Community batteries: Managing green energy on grid?

Existing fossil energy grids were not planned to manage and distribute renewable energy and require either $$$ re-engineering or new thinking

The approved “Summary for Policy Makers” that begins the third part of the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 6th Assessment Report, was issued late yesterday after receiving political sign offs after considerable discussion with sponsoring governments. Despite attempts by several governments including Australia’s, to deny or downplay aspects of the report, even this rendition of the scientific findings forecasts an extremely dire future from continued global warming if it is not stopped and reversed below the 1.5 °C level. Fossil fuel burning must stop! (see video).

“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C,” said Prof Jim Skea, a co-chair of the report. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

The implication for the biggest culprit, fossil fuels, is clear: it’s over. The IPCC states that existing and currently planned fossil fuel projects are already more than the climate can handle. More projects will lock in even greater emissions and our journey to climate hell.

Damian Carrington, 05/04/2022 in the Guardian. It’s over for fossil fuels: IPCC spells out what’s needed to avert climate disasterAnalysis: The third part of the panel’s report makes clear a century of rising emissions must end before 2025.

As strong as the present report is in discussing the dire consequences facing humanity if we fail to stop and reverse the warming, the whole IPCC process is structured in such a way that it cannot help but understate the magnitude and likelihood of the risks. I document and discuss this issue at length in my presentation: Some fundamental issues relating to the science underlying climate policy: The IPCC and COP26 couldn’t help but get it wrong.

Vote Climate One’s local community in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges has been aware of the need to replace fossil fuels for decades. It has a long established interest in renewable energy projects including the establishment of a community owned ‘Power Park’ supporting wind and solar generation together with battery storage. Unfortunately, this has been stalled for years by state government bureaucracy, not helped by relentless attacks on the harvest of wind energy by Federal and State COALition governments, beginning with Tony Abbott (then PM), Barnaby Joyce (then Agriculture Minister) and Joe Hockey (then Treasurer).

With the major project still stalled, and aware of difficulties incorporating big renewable energy generators into the fossil energy grid, the Macedon Ranges community group recently won state government funding for a feasibility study and community engagement program to implement energy storage and batteries at the community level. This project is detailed in the webinar video: “What is a neighbourhood battery and why should I care?“. Even without the local energy farm, the ability to localize and manage energy storage at the community level should considerably reduce the problems anticipated from incorporating renewable energy sources into the fossil electricity grid. This offers a way to facilitate the generation and use of renewable energy at the neighborhood level while reducing peak demands on the fossil network.

Our featured article from the ABC explores this ‘neighbourhood battery option’ in some detail:

  • Virtual Power Plants versus community batteries
  • The most effective scale, size, and location
  • Community battery program initiatives by local community groups and councils.
  • Lack of trust in retailers, long identified as a problem in Australia’s energy market, is highlighted as a barrier to the adoption of commercially run community battery programs.

This 464kWh community battery in the Perth suburb of Port Kennedy means local residents don’t need their own home battery.(Supplied: Western Power) / via the article

by James Purtill, 05/04/2022 in ABC News

A community battery ‘like a corner store’: Is this the future of home energy storage?

When Australia’s first community battery trial came to the Perth suburb of Alkimos Beach in 2016, Kelly was sceptical.

“There was a whole lot of discussion about whether it would save us money or not. The fee structure was quite complex,” she said.

Eventually, her family took a punt and signed up to the trial.

“And it did save us money. It was at least $100 every two months.”

Read the complete article….

What does this all tell us about our governments’ concerns and abilities to solve the climate crisis?

Many communities are already well prepared to switch from fossil to renewable energy sources as soon as the supply and distribution issues can be resolved. Given that governments supposedly exist to protect and keep their citizens safe from external threats (i.e., global warming) in this case) we should be able to expect that that they would be promoting and facilitating the growth and spread of renewable energy technologies. But, at least in the case of Australian federal and some state governments, they are dong precisely the opposite: denying the science, and blocking and humbugging efforts to research, develop, promote, and roll out renewable technologies across all of our communities.

We have to replace the COALition Government in Parliament with people we can trust to put action on climate change as their first priority before we can have any hope that the government will do its job to facilitate and support effective action to stop global warming. Not only do we need to replace Capt Humbug and his troop of fossil fuel puppets, but the clean-out should also include micro-party members such as mining multi-billionaire Clive Palmer’s one-man fake news bureau Craig Kelly, and Pauline Hanson’s anti-science nut Malcolm Roberts.

If you doubt my interpretation, let them tell you in their own words how hard they are working to keeping their patrons’ greenhouse gas emitting industries keep growing in the face of the oncoming climate catastrophe.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is supportive of Australia’s fossil fuel industry – and particularly coal, which he… says will be around for “decades to come”. “When it comes to the coal industry, it’s worth $35 billion to us every year in exports, and that’s money Australia needs to grow our economy,” Mr Morrison said. “What you need in today’s energy economy is you need to continue to run your coal-fired power stations for as long as you possibly can and that is our policy … we want them to run as long as they possibly can.” Coal-fired power stations will continue to run to back up renewable power sources, although Mr Morrison said gas would play a larger role in the energy mix in years to come. Mr Morrison added that building a new coal-fired power station would be difficult because of the state government planning powers, which would “probably never allow them to do it”. For the video see: The Australian, 14/03/2022, Commentary/coal-will-be-around-for-decades-to-come-scott-morrison/video. See also ‘We will keep mining’, says Australian prime minister Scott Morrison about the future of coal.

If that wasn’t enough, here’s a choice of some of Scotty’s thinking about stopping our slide down the slope to runaway global warming and possible near-term extinction

We’ll keep mining!
09/09/2021 via the Guardian

We need to get the gas from under our feet. We’ve got to get the gas!
The future of power: What’s behind Australia’s push for gas-fired energy | ABC Four Corners

We need to turn away from the the road to hothouse hell, and we won’t do this by continuing with the kind of business as usual Scotty from Maketing and his fossil fuel puppets are spruiking!

It seems to taken the clear thinking of Greta Thunberg, a 16 year-old girl who concluded school was pointless as long as humans continued their blind ‘business as usual’ rush towards extinction.

Listen to Greta’s speech live at the World Economic forum in Davos 2019. Except for her reliance on the IPCC’s overoptimistic emissions budget, everything she says is spot on that even she, as a child, can understand the alternatives and what has to happen.

In other words, wake up! smell the smoke! see the grimly frightful reality, and fight the fire that is burning up our only planet so we can give our offspring a hopeful future. This is the only issue that matters. Even the IPCC’s hyperconservative Sixth Assessment WG2 Report that looks at climate change’s global and regional impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities makes it clear we are headed for climate catastrophe if we don’t stop the warming process.

Scott Morrison and his troop of wooden-headed puppets are doing essentially nothing to organize effective action against the warming. In fact all they doing is rearranging the furniture in the burning house to be incinerated along with anything and everyone we may care about.

In Greta’s words, “even a small child can understand [this]”. People hope for their children’s futures. She doesn’t want your hopium. She wants you to rationally panic enough to wake up, pay attention to reality, and fight the fire…. so our offspring can have some hope for their future. Vote Climate One’s Traffic Light Voting System will help you use your preferential votes wisely on behalf of our young one’s future.

Give the children a future worth running towards rather than misery and probable death in the collapsing shambles of global mass extinction along the road to Hothouse Hell

Featured Image: Community battery in WA. / from Your Guide to Batteries, Western Power

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Interesting: green power can avoid winter blackouts

Washington Post analyzes last winter’s Texas Blackout to show renewable energy networks can cope better than fossil fuel based systems

by Kasha Patel, 21/02/2022 in The Washington Post
A year after Texas cold spell, study shows renewable energy could help prevent blackouts

Electricity blackouts could be avoided across the nation by switching to solar, wind and water energy sources, the report argues

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Lithium batteries considered suitable for long duration (up to 8 hours) storage: makes more sense if they can be effectively recycled.

By Dan Gearino, 03/03/2022 — Inside Clean Energy
In the New World of Long-Duration Battery Storage, an Old Technology Holds Its Own: California power companies choose lithium-ion batteries for an eight-hour storage project, passing on some newer options.

see also: Lithium empowered green energy storage is just getting better, less expensive, and less damaging to the environment

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

For the electricity grid to deliver power with zero emissions our steam punk grid will need to be re-thought and re-engineered

A big step in solving the climate crisis will require the rapid stopping of human GHG emissions. Electrical power generation and distribution via the electricity grid is a big chunk where we already know how to stop emissions.

Achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) will probably not be enough on its own to stop and reverse the process of global warming. We have allowed the warming to continue long enough to have triggered positive feedbacks from various natural sources. The rising GHG emissions from these will drive global temperatures ever higher. However, if we can reach zero emissions fast enough, we should be able to slow the rate of global warming for long enough to give some more time to geoenineer enough carbon capture and sequestration and/or solar heat reflection technology to stop and reverse the warming. We already know how to achieve zero emissions for electrical power generation and the electricity grid, so it only needs for us vigorously start the task NOW!

A couple of recent articles explain what is required. I’ll quote the slightly more comprehensive article here from The Conversation. A derivative article in Undark (associated with MIT University) gives a tighter focus on the technology per se.

Integrating solar panels with farming can provide partial shade for plants. Werner Slocum/NREL

by Charles F. Kutscher & Geoffrey Logan, 13/01/2022 in The Conversation

A 21st-century reinvention of the electric grid is crucial for solving the climate change crisis

In the summer of 1988, scientist James Hansen testified to Congress that carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels was dangerously warming the planet. Scientific meetings were held, voluminous reports were written, and national pledges were made, but because fossil fuels were comparatively cheap, little concrete action was taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Then, beginning around 2009, first wind turbines and then solar photovoltaic panels decreased enough in cost to become competitive in electricity markets. More installations resulted in more “learning curve” cost reductions – the decrease in cost with every doubling of deployment. Since 2009, the prices of wind and solar power have decreased by an astonishing 72% and 90%, respectively, and they are now the cheapest electricity sources – although some challenges still exist.

Read the complete article….

Australia has the know-how to do all of this. What the country lacks is the political will and regulatory environment to make it happen. At least since the Abbott led LNP COALition government assumed power in 2013 has worked assiduously to subsidize (Australia Institute: In 2020-21, Australian Federal and state governments provided a total of $10.3 billion worth of spending and tax breaks to assist fossil fuel industries.) and protect its already super-wealthy special interest patrons any kind of government or popular infringements on GHG emitting operations and businesses. This support has been backed up by a continual barrage of humbug, denial, fake news, disinformation, legislative blocking, and misdirection. For their brain fogging techniques see: How decades of disinformation about fossil fuels halted U.S. climate policy; Climate Change Disinformation and How to Combat It; The Climate Denial Machine: How the Fossil Fuel Industry Blocks Climate Action; How Big Oil Lost Control of Its Climate Misinformation Machine; Wikipedia: Climate change denial; see also my 2017 presentation “Positive Feedback and the Evolution of Human Culture“. Capt. Humbug (a.k.a. Scotty from marketing), his deputy Blarney Barney (the man with the hat), and their large troop of wooden-headed puppets are still using these techniques very effectively to stifle any progress towards serious action to resolve the climate emergency.

We Australians don’t have to put up with this longer than a few more months. Short of staging a Trumpist style coup to retain government, it is entirely within our power as voters to replace all the puppets with trustworthy people who will put organizing climate action as their top priority if elected to government. Vote Climate One is producing Traffic Light Voting Guides to help you achieve this – but without telling you how to vote. Basically we are setting out to provide information on every candidate in every electorate that you can use to guide your preferences to maximally support maximize preferences for those you think should have the job while being doubly sure than you don’t preference anyone likely to pass their preferences to an electable puppet of the special interests.

With an environmentally friendly Parliament, we can be working on the very serious work of surviving the climate emergency.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.