Tesla boss, Elon Musk (whose companies have received $4.9 billion in government subsidies for his electric cars) is now claiming that his batteries will allow solar energy to power the world: “You can basically make all electricity generation in the world renewable and basically solar …”

This is, at best, pure puffery.

As Christopher Helman says “Tesla’s new battery is just another toy for rich green people”:

Everyone who owns a car, truck, tractor, quad bike, bobcat, forklift or other mobile machine is hoping that the fortune being wasted on green energy may produce just one real benefit – better batteries. We want batteries that are cheap, light weight, charge quickly with no losses, last forever and store a large quantity of energy. Nothing close is on the market yet.

But better batteries will not make solar energy a competitive source of uninterrupted grid power.

The solar power received at any point on Earth’s surface varies continuously from zero at dawn, peaks at mid-day, and falls back to zero by dusk. It varies from summer to winter and can fall suddenly at any time if clouds, dust or snow obscure the sunlight.

On a clear cloudless day, solar energy can be collected at constantly varying rates over about ten sunny hours. To use solar alone to produce 24/7 steady grid power, batteries must supply power for the 14 hour shadow zone (which often covers peak demand) as well as smoothing the sunny zone.  

Assuming no losses in the charging/discharging process and no clouds, solar energy plus batteries will deliver a steady supply of less than 20% of peak generating capacity over a 24 hour period. This means that over 80% of energy collected during any sunny window must be devoted to charging the batteries and is not available for immediate consumption.

However there are also cloudy days, sometimes several in a row. To cover this possibility many more batteries (and solar panels) will be needed for the same guaranteed steady output.

Better batteries can never change this.

Of course green enthusiasts will say: “We’ll charge the batteries using excess power from wind turbines and solar collectors when it’s available, and use the stored energy to smooth out the natural fluctuations.” This may work on the doodle pad of some green academic, but imagine the complications, costs and losses in all these AC/DC conversions, and the risks of grid failure when trying to meet power demand schedules by combining two variable, unreliable intermittent energy producers. And because of the dilute nature of solar/wind energy, huge areas of land must be blighted to collect significant quantities of energy.

If we had perfect batteries, it would be cheaper and simpler to use cheap base-load coal, nuclear, gas or hydro power to charge them, and then use the charged batteries – instead of expensive peaking generators – to handle peak power.

Or with perfect batteries, a householder could use off-peak power to charge his batteries and then use battery power at peak-price times. With widespread use, this could allow all electricity to be supplied cheaply from low-cost reliable base-load generators.

Better batteries are worth striving for, but they will never make solar energy grid-ready. 

Here are some Solar Power Realities:
 

http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/solar-realities.pdf

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JackFrench
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JackFrench

What about Molten Salt Concentrated Solar Power?

Ducktracy
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Ducktracy

All of the “at a glance” articles are the same…as in you have to go looking for the original post to find the reply…painful stuff, but it’s the way it is.

johnsamson
Member
johnsamson

You don’t want to undergo a triple bypass under solar energy…ooops, sorry. No power. Cant help. Rest in pieces.

Matt12
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Matt12

Coal could be a supply of carbon and graphite for advanced composites.

mrgg@bigpond
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mrgg@bigpond

The most constant and reliable Natural Energy re/source in our world ( and maybe ALL The Universe !?) is MAGNETICS ! Search the web to see the many electricity generators ‘invented’ using an inner rotor and an outer stata and two rings of life long magnets whose polarities are switched as required by a computer to produce drive and when up to appropriate revs and generating ‘power’ will self-drive. Saw one in BC Canada back in 1993. Yep! Can be big or small as required to ‘do the job’.

dante
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dante

If you can convince people that nuclear power is safe you are doing a marvellous marketing job and lying. And what do you do with the waste…….

Ducktracy
Member
Ducktracy
JCM
Member
JCM

Isn’t science great, rape the moon and when it’s exhausted and the tides run amok, then what??? like Fukashima running rampant and not one scientist has any real idea about curbing it’s toxic releases into the Pacific,when the Pacific is finally polluted to being just a stagnant pond with no life,or fish or the capacity to absorb CO2, then a tax will be levied to repair the damage done, science is not the end all but rather the problem in a lot of cases

johnsamson
Member
johnsamson

Someone has to pay to explore, extract and process the inaccessible peoples’ minerals and convert it to commodities. Yeah, the peoples’ Billy B. Why can’t they each go out themselves with bag and shovel and export directly to China? Anyone stopping this?

johnsamson
Member
johnsamson

test

kwilley50
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kwilley50

Nikolai, we live for the present. Bowing to the UN/IPCC rubbish is not going to preserve anything for the future and we would be stupid to do so. If coal and oil are such demons now, are they not going to be the same demons in the future? If so, why would we want to preserve them for the future? What advantage is there in that?

jumbolloyd
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jumbolloyd

…yes Viv….Elon Musk has become very rich thanks to that fucking nigger in the White House…this is like when Krudd was throwing money at some stupid hare-brain idea that Flannery was involved with…and there are others…the fact is…Elon Musk is a crony mate of Obongo the Nigger…like the other companies that Elon Musk controls…cant make it on its own…it has to have taxpayers subsidy to survive like the RET…look…the Telsa car is very swish….but its impractical….at best range is about 650 kms…then what…how long to recharge using coal fired electricity…the booklet doesn’t say for the charge time…as I can fill… Read more »

Skeptik
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Skeptik

Why would you want to put solar power into batteries to use at night saving yourself 22 cents kWh when you can feed it into the mains at 67cents kWh during the day?

Daveinoz
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Daveinoz

BETTER BATTERIES ALREADY EXIST … BUT THEY”RE LOCKED AWAY

A light weight battery that can be made into any shape and runs on alcohol already exists but GM (USA) bought the patent and has locked it away.

Several drops of alcohol can run your smartphone for a month.

The whole car body can be the battery ..

ALL LOCKED AWAY …… IS THAT RIGHT ?

iphoenix
Member
iphoenix

We don’t need better batteries. All we need to do is entirely cover the earth and oceans with solar cells, connect them all together so solar energy is available 24 hrs. a day, connect all electric cars/trucks/ships and aircraft by wires to energy points and “Bob’s your uncle”………Or, maybe not!

BlackRoo
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BlackRoo

Well at least the greens (terminology for wet behind the ears) are doing their bit by using their tricycles to get about. Little kiddies.

theos
Member
theos

radio and tv will never catch on.

DoctorBen
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DoctorBen

The UK government has also stopped all subsidies to the solar and wind industry and has commissioned two new nuclear power plants to ensure future power requirements. If only we could get someone to do the same here.

theos
Member
theos

rightly or wrongly the solar genie is out of the bottle and can never be put back. battery development will proceed regardless.

Panda
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Panda

Germany has more broken down and out of service Wind Turbines than anywhere else in the World.

Panda
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Panda

Just bought some tissues at my local supermarket( in Germany). Gee said my wife the box is smaller! Turned over the box and the message said happily. Notice we have reduced the size of the box! We have also reduced the number of tissues from 130 to 90! This is Very Good for the Planet! Maker is Kimberly-Clark, who chop down more trees than anyone else in the World. Of course the Price remains the Same!

AlyKatz
Member
AlyKatz

viv I follow all your posts with interest–I put on a 5kw system just to assist with the bill–and it does—by about 40%, not for any idealistic green agenda. I believe this is about the only valid reason to put it on. With all the fan dangle appliances around, and used at night, there is no way I would have the room for batteries to power all that stuff. Did I waste my money?

ThePragmatist
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ThePragmatist

It will help those in isolated areas where there is no power grid.

manfromOZ
Member
manfromOZ

The best form of stored clean energy is hydro power. It should be used to supplement solar and wind. Solar and wind power should be therefore be considered as a way to save water. Coal fired boilers can not be turned on and off and must remain on standby no matter how sunny or windy the weather is.

ThePragmatist
Member
ThePragmatist

The tesla electric vehicle is showing promise. A bit expensive at present but it should come down in rice eventually. It can accelerate quicker than a Lamborghini and has a travel distance of 400km . Top speed 200km/h.

sibcat
Member
sibcat

Generating power with all this lovely sunshine is reducing the heat absorbed by the earths crust, said Prof: BS Shinyarse, of Possum Island Uni. This causes serious damage to the hairy chested earth worms habitat, which will reduce our grain crops by 90% over the next 50 years, in Southern Pogoland. He said

adamol
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adamol

seriously viv i enjoy and respect your commentary but you are referencing a 2007 study!

JohnKeough
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JohnKeough

Excellent article!