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More heat than light

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If it works, great.
I suspect that lithium-ion batteries are only the next 'cold fusion' or 'thorium reactors'. Always just around the next corner.

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

It's always been a bit like fusion and CCS. Big breakthroughs in battery storage and cost within the next 10 years, too cheap to meter, yada yada yada. If it happens it'll be a wonderful thing and I'd welcome it. But I'm not holding my breath.

Storing electricity from your own solar panels is one thing, but storing the energy generated by wind turbines? In dedicated Li-Ion batteries? No, I don't think so. More likely electricity will be priced per hour though smart meters, so, if there's a surplus of wind electricity price drops and battery owners get to top up charge levels at a cheap rate...

But all that assumes the batteries work as advertised. I notice the puff piece talks of systems costing $10000 and paying back in 10 years. What's the working lifetime of these batteries? If they're like EV batteries, their charge capacity will already be below 50% by then...

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Crook

Yes it's brilliant, it could!!!!!! Just as could not!!!!!!!

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

New technology has developed some amazing breakthroughs in marketing, allowing fortunes to be made out of Government grants and subsidies, whilst delivering not very much, a fraction better. The eternal promise of another few years before the full cost benefits and potential are realised, has kept the developers in full profit mode, despite the lack of any realistic potential from the outset.

The Green economy really is too good to be true.

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

For those who can't read the piece, it says that:

UP TO half of Australian hones COULD START to move off the grid in A FEW years


battery technology improved 50x.

If gravity disappeared once you got 20 miles up and if space was full of air, we could all have holiday homes on Mars...

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

One look at the website shows that this is a green blob bloodsucker set up. Why would you trust any organisation who describes the withdrawal of funding for the Lomborg Consensus Centre as "a fantastic result for science".

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

The only problems are the laws of Thermodynamics.

Another cry from a fairground shill.

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

As DG points out, it's the standard green wishful thinking. Merely saying a technical advance will occur, does not mean that it will. Nor do technical advances occur because a government legislates that they will occur.

They occur due to the hard work and inspiration of real scientists and real engineers, often with a large dollop of serendipity. Environmental activists don't enter into the equation.

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It is time for wealthy Greens to commission a housing development in the UK of 10-100 houses, without any grid connection to gas, water, electricity etc. All the advantages of modern efficient housebuilding, but entirely dependent on unreliable power and self sufficiency.

By buying the houses, Green advocates could put their money, where their mouth is. If Green technology is as dependable as advertised, the houses should soar up in value, and become the standard by which other houses are judged, backed up by full disclosure of running costs.

Oct 24, 2015 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Yes it's the magic bean salesman dragging out the soapbox again.

I keep going back to this :

Life without fossil fuels: a modest proposal

I guess I'm not alone in being irritated by the green blobbers seeking to sacrifice our present energy infrastructure in the hope of the spirits providing magic batteries.... and if that doesn't work then thieving from taxpayers to indulge their wonky schemes comes in second....

Given them a patch of land etc... give them a planet? The prescience of Douglas Adams' "B Ark" grows more profound as every day passes.

The cargo cultists of the Pacific also spring to mind - dunno why.

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Registered Commentertomo

I wonder why it is only half the homes that can have this magic system. What about the other half that will presumably continue to receive reliable electricity from the grid? Why can't they have it too?

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"“Together with rooftop solar, battery storage presents an opportunity for Australian households to use a much greater proportion of the solar photovoltaic electricity they generate and minimise the need to purchase expensive electricity from the grid.”

Note the word minimise use of the grid. Time for Australia to adopt the Spanish approach and tax solar panel users who want to use the grid as a backup without contributing much to the costs of running it.

I'm also wondering if another approach to this might be to increase the standing charge element of leccy bills while reducing the cost per KWh so it's revenue neutral. Thus users who lower reliance on the grid through solar panels would still pay an appropriate amount for using it as a back up. Though course it's hardly a backup when solar panels don't generate anything half of the time and much of the time outside mid day peaks the amount generated is trivial..

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterTed

The key arbiter is the supply of Li: it's limited.

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

I like the way the MSM reports the coulda-woulda-shoulda brigade as though their flights of fancy were actually in existence. If I had some bread I could have a ham sandwich...if I had some ham.

Batteries are getting better but there is no major breakthrough that I can see. The problems of overheating, disposal and energy loss through inverters are all still there. Let us hope that these Aussie homes with their battery packs and wooden walls do not show as much propensity for self immolation as Tesla cars.

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

All energy comes from a sun (ours or others), Earth has many 100% reliable ways of storing it, we know how to release that energy PLUS how to return priceless CO2 to the atmosphere, wots not to like?

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:15 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Nothing wrong with Aussie householders installing panels and batteries if they are sure it will work out financially. But 'spend GBP5000 on a battery and it will pay for itself in 10 years' sounds to me the weak point of the argument. Will the battery last 10 years plus? I think I'd want a cast-iron, Lloyds underwritten guarantee from the salesman that he replaces the battery - incorporating the latest current technology - for free in case of failure or performance shortfall within those 10 years. Well-meaning folk have found themselves heavily out-of-pocket plenty of times by taking such projections at face value.

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered Commentermothcatcher

@mike jackson

...I suspect that lithium-ion batteries are only the next 'cold fusion' or 'thorium reactors'. Always just around the next corner....

Oh, Li-ion (and Li-Po) batteries are here all right. I fly my drones off them. They have a very good power/weight ratio.


They suffer from ageing - and can be useless after a season. They need expert maintenance, and don't like mistreatment. And worse, they contain HUGE amounts of energy. So, if something goes wrong, my little batteries turn into a grenade.

I would not like to be near a large Lithium battery that had been 'looked after' by the average punter...

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

From Tesla's Gigafactory blurb:

Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transportation. To achieve that goal, we must produce electric vehicles in sufficient volume to force change in the automobile industry. With a planned production rate of 500,000 cars per year in the latter half of this decade, Tesla alone will require today’s entire worldwide production of lithium ion batteries. The Tesla Gigafactory was born of necessity and will supply enough batteries to support our projected vehicle demand.

So where is the Lithium for the Ozzie batteries going to be sourced?

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post


...But 'spend GBP5000 on a battery and it will pay for itself in 10 years' sounds to me the weak point of the argument. ...

I'll say! For a start, if I invested the 5k at 4% compound interest, 10 years would give me about 7.5 k. Can the battery manage that?

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Dodgy Geezer

The charge - discharge regime is as I understand it pivotal in Li-Po land. You can get enhanced life from the chemistry if the charge<>discharge band is narrowed and currents are reduced - but that negates some of the performance edge the cells enjoy. The exact recipe for longevity depends on very precise control of the operating conditions and that costs money and doesn't seem viable on a cost / benefit basis.

I keep thinking about magnetically levitated flywheels buried in folks gardens - an average punter / domestic appliance maintainer and that many Li-Po batteries = not long before a conflagration or several!

I deal with UPS systems on quite a regular basis and cell failure is routine - as far as I can see perpetrated by poor control of the battery charge / discharge conditions (inc temperature) - manufacturing quality also leaves a tremendous amount to be desired with the numbers on the side of the battery many times simply being a fantasy....

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Perhaps Barratt or Bovis Homes should be designing in all this wonderful energy efficient kit at build as the average buyer apparently only stays in a property for about 12 years.

I don't get pound signs flashing in my eyes to encourage me to install any of this technology.

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Just another part of the lead up to the Paris stampede. How great it will be if only ...

Oct 24, 2015 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

tomo, Greens don't do cost benefit analysis. Anyone who says cost benefit analysis, anywhere near a Green, must be in the pay of Big Oil, therefore cost benefit analysis is banned from being mentioned in the context of anything Green, to be substituted by emotional blackmail.

The advantage of Green emotional blackmail, is it is freely available, endlessly recyclable, self perpetuating, cheap, and unquantifiable, therefore defying the logic and merits of cost benefit analysis.

Oct 24, 2015 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie

indeed - although not all greens are that dense - the majority categorically are and tiresomely so to boot. I do though enjoy when an inconvenient observation is mentioned and the tw*ts launch into "you're in the pay of big oil".

Jehovah's Witnesses are by comparison quite rational - they've never accused me of being The Devil when I've brought up inconvenient stuff contrary to their beliefs :-)

Oct 24, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Registered Commentertomo

The battery is a standard magician's trick to distract attention from the key fact, which is that rooftop solar only provides enough energy to power lights, radios and maybe a very small fridge, you'll need the energy from chemical or nuclear bonds for cooking and heating.

I suggest a challenge to greenies, live completely off-grid for a year, then multiply the capital cost of that by 7 billion.

Oct 24, 2015 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky


...The charge - discharge regime is as I understand it pivotal in Li-Po land. ...

In the modelling world we look to push the technology to the limits - particularly when racing - so it's not unusual to monitor battery states closely in all sorts of complex ways and exceed recommendations where we can get away with it. If you want reliable robust power sources with low maintenance, you still go for lead-acid in model boats...

One of the lesser-appreciated problems with a battery-equipped house is that you can't kill the power from outside in the event of a fire. Normally, the first thing a fire brigade unit will do when arriving at a fire is to turn off the external electric and gas feeds. This makes it safer for the firefighters to enter the house or spray water on it.

However, if the house has a lithium battery inside it, spraying water on a fire is likely to electrocute the firemen. So they don't.....

Oct 24, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer


...Jehovah's Witnesses are by comparison quite rational - they've never accused me of being The Devil when I've brought up inconvenient stuff contrary to their beliefs :-)...

Jehovah's Witnesses are quite a lot of fun. Around here they are pushing the syllogism:

- Where scientific facts are mentioned in the Bible they have been shown to be correct
- Therefore the entire Bible is correct
- Therefore it is the inerrant word of God...

to which the obvious answer is 1 Kings 7:23 (pi=3). But watch out for the counter argument that the brim must have been a different diameter...

Oct 24, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Dodgy Geezer

I've tinkered quite a bit with Li-Po packs from models / drones (built 72V 20Ah packs + assd. charger-balancers for my leccy scooter ). Reducing the voltage excursions between fully charged and fully discharged is supposed to dramatically enhance cell longevity - but as you say there's a trade-off to be had.

As far as safety is concerned - a separate (non combustible) shed for the battery seems prudent and a method of isolation akin to that used on petrol stations (The Fireman Switch) would undoubtedly put in an appearance if these things ever get to be ubiquitous domestic appliances, covered no doubt by house insurance .....

1 Kings 7:23 - heh I'll try remembering that next time they call when I'm in :-)

Oct 24, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Registered Commentertomo

I must have been asleep in Australia for the last few years - WHEN WE HAD THOSE SAVINGS IN POWER COSTS!!!

Australia used to be a haven for industry (with low power costs), but that was in the olden days.

Oct 24, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate


... a separate (non combustible) shed for the battery seems prudent and a method of isolation akin to that used on petrol stations (The Fireman Switch) would undoubtedly put in an appearance...

The Fireman's switch would only work, of course, if the battery could be isolated in a separate shed distant from the living quarters. Good luck with installing that in any existing city home. But I find that no one seems to care about the general problem with renewables - that they need safe energy storage, and safe energy storage is an engineering contradiction.

At a rough estimate, the UK uses about 1 Exajoule (10 to the 18 joules) per month in winter. Energy storage quantities of about 1 month have been quoted for a reliable renewable-fed supply. That is the equivalent of around 20,000 Hiroshima bombs. I assume that a Green would have no problems living next to this...?

Oct 24, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Australia, where common sense, any sort of yer know um sciencey stuff..... and real life solutions have gone................................. walkabout.

Some bloke told me that, Ayres rock is a storage facility for untold of and untapped resources of dream time energy, he said, "get real man with Tesla resolutions".

Next, "Australia cracks the mystery - deriving something out of maybes!" cells - moonbeam PV cells!

Oct 24, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Dodgy Geezer

I revert to the Modest Proposal link earlier which I'm v.fond of waving at Greenies :-)

Greenies most times don't do 'rithmetic and really do spout far more kerrapp than 'Jovies who simply want to bring you into the fold - the Greenies are after control on a grand scale... regardless of if you believe...... = nasty.

Oct 24, 2015 at 2:32 PM | Registered Commentertomo

A bank of high quality marine/RV deep-cycle batteries is a much better and much cheaper way to store the the miniscule amount of energy from the average PV panel. Why does no-one in greenland ever think of solar hot water which is a far better way to grab some energy from the sun. With a few PV panels to recharge your iPads, solar hot water to take care of the major energy requirement of the house and a standby generator fuelled with CUF (compressed unicorn farts) one would only need the grid for backup say twelve hours a day (or rather night).
There's no carbon footprint at all because, as any fule kno, manufacturing PV panels, HotWater panels, generators and batteries requires no energy or expensive raw materials.......

Oct 24, 2015 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris moffatt

Anyone heard of this?

There are still a few coulds scattered about but the Israelis are pretty damned clever.

Oct 24, 2015 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

Meanwhile in the real world the market for portable fossil fuelled generators is growing at 6.5% per annum and sales of bulk diesel for that market has doubled in the last 5 years. I suspect that those Australians going off grid will be depending on those at night.

Oct 24, 2015 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Willshaw

The new growth sector has to be fake solar panels fixed to your house. None of the excessive costs of real panels, 100% guaranteed unreliability, no uncertainty about electricity, and just as much street cred with the rest of the street.

Alternatively you can pay thousands of pounds for the real thing, get almost nothing out of it, and when it goes wrong, go back to dependancy on the mains.

Driving down any street, the smartest Green thinking, gets you the look, for a fraction of the cost, with none of the consequences. After all, how does anybody know that people are not doing it already?

Oct 24, 2015 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

And just think of the rare earths you are saving.

Oct 24, 2015 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Ted, this is being done with industrial customers in the U.S. They pay demand charges based on their capacity-to-consume. It is to offset the utilities' fixed cost for having the power available 24/7/365. Charging residential customers for demand is making more and more sense to me.

Solar energy business totally ignores fixed cost, proclaiming solar energy is FREE (after you spend tens of thousands to put in an adequate system).

Oct 24, 2015 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Anyone moving off grid and relying on solar is looking for trouble. When we get rain, it rains for days/weeks/months.

I guess it could be very good for anyone living west of the range, but lets see if the batteries are real before you start sprooking off about it.

Oct 24, 2015 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

As others have picked up
"It said a household which spent £5,000 on a battery would make back the money within ten years ..."

365 * 10 = 3600 deep cycles including bad time of year and bad weather.

It is usual to cost on borrowed money.
Cost battery, inverter, control, install, insurance, full repayment inside 10 years

10 years later repeat, what was before will be obsolete and/or at end of life. The quoted only said "make back", which is the same as amortise, not save money or whatever, so it is costing you. (includes money not spent on other things, other tax not paid, etc.)

Feasible, how about some evidence?
A go-to over many years on deadly serious cell technology is Saft, not cheap.

The reference here is a casual discussion technical, not absolute specifications. (writing as an engineer)
This reveals a usual problem and pitfalls waiting for the unwary and especially cost cutting, beware sharks and incompetents. You also need to consider unmentioned details such as the self heating and heat in the battery room. Generally with this kind of long term stuff you have to plan a variable regime so that the design life is met. (been there, done that, eg. computer clock must maintain for 10 years on battery under temperature profiles and last 10 years from equipment install date, so change battery after 5 years on shelf, get the idea?)

The implication is a 10 year design life, a figure rarely exceeded under guarantee and even then it is probably typical, not worst case (but should be worst case, engineering stuff again, be actually designed for maybe 12 to 15 years) and all to a specified end point. Nothing is sloppy.

Somehow mass install of new technology with an aggressive specification seems impossible.

Then I come to the reality.

Mass production means that in all but edge cases put in central mass supply with tried and tested distributions, wires. The idea of zillions of very expensive little systems relative to large central is wildly cost inefficient.(such as the head count of staff)

The cost of installing wires is far lower than often claimed when there is a mass intent, a dedicated team goes in doing mass wiring.

Oct 24, 2015 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Channon

The Climate Council said the cost of producing lithium-ion batteries will fall “dramatically” in the coming years.

Then it must be true.

Oct 24, 2015 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

The Climate Council bought a high confidence level from Lewandowsky.

97% of people are sure this is not right, but more to the left.

Will Australians give a 4X for money degrading technology?

Oct 24, 2015 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"It said a household which spent £5,000 on a battery would make back the money within ten years ..."

Only if it had a huge electricity bill. For a 3 bedroom house in Scotland my electricity bill is around £45 per month. It isn't used for cooking or heating. So around £540 per year.

If the solar panels generated all my electricity I would pay off the cost of the battery in 10 years. But with only a £40 per year saving left over to pay for the solar panels, lost interest on the £5000 investment, and installation and any repairs. Never going to happen.

Oct 24, 2015 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTed

“The Climate Council, a non-government organisation, found that improvements in battery technology could make homemade electricity cheaper than buying it within three years and could allow half of the nation to start moving “off the grid …”.
Forget it, the Climate Council is a small outfit run by Tim Flannery, an expert in old bones.
Caveat emptor.

Oct 24, 2015 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

I live in a rural area of NE Victoria. Two adults Two kid, we use electricity for hot water, cooking and lighting etc, we have wood heating. Our power bill runs to over $4000 per annum, mainly due to extra charges to subsidise green power etc. I would have to really consider some way of going off grid if it gets more expensive. The whole AGW green stuff is a crock but I can't afford to pay for it much longer.

Oct 24, 2015 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Williams

Will Australians give a 4X for money degrading technology?

Oct 24, 2015 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC, In the same vein:
The Climate Emperors' New Clothes = "Streuth. There's a bloke down there with no strides on."

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The Climate Council? Hahahahaha!

This is the bunch of alarmists that Tony Abbott got rid of from the public payroll, so they set up as an NGO, originally headed up by Tim Flannery (who did his PhD in dinosaur bones.) But Tim and a couple of his pals on the Board had foolishly solicited donations by saying that they wouldn't take a penny for themselves. After a year or so, they realised that this was not to their liking, so they resigned from their positions and came back as paid consultants.

Such integrity.

As for the content of these projections, to be polite, one is reminded of the old saw "if wishes were horses then beggars could ride."

Oct 24, 2015 at 11:43 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Not 'til we get to the end do we find out that it is Tesla that is going to defy the laws of physics and chemistry, but not the law of snake-oil salesmen.

Oct 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert of Ottawa

That is a press release. Published in full as if it's news, by the UK Telegraph. Stenography, not journalism. Pathetic.

Oct 25, 2015 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterWB

"A report by The Climate Council, a non-government organisation"

You know that council, originally headed up by Tim the "flim flam man" Flannery (who did his PhD in dinosaur bones, but started with possums/kangeroos?). Yep that Tim, who convinced Julia Dillard to go for the Carbon Tax when the greens had her by the short and curlys and were screwing her to break every promise they could. Tim, famous for his climate bulladiictions like;

In 2005, Flannery predicted Sydney's dams could be dry in as little as two years because global warming was drying up the rains, leaving the city "facing extreme difficulties with water". So, Sydney installed a desalination plane that we never used!!

In 2007, Flannery predicted cities such as Brisbane would never again have dam-filling rains, as global warming had caused "a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas" and made the soil too hot, "so even the rain that falls isn't actually going to fill our dams and river systems ... ".

In 2008, Flannery said: "The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009." Hmmm really??

And plenty more here

Oct 25, 2015 at 1:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterColA

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