back to article Tesla Megapack battery ignites at substation after less than 6 months

A Tesla Megapack battery at a California substation caught fire early yesterday morning, prompting a shelter-in-place order and multiple road closures around the Moss Landing area of Monterey Bay.  According to the Monterey County Weekly, the North Monterey County Fire Department received a call about a burning Tesla Megapack …

  1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Coat

    it's white smoke, not black dirty smoke.

    Oh good, just nice lithium compounds, instead of nasty carbon ones...

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Well, given that Lithium is a mood stabilizer, I'm sure the fire crews and those downwind of the fire felt reeeeeeeaaallly good about events and were totally chill about the whole thing...

      1. Mayday Silver badge
        Angel

        Mood stabiliser Nirvana

        I’m so happy, ‘cause today I found my friends.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it's white smoke, not black dirty smoke

      Think of it this way - every time a lithium battery goes to heaven, we elect a new pope!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: it's white smoke, not black dirty smoke

        Came for this, was not disappointed :)

      2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

        every time a lithium battery goes to heaven, […]

        … habemus damnum!

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: every time a lithium battery goes to heaven, […]

          'Sic transit gloria Mundi'

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: every time a lithium battery goes to heaven, […]

            Gloria gets car sick on Mondays?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: every time a lithium battery goes to heaven, […]

              "Gloria gets car sick on Mondays?"

              in ictu oculi

              At least in my experience.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: every time a lithium battery goes to heaven, […]

            "'Sic transit gloria Mundi'"

            And Tuesday may be worse.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Explanation ... and commentary from the trenches.

      Typically, when smoke from fires turns from dark to white it means firefighters are getting water on the problem. White means steam, not combustion by-products ... This is a good thing, at least from a traditional perspective.

      That was then. This is now. Someone should probably bring the North Monterey County Fire Department's newly appointed (last month) Chief Joel Mendoza up to speed on the modern world before he embarrasses his department further. Note I'm not blaming the Chief for this ... he's a firefighter by training and inclination, not a corporate spokesmouth.

      Either that, or perhaps the Moss Landing PG&E plant should pay more in taxes again (only $142,000 last year, down from $860,000ish in the early 2000s), which would help fund the fire department to perhaps bring in a trained spokesperson ... North County is down from 30-odd personnel to just 22[0]. The whole district needs an overhaul financially, but the rich bastards it serves keep voting down property taxes, thus cutting fire protection services funding.

      [0] Which also cuts the number of firefighters per truck going out on calls ... should be three or four, but these guys are doing what they can with just two.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Explanation ... and commentary from the trenches.

        PG&E has an oil burning plant in Moss Landing - a BIG one. Maybe it is time to EXPAND AND IMPROVE THAT ONE...

        (instead of sending money to CHINA for batteries that halt and catch fire)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Explanation ... and commentary from the trenches.

          "PG&E has an oil burning plant in Moss Landing"

          Had. That was ripped out. It's all natural gas now. And PG&E doesn't run it.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: PG&E has an oil burning plant in Moss Landing

          You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

          1. Kane Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: PG&E has an oil burning plant in Moss Landing

            "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

            Clearly you haven't been to Milton Keynes.

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: Clearly you haven't been to Milton Keynes.

              Which reminds me...

              Buncefield

              I reckon everyone in London got woken up by that.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Clearly you haven't been to Milton Keynes.

                I did. Thought one of the kids had fallen out of their bunk bed. And I lived about 10 miles away at the time.

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Clearly you haven't been to Milton Keynes.

                I was on the opposte side of London and it woke up me

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: PG&E has an oil burning plant in Moss Landing

              Clearly you've never been to Washington DC. Or Westminster.

              Or San Francisco/Berkeley/Oakland.

    4. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Coat

      I thought black smoke followed with white smoke was cause for rejoicing - the Cardinals have elected a new Pope!

      Probably best the Vatican doesn't install any Tesla battery packs in the Sistine Chapel.

  2. cray74

    Look to Dinorwig

    All those hills and mountains around Monterey Bay would've supported a much less flammable, much less expensive pumped storage facility. The unsubsidized, levelized cost of pumped storage dams is about $128 per megawatt-hour versus $414 per megawatt-hour for lithium-ion batteries.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Look to Dinorwig

      The reason for the battery is that it can jump in in an instant, less than 20ms when needed if I remember right. No other electric energy storage can act that fast. It bridges the time until the turbines of puped storage facilities are up, which needs a few minutes.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        "With all six units synchronised and spinning-in-air (water is dispelled by compressed air and the unit draws a small amount of power to spin the shaft at full speed), 0 MW to 1800 MW load can be achieved in approximately 16 seconds."

        Wikipedia article on Dinorwig. The same source gives 75 seconds from start to sync without such preparation.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          Yes, some CAN spin up that fast. Still a 16 seconds gap. The tesla battery packs filled quite a few of such gaps during its operation, and proved it does stabilize the grid quite a few times.

          However, those "Yahoo, the grid is stable!" success stories don't make headlines.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            Grid stability would be far less of an issue if the grid wasn't required to accommodate unreliable, unpredictable wind turbines.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              Na, a park of wind turbines doesn't change it's output THAT fast. Take the wind away and it does make quite a few more turns, more than you expect. Enough for other things to kick in. The battery pack is for other grid problems, like transformers blowing up, cable problems, short circuits and so on which cause very fast changes to the grid.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                "Take the wind away and it does make quite a few more turns, more than you expect."

                If unloaded, they will spin for a bit, sure. Momentum is momentum. But if you have a load on 'em, not so much.

                1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  well rotational momentum is what it is. It works both ways, too, extra energy needed to get it up to speed again.

                  1. midgepad Bronze badge

                    The energy

                    To spin up comes from the wind.

                    Which, you know, free.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                Funny how it wasn't necessary until widespread adoption of wind.

                Wind varies significantly over the course of minutes. The rotation of wind turbines increase and decreases randomly over time, and under load that change is rapidly transmitted to the grid.

                1. Hairy Spod

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  you mean funny how alternative energy sources were not needed until we over used fossil fuels

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    The over use of fossil fuels was pushed by the green movement.

                    We're not allowed to build nuclear and the greenies were screaming for a fix. Wind and solar are not a real solution and so the answer was gas. Not forgetting that some of the UK green groups are funded by russian gas money.....

                    1. Steve Button Silver badge

                      Re: Look to Dinorwig

                      Crazy idea - but as the green movement have forced us to declare a Climate Emergency, could we use that emergency to push through new nuclear power plants more quickly?

                      1. midgepad Bronze badge

                        Re: Look to Dinorwig

                        You were planning to hide it?

                        Rather than deal with it?

                        Like BP in 1974

                      2. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Look to Dinorwig

                        "Crazy idea - but as the green movement have forced us to declare a Climate Emergency, could we use that emergency to push through new nuclear power plants more quickly?"

                        I'm hoping so. It is truly the only real way out of this mess.

                        Besides, it'll be fun watching the hippies slowly dissolve into pools of grey goo.

                        1. middleclasswhiner

                          Re: Look to Dinorwig

                          "it'll be fun watching the hippies slowly dissolve into pools of grey goo"

                          At first I thought this was about ensuring a stable electricity supply, but no -- just more identity politics.

                          In any event nuclear would be a fine addition to the energy mix. Except that planning for plants needed to have been started 20 years ago.

                          Even absent any concern about emissions, in the vast majority of countries solar/wind are now the cheapest source of new generation capacity so that's what the market is going to give you.

                          Unless of course you'd prefer to ignore prudent economics and pay extra in order to gleefully annoy hippies.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: Look to Dinorwig

                            Shame that saving isn't being passed on to the end consumer. The extra profit is just going into the pockets of the big corps who own the wind turbines.

                            We're paying significantly over the strike price for hinkley point c so the 'it costs more' argument is null and void.

                            Wind and solar makes for the most profit in the shortest time (and the likes of BP are profiting from this too) so that is why it is popular.

                          2. jake Silver badge

                            Re: Look to Dinorwig

                            Name checks out.

                          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                            Re: Look to Dinorwig

                            "Except that planning for plants needed to have been started 20 years ago."

                            The planning needing to go that far back is due to the lawyers. Say the word, nuclear and it's like a bell ringing to Pavlov's dogs. Shoot all of the lawyers, it made putting on a Disaster Area concert much easier/possible.

                          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

                            Re: Look to Dinorwig

                            MSRs need need vastly less substandial buiildings than water-moderated or gas-cooled units

                            Importantly, they can replace the heat source in combustion-fuelled plants - which neither gas or water-cooled nuclear can do (not hot enough)

                            Regardiong cost arguments, whetjer or not solar/wind is cheaper is mostly inrellevant as it can't bridge the gap between "replacing existing electrical generation" and "increasing generation capacity to eliminate other carbon emission sources (eliminating gas heating of domestic houses plus an EV fleet will each require AT LEAST a net doubling of total electrical generation capacity by 2035 as one example)

                    2. localzuk Silver badge

                      Re: Look to Dinorwig

                      Nuclear is a problem in most areas. The number of seismically stable locations, with huge supplies of water, secure transport links etc... are relatively low. Whilst Sizewell C has been approved, no-one is sure if it can actually be built as there's not enough clean water in the location to actually run the plant, for example.

                      Add in the fact that most Uranium comes from less than democratic nations such as Kazakhstan, and you have a problem.

                      Finally, there's the question of what to do with the waste. So far, the most popular solution is "dig a big hole" which is hardly a solution, long term.

                      Nuclear is not a panacea for our energy woes.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Look to Dinorwig

                        The 'waste' is actually a great source of fuel. Politicians have been strong-armed by the green loonies and fossil fuel profiteers to make nuclear look far worse than it actually is.

                        A nuclear power plant was forced out of business in NY as the governor got a nice backhander from his mate who wanted to build a natural gas power station.

                        The UK has thousands of tons of spent magnox fuel sat at Sellafield waiting since the early 70's. A gen 4 reactor could use this as fuel and actually use 100% of it instead of the 5-10% that current reactors use. So our local stockpile of 'waste' could power us for a century or more while resolving the waste issue at the same time. Rather than ending up with a partly cooked very hazardous end product you end up with a fully cooked much shorter half life waste that doesn't need geological storage for the rest of time.

                        1. localzuk Silver badge

                          Re: Look to Dinorwig

                          The waste is waste as no-one has found a commercially successful way to reuse it. You really think EDF would be leaving money on the table by effectively throwing away their used fuel if they could reuse it in a cost effective manner?

                          Nuclear has its place, but, as I said before, it is not the panacea to all our energy woes.

                          The production of power in a country gets referred to as an "energy mix" for a reason.

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: Look to Dinorwig

                            What is sat at sellafield existed long before EDF ever came along. EDF also have the advantage that once the UK reactors get to the end of their life it is pretty much no-longer EDFs problem.

                            Add to that a UK and French govt that will bend over backwards to subsidize them. They have no need to be efficient.

                            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                              Re: Look to Dinorwig

                              "They have no need to be efficient."

                              You mean using more of the fuel? That 5%-10% figure isn't about the operators being wasteful, it's a function of the current crop of nuclear plants being of an ancient design.

                              1. localzuk Silver badge

                                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                                Where are these magical newer design reactors being commercially built?

                                Last I checked, there are only a couple of Gen 3 reactors built and online, and nearly all of those have faced delays and overruns due to complications with building them.

                                Talking about gen 4 reactors is not really any use as on the whole, they don't exist. There's some older SFR ones in operation in Russia, but these are demonstrators and were built decades ago.

                      2. tiggity Silver badge

                        Re: Look to Dinorwig

                        Re Sizewell C

                        I stayed in the Sizewell area as my holiday this year (not to see Sizewell, for the nature reserves nearby).

                        I would be quite concerned about proximity of Sizewell plant to the sea, and how few m above sea level it is.

                        Given we will already be seeing some sea level rise in future years (guaranteed just from ongoing thermal expansion and from some already irreversible ice sheet melts even if (spoiler, we won't) restrict climate warning soon) then I would be concerned, especially with the combination of a "spring" tide and strong winds blowing onshore.

                        Just down the coast, at Aldeburgh museum you get a sense of the "fun" ahead, when you see the displays on how the surrounding Suffolk coastline has radically changed over the years, and the periodic catastrophic floods that have occurred. A nice take home point is that the museum is now a few metres from the beach - it was in the centre of town not that long ago (when it was built in the late Sixteenth century - yes a few hundred years, but physical forces are relentless and its not always gradual change, some major coastal reshaping occurs suddenly when tides & winds align nastily)

                      3. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Look to Dinorwig

                        You are wrong on so many levels ... allow me to educate you.

                        Nuclear Power doesn't have to be built in seismically stable places. Look at Japan.

                        Nuclear Power doesn't need massive quantities of water. Just enough. Most of it is recycled.

                        So-called "lack of transport links" is a red herring, we can build roads/rails anywhere.

                        Most uranium comes from Australia and Canada.

                        The so-called waste isn't waste, it is fuel to make electricity.

                        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                          Re: Look to Dinorwig

                          "So-called "lack of transport links" is a red herring, we can build roads/rails anywhere."

                          Most current reactors are re-fuelled every 18-24 months and the spent fuel stays on site. A coal or biomass power plant needs many train car loads of fuel daily.

                  2. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    @Hairy Spod

                    "you mean funny how alternative energy sources were not needed until we over used fossil fuels"

                    Not alternate energy sources but unreliable ones. And when did we overuse fossil fuels? By overusing unreliables countries are falling back to the dirtiest methods of burning fossil fuels. Doesnt sound like a win

                2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  When do you think Dinorwig was built and why?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    In the early 80's as better alternative to keeping coal fired peaker power stations on hot standby and to make use of overnight nuclear power from our, at the time, good sized fleet of reactors.

                    And probably to piss off the NUM.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    It was built to fill in for big grid swings, not the constant instability induced by wind.

                3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  "Funny how it wasn't necessary until widespread adoption of wind."

                  It's wind and also trying to change the network over from one with a few discrete inputs in known locations to a network with lots of much smaller inputs all over the place. There may be plenty of power coming in, but it's not at the locations that the initial design called for.

            2. Muscleguy Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              Which is why here in Yurp we are putting most of the new wind turbines out at sea, sometimes way out at sea where winds are more reliable. Here in Scotland we have quite a few pumped storage installations now. Some built in from the start such as the Hole in the Mountain at the north end of Loch Awe, some retrofitted.

              Whether a hydro station is pumped storage or not does not affect it’s spin up time.

              1. Eponymous Bastard
                Coat

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                Am I alone in thinking that the other advantage of offshore wind turbines is that the collateral damage to any avian wildlife will, conveniently, become fish food . . . ?

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  On land they become food for carrion eaters, too.

                  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    True, but it leaves evidence that the RSPB can count, and count on to infuriate it's members :-)

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Re: Look to Dinorwig

                      Royal Society for the Pulverizing of Birds?

                      Have duck press, will travel ...

            3. gandalfcn Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              "Grid stability would be far less of an issue if the grid wasn't required to accommodate unreliable, unpredictable wind turbines." Just k=like happened in texas. Right. But wait, that was gas that really caused the problem.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                That was caused by wind turbines dropping out due to the cold, combined with the fact that the heating for the gas pumps had recently been swapped from locally supplied gas to grid-supplied electricity, which caused them to fail when they wouldn't have prior.

                1. gandalfcn Silver badge

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  The wind turbines were initially blamed for everything, and still are by some, i.e. liars. The turbines were operating at near the the expected level, so they weren't to blame, were they.

                  The grid is local. Where are citations?

                  Most power plants run on natural gas.

                  During the storm transmission companies cut power to parts of the natural gas supply chain when ERCOT ordered the utilities to reduce power demand or risk further damage to the grid. That decision aggravated the problem as natural gas producers were unable to deliver enough fuel to power plants. At the same time, some wells were unable to produce as much natural gas due to the freezing conditions. Because electricity relies on natural gas production and natural gas production relies on electricity, any failure in the loop breaks the entire system. At one point more than half of the natural gas supply was shut down due to power outages, frozen equipment and weather conditions.

                  Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and nuclear facilities were the main factors.

                  The nuclear reactor in Bay City was shut down because of the cold.

                  Gas pipelines weren't insulated, so they froze.

                  So nothing to do with wind or switching units, was it.

                  1. gandalfcn Silver badge

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    Interesting that the fossil fuel shills are so upset by their lies being exposed. Again.

            4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              Unpredictable? Weather forecasts exist, you know, and are very good indeed for a matter of hours ahead.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                Precise and accurate wind speed is impossible to predict, especially as it varies moment to moment. Gusts and eddies will mean that a turbine is never turning at a constant speed. Under load, those variations will be transmitted to the grid, introducing small, but noticeable voltage variances that require smoothing, where none was required previously.

                1. midgepad Bronze badge

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  Balls.

                  There is z lot of inertia in one turbine, and massive something like inertia in the Grid.

                  (Why was it built)

                  Generators on the Grid are synced, the people doing it have had some practice.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    Conventional generators turn at a near constant speed, with predictable velocity curves as load changes. Wind turbines don't. That's all there is to it.

                2. midgepad Bronze badge

                  Constant speed propellors

                  Are old tech.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Constant speed propellors

                    That's nice. Not really relevant to the problem, which is moment to moment changes in wind speed. The blades if a turbine can't adjust quickly enough to account for that.

            5. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              Wind farms (and solar facilities) should be reuired to provide their own buffering, not force that cost onto grid operators

              Otherwise it's a hidden subsidy

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            And that is still just marketing number, there is still time for the rest of the processes to come online and synch up. So budget a minute and a half to cover the delays when the starting system fires, spin up time, and the rest of the stuff before it's on the grid and running stable.

            Just like backup generators, the space between primary and secondary power is filled with batteries and capacitors.

          3. Lee D

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            Sounds like you need a small battery pack capable of powering for 30 seconds, and something far, far, far, far cheaper to actually take over.

            Not difficult. Standard practice in IT datacentres, for example. UPS in racks and in the aisles, just enough for the generators to start up and stabilise.

            This is like suggesting you have enough UPS to just run the whole place for an extended outage, which is a bit ridiculous from a cost, maintenance and value point of view.

      2. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        Yes a battery in between is helpful, but lithium is the wrong chemistry for grid scale batteries. Size and weight are not much of a concern for this use case so pick one of the cheaper less explody batteries

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          U.S. Navy subs always used Pb-acid batteries, like a car battery. Typical lifetime, like a car battery, around 5 years. Maintain them the traditional way, and you'd have a building full of batteries that could store many MW hours of elecltricity. Sure it uses lead. Sure, it uses acid. But if you keep it well ventilated, and do not allow H2 gas to build up nor ICV to deviate too much from one another, the battery is relatively safe as proved by decades of use on U.S. Navy subs and in cars.

          Sometimes OLD SCHOOL is the BEST

          Again citing Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority"

          (of course the energy needed to mine and refine the components of Li Ion batteries probably uses MORE DIESEL FUEL and COAL than a power plant would, at least In My Bombastic Opinion - and of course ENRICHES COMMUNIST CHINA since THEY typically make the LiIon batteries and solar panels and so on)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            I ran lead-acid around here for my minimal PV storage needs, until I discovered LiFePo ... now the whole place runs on battery power.

          2. james 68

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            Indeed, "old school" can be very very good indeed - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Electric_Bell

            These dry piles (fnar fnar) have been in constant operation since 1840 and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.

          3. midgepad Bronze badge

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            Bombastic rubbish.

      3. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        But it was a Leon Tesla battery, i.e. shite.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Look to Dinorwig

      You can use this approach in your electric car too, so long as you only drive downhill.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        Seems to me that the whole electric car boondoggle is going downhill anyway ...

        1. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          No, only con artists like Leon's

      2. John69

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        Electric cars totally should be acting as these batteries, while they are sitting plugged in.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          ask yourself this: how many cars would it take to respond to a 10% increase in electrical demand, something that might happen when everyone arrives home and starts turning lights/heat/AC/stoves on...

          capacity of one electric car - about 50KWH (being as generous as possible)

          Total electric demand on average in USA - 450 million KW (if I calculated right, 3.9 trillion KWH per year / 8760 hours per year)

          number of fully charged plugged-in cars it would take to sustain that for one hour - 9 million (being generous). That is average, not peak (when "help" would be needed, so at least DOUBLE that demand value for a more realistic estimate).

          And do not forget that for every KWH coming out of a car, most likely 1.1KWH (or more) would have to go back IN.

          A 10% jump would need 9 million cars to take up the slack for one hour - and with an unrealistic generous estimate of around 1 million cars plugged in at any one time, they'd be completely drained in about 7 minutes... unless my math is off. No driving for YOU until it re-charges in several HOURS.

          Realistically this kind of battery drainage would damage the cars, so you can probably assume the demand peak would have to be more like 1% which is NOT very practical, assuming that people are willing to have their car batteries COMPLETELY drained like that. I doubt it.

          using plug-in electric car batteries for peaker storage is an impractical pipe dream.

          Solution: BUILD MORE POWER PLANTS TO HANDLE DEMAND THE OLD SCHOOL WAY (nuke plants preferred for oh SO many reasons!)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            V2G is just another pipe dream where the required infrastructure cost in terms of raw materials (copper, plastic, fuel to dig up roads etc) is never thought about.

            Similar poor maths to the world powering solar array in the Sahara. The area specified forgot to take into account night time :) And then how do you get the power half way around the world?

            Green maths works on very long term averages and very careful boundary conditions. Yes, solar and wind could power the world on average. However the real data can show long periods of zero demand.

            Interesting article in this months IET mag saying the UK grid needs £330B investment in the next 15 years to keep up with demand from EVs and electric heating. Odd as national grid and many greens say otherwise.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              s/demand/supply/

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              "V2G is just another pipe dream where the required infrastructure cost in terms of raw materials"

              AC obviously because, whoops. The infrastructure is already there. I don't think that anybody is expecting 10 EV's connected at their owner's home is going to power a whole village. That's left to work out is some circuitry in the cars, signaling and billing. If I can plug in my car and have it able to supply 3kW, that's one kettle off of the grid for as long as it's feasible for that car to be giving up energy. I would expect that in the wee hours I'll be able to get that energy back and have a bit of price difference so I come out ahead.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            "capacity of one electric car - about 50KWH "

            I wouldn't consider buying one with less than 60kWh myself, and would rather have 80kWh or more....

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              "and would rather have 80kWh or more...."

              Why, do you drive hundreds of miles a day in one go? If not, why spend the money for the excess capacity and the lower efficiency to lug it around?

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            "ask yourself this: how many cars would it take to respond to a 10% increase in electrical demand, something that might happen when everyone arrives home and starts turning lights/heat/AC/stoves on..."

            One house, one EV. It's not a binary choice of plugging EV's into the grid OR building new power plants. It could be both which means fewer cars need to be plugged in and fewer plants need to be built this week.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          "Electric cars totally should be acting as these batteries, while they are sitting plugged in."

          I agree, but even better is school busses. They are not to hard to electrify since they drive known routes. They also get used twice a day if they aren't detailed to taking a school team somewhere so they can thought of as mostly battery storage that can move rather than as a bus that also acts as a storage battery.

          It's important to be thinking in terms of integrated systems rather than trying to come up with something that is a drop-in replacement for one component.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            USA school busses perhaps

            Other countries tend to just contract bus companies to provide vehciles for a couple of hours each day

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Look to Dinorwig

      "All those hills and mountains around Monterey Bay would've supported a much less flammable, much less expensive pumped storage facility."

      Yeah, but no. There is not really enough watershed for that. Also, that's all earthquake fractured rock, it won't support large enough reservoirs to make any difference. Also, we're in a drought. There is barely enough water to drink, much less keep the Nation's salad production running.

      What the area needs is a nuclear plant ... perhaps they could put it at the existing Moss Landing power plant site, and install a large desalinization plant at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone. I'd recommend starting the installation about 40 years ago.

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        I'd suggest not mass populating much of California in the first place, starting n hundred years ago.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          While I tend to agree with you, I'd say the same thing about the island of Great Britain ... do you lot even have enough square inches to feed yourselves anymore?

          At least California feeds much of the rest of the nation ...

          1. Caver_Dave Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            If the UK converted golf courses back to agricultural land then we have plenty of land to feed ourselves with native, seasonal fruit and veg. However, consumers want Avacado's, Fava Beans and whatever, all year round, even when they don't natively grow in the country. Thus we have vast imports of food from all over the world.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              Very true. We want fresh soft fruits all year. And it is always cheaper to grow in places where wages and environmental regulations are somewhat more lax.

              I was recently in north wales (actually at the base of electric mountain but the visitors centre is closed) and was told by one of the locals that welsh roofing slates are about £8 each and chinese slates are about £1 each. So it costs 8x less to buy something from the other side of the world than to buy something from a quarry I could have probably walked to from where I was standing.

              On a random note I am very pro nuclear but my word Trawsfyndd power station is an UGLY thing and why on earth did they stick it on top of a hill for all to see?!? It would have been more suited for the south bank in london.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                Oh, I don't know... I think it looks great... as a location for a Dr Who story.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  Very true! Brutalism has made for some good dystopian sci-fi settings.

                  It was very much 'of the age'. Wylfa and Oldbury look quite good and I do like Sizewell B.

                  The mormon temple in Preston looks like a Victorian water works. My OH hates that comparison :)

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                "Very true. We want fresh soft fruits all year. "

                I've been re-learning all of the things my granny taught me about canning and preserving. I am also embracing eating in-season too rather than insisting on having things that are most definitely out of season all year round. I'll be putting up more strawberry/apple jam next year as this year's batch didn't last very long. I have plenty of pickled carrots and asparagus. I'm still waiting until the mulled and pickled watermelon rind has sat long enough and the watermelon/apple jelly should be good to sample next week. My store of canning jars grows with just about every estate sale and I picked up a pressure canning pot for a couple of bucks earlier in the year. Funny thing, I have an avocado sitting on the counter right now. They are always a treat and I'd had a good week working so I bought one. Depending on where you live, anything foreign should be treated as a treat and not a staple item.

            2. Screwed

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              What's wrong with British Fava Beans? (Except they've run out at present.)

              "Whole Fava Beans, Organic

              Hodmedod's British Pulses & Grains

              Britain's original bean, the fava bean is delicious, nutritious and good for the soil. Our Organic Whole Fava Beans are perfect for spicy Egyptian ful medames, truly British baked beans, stews, curries, salads and more.

              Our current crop of whole fava beans are the unusually small, round and wonderfully tender Maris Bead variety, bred over 50 years ago at the Plant Breeding Institute on Maris Lane near Cambridge. Whether they're cooked from dry or used canned, we think these are our best ever whole fava."

              https://hodmedods.co.uk/products/whole-fava-beans

              1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                They're also good as a snack, roasted with sea salt and cider vinegar (just eaten a handful).

              2. Eponymous Bastard
                Coat

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                and the resultant methane output from the alimentary canal . . .

              3. jake Silver badge

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                "What's wrong with British Fava Beans?"

                They are not British? They were imported by the Romans around 2,000 years ago. (Besides, I thought you lot called 'em "broad beans" ... ).

            3. AndrueC Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              If the UK converted golf courses back to agricultural land then we have plenty of land to feed ourselves with native, seasonal fruit and veg.

              That's a silly thing to suggest. 70% of the UK's land is available for agriculture and golf courses occupy less than 2%. Quite a lot of golf courses were built in areas that never were agricultural and others are now within what can be considered to be urban areas so would have houses built on them if they weren't there.

              Golf is a very popular sport and any golf courses that can't find enough participants soon close so the ones we have left are all being used. Closing golf courses arbitrarily would hurt millions of people.

            4. Eponymous Bastard

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              Yes! Golf has to be the biggest waste of agricultural land ever!

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                Big waste. One can go out and shoot golfs for several hours and still have nothing for the pot.

                The biggest contribution golf has brought to Western Society is the knowledge that Donald Trump cheats at it, and thus can't be trusted by man nor beast. There's a reason he's the only President in over 100 years not to have a pet in the White House; the critters won't have anything to do with him. Seems they are smarter than the followers of his personality cult.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  Jake, President Trump is living on in the White House of your mind. Let it go.

                  So soon people forget the horrible choices there have been in recent decades. Maybe there needs to be a period of very bad politicians to break the cycle of apathy and get people motivated to make it to the polls and vote out a few of them. If there is nobody to vote FOR, there is also somebody to vote AGAINST.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                Golf uses some fraction of the 1% of arable land that is used for non-agricultural purposes, lumped in with bunch of other stuff, such as mining. It's hardly a waste.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Look to Dinorwig

                  "Golf uses some fraction of the 1% of arable land that is used for non-agricultural purposes, lumped in with bunch of other stuff, such as mining. It's hardly a waste."

                  Lies, damn lies...........

                  Golf courses also tend to use a disproportionately large amount of water for the amount of biomass. Location is also a key factor since they aren't located in the middle of the fly-over countryside, but immediately adjacent to where people live and could use some of that water themselves. The cost to use a golf course limits them to only people that have lots of discretionary funds which makes them very elitist. I've been golfing before, very relaxing since I never took it very seriously, but I can find that same peace on a hike through an unspoiled wood or moorland.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Look to Dinorwig

                    Better not mention all of the municipal courses around the country, then.

                    Water use is a separate issue. The original claim was that turning golf courses over to farming would solve the problem of arable land shortage, which is laughable given how little land golf courses actually take up. It's a severe case of focusing on the mote while ignoring the beam. A great deal of arable land, which is officially "set aside" for subsidy purposes, is used to grow industrial cash crops. If you want to secure local food supplies, start there.

            5. jake Silver badge

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              I'm not all that sure you are correct ... In the UK, there is only about 1 arable hectare per ten people, according to the most current stats I can find (6.5 million hectares arable, 67 million people). From what I understand, you can grow enough food on half an acre (0.2 ha) to feed one person for one year. Looks to me like you are short by about 50% ... and that's assuming perfect harvest, which never happens.

              Note that the above also assumes logical planting and sharing, not "here's your half acre, that's all you get, plant or starve". If each person were intended to do for themselves (not recommended!), I've seen estimates as low as 15 acres (6ha) required, to around 20 (8ha).

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Look to Dinorwig

                "From what I understand, you can grow enough food on half an acre (0.2 ha) to feed one person for one year."

                If you assume modern agriculture with lots of fertilizer and bio-engineered seeds from such reputable companies as Monsanto, perhaps. The variety that you'd be able to grow on that half acre will not be that great so you are likely to get exceptionally bored with the pickings. Some of the studies I've seen state it's closer to between one and five acres per person depending on where and how modern the operation. The studies are also working from a normalized average so there is actually more people and more land involved.

                The goalpost really begin to shift if you want to add animal protein and fodder for horses/oxen to be used as transportation. Chickens are good to keep as they love bugs and turn them into much more lovely eggs than chickens fed on Purina chicken chow. If you are in a post apocalyptic scenario and don't have access to pesticides, chickens are a very good thing if they don't go after the plant buds. Pigs are great garbage disposals if the smell isn't wafting into your home and you have a field you want turned and fertilized for the season after next.

          2. AndrueC Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            you lot even have enough square inches to feed yourselves anymore?

            Yes, thanks. Quite a lot of arable land is being left fallow. We choose to import food because we have grown to like things out of season but we have plenty of space left to grow crops should we choose to.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Look to Dinorwig

              Actually having done a bit of research overnight the answer appears to be 'maybe' and would be reliant upon things like genetic crops and a major shift in the public diet such as going entirely vegetarian.

              However before everyone starts demanding that golf courses close there are some other things to consider:

              * Britain has been relying on food imports for a long time, it's nothing new. Even during WWII we needed to import food despite all the efforts made to conserve food and encourage home farming.

              * A lot of our land is either deliberately fallow or else being used to grow non-food crops.

              * We are losing a lot of arable land to housing at the moment.

              * As a nation we still throw away 25% of the food we buy (and if it was feasible I'd make that a criminal offense).

              And we should also consider the environmental impact of converting a golf course to a field (and certainly to building housing on it).

              If the UK is ever genuinely suffering a food crisis then growing crops on golf courses makes absolute sense. But right now it isn't so there is simply no need to get rid of golf courses any faster than they are already.

              The millions of people in the UK are enjoying golf at the moment and they come from all walks of life. It is not not just well off retirees.

          3. Eponymous Bastard
            Coat

            Re: Look to Dinorwig

            Er, yes, we do and even more so now we're "independent of Europe" . . . in theory . . .

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          "I'd suggest not mass populating much of California in the first place, starting n hundred years ago."

          We'll see what happens once they've finished turning the San Joaquin Valley into one sprawling housing tract instead of it being the breadbasket of the country. A majority of Los Angeles could be demolished and graded flat without affecting the progress of society in any meaningful way.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        ."..that's all earthquake fractured rock, .....What the area needs is a nuclear plant"

        Yes, what could possibly go wrong?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          We can build nuke plants that will survive any earthquake that area is likely to throw their way. Japan has many examples. Even Fukushima survived the quake+tsunami; it was the badly designed/implemented peripherals that failed.

          And please note that central California earthquakes don't cause tsunamis ...

      3. The man with a spanner

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        A Nuclear plant with "all that fractured rock"?

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Look to Dinorwig

          Geological term. Means water drains through it instead of pooling on the surface.

          Makes it very good for building on, as you don't get floods.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        "perhaps they could put it at the existing Moss Landing power plant site, and install a large desalinization plant at the same time"

        Good luck with that. The Coastal Commission puts fingers in their years and chants lalalalalalalala whenever anybody says "desalination". Just like saying the G word near Amesbury or the M word within earshot of the librarian.

      5. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        "it won't support large enough reservoirs to make any difference."

        There are places where a reservoir would work and California does need much more water storage. Since those places are government owned, it's not like any of the major food companies can buy up the land and put their own water storage in place so it's up to Gov. Hairdo to do something.

    4. CrackedNoggin

      Re: Look to Dinorwig

      How much water is required? Could that be impacted by drought conditions?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: pumped storage

      Well it is California so the only water available for pumped storage would have to come from the ocean. Which would contaminate any ground fresh water in left the area. And then there might be a problem with faster corrosion of the pumped storage equipment.

    6. Ron1
      FAIL

      Any engineers here?

      You are all Golgafrinchan middle managers and you've been ousted :-)

      cray74 made a 3 orders of magnitude mistake and still managed to get 15 upvotes... Did nobody notice that cost of Li-Ion storage is roughly $400 per kWh, which makes it $400,000.00 per megawatt-hour, not $400...?

      Also, Li-Ion storage density of ~300 Wh/l or 300 kWh/m3 means you can pack roughly 10 MWh of batteries in a 20 ft shipping container (33 m3 volume).

      Regardless of cost, with water storage, you'd need to lift 33 m3 of water 109 km high to store 10 MWh of potential energy!

      In reality, pumped storage takes up HUGE amount of space. Even it you lift water a more realistic 109 m high, you still need 33,000 m3 to store 10 MWh. Water energy storage destroys whole valleys for the accumulation lakes.

      Li-Ion or some future chemistry battery storage is the

      1. Colin Bull 1
        Pirate

        Re: Any engineers here?

        Well I am not an engineer but I think everybody wants to do things on a massive scale when small and plentiful can be more beneficial.

        Just a few miles from where I live there are 4 x 25,000 m3 ( 50m diam x 7m high) WWII oil tanks buried in the hillside 100m above sea level ( which is only 200-400 metres away). These are in AONB and are not visible unless you look hard for them. When i did a fag packet calculation several years ago i worked out to be 25MWh of storage. These were put up in months 80 years ago. Would work for all the local renewables in a 25 mile radius with using partly existing infrastructure.

        These could be replicated thousands of times if politicians could think small instead of big.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Any engineers here?

        "means you can pack roughly 10 MWh of batteries in a 20 ft shipping container (33 m3 volume)."

        I believe that it's more like 3.5MWh in each 20' container. You left out all of the electronics, mountings, cases, etc. It's meaningless to just think of the volume of the container being 100% available for building the battery.

    7. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Look to Dinorwig

      getting a damn built in Cali-Fornicate-You would take DECADES due to environmental activists, corrupt politicians, and the worst red tape factory on the planet...

      But pumped water storage would have turbine losses based on pressure differentials. It's a physics thing. Not against it, just saying there are losses associated with pumping water (friction) and using it to make electricity (turbine efficiency). One resource suggests 70-80% overall. So 1000MWH in gets you 700-800MWH out.

      not a panacea by any stretch of the imagination

      My preference would be gas turbine and natural gas diesel plants located in critical zones that could be started and stopped at a moment's notice.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Look to Dinorwig

        "getting a damn built in Cali-Fornicate-You would take DECADES due to environmental activists, corrupt politicians, and the worst red tape factory on the planet..."

        There's that, but also not much really that good for sticking a dam in. The site of the St Francis dam is still there. As long as they didn't get somebody as undertrained as Mulholland in to do the design, that might be a place to try again, though a bit smaller with a safety dam just downstream.

        Nearly all of the world's rivers that could accommodate a dam already have one. There are also several that have been built where it may work out to have been a really bad idea due to silt, etc. Activists are trying to get the Glen Canyon dam removed and even have web sites that make it sound like it's a done deal, but they may be deluded given how bad the current drought has been in the SW US. Sure, it could be removed, but at the same time large chunks of big cities in California, Nevada and Arizona would need to be vacated as there wouldn't be the power or water to support the populations any longer.

  3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    I feel like a Groundhog

    'cause we heared that story a short while ago. No wait, it is a new story, but it looks sooooo similar.

    Time to get better batteries for this scenario: I mean: longer life, not that easy to burn, more reliable, more charge cycles (endless preferred). If it takes up more space: Who cares? It is for stationary storage somewhere in the outback anyway, not for a car.

  4. Khaptain Silver badge

    Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

    Tesla are a high spotlight company, who probably take this kind of event extremely seriously. Imagine when the country is running at 80% electric vehicles, the fire depts are going top go crazy....and the pyromaniacs are going to be in heaven when the finally get round to understanding how to force the situation...

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

      When the country is 80% electric vehicles we will be using solid state batteries made from different materials that won't catch fire.

      All the promising research you read about and people complain "how come this isn't making it into products" will have made it into products by then. We probably won't hit 80% of vehicles on the road until 2050, what with California being seen as "overly aggressive" for banning sale of new gas powered cars after 2035 (which won't remove the ones bought in 2034 or newer ones brought from other states from the road)

      We will start seeing batteries without these issues later this decade, and by 2030 no one will be making utility scale batteries or car batteries using this fire prone technology.

      1. Kernel

        Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

        "We will start seeing batteries without these issues later this decade"

        Or even two years ago - https://arena.gov.au/blog/south-australia-goes-with-the-flow-battery/

        Flow batteries are also now being scaled for domestic solar systems, which is why my upcoming PV install will not be getting batteries for a few years until the price of said batteries drops a bit and the technology has had a bit more time to mature.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

      Battery cars (e.g. Benz) were around at the very start of cars.

      If the development of batteries had continued at the pace of the infernal combustion engine, then your battery would be the size of your fist and you would swap it every 1000 miles.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

        then your battery would be the size of your fist and you would swap it every 1000 miles.

        Unlikely. Chemical reactions that make batteries possible do not have that kind of energy density.

        The limits of physics and chemistry apply to all levels of auto engineering, from material strength, melting point, and energy stored in a gallon of fuel, to the energy capacity of batteries and even the efficiency of tires gripping the road.

        Internal combustion engines became lighter and more efficient but you cannot escape the realities of burn temperature, exhaust pressure, and atmospheric composition. Similarly electric cars have road friction, motor size and weight, battery and power conversion inefficiencies, and maximum energy densities associated with the chemical reactions of the batteries themselves.

        electric drive is more efficient when you look at "not idling" as proved by hybrid engine cars. And for fuel replenishment and distance, the hybrid cars are superior to all electric. It's all just physics and chemistry.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

          "And for fuel replenishment and distance, the hybrid cars are superior to all electric."

          This gets the engineer's usual answer: "It depends". Petroleum fuels have the highest energy density, but getting that latent energy out in an internal combustion engine is horribly inefficient. A hybrid vehicle can be convenient for some people, but it also embodies the worst of both worlds. Whichever power source isn't being used has to be lugged around as dead weight. All I will go with is that a hybrid is better than a pure ICEV. For those with needs that can't be met with a BEV, a hybrid would be a good choice.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

        "If the development of batteries had continued at the pace of the infernal combustion engine, then your battery would be the size of your fist and you would swap it every 1000 miles."

        Absolutely untrue.

        Put another way, battery technology has continued at a furious rate these last couple hundred years, especially ramping up these last 75 or so as military and space technology have required it.

        And this is all we have to show for it. Face it. It's not going to get much better. Physics and chemistry say no.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

          "And this is all we have to show for it. Face it. It's not going to get much better."

          Better in what way? Energy density? I'll go with you on that, but other factors are safety, number of C/D cycles, temperature range and cost, to name the biggies. Back in the mists of time when I was a Boy Scout, my scoutmaster was an EE that worked for a defense contractor. They had Li batteries even then but they were so twitchy that they were very useful for military applications. I can recall some of the stories of batteries going poof and the building needing to be evacuated and Mr B coming home early. It was a boon since his son and I could be allowed in the garage workshop and play with the Commodore PET longer that day (yes, I'm that old).

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

        "If the development of batteries had continued at the pace of the infernal combustion engine, then your battery would be the size of your fist and you would swap it every 1000 miles."

        You didn't do A level physics in school, did you?

    3. Hairy Spod

      Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

      I expect that the fire departments are more likely to be playing pool to expert levels and experiencing lay offs by the time full EVs reach 80% market penetration

      combustion engined cars catch fire far more often than EVs

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

        combustion engined cars catch fire far more often than EVs

        Now correct that for vehicle-miles.

        1. Hairy Spod

          Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

          @Stoneshop no correction needed, contrary to popular belief, EV drivers typically do more mileage than average gas drivers, gas drivers who drive mega miles are actually a minority

          https://its.ucdavis.edu/blog-post/no-electric-vehicles-arent-driven-less-than-gas-cars/#:~:text=Using%20multiple%20sources%20of%20data,higher%20than%20previous%20studies%20report.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

            I'd take anything coming out of Davis on this kind of subject with a large grain of salt. They tend to be more than just a hair on the side of green-for-the-research-bucks.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

            "EV drivers typically do more mileage than average gas drivers, gas drivers who drive mega miles are actually a minority"

            The fuel savings is much more pronounced if you drive a lot and get an EV. With much faster charging EV's coming out, the charge time penalty is dropping fast. It might only take 20 minutes for a charge with something like a Hyundai Ionic 5 which leaves just enough time to visit the loo and get a cup of coffee. Stopping every 2-3 hours is sort of mandatory at my age. The days when I could go from a full tank of gas to fumes is long past. I also need to stretch so I'm not cramping up and I prefer to not eat while I'm driving which expands the range of foods I can have. If I'm driving, it has to be a ___________ burrito and if the lid comes off of the drink, it's a big clean up job to keep the upholstery from staining.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

          "Now correct that for vehicle-miles."

          I've personally seen six EVs burning on the side of the road or in parking lots since the pandemic started. None of these was the result of a crash. I have not seen a single hydrocarbon powered uncrashed vehicle burning in well over 25 years.

          Granted, this is just a testimonial ... but given the number of miles I travel on a yearly basis, it might actually mean something.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

            "I have not seen a single hydrocarbon powered uncrashed vehicle burning in well over 25 years.

            "

            I saw one yesterday, but I also recall there was an abandoned car there a few days before so it might have just been arson. I have yet to see an EV on fire and I'm in an area where they are pretty thick. I'll get some video if I can.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

      I expect that if you were to pound a railroad spike into the battery pack of an electric vehicle, a fire would result.

      Similarly, several 30 caliber rounds from a single shot bolt action rifle (using 1906 cartridge design) might also do the trick.

      Rapid discharge, over-discharge, both do damage to the Li Ion batteries and can cause swelling, fires, and so on. A cell reversal could be disastrous (so hopefully this is being monitored continuously). The tech works fine if you do not short out or otherwise physically damage the cells, so long as you stop discharging them completely (not even a trickle) when ANY cell voltage drops below about 2.5V.

      It's sort of like carrying a butane lighter, which if mistreated has enough fuel inside to do some serious damage, but works safely when used as designed.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

        You mean, they could explode like normal fuel cars?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

          ICE cars only explode like that in movies.

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

            >ICE cars only explode like that in movies.

            So this is a fake, happened 11 years ago in England. Or this fake. Or this fake?...

            Yeah yeah, ICE don't explode like in the movies, but they do explode.

            But waaaait... there is more, and even more! - and endless list of ICE cars and trucks exploding. But of course, it is not the fuel that burns here, ain't it?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wait until we get te cheap Chinese knocks-off

              The previous example was a battery exploding after a puncture. A ICE car won't explode after being punctured, but the fuel might explode after a prolonged fire, under certain conditions.

              I stand by my previous statement.

  5. Piro Silver badge

    What chemistry?

    NMC? NCA? LFP?

    I've read some news saying Tesla's moving to LFP for their static packs, as they've done for some of the low end cars made in China, which would be a great choice. LFP has lower density but is made from more abundant materials and doesn't tend to be as ready to burst in to flames.

    Unsure what's in these packs, seeing as they were probably produced some time ago.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: What chemistry?

      LiFePo4 is fairly bulletproof, as neatly demonstrated by this video where someone shoots bullets into a LiFePo4 cell.

      Video was from Sinopoly (a large Chinese battery manufacturer) - I've posted this a few years ago but it's too good not to repeat, and certainly on topic.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQs7L5LmEss

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Li-Fe batteries aren't an ideal fit

        They ARE more stable, but the application for static installs on a dedicated site isn't a good fit. Safer and adequate if it was a home install kit in a rich a-holes garage, but mostly getting used as an upgrade for car starting batteries where their weight and size are a plus in the trade-off for charge cycles and power density.

        That impact insensitivity is great for something that rolls around, but they will still eat themselves and go china syndrome if they are mischarged or overloaded, and I can attest the fumes are rancid and nasty even when the cells don't flame out.

        The world is going to take a few more years getting some of the engineering of these high density plants sorted out. By that point some new battery processes will also be scaling so, the lines of improved design safety and less explodey battery chemistry will cross about 2025 and this should start to work itself out.

        From the other poster's notes, it sounds like the facility should be required to have it's own crew to deal with a pod failure, or pay to train and staff up the local fire department.

        1. Piro Silver badge

          Re: Li-Fe batteries aren't an ideal fit

          lfp (lifepo4) batteries aren't much cop as a car starter battery due to their very poor charging and discharging capabilities below freezing. Not sure how Tesla's dealing with that in their cars, but you can get self-heating packs - but that's obviously going to waste energy

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Li-Fe batteries aren't an ideal fit

          "the lines of improved design safety and less explodey battery chemistry will cross about 2025"

          As someone said in a previous comment, lead-acid batteries are less explody anyway and if you want something that just sits there and doesn't have to be carried about you don't need to worry about the actual weight. The real thing that's wrong with it is that it's old technology so nobody stands to make any money from the royalties.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Li-Fe batteries aren't an ideal fit

            The biggest problems with lead-acid batteries, when used in this context, is that the good ones require near constant maintenance, and they outgas.

            I'll continue to use them to start vehicles, but all my household/barn/shop power needs (except remote deep-well water pumps, and the electric gates[0]) are now being met with LiFePo. I rather suspect I'll be quite happy with this for the rest of my life.

            (The stuff that needs three-phase power is mostly mothballed for the moment ... The plan is to work on it over the winter, with a new solar array for power. I've already built the foundation, the basic support structure, run the conduit and pulled the wire, and installed & tested the backup generator ... Just need to install the battery, the electronics, the wire and the PV panels, and plug it into my existing 3-pase distribution system. Simples. Not.)

            [0] These are already fully functional, so why spend money swapping out batteries?

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Li-Fe batteries aren't an ideal fit

              "Just need to install the battery, the electronics, the wire and the PV panels, and plug it into my existing 3-pase distribution system. Simples. Not.)"

              What are you using for the electronics? I'm looking at the Victron Charger/inverters with a battery bank set up as 3phase. I want a full size mill and a bigger lathe and a rotary phase unit is too wasteful. There is 3 phase on the overhead lines, but the power company wants a tidy fortune (some in small denomination used bills) to make a separate drop to the garage. As the roof faces south and I'm not operating a machining business, solar/battery could be just fine. It would likely be cheaper to reframe the roof to single pitch than to pay off the electric company.

    2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: What chemistry?

      For utility size batteries there is one obvious choice apart from lithium-ion - sodium sulfur (SS) batteries.

      SS cells operate at high temperature (about 350C) so are not suitable for small systems (due to thermal losses) but for multiple MWh batteries they are the leading contender to lithium-ion batteries. Because SS batteries use the common elements sodium and sulfur they do not have the resource problems of lithium-ion batteries (lithium and cobalt), SS batteries have a solid electrolyte (beta-alumina) which is incombustible unlike the organic liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries.

      SS batteries are already in use in a number of utility scale (multiple MWh) locations.

    3. KSM-AZ

      Re: What chemistry?

      Likely Sodium and Aluminum in the short term. An outfit in Australia has a prototype factory running for the latter, they seem to be on target for initial production of pouch batteries. Another company has some improvements around stuff blowing up with current tech that increases volume/kw by 25% or so but that would not be relevant if you are in a shipping container at a power plant.

      Frankly aluminum if they can get it going is like a no brainer and highly recyclable.

  6. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    contradictory statement?

    Per CNBC, firefighters on the scene allowed the battery to burn out, as is standard practice for lithium-ion fires. Firefighters planned to remain on scene overnight to ensure the system didn't re-ignite.

    Ok, so the let it burn itself out because the can't stop it from burning, how do they keep it from re-igniting?

    Where's Paris?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: contradictory statement?

      Firefighters always remain on-site after a fire is nominally out. Sometimes something is missed, causing a flair-up. Better to have folks at the ready than having to roll out on another emergency call. This is true regardless of the nature of the fire.

      Paris exists only in your imagination. Thankfully.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: contradictory statement?

        > Paris exists only in your imagination. Thankfully.

        I was in Paris just a couple of days ago.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: contradictory statement?

          "I was in Paris just a couple of days ago."

          You and several hundred thousand other gents.

          Sounds unsanitary. At best.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: contradictory statement?

            "We'll always have Paris"

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: contradictory statement?

              Who is "we", Kemosabe?

              1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                Re: contradictory statement?

                Depends on whether I'm quoting Casablanca or ST:TNG.

                Your guess.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: contradictory statement?

      SOP is typically to spray water on the burning unit to cool things down, preventing the fire from spreading to adjacent cells, adjacent batteries, or other nearby materials. Once the affected battery is out, it's watched for signs of reignition (heating, smoking, outgassing, etc). If possible, submerging the entire battery is ideal.

      The crew watching can't do much to actually prevent reignition, it's more about being there to respond quickly to move back to surround and drown mode. They can also monitor the air for the nasty byproducts that a Li-ion fire can produce and can respond as required.

      Note regarding water: people who took a chemistry class or two hear the word "lithium" and assume adding water is a bad idea. Lithium ion batteries don't have any metallic lithium present (ok, *ideally* don't have any, but under some ageing modes or failure modes small quantities can be present, but it should be minimal). As a result, there's no kaboom from water reacting with lithium.

      Source: not a firefighter, but I have a few Li-ion batteries totalling about 800kWh of capacity hanging around at work, so we've been learning a lot about battery safety lately.

  7. boris9k3

    What if in the future rolling blackouts prevent electric fire trucks from going to put out green tech fire?

    We are led by fools that still believe in the tooth ferry

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      What if in the future rolling blackouts prevent electric fire trucks from going to put out green tech fire?

      The future is now!

      https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2022/09/07/vancouvers-new-virtue-signalling-fire-engine-useless-but-at-least-it-wont-wake-the-neighbours-up/

      Well, the new e-truck will cost $300,000 more than a comparable diesel model, pump 40 per cent less water and have such a short range (30 km) because of its enormous weight that it will have to have backup diesel power in case it runs out of juice on the way to a blaze.

      Wonder if Canada's also ordering electric snowploughs?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Is one of the firemen called Montag?

      2. jake Silver badge

        They are testing electric plug-in tractors. I was allowed to borrow one for a few weeks. I really like the low end torque and the relative quiet. I really hate that I can't use it non-stop for 72+ hours a couple of times during harvest season. This last is a complete deal-breaker. When crops need to come in, I can't have my tractor sitting on the charger for hours on end.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          > non-stop for 72+ hours

          Harvesting at night too?

          If yes: Quite some dedication!

          If no: They only need to last for about 14 hours, don't they? Tough 14h nonstop is not an easy thing, requires quite a pack of battery. Or two tractors, which is very expensive...

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Just because the tractor is busy doesn't mean that it has to have the same driver for the whole time.

            Modern tractors are expensive. Keeping them busy when you need to makes good economic sense, and seeing tractors and harvesters work by floodlight is quite normal around harvest time.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Around here, typically I'll drive a semi taking harvest to storage for four hours, then drive a tractor for four hours, then 8 hours off. With four drivers rotating, it is fairly easy to keep up the pace for a week or so without getting tired enough to start making mistakes. My operation has more than four drivers available.

              Normally, the harvest window for me and my guys (and gals) is no more than five days. Planting similar.

              Modern LED lights make working at night just as easy as working during the day. In some places easier.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Yes, we harvest at night[0]. Especially if rain is on the way (rare though that might be around here, we had that very issue just this last weekend). It's not dedication, it's part of the job. The other side, planting, also happens 24/7 until it is done.

            A spare battery pack would cost nearly the same as a spare tractor. And in reality, you would probably need four battery packs (+ charging infrastructure) per tractor to maintain a nearly non-stop harvest. Plus the transportable equipment to do the battery swap in the field. Them thangs is heavy, they is. All in all, quite spendy.

            Electric power for farm equipment looks good on paper, until you look at real world TCO. Then it's shit.

            One exception: In so-called "third world countries", where bleeding-heart yuppies install a free (to the locals) PV system, a free (to the locals) electric tractor that needs no expensive diesel to run can be a godsend. Hopefully that same god will send help when (not if) something breaks ... especially considering that none of the parts will have been manufactured locally, nor be available locally.

            [0] Note that it's not just my land I'm working ... I rent my equipment/personnel out to other locals who can't/won't afford their own gear.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "[0] Note that it's not just my land I'm working ... I rent my equipment/personnel out to other locals who can't/won't afford their own gear.

              That can be the better approach. A farmer (or company) can plant whatever is going to do well and not be hamstrung by the sorts of planting/harvesting gear they've invested in. I've seen some shows in the US midwest where bands of gypsy harvesters visit farm after farm to collect the crops rather than the farmer doing the job themselves. Sounds to me like a good use of very expensive equipment.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "A spare battery pack would cost nearly the same as a spare tractor."

              I like some of the papers on using ammonia created on site to synthesize diesel replacements for use in ag machines. It's not JUST that it would take frequently swapping batteries in big agriculture machines, but that they tend to sit for long periods of time when they aren't needed. That makes them very tough to electrify so leave them for later and find something that will work better than traditional diesel.

              1. jake Silver badge

                As a farmer/rancher ...

                ... I use ammonia as fertilizer sometimes. It is a royal pain in the ass, and I only use it as a matter of last resort. I certainly don't want it as a commonly used fuel. Far too much room for error.

                As for replacements for traditional diesel ... Most of my kit now runs on used cooking oil. Granted, there is a finite supply of this ... but I don't see the big-boys using it, so us little guys probably won't run low any time soon.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: As a farmer/rancher ...

                  "I use ammonia as fertilizer sometimes. It is a royal pain in the ass, and I only use it as a matter of last resort. I certainly don't want it as a commonly used fuel. Far too much room for error."

                  The ammonia isn't used as the fuel, but a feedstock for a synthesized diesel equivalent.

                  Are you using the ammonia as a fumigant or applying it directly on the ground?

                  I wonder if there is a straightforward way to create ammonia based fertilizers on site.

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: As a farmer/rancher ...

                  "The first car probably cost a lot more than a carriage and wasn't much good. How'd that work out long term?"

                  The first cars were status symbols and many were electric. The also had the advantage of being ready to do without needing to hitch up a cart or saddle a horse. Yes, it's doesn't take long to saddle a horse, but I'm a guy and used to be able to swing a saddle over the top of the horse by myself with no problem. Some ladies weren't tall enough or might have been with child so it could be much harder. If they only needed to get in a car to get themselves into town, it would be much faster and simpler. At the time, "town" wouldn't have been that far away.

                  "Much good" is a very relative term. On many occasions, something that just a little bit better makes a big difference.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "They are testing electric plug-in tractors."

          Robert Llewellyn was lent a small electric JCB digger for a project at his house and to review on the Fully Charged Show. It looked like all sorts of fun. They are also very good for basement and inside projects where combustion exhaust would be a big problem. A big ask is that the operator plug it in when not in use so it doesn't go flat. On a union job, that might add too much cost to have a dedicated plugger since the operator is often not allowed to do any sort of refueling.

      3. AdamWill

        "Recent Posts

        Does this explode the great global warming myth"

        Oh lordy, one of those.

        Assuming the flat earther's numbers are real - okay, so what? Of course new tech costs more than old tech at first. That is how it always works. The first gen Tesla Roadster cost about $100k. The first car probably cost a lot more than a carriage and wasn't much good. How'd that work out long term?

        Buying one early model to try out isn't "virtue signalling", it's product development and relationship building. Somebody has to do it.

        I don't know anything about firefighting so I don't know how significant the "pumps 40% less water" stat is, but I do live in Vancouver, and confirm it'd be fairly weird for a fire truck to have to drive 30km to a fire. Or even 15km. The entire city is only 115 sq. km, and has over 20 fire halls.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Oh lordy, one of those.

          Yup. Contains science. That contradicts dogma, so you probably won't like it.

          Assuming the flat earther's numbers are real - okay, so what?

          Hmm.. The author, William Kininmonth, is no bedroom blogger. As a former head of Australia’s National Climate Centre, he deserves careful and respectful attention.

          Or I guess you could just call him a 'flat earther' for challenging your faith. Oddly, Kininmonth knows a LOT more about climate models than you or I. Including they way they actually model 'flat earth'. Or use inputs from flat earthers, eg-

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HadCRUT

          Its spatial grid boxes are 5° of latitude and longitude.

          Especially as most of those grid boxes don't actually contain any real instruments, producing real data. But that's climate 'science' for you. If you don't have RealData, just make shit up, which then gets a bit recursive sometimes when historical, empirical data are 'adjusted'. But such is politics. Or just the limitations of Earth observations and climate modelling. It's kind of a wicked problem, especially if you want to do it properly. Then surface details and boundary conditions matter A LOT.. And as Kininmonth points out, that's also where most of the heat flux happens via evaporation, conduction, convection, and a teeny bit of radiation.

          The first gen Tesla Roadster cost about $100k. The first car probably cost a lot more than a carriage and wasn't much good. How'd that work out long term?

          With most things in life, there's wiki and XKCD-

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_electric_vehicle#First_full-scale_electric_cars

          https://xkcd.com/1162/

          Plus folks in the UK were used to 'revolutionary' EVs trundling around our streets with our good'ol fashioned milk floats.

          Buying one early model to try out isn't "virtue signalling", it's product development and relationship building. Somebody has to do it.

          Sure it is. Why buy a product that costs $300k more, and does less? But that's the 'Green Revolution' for you. We abandoned the 'Age of Sail' for the Industrial Revolution and turned Dutch windmills into quaint character homes. Now, we're 'Building Back Better', because idiots don't realise the fundamentals haven't changed. Hence why our 'investment' in 'renewables' has lead to massively more expensive electricity, and less reliability.

          I don't know anything about firefighting so I don't know how significant the "pumps 40% less water" stat is, but I do live in Vancouver, and confirm it'd be fairly weird for a fire truck to have to drive 30km to a fire.

          Well, I'm guessing you're not an engineer. Like this story says, firefighters pumped a lot of water to cool stuff down. If you can't deliver water, it'll take longer. And because it's a glorified milk float, it'll need battery for both motive power, and pumping. And I guess for Canadians living in Vancouver's hilly bits, it'll need to haul some water up hill. And then it'll need to haul itself back to be recharged, so you'll need more 'engines' to be able to cover multiple calls. And I guess if one of those calls is to a Vancouver grid-scale battery that's bolloxed up the grid..

          But again, such is politics. Take something safety-critical, and make it more expensive, and much less reliable.

          1. jake Silver badge

            "But such is politics."

            Please stop saying this. The way you use it makes it sound like a quasi-religious interjection. It detracts from your message.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Please stop saying this.

              I'll try..

              The way you use it makes it sound like a quasi-religious interjection. It detracts from your message.

              But it's the problem. Politics has corrupted science, and vice-versa. There is no sound reason to waste an extra $300k on a fire engine that isn't really fit for purpose. But it has a political benefit, ie virtue signalling that some Vancouver public servants have wasted a lot of tax payer's money. Much as polticians around the world have wasted trillions on 'renewables', EV policies etc etc. Only now does it seem like they're starting to realise the problems, even if they're trying to blame Russia for their own insane energy policies.

              Then there are the NGOs and media. So we have the various 'Rebellions' demanding changes, like banning cars, fossil fuels, and even all milk and dairy products. All in the name of 'science'. Or because they're authoritarian facists who use violence to try and promote their political ideals.

              And it gets bad when these policies will cost lives, either this winter when people freeze. Or in Vancouver when they have electricity supply problems and can't recharge their EV fire engines. Especially if that means no electricity to pump mains water around to hydrants either. There's a lot of issues that don't seem to have been thought through, eg engine availability and coverage. Maybe a fire station has 2 or 3 engines so it can respond to multiple fires, or large fires. With EVs, it'll be a 2n+1 problem where extra engines are 'needed' to cover for ones that are on recharge. Which means needing more space for additional bays, which means more land, which means coverage changes.. And then the range limitations become even more critical.

              Plus there's plenty of other stuff ICEs do better. So suppose they need more water. Run out a diesel pump to a handy body, and keep it running off jerry cans or a fuel bowser.. Something that isn't easily replaceable with an 'EV' solution because you're also limited by batery weight and transporting those. I guess you could have emergency diesel generators to charge the batteries to power the electric pumps.. But what's the point?

              It's quieter. Yey! Yet idiot motorists already don't notice honking great emergency vehicles with lights, sirens, air horns etc. So now introducing stealth versions is worth the extra $300k?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                For a lot of politicians all they have is virtue signalling. Very few have original ideas and they want to conform to the whims of the screeching minority.

                Just look at the debacle with Marthas Vineyard. How quickly the tune changed when faced with an actual problem.

                And lets not forget that part of that $300k probably went to the local politicians back pockets :)

              2. jake Silver badge
                Pint

                I do not disagree with you on this.

                All I'm objecting to is the equivalence of the slack-jawed, drooling morons standing behind the television preacher of your choice, shouting "praise jesus!", or "preach it brother!" or "amen!" or whatever every time said sham shaman pauses for breath.

                But whatever. I asked nicely, I won't bring it up again. Be you. Beer?

          2. AdamWill

            I'm going to skip the pseudo-scientific wibble, because that's what it is. There is no point "debating" global heating deniers any more than there is "debating" flat earthers or 9/11 truthers. Just not worth the effort.

            "And I guess for Canadians living in Vancouver's hilly bits, it'll need to haul some water up hill."

            There aren't any significantly hilly bits in Vancouver. Vancouver, proper - the area served by the Vancouver Fire Department - is only the bit in brown here:

            https://vancouver.ca/news-calendar/areas-of-the-city.aspx

            none of which is hilly enough to be worth worrying about. The hilly bits are mostly to the north, in the city called North Vancouver. Which has its own fire department.

            "And then it'll need to haul itself back to be recharged, so you'll need more 'engines' to be able to cover multiple calls."

            That's why I said "or even 15km".

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              I'm going to skip the pseudo-scientific wibble, because that's what it is.

              Nope, it's the reason we've wasted trillions on 'renewables', and oddly enough, now facing an energy crisis. All of that's explained in the xkcd article. But you're going to skip the debate because you don't understand the science, and can't debate. But a simple question to get you thinking..

              How exactly does CO2 cause global warming? CO2 is a very simple molecule, the physics are well understood, as are it's radiative properties. Problem is quantifying all the processes, ie convection, evaporation, conduction, advection etc etc that move energy, before CO2 even gets a look-in.

              There is no point "debating" global heating deniers any more than there is "debating" flat earthers or 9/11 truthers. Just not worth the effort.

              That's called a false equivalence. More social science than physics, but it seems you don't even understand that. But this is also pretty normal with faith vs reason, and one of the challenges cult de-programmers face. Also curious where or why you're using the term 'global heating' rather than the more generally accepted global warming. Is that because the warming isn't working out anywhere close to as predicted?

              (I won't exactly hold my breath waiting for your reply, given you didn't understand why less pumping capacity is a BadThing(tm) on a fire engine, given one of it's main purposes is to pump water.. And if you want 'deniers', you'd be better off looking at the idiot who couldn't even set himself on fire at a tennis match, despite using highly refined fossil fuels. Perhaps he should have used a battery instead?)

        2. jake Silver badge

          "I do live in Vancouver, and confirm it'd be fairly weird for a fire truck to have to drive 30km to a fire."

          I guess you have no wild fires in Vancouver, then. Here in California, it is not unusual to see fire trucks from San Diego working fires on the Oregon border, 850+ miles from home.

          Note that once on station, the trucks can often idle for extended periods (days) supplying both electricity and pumping water. It's far easier to refill diesel tanks than it is to charge batteries.

          1. Filippo Silver badge

            Well, okay, then continue using diesel fire trucks in California? I mean, we don't really need to stop using fossil fuels anywhere and everywhere and at any time in order to fix atmospheric CO2.

            If by some miracle we managed to decarbonise large-scale power generation and most regular transportation, while still having diesel engines where there really is no other practical way, that would be plenty good enough. Responsible use of the environment should be a practical issue, not a religion.

          2. AdamWill

            "I guess you have no wild fires in Vancouver, then."

            No, we don't, because there's no wild in Vancouver.

            There are at least two municipalities between Vancouver and anywhere you could plausibly describe as "wild", and fires in those areas would be attended by different fire departments.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Well, the new e-truck will cost $300,000 more than a comparable diesel model, pump 40 per cent less water and have such a short range (30 km) because of its enormous weight that it will have to have backup diesel power in case it runs out of juice on the way to a blaze."

        In my town, 30km is completely adequate. The vast majority of the callouts are not for fire, or for a fire that needs the maximum amount of water sprayed on it. A hybrid power plant sounds like an excellent idea for those times when they may need more power. Unfortunately, our city council has a strong allergy for maths. They don't see the advantage of having a smaller EMT rig to use for medical calls, which is what they do all day long, and are using up the much bigger, more expensive and harder to maintain full size fire truck. Since the EMT vehicle wouldn't be pumping water and doesn't need to be very large (they don't transport patients to hospital), it could easily be electric. A larger brigade could have an electric truck as the primary response vehicle and more traditional ICE trucks that can roll as needed. A rebuilt large diesel engine can easily be $40,000.

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      We are led by fools that still believe in the tooth ferry

      Well, I certainly do. Being woken at 3AM by a 380' long CalMac vessel inches from my face as it tried to get under my pillow looking for milk teeth, its bow doors opening and closing hungrily as its anchor chains rattled, had a deep and formative effect on me as a child, I can tell you. "Get back to Ullapool!! There's no teeth for you here!!", I screamed at it in childish terror. It executed a clumsy turn, knocking my He-Man figures off my bedside table, and steamed off into the night leaving a trail of bunker oil on the bedroom carpet.

  8. boris9k3

    See : https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/01/california_ev_heatwave/?td=readmore

    And this

    https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/aap-nw-aap.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/11125013/f70fb9a961c4aa38881e15db88a4ec0bbca06b551ca989c4da0b3ddeb12e2c00-scaled.jpg?v=1613008216

  9. boris9k3

    I feel like beating a dead horse.

    https://i.imgflip.com/3d8mw1.jpg

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Make the full calculation: Overall still more efficient! Those coal plants have a high efficiency when converting it to electrical energy. But wait, we don't need to calculate, we just measure it! Result: Jep, still more efficient. Don't forget to include how much energy is needed to PRODUCE the fuel from crude oil when you start to compare.

      1. boris9k3

        "Don't forget to include how much energy is needed to PRODUCE the fuel from crude oil when you start to compare."

        I did not forget........Like we could do for years and still keep the lights on. :-)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gonna be seeing old technology Lion batteries for a while

    Like all things with high capitol costs, scale out battery fabs are going to try to squeeze every dime out of their production lines, even if that means slashing margins.

    So we are going to be seeing cheap Li-Ion batteries flaming out for years, because they will be cheaper at scale, at least until the manufacturing process is just no longer economical. Considering the demand and historical margins, that will take a long time.

    This is also why it took Ni-Cad cells so long to die off, even after Ni-MH was cheap. It is also why you can't get single use AA batteries that don't leak. The only ones that can make them cheaply enough to stay profitable are garbage.

    The only way to change these cruel market realities is to ban imports of the older, less stable, and more toxic and wasteful battery processes. That will drive up prices though, so don't expect it to happen till demand drops a fair amount, if at all.

  11. Trotts36

    Solar battery is the future !

    Hahahaha

    Dear green obsessed lunatics - your joyful future has been shown to be a sham. A mere side show to distract.

    If we are going to keep the lights on it’s going to mean lots of fission nuclear reactors and a lack of stupidly insanely sized battery packs bursting into flames in your missus’s suv.

    The quest for range in electric power luxury milk floats should stop. Now. I have nothing against small cars with small ranges for local transportation (as a majority of journeys are these runs) - but for godsake nothing touches the internal combustion engine for road trips and hauling stock and product.

    1. AdamWill

      Re: Solar battery is the future !

      Um. A battery catching fire proves this how?

      Oil spills. Engines break down. Gas storage tanks catch fire. Nothing in this world is perfect. Energy is energy. It likes to get out. Anything you do to produce or store energy is likely to suffer some kind of failure *sometimes*, and energy being energy, these failure modes are likely to be rather spectacular.

      Fission nuclear reactors have, uh, had their ups and downs too, you might recall. Yet we still use them, because on the whole, they're pretty useful. A few batteries caught fire. We deal with it, and we keep using batteries, because they're still pretty useful.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Solar battery is the future !

        All of your examples can be prevented. This kind of battery fire cannot.

      2. Trotts36

        Re: Solar battery is the future !

        All the examples you gave are easily dealt with; a burning lithium fire is an entirely different kettle of fish.

        It’s immature technology; the fact everyone keeps trying to hold it up as the perfect tech for the future is just frankly annoying as hell. The ridiculous edicts from governments about banning ICE sales for 2030 just shows how monumentally stupid people can be.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Solar battery is the future !

        "A few batteries caught fire. We deal with it, and we keep using batteries, because they're still pretty useful."

        The take away from this incident is that it's not a good idea to locate a large battery farm somewhere where it will shut down a major highway, school, hospital, etc. If Tesla were to have to pay for the lost time just the truckers had in waiting or detouring around the highway closure, they'd get out of the storage business.

  12. MGyrFalcon
    Joke

    System Burn-in Period

    When I was doing large systems installations, we always told the customer there would be a 30-60 day burn-in period to check for failures. I guess Tesla should have told PG&E there was a 6 Month burn-in period and actual burning may occur.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: System Burn-in Period

      This is quite a minor fire for PG&E. Their usual burn-in involves several thousand acres of forest and huge lawsuits for the deaths they caused.

  13. Kev99 Silver badge

    Why don't they place the batteries inside air-tight, nitrogen (or other abundant inert gas) filled structures? Last I heard, no oxygen, no fire.

    1. jake Silver badge

      There are many chemical reactions that do not require air-born oxygen, and yet are extremely exothermic.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      The battery's charge is the reaction. Even the safe Lithium Iron Phosphate is a hot mess when it goes bad. Lithium Ion is worse because it has more storage, more thermal runaway, and flammable electrolyte that squirts out into a momentary fireball.

    3. Lee D

      You mean contain something that's heating enough to catch fire and become an explosion risk necessitating shutting off nearby roads, in a small, airtight container?

      There's a word for that. Bomb. Now with added shrapnel.

  14. DenTheMan

    I recall that this was a good use for used battery packs

    Well, many of us always though that idea that, likely Musk idea, would go up in a puff of smoke.

  15. Richard Pennington 1
    Flame

    In other news...

    High-grade lithium ore discovered in Monterey, California ...

  16. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Out of curiousity, PWRs used a massive lead-acid battery room for emergency shutdowns (and I know two horror stories about those) but what do modern reactors use in case of power failure and emergency shutdown backup?

    1. jake Silver badge

      The same. With generators, and in some cases PVs, to ensure they stay operational in an emergency.

      Fukushima's problem was that the batteries and gensets were located on the ground, in reach of the tsunami, instead of on the roof, where they would have been out of harm's way.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Fukushima's problem was that the batteries and gensets were located on the ground, in reach of the tsunami, instead of on the roof, where they would have been out of harm's way."

        They were below grade in the basement instead of up the hill from the plant. The generators would have had a high likelihood of working if they weren't flooded and the batteries would have been sufficient for sometime if they also didn't get flooded. Another issue was TEPCO's belief (without any proof) that leaving the passive cooling system running to dissipate the decay heat was a bad thing. They had been cycling it on and off and when the power died, it was in the off position. Nobody knew if it were on or off as they had not been regularly testing it. In the US, they do test this system every time they shut down for refueling so they know exactly how to tell that it's going..... big jets of steam coming out of the exhaust pipes and an end of the world noise.

        It's often not just one thing that bites somebody on their backside and humans don't learn to not touch a hot stove until they've done it once to see why they've been told. All we can do is know that bad things are going to happen no matter what and try to anticipate the most stupid ones and train people to err on the cautious side when dealing with something like a nuclear reactor. If it's off-nominal and you don't know why, turn it off and damn the poor bastard who is going to be angry he can't watch the match on his 80" telly.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Burn in Period.... Failure

    They used to say the first few months usage of any new tech gear was the most fraught with risk of a failure.

    Hence having to give (on site) warranties for the expensive stuff.

    We Never had to deal with ongoing Magic Smoke release as a risk in the good old days though.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Burn in Period.... Failure

      "Never had to deal with ongoing Magic Smoke release as a risk in the good old days though."

      No? Since time immemorial, the command I use to turn on new equipment has been "smoke it". For repaired equipment it is always "smoke test".

      Fortunately the magic smoke usually stays put ...

  18. toffer99

    Well, its a good job that nuclear...er nuclear..

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