• Australian (ASX) Stock Market Forum

The future of energy generation and storage

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Value Collector, May 2, 2015.

  1. Value Collector

    Value Collector

    Posts:
    4,204
    Likes Received:
    158
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Elon's latest product.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2016
    srijit likes this.
  2. pixel

    pixel DIY Trader

    Posts:
    4,911
    Likes Received:
    211
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    Can't wait for it to become available in Australia.
    The only major concern is political: Power companies will strongly lobby our Governments to outlaw or at least impede the wide-spread adaptation of this technology. They will be arguing (again) that they need to maintain profits, meaning their margins will have to increase manifold on the backs of those too poor to upgrade and become grid-independent.
     
  3. Value Collector

    Value Collector

    Posts:
    4,204
    Likes Received:
    158
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    I rekon energy retailers could use them as part of the smart grid, eg help shift peak load to off peak times, even without a solar installation.
     
    srijit likes this.
  4. bellenuit

    bellenuit

    Posts:
    2,592
    Likes Received:
    25
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2008
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    If the product does what it claims, there might be a case for those unable to afford the batteries outright to have them paid through instalments using as funds what they would have paid in electricity costs.

    The economics of this could be interesting, apart from resistance by electricity providers.

    I am wondering if it would be feasible for new greenfield suburbs in sunny part of Australia like Perth to not have any grid supplied power at all. Every new home must be equipped with sufficient battery capacity that no grid is needed at all (apart from perhaps runs to key buildings, like hospitals). Also, where particular suburbs are moving to underground power and hitting residents with bills of up to $10K to do this, perhaps this could be an alternative.

    A bit far fetched maybe, but why install now new electricity transmission infrastructure that may be redundant in 20 years if the technology of both solar capture and storage continues to improve at the rate it has in recent years.
     
  5. DB008

    DB008

    Posts:
    3,341
    Likes Received:
    17
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006

    Yes, what a game-changer (for the USA at least).

    $3500 (plus inverter and taxes) for a 10kw battery system that can be hooked into existing solar.

    Will probably be around $10k when it arrives here...

    I have been looking to get solar installed at my place, however, l might wait till next year and see what happens in regards to Tesla. The price of solar is dropping so quickly at the moment. I have looked around (QLD) and can see 6kw of panels (Trina Honey) with a 5kw inverter (German Sunnyboy SMA) for ~$6k (installed) available.

     
  6. ghotib

    ghotib THIMKER

    Posts:
    1,002
    Likes Received:
    10
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    Community power schemes and options to lease storage and/or generation are also "interesting" and the responses of power companies are going to be downright fascinating :)

    That doesn't sound far fetched at all, especially considering that AGL announced a storage product the day after the Tesla announcement.
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/tesla-battery-storage-will-accelerate-exit-of-coal-generators-88203
     
  7. DB008

    DB008

    Posts:
    3,341
    Likes Received:
    17
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    I agree. It will be very interesting to see how/what the power companies will do in the next 12-24 months.

    Would be good to get Smurfs opinion on this.
     
  8. pixel

    pixel DIY Trader

    Posts:
    4,911
    Likes Received:
    211
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    They won't like competition, that's for sure.
    Question is, will they be able to persuade Governments to outlaw competition? How will Governments sell that idea to the Electorate when the mantra has always been
    Competition is GOOD and brings prices DOWN?
     
  9. Value Collector

    Value Collector

    Posts:
    4,204
    Likes Received:
    158
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    the batteries don't generate power, they just store it. So at first it will be a zero sum game in that any power a household stores for later use is power that isn't being fed into the grid for some one else to use.

    eg. if my solar system isn't feeding into my neighbors house while I am away, because the power is charging my batteries, then the neighbors are more reliant on using the grid at large (transmission lines, substations, coal plant etc) than they would be if the power was being sourced locally from the surrounding un used solar generation.
     
  10. pixel

    pixel DIY Trader

    Posts:
    4,911
    Likes Received:
    211
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    My comment was in the context of community-based solutions:
    Stick enough SPV's on the roofs and wire them to a communal bank of batteries, and entire suburbs can remain off-grid. Some Developer will work out the nitty-gritty of critical mass, then run with it.
     
  11. Value Collector

    Value Collector

    Posts:
    4,204
    Likes Received:
    158
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    Maybe that's the future of the grid, a "Grid-lite" model.

    with such a model I guess there wouldn't be as much need for heavy infrastructure to support high peak loads, a much smaller scale network shifting off peak loads around would do.

    I could see an operator of a caravan park, shopping mall or office building becoming a mini off the grid energy mogul, running his own mini power network and charging tenants for their usage.

    I have wanted to put solar panels on my rental properties for years, but can never think of a way this could produce investment returns from the tenant, no tenant wants to pay extra rent to cover the cost of a $10K solar installation, even though it would work out cheaper for them.
     
  12. basilio

    basilio

    Posts:
    4,433
    Likes Received:
    142
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    The game is changing. For years we have been told that solar power is more expensive than coal fired power stations.

    Maybe ... but the facts are that the original power production costs are only a fraction of what consumers end up paying. The transmission costs and layers of intermediaries make up the final cost to consumers.

    So a decentralized system with (now cheap) solar power production and backed up by cost effective batteries will be more than competitive. It will all depend on how much profit the new intermediaries want to make.

    By the way there is a commercial operation looking at something like this. I suspect a well thoughtout community based model would be more cost effective.

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/bus...wer-through-tech-startup-20150503-1my4zr.html
     
  13. basilio

    basilio

    Posts:
    4,433
    Likes Received:
    142
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    Thought I would copy this from the Climate Madness thread.
    ______________________________________________

    Lets get positive..

    I just saw the presentation by Elon Musk on the Tesla powerwall. A simple clean, cheap battery bank that can store solar power and be the missing link to having a totally renewable energy run world.

    Only goes for 18 mins and well worth the time.

    Towards the end Elon speculates on how many power walls would be required to enable the whole world to run on renewable energy (including transport and heating) He reckons 2 billion units.

    Sounds like an insane figure doesn't it ? Inconceivable perhaps?

    Well apparently the world currently has 2 billion cars and we add 100 million a year. No problem with that is there ? On that basis one could produce 2 billion powerwalls in say 20 years. In fact these are just cookie stamped generic units in a variety of colours. Simple eh ?

    And his Tesla technology is open source. Anyone else can do it if they want to.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKORsrlN-2k#t=243
     
  14. Smurf1976

    Smurf1976

    Posts:
    7,132
    Likes Received:
    106
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    The fundamental economic problem with the grid in recent years is that:

    1. We've tried to make it be something that it fundamentally isn't good at. The grid is very good at supplying cheap electricity at 99.9 - 99.95% reliability but by its' very nature cannot be 100% reliable. We've spent an outright fortune trying to turn 99.95% reliable into 99.96%.

    2. Financial types gained control and engineers largely lost it. Whenever a "financial" person gets control of something, you can be pretty sure it's not going to get cheaper especially when you're starting from a zero profit position.

    But let's be realistic. We've got a lot of roofs with solar panels on them but here we are just before noon on a weekday and they're collectively generating less than 6% of the electricity used in the NEM (Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, Tas, SA). And that's 6% now, come back later and it will be zero.

    So where next? The real issues are:

    1. For very small loads the grid is uneconomic now and has been for years. Think "very small" as in garden lights, electronic road signs outside schools and so on. The capital cost of the solar panel and batteries is less than the cost of the cable to connect to the grid and there's far less labour required too. Those loads will never be grid-connected, at least not for any rational economic or technical reason.

    2. Now it's the small (as distinct from very small) loads and particularly so in less densely populated areas. That's houses, particularly ones not in cities or at least a large town.

    There's a lot of parallels between the electricity grid and transport. Think of the grid as being like rail, and solar as being like road freight. There was a time when rail was the only way to move anything of substance on land and so we had rail lines to small towns and things like chocolate factories. Then decent road vehicles came along and became a much cheaper way of moving small volumes, leaving rail as a means of moving bulk quantities. End result is that in due course the rail lines to small towns and things like chocolate factories were abandoned.

    Density is a key there. Putting it in international terms then somewhere like Los Angeles, well known as being spread out and without much of a city center as such, the grid is really going to struggle to remain viable. But in a high density place, think downtown New York or Tokyo, the grid is here to stay.

    Climate is also a key factor. Off-grid is a lot easier in Queensland than it is in Tasmania due to space heating requirements. If half your total energy consumption is for space heating, and all of that occurs when the solar isn't working too well, then you're going to need some pretty impressive batteries to make that work = the grid is cheaper and easier. But take that heating load away, take the short winter days and low sun angle away and off-grid starts to make a lot of sense in places like Queensland, particularly if you're not in a city.

    In 2050 I fully expect the grid to still exist, but the idea that every electrical device would be connected to a single network was very much a 20th Century concept and one that, in Australia, was only ever achieved in two states (Vic and Tas) anyway.

    So how will the grid operators actually respond? My guess is that they won't respond at all for the moment.

    What's actually happening is that the generators and retailers, who have in most cases aggregated themselves from formerly separate entities, are the ones now driving the industry. Network companies have become bystanders really. Origin sells solar systems, AGL is getting into batteries, Momentum sells efficient lighting and solar. They are all retailers owned by generators. In contrast, what's your local network operator actually doing apart from making their case to regulators as to how much they can charge?

    In due course the generators / retailers will find the networks enough of a problem that they'll want to buy them so as to fix it. There would be a lot of fuss about any such move, but at some point there's going to be a conflict since network operators and their charges are at some point going to put the generators and retailers out of business (which would also put the networks out of business). How that conflict resolves is harder to predict, but one way or another it will resolve - the current business model of the networks isn't sustainable and the generators / retailers have a big interest in reforming it.

    So we go forward a few years and the networks end up with a very different business model, possibly owned by the generators / retailers. The networks then get shut down in those areas where it's cheaper to install stand alone solar.

    The cost saving the enables price cuts for remaining users in higher density areas, thus keeping the solar idea at bay. Also in that context, if consumers have battery storage then that in itself leads to lower costs of running the grid. Firstly because peak demand can be slashed, secondly because instead of aiming for 100% reliability that costs twice as much as 99.95%, we can instead aim for 99.0% and save an outright fortune. The grid becomes a means of cheaply charging the batteries, rather than being something that must always work as such.

    All this is from the consumer's perspective. On the other hand, there's a huge role for the grid going forward as means of aggregating a large number of individually small (and often unreliable) generation sources to supply large loads (cities, factories etc).

    In most places, the traditional model involves a very small number of large power stations connected to a very large number of consumers. Going forward, it's more a case of a larger number of much smaller sources of generation being connected only to the larger loads, and the small loads taking care of themselves.

    There's a culture shock there. You can certainly get firm, reliable power from a series of individually intermittent generation sources linked together but operating that is extremely different from operating a conventional coal / gas / nuclear plant which has a reasonably stable output.

    From my last electricity bill:

    Network (poles and wires) = 58.9%

    Generation (power stations) = 23.9%

    Retail (sending out the bills) = 13.1%

    I'll tell you for certain that there's not a lot of money in generation these days, oh no there isn't. The money disappears into the grid and it costs a lot of money to send out bills too. But electricity per se is cheaper than it's ever been.

    For reasons of pure self interest, the generators aren't going to forever sit back and have the networks put them out of business. At some point, there's going to be a lot of pressure to cut costs there and that pressure won't just be from consumers or government, the generators and retailers have a pretty strong interest in it too when most of the money is disappearing into the networks.

    As of right now:

    Coal = 71.5% (of which 40% is in NSW)
    Gas = 9.2% (of which 58% is in Qld)
    Wind = 8.1% (of which 59% is in SA)
    Solar = 5.9% (of which 48% is in Qld)
    Hydro = 5.3% (of which 79% is in Tas)

    Of that lot, Wind and Solar are running to capacity as limited by weather conditions - there's no ability to immediately boost output without a change in weather. In contrast, there's plenty of coal, gas and hydro plant sitting around doing nothing right now - there's several gas and hydro power stations completely idle.

    Spot price = 3.01 cents / kWh (about one tenth what you pay at home.....).:2twocents
     
  15. basilio

    basilio

    Posts:
    4,433
    Likes Received:
    142
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    Great post Smurf. Always good to see your analysis.

    It was interesting to see Elon Musk touch on some of the topics you raise in his presentation. For example when he was talking about providing power to the world through solar energy and batteries he was specifically noting that one didn't need to replicate the current model of big power stations and a myriad distribution links.

    This in fact would be copying the current communications strategy of bypassing hard wired telephones and going directly to mobiles in third world rural area.

    The more one researches current progress in renewable energy and storage the clearer it becomes that fixed fossil fuel powered systems have had their day.
     
  16. SirRumpole

    SirRumpole

    Posts:
    8,215
    Likes Received:
    318
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2014
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    No one seems to have mentioned that all these batteries need rare metals which are not going to get cheaper over times as the stocks are used up, a la oil.
     
  17. basilio

    basilio

    Posts:
    4,433
    Likes Received:
    142
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2008
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    Not necessarily.. Can't pit my finger on it right now but there are already a range of battery technologies that won't use rare metals. Vandium Redox batteries spring to mind. I think even lithium is going to be ok with significant new discoveries.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timwors...newable-energy-economy-just-that-much-closer/
    http://trib.com/business/energy/lit...cle_2ca58b1c-31af-5400-a5fa-635cda9c43b0.html
    http://www.thegreenmarketoracle.com/2013/04/new-discoveries-of-lithium-deposits.html
     
  18. luutzu

    luutzu

    Posts:
    5,210
    Likes Received:
    154
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2014
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    That's why we'll never leave Afghanistan - some branch of the US armed forces discovered massive deposits of lithium ions and other metals good for new generation of batteries a few years ago. Can't remember the figures but it's massive - in hundreds of billions or trillions.
     
  19. ghotib

    ghotib THIMKER

    Posts:
    1,002
    Likes Received:
    10
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    There's always a catch isn't there. I've extracted this list of "materials used for commercially available cells" from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery#Materials_of_commercial_cells

    Positive electrode
    Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide ("NMC", LiNixMnyCozO2)
    Lithium Manganese Oxide ("LMO", LiMn2O4)
    Lithium Iron Phosphate ("LFP", LiFePO4)

    Negative electrode
    Graphite
    Lithium Titanate ("LTO", Li4Ti5O12)
    Hard carbon
    Tin/Cobalt Alloy
    Silicon/Carbon

    Anyone know how far we are from Peak any of that lot? Or what other materials might be used for lithium/ion technology? Or the status of newer technologies?
     
  20. Value Collector

    Value Collector

    Posts:
    4,204
    Likes Received:
    158
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Re: Do you have solar panels?

    It will be exactly like oil, the price will sky rocket, then every man and his dog will push capital into discovering more and finding new ways to extract and the price will collapse, just like oil.

    But it's a bit better, batteries can be recycled, we can get some of the material back.

    Also material science is always improving the life of these batteries.
     
Loading...

Share This Page