owned Clean Energy Finance Corporation says that it “invested $160 million to finance the design, construction and operation of the [450MWh] Victorian Big Battery.” I’ll use that to benchmark the cost per megawatt hour. The cost which falls out is $355,000 (rounded down) per MWh.
Applying the Victorian benchmark means that the 50 gigawatt hours of batteries operating or scheduled for installation by 2026 will cost in the region of a huge $17.75 billion. That’s the equivalent spend, adjusted for GDP, of about US$280 billion in the United States. Never has so much been spent for so little return. And then where does the power come from to recharge the batteries and what do you do with them when they expire in around 10 years or so? Beyond reason, yet this is the weird world in which we are now living under the tutelage of climate crazies.