back to article Massive energy storage system goes online in UK

Europe's largest battery energy storage installation has gone live in the UK with the capacity to store up to 196MWh of electricity, pointing the way towards greater use of the technology to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. The Pillswood project near Hull towards the North Sea coast of England has been developed by …

  1. Little Mouse Silver badge

    Dumb question time...

    How much continual energy/power is required to keep a site like this up and running?

    1. bonkers

      Re: Dumb question time...

      It's not a dumb question, if the complexity of the answer is anything to go by.

      With the battery fully charged, the maintaining power for the electronics and any cooling might be a few kW, then there is the self-discharge of the batteries, maybe 10kW? These are just my estimates, the real figures could be higher.

      The point is that the system expects to be cycled, and that's where the inefficiencies creep in. There are losses in the power converters, from AC to DC and back again. Power converters at this scale are normally quite "agricultural" - they might use 12-phase thyristor invertors, which involve a fair bit of smashing voltages together. This is what is used for the UK-France DC link, with efficiency of maybe 95%. Then there is the battery coulombic efficiency, which is very high for Li-Ion batteries, at low current - but drops significantly if you run them at C/2 or C/4 rates (i.e. so they charge or discharge in 2 hours or 4 hours respectively).

      It is this 2-hour rate and 4-hour rate that gives you their published figures, the overall round-trip efficiency. This includes all the losses described above.

      Quoted figures for the Tesla megapack are

      2-hour duration:

      Power & Energy: 1,927 kW / 3,854 kWh per Megapack

      Round Trip Efficiency: 92.0%

      4-hour duration:

      Power & Energy: 970 kW / 3,878 kWh per Megapack

      Round Trip Efficiency: 93.5%

      source: https://electrek.co/2022/09/14/tesla-megapack-update-specs-price/

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Dumb question time...

        Where the spot price of electricity varies by over, say, 20% during the day, you can start to make money to pay off the capital investment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: spot price of electricity

          20%? What planet are you living on?

          I've seen the price quoted on https://grid.iamkate.com/ go from -£40.00/MWh to over £200.00/MWh.

          As I write this post, it is £183.00/MWh with a demand of just over 40GWh.

          1. Lon24 Silver badge

            Re: spot price of electricity

            Yes, it has the potential to the owners of almost guaranteed 'buy low, sell high' income. However, some media see this project as 'smoothing the grid'. Massive as this is with fields of shipping container batteries - it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines out of 400 going full belt at 6Mw each for two hours.

            That's just one phase of four for Dogger Bank. A lot of scaling and farmland is going to be needed to make a dent in the ~ 40GWh demand at peak times methinks.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

              Exaclty.

              These are the sort of numbers that wow politicians :-(

              For anyone who can do actual mathematics it's 300 000 homes for two hours

              SFW? That's roughly 1/50 of all the houses in the UK for roughly 1/4 of a night ( a short night, not a winter night). Looks like you'll need about another 200+

              The dirty little secret of renewables is that when the sun don't shine, the wind don't blow and the dam is empty (and outsiide of those every other non-fossile fuel except nuclear is basically an extra-thick line on the pie chart of globally significant energy sources) what most orgnaisations do is crank up (or engage their contract) with someone operating a big-ass gas turbine.

              Can it make money for the operators. Sure. But that's not running an energy company.

              That's an electricity hedge fund.

              1. AdamWill Silver badge

                Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                "Looks like you'll need about another 200+"

                Great, we'll build another 200+, then. Like we built 200+ power stations. Is there some sort of problem with that?

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                  Looks like the Envision AESC plant being built next to Nissan's car factory in Sunderland is aiming at the wrong market...

                2. vogon00

                  Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                  "Looks like you'll need about another 200+"

                  If I read this correctly, you're saying we need to build 200 more of these here to store the output of 'Dogger Bank' as a whole.

                  We appear to be talking about 196MW of storage per multi-unit site...so say 200MW, for a few percent of the peak load period Each 200MW site appears to be able to store and supply (later!) circa 92-94-% of one fifth of the older '1GWe' 'power stations' or one fifteenth of a modern (i.e. nuclear fission) UK electricity generation facility at about 3GWe.

                  One can't store something unless it is generated in the first place. The last thing we need at the moment is a large increase in load (1000s of electric vehicles @ e.g 15KW/h) combined with more bias towards electricity as natural gas becomes rarer/more expensive*) at the same time we're loosing generation capacity.

                  So call me back when there is something to replace the short, medium and long term loss in generation capacity we face due to eliminating fossil fuels and decommissioning the 'nuclear fleet', combined with the increasing loads involved with everyone plugging in their EVs etc...

                  * I have two elderly relatives who are already switching to electric fan-assisted convection heaters or plain old 'fan heaters' used in one room only to avoid heating the rest of the house. I know of at least one family-of-four who use a 10KW electric shower in an attempt to keep the gas bill down (Without doing anything about the overall energy bill - talk about 'Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul'!).

                  Mine's the one with the extra-heavy-duty thermal insulation.

                  1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                    Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                    I know of at least one family-of-four who use a 10KW electric shower in an attempt to keep the gas bill down

                    It's worse than that even. If they were to run a mixer shower directly from a gas "combination" boiler (a "combi") which produces hot water on demand then even the weediest types can put about 20kW of heat into the water, so potentially a more satisfying shower or (and this is key), if 10kW is sufficient, at the moment, domestically, gas is approximately 1/3rd the price of electricity (up until this October's rise it was about 1/4 the price) so taking an electric shower will cost three times as much as taking an equivalent gas shower (very small inefficiencies aside).

                    Inefficiencies rise slightly if your gas boiler heats a cylinder of stored water, but the price differential - which has been in the range of 1:3 to 1:5 for decades - quite a long way from the hopes in the 1950s that nuclear-generated electricity would be "too cheap to meter" - is a very difficult obstacle to overcome for people who are already struggling to pay the bills. Hot water from gas is very cheap compared with hot water from electricity.

                    It's also something politicians ignore when they scramble on to the latest bandwagon that is air-source heat pumps. In order to make economic sense, a heat pump has to have a better efficiency ratio than the difference in price between gas and electricity. In other words, at current prices, heat pumps need an overall (year-round) efficiency for providing both space heating and hot water which is greater than 3:1; six months ago this was 4:1.

                    I keep looking, but I've yet to find a manufacturer which promises this in a typical UK climate. Oh yes, they will quote "peak" efficiencies of 4:1 or maybe as high as 5:1 under specific circumstances, but on a cold damp day in winter, chances are that in order to get your hot water to 50C or 60C your heat pump will have to switch itself off and switch on a good old-fashioned immersion heater. Ground source heat pumps are better, but more expensive and more difficult to install.

                    And it doesn't help that installing an air source heat pump (the cheapest and easiest type) can cost four times (or more) as much as a new gas boiler, even if no other changes are required, such as swapping radiators for larger models to cope with lower flow temperatures.

                    The one big advantage of a heat pump is that if, and only if you buy "green" electricity, you will put next to no Carbon into the atmosphere as you run the device. If I had the money, this would be a valid argument, but I don't, so I'm sticking with my gas boiler until it dies.

                    M.

                  2. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

                    Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                    Interesting that using your figure of 15kWh per electric car - and there being around 650,000 electric cars now in the UK, that would give around 9GWh of storage. (Assuming the cars are driving only around 5% of the time.) That's 45 times more than this new battery.

                    Thus, if we could use 15kWh each from all the car batteries that would be able to store half the output from the 400 6MW Dogger Bank turbines for about 7½ hours. And that's longer than most intense storms.

                    These figures do begin to make sense.

                    The 15kWh is about half the capacity of my 6-year-old car, so one wouldn't have to deep cycle the batteries and they wouldn't suffer excessive wear.

                    Of course they would suffer normal wear for which the car owner would have to be compensated. By my reckoning the Grid would benefit to the tune of about 60p per cycle by charging the cars when electricity is cheap and selling when it's expensive. But with this system working at scale it would make it possible to remove a coal power station from the mix and that would be a considerable extra saving perhaps making the saving up to say £1 a cycle for ordinary grid conditions. The cycles would be worth more during extreme storms or when the grid is stretched.

                    Is that enough for the wear on the battery? This doesn't look so great. In 100,000 miles my car has done around 1,700 of these shallow cycles. But £1,700 would not compensate me for 100,000 miles of battery life. It would work much better for the newest LFP batteries which may be approaching a million miles life. Especially since the rest of the car likely wouldn't last a million miles.

                3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Unhappy

                  Great, we'll build another 200+, then.

                  Except wind turnbines can be becalmed (and have been) for days. So multiply that figure (and BTW that's just for people, not industry. I didn't mention that but that would mean all UK mfg and most transport shutting down) by about 15.

                  And the UK is in the process of retiring 20-25% of its generatiing capacity with the retirement of the older AGRs (the Magnox stations are all gone)

                  Batteries store electricity, they don't make it. And the f**kwitted plan to go to electic cars by 2030 will massively increase generating capacity needed.

                  UK Energy policy.

                  Yeah, we've heard of the idea.

                  1. phuzz Silver badge

                    Re: Great, we'll build another 200+, then.

                    A single turbine might be becalmed, but across the UK as a whole it's never not windy.

                    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
                      FAIL

                      Re: Great, we'll build another 200+, then.

                      "Never not windy"?

                      Try looking at http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ on many days in winter. The "Wind" dial goes to pretty much zero quite often.

                      The weather patterns around the UK mean that you do indeed get windless days over the entire land mass, and over the sea for quite a way.

                  2. TechnicalVault

                    It's a tricky one

                    Problem is those AGRs have to go. Nuclear power stations have a design lifespan and whilst it can be extended there are limits. Hinkley Point B for example could have been extended a bit but ultimately the corrosion and graphite bricks warping in the core caused by a lifetime of ionising radiation was always going to be limiting. These are 2nd gen reactors, we learnt from them, it's time to move on.

                    France's Flamanville 3 was the prototype for the 3rd gen EPR design, expensive but informative. Hinkley Point C has gone better, especially the 2nd reactor but it's still basically a 2nd gen prototype. Sizewell C will be even easier to build but it's the last one for which the build is near certain. Whether they go on to build more depends whether politicians hold their nerve. These are long term projects that take longer than the lifetime of a parliament to reap the benefits from... Basically if we want this to happen there needs to be one hell of a grassroots pro-nuke lobby going on.

                    One alternative is to keep burning gas, which given peak oil in the North Sea was 2001 means either relying on unreliable partners, imports or a move back to "town gas". The UK lacks the storage the Germans do to stabilise this market, unless that is rebuilt I suspect it'll be a while until that market stabilises.

                    Another is to put a metric butt ton of investment into pumped storage. UK doesn't quite have the geography for this that Norway does so it'll cost a lot and take time to build. It's also energy agnostic, it can smooth out demand from anything.

                    Lastly you can insulate more. British buildings are still pretty useless in terms of dumping energy from the inside to out, especially all that dodgy 80s and 90s double glazing which past their service life and pretty useless to boot. Again, energy agnostic and saves money whatever you choose for generation. Previous attempts at this have flopped because it's not as fancy as a new infrastructure project, but it damn well works.

                    Frankly all the good options right now require mega project style investment, the do nothing option ain't gonna fly.

                    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                      Unhappy

                      "The UK lacks the storage the Germans do to stabilise this market"

                      Fun fact about Centrica.

                      Their are about 215 countries in the world.

                      The UK is one of two who have wholly for-profit publicly quoted companies running their gas distribution networks.

                      The other is Portugal.

                      I suspect the deal they have with the gas producers and users is they charge going-market-price + their markup

                      IOW it's a cost plus contract.

                      So when the price of gas quadrupled this is a cause for celebration in their Board room.

                      So publicly built private assets which has (AFAIK) no incentive to manage costs to customers.

                  3. Nik 2

                    Capacity for EVs

                    "Electric cars by 2030 will massively increase generating capacity needed"

                    Total car and van miles in the UK is around 275 billion pa, which needs ~70TWh of energy.

                    That's about 20 of current total production, but given the cyclical nature of energy consumption, the increase to peak capacity will be much smaller, as long as the peak time for charging EVs doesn't coincide with the existing peaks.

                    Looked at the from the other end, an average car covers 20 miles a day [Per gov.uk figures], equating to ~5kWh. Recharging in the low demand period from 11pm to 6am gives an average load of ~850 watts per vehicle; 1.7kW for a 2-car household. I don't buy the argument that EVs mean that we have to increase local or national grid capacities because 850 watts is the sort of power the lights my kids leave on used to use before the move to LED.

                4. Robert Grant Silver badge

                  Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                  > Great, we'll build another 200+, then. Like we built 200+ power stations. Is there some sort of problem with that?

                  There is a problem if it doesn't do enough. Building 200 more may address today's domestic needs, but as we electrify cars that won't last. And domestic is maybe a third [0] of total electricity consumption, so we'd need more like 600 if we wanted enough batteries to cover all of the UK's usage storage needs if we went to all part-time generation techniques.

                  If that's the plan, then it would be good to see a total cost of generation that's based on these costs. I find it very hard to compare future generation proposals, because, say, we predict the maximum total cost of ownership of a nuclear power plant, which is then part of its business case, but I struggle to find the same for a renewables-only plan.

                  What I also find interesting is the amount of power lost to transmission - looks about 50% in the UK [1]. Micro reactors [2] are really interesting for this - you need much less generation if you generate closer to consumption.

                  [0] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1094628/DUKES_2022_Chapter_5.pdf - chart 5.1

                  [1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1094628/DUKES_2022_Chapter_5.pdf - second page

                  [2] https://www.power-eng.com/nuclear/westinghouse-sees-a-tech-disrupter-in-its-evinci-microreactor

                5. LybsterRoy Silver badge

                  Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                  If you use the figures from the post you reply to your 200+ needs a very large + to cover for the windless days we get. Plus as I point out in my other post that's homes not total energy consumption - lets just close industry, and the internet, down shall we?

              2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

                Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                Or, since its near Hull, it can power Hull homes (not industry) for about 4 hours.. Hmmmm

              3. strum

                Re: it can only take the output of about 15 Dogger Bank turbines

                "The dirty little secret of renewables is that when the sun don't shine, the wind don't blow and the dam is empty"

                As opposed to when the planet heats up enough to kill off most species?

                The answer to "when the sun don't shine, the wind don't blow and the dam is empty" is to over-supply (since supply is so cheap) and store energy for the quiet times.

                It doesn't have to be lithium. Pumped hydro, gravel beds, green hydrogen & the rest can do the job. In addition, tidal energy & geothermal *never* goes away.

                Nuke fans really have to face the facts; there is no way enough nukes to make a difference can be in place in time to make a difference (leaving aside the huge CO2 output of all that concrete.

                1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
                  Unhappy

                  "As opposed to when the planet heats up enough to kill off most species?"

                  And with the way the human race is going that will include ourselves.

                  I believe the failure to avoid global nuclear war (which we've managed so far, excluding the psycho Ahole running Russia at the moment) and global climate change driven by the dominant species use of fossile fuels (on any planet) solves the Fermi Paradox. :-(

                  Which is intellectually quite satisfying.

                  In the sense of the man who solves his own murder before he dies.

          2. Elongated Muskrat

            Re: spot price of electricity

            I would expect that the effect, if this sort of thing becomes commonplace, would be to not only smooth out the power supply compared to demand and supply, but also to smooth out the variations in the spot price, especially if there are multiple operators competing with each other, and there's no cartel or monopoly pricing. That's probably going to bring the variation to well below 20% eventually. Early adopters will probably make a big profit if they get in fast enough though.

            I also wonder where flow batteries fit in with this? How do their costs and efficiencies compare?

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Coat

              there's no cartel or monopoly pricing.

              Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

              This is the UK energy market you're talking about.

      2. Displacement Activity

        Re: Dumb question time...

        Power & Energy: 970 kW / 3,878 kWh per Megapack

        Interesting. But possibly more interesting is the cost per kWh for a single megapack, quoted at $622/£514.

        When I got a LiFePO4 battery for my campervan a few years ago it cost $605/£500 per kWh. Today, the best price is about $522/£431.

        So, the megapack contains over 3000 times as much energy as a single 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 battery, but the energy unit cost is actually nearly 20% higher. So much for economies of scale.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Dumb question time...

          I suspect at least some of the difference is that you are comparing the price of "a LiFePO4 battery" against the price of "a single megapack", which is not just a battery; it is the packaging, connections and all the control and safety systems which are required to hook it up into a useful battery farm which can be attached to the national grid.

          M.

      3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Dumb question time...

        Inverters are moving to Silicon Carbide MOSFETs. They're industrial grade but can switch very quickly with minimal filtering hardware. I've heard Tesla is a big fan of them.

        IGBTs are the traditional choice for industrial power. Megawatt trains run their motors from these. The downside is that their slow switching speed makes clean power output difficult. Filtering inductors and capacitors are big, costly, and heavy.

        SolarEdge was talking about stacking ordinary low voltage silicon MOSFETs for industrial use. I haven't opened my inverter to see if that's the tech, but it could explain why people complain about high failure rates on some power grids.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dumb question time...

      No dumb questions - just dumb answers.

      The power required to keep a power supply running is often ignored, or just rolled up into "efficiency" figures. We had a solar power system installed in our house back in the spring, at which point I noticed our supply meter was running backwards. Would be great if our electricity supplier accepted the readings as it meant we would be getting paid the same price for what we exported back as what we paid to draw (the supplier has decided, so far, to use their own historical estimates of our usage). Still negotiating...

      However, the point here is that I've been monitoring the system quite closely and I've found the inverter uses around 1kWh/day. Not a lot when the system is generating >20kWh/day (exceeding out 8kWh/day usage) but, when it's not sunny, it's adding >10% to our usage. Not enough to consider shutting it off on dull days, but never something I've ever seen mentioned in any articles about domestic solar installations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dumb question time...

        sounds about right, 40W idle consumption...

        Internet figures vary from 15W to 100W according to quality and size of inverter, and are easily found - look at https://diysolarforum.com/threads/why-do-all-in-one-solar-power-inverters-have-a-high-idle-consumption-asking-to-learn.36430/ for instance.

        You pays your money and takes your choice.

        Better designs might go into a deeper standby when it's dark, and would have better efficiency when running - another important factor.

        If you look at 90% efficiency versus 80%, that's a lot of kWh over the life of the inverter, so it's probably worth buying a good one.

  2. MyffyW Silver badge

    "diesel generators are quite compact, very cheap, well understood, generally reliable"

    Yeah, about that ... the few times when the poo has really hit the fan in my career have been when those generally reliable gennys decide to not be reliable, and not so well understood. And the operators haven't understood the cutover/cutback procedures sufficiently well. Wrecked weekends, whole nights of lost sleep

    1. RobLang

      Agreed. When I read that, I thought Mr Buss had never had to use one in anger.

      His linkedin profile confirms that. https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbuss/?originalSubdomain=uk

      Perhaps get out of the consultancies and into the sharp end before pronouncing efficacy of technology?

    2. xyz

      Yup... Last time we ran a test, a room full of smug gits suddenly became a herd of "whoah shit"s as they charged down the very very long corridor to where the back up generator was. Meanwhile a clock was ticking.. 5,4,3...

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        I've told this story before, but here it goes again: in the late 90's the bank I worked for at the time did a DR test that was supposed to go Mains -> Battery -> Generator

        Instead it went Mains -> Battery -> Extremely loud bang in Generator -> fire department called and full building evacuation (and of some adjacent buildings, being in an old part of town) -> 2 days to go back online

        Fun times

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Coat

          Instead it went Mains -> Battery -> Extremely loud bang in Generator

          I think I can better that story. Here goes.

          I was in a building services company that was refurbishing the office block of let's call it an investment bank.

          work was going on 24/7 except on a certain floor we were forbidden to enter.

          The Currency speculating Trading Department. Their operations were deemed "too fragile" to be disruppted by being moved out of the building, into a new one, out of that and back into the refurbished one.

          One day someone (not me) dropped a spanner across one of the 3ph bus bars and the ground bus bar. Naturally this was planned for. They had a special "fast response" contract from the utility company, backup genny and a huge room full of batteries to keep it smooth while the generator cranked up and got itself together.

          But all that was heard (apart from the quite spectacular firework display in the plant room) was the sound of silence.

          Unfortunately the generator had no fuel (not on the plan) and the batteries were due to be charged next week, because y'know, fully charged large battery arrays are quite dangerous.

          This led to the memorable (and unique in my experienc) spectacle of a C-Suite Director running up 4 flights of stairs to our offices (on the roof of a car park next door to the site). He was not happy.

          The dealers were down for somewhere around 1-2hours. You can bet that Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runn, as well as opposite numbers at Shyster, Shyster and Flywheel, made out handsomely.

          Top tip. Fuel the generator (and check it either starts automatically or there is always someone on site who has the training) and charge the batteries before you start the building work.

          Mines the Hi Viz with the heavy gloves in the pockets.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Instead it went Mains -> Battery -> Extremely loud bang in Generator

            Top tip: check where are the mains lines inside and outside your premises, so you can take preventive actions as soon as you see earth moving apparatus moving your way...

            (land mines are nice if you can get hold of some)

    3. mmonroe

      When I worked at a large facilities management company, we did a disaster recovery test. The diesel generator fired up lovely and then a few minutes later conked out due to lack of fuel. The chap who drove the van to deliver the tape offsite, used to fill his van from the generator tank, rather than going to the garage. Now you might have thought the finance people would have wondered why he wasn't putting receipts for diesel, or why the monthly account at the garage was so small, but apparently not.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Nope, I've never had finance asking why money wasn't being spent on expense items like this.

        The question that should be being asked though is - Was road fuel duty paid on the Genny fuel?

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Just spare a thought for the subsequent owner of the van, it's tank and fuel lines now tattooed with Red DERV, and potentially some unwelcome questions from HMRC

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Was road fuel duty paid on the Genny fuel?

          It wouldn't have been.

          But with a previous work hat on, we had a subcontractor who had some large diesel tanks to run generators for trials. They'd overlooked an upcoming change in rules regarding the holding and use of rebated fuel, and had missed the deadline for applying for the new style licence. Cue some "interesting" conversations until they worked out a buy-back deal with their supplier for "many" tons of diesel (basically, a whole tanker's worth) !

          I actually mused whether it would be possible to buy an old tanker trailer, get it transferred, and have a haulier reposition the trailer, and guarantee cheap diesel for years for our local church (to use as heating fuel). And no, this wasn't after Putin sent fuel costs sky high - it would have been really cheap heating fuel now :-(

      2. gotes

        finance people would have wondered why he wasn't putting receipts for diesel

        If money is not being spent, everything's fine.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          On the other hand, if a budget is not being spent...

          There is an episode of 'The Men From The Ministry' (a pre 'Yes Minister' radio show) where they need to get rid of 75p to balance the books at the end of the year... overspend and your budget is cut... underspend and you obviously don't need all that money

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            75p? Surely at the time of the MFTM it would have been 15/- ?

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Possibly (and well done for the conversion), but according to Wikipedia the series ran from 1962 to 1977, so it really depends on when that specific episode was broadcast.

              M.

              P.S. for those not aware, the UK switched to decimal currency in 1971 bringing 100p in the £1 wheras previously there were 240d (denari, pronounced "pennies") in the £1, 20s (shillings) in the £1 and therefore 12d in the shilling. The value of the £1 stayed nominally the same, so the value of one "new penny" was supposedly just under 2½ "old pence", but rumours of short-changing by unscrupulous shopkeepers still abound.

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                but according to Wikipedia the series ran from 1962 to 1977

                Interesting, I didn't realise it had made it into the 70s.

                value of one "new penny" was supposedly just under 2½ "old pence", but rumours of short-changing by unscrupulous shopkeepers still abound

                As a child I remember thinking it was very unfair that a 5d packets of crisps was now sold for 2½p (6d) but hadn't got any bigger!

              2. Old Tom

                Short-changing

                Indeed, for a bob/shilling you could get 12 penny arrow bars, but only 10 for five of your new pence.

    4. Real Ale is Best

      Powering the grid and providing backup?

      Something that seems to be missing:

      If the data centre batteries are providing energy to the grid, if there is then a powercut, they'll be out of energy to provide backup.

      Choosing one or the other task would seem advisable.

      1. bonkers

        Re: Powering the grid and providing backup?

        It's a linear programming problem.

        If you build your energy reserve just big enough to cover the specified power-outage duration, it is a lot of cost that sits there doing nothing for nearly all of its life.

        If you increase the reserve by just 20%, you can trade power every day, generating an income. You can get the best spot-price of the day, and the wear-out costs for just 20% cycle-depth are minimal. It also keeps the equipment "exercised" at full power, so you can trust it.

        You might just choose to decline the peak electricity price and run your datacentre from batteries for an hour a day, using electricity that you've bought at minimum price, minus your electrical losses.

        Now run the numbers for [x%] of additional reserve, additional installed cost, and you can see it works better.

        You can even play with the statistics - the power outage duration is a Gaussian, unlikely to coincide (in its worst case) with you being at your minimum of stored power. So, for a small increase in the risk that you won't cover the outage (already a non-zero risk) you can pay back some costs, even with zero increase of your energy reserve.

        1. I could be a dog really

          Re: Powering the grid and providing backup?

          I recall reading an interesting article a couple of decades ago - so it's not new.

          The project in the article involved a factory where a sudden uncontrolled loss of power could cause environmental contamination - so they had a factory sized UPS to run the entire site (around 2MW IIRC). Having effectively been forced into the expenditure in order to be able to operate the plant safely, they then figured that it offered a peak lopping capability - and by using a small amount of the stored capacity, they could substantially reduce their maximum demand charges.

        2. Pete B

          Re: Powering the grid and providing backup?

          "unlikely to coincide (in its worst case) with you being at your minimum of stored power"

          Let me introduce you to my friend Mr Sod: it's 100% likely to happen at this point.

          1. bonkers

            Re: Powering the grid and providing backup?

            I respect Mr. Sod's input, and yes, it will happen.

            My point is that it will happen infrequently. Moreover, it will happen anyway, even if you never deplete your reserve. You need 2nd-level strategies, like load-shedding, controlled shutdown, which is a thing datacentres can do pretty well.

            Just to run the numbers, the batteries will hold-up for 2-4 hours if fully charged. This only drops 20% if you allow depletion. I'm saying that the probability of a 2.4 hour outage (assuming this is the figure with no depletion) is very close indeed to the probability of a 2.0 hour outage (with depletion).

            So, all you need to do, in the worst case, is to run your load-reduction (which you have to do at some point regardless) a little bit earlier.

            Taking this observation to its limit, a datacentre only really needs enough battery power to divest itself of [most of] its workload - which might be just a few minutes. It would then run at maybe 5% till power returns - just so that it doesn't drop off the network altogether.

            I'm assuming of course that there are other datacentres that do have power, and spare capacity - isn't this the original raison d'etre for DARPANET and the internet in the first place?

    5. Danny 14

      yep. spool up time and jitter. Ive had some bad experiences with diesel generator failover at the hospital I used to admin at.

      1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

        I'm reminded of the guys at Chernobyl testing out their diesel failover. Which I understand was a complete success, i.e. using the inertia from the turbines to generate emergency power until the big diesel lump eventually coughed and spluttered itself awake; it was just the subsequent power-down procedure after they'd finished off for the night that went slightly awry.

        1. Elongated Muskrat

          Wasn't the root of their problem that the failure mode of the reactor was to drop the moderator rods into the reactor, thus slowing down the fast neutrons enough to cause a runaway reaction? Exactly the same sort of fuck-up that happened with the "demon core" if I remember rightly. In this case, some smartarse plying with fire and using a pen to hold the moderator hemisphere above the core, and then accidentally dropping it and fatally irradiating himself in the split second it took him to pick it up again.

          It's almost as if mid-century attitudes to safety around fissile materials were a bit lax. (The Chernobyl reactors were an old-fashioned design with no secondary containment or starters).

          1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

            There were a number of problems with the RBMK designs. One of the main culprits was their use of graphite displacers hung underneath the control rods and were about half the length of the control channels. These were installed to improve the reactivity instead of just having a column of water; trouble was when they were dropped from a fully extended position, the graphite moved into the previously under-reacted bottom quarter and accelerated it. This caused localised power spikes which were usually inconsequential, though not always and there were some minor disasters. Thanks to the secrecy, the team usually had no idea about the potential risk; which in the case of Chernobyl 4 I understand was exacerbated by the reactor's rapid change in power output to drop it low enough to run the test after an afternoon of an unscheduled run at full pelt to cover an outage elsewhere. Many reactors get stroppy about rapid changes in output and RBMKs can be especially temperamental.

            Anyway, it wasn't a failure, the infamous AZ5 button was just the standard means of shutting a reactor down when it was due for maintenance or whatevs (you can see them doing the same with Reactor 3: its then still-operational twin it shared the building with was shut down for the last time 14 years later and the event was videoed. They were all very emotional) and dropped all the control rods to shut off the reactor. And an ordinary shutdown is what they did: unlike the dramatisation, there was no emergency, at least not beforehand; but as soon as the rods were dropped, this excursion was enough to... well, we know the history. It burst and all the magic smoke escaped.

            Ironically, not only did the designers know how to fix the problem (i.e. winch up the short control rods from the bottom before dropping the rest) the whole reason it was shut down after the test was so the engineers could implement the fix: it was due to happen later that night. :|

            Perhaps interestingly, the RBMK design is practically the same as the AGR, the main difference is that the latter has an intermediate cooling loop of CO₂ which also acts as moderator, so if something goes badly enough wrong that the CO₂ can escape the reaction will stop. Apparently the Soviets didn't have suitable metallurgy to do the same (or at least not cost-effectively) which is why the design's the way it is. That and probably bragging rights of "we can get 1GW out of our reactor and yours can only do 720MW so there, ner".

            1. Oglethorpe

              Just a couple of things on AGR: it runs at a higher enrichment than RBMK did, increasing stability and the carbon dioxide just has a low absorption profile, I don't believe it acts as a moderator. The issue with using water with graphite is that the water is an absorber, giving the void coefficient that carbon dioxide lacks (no hydrogen).

              1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

                Fair point, I was kinda conflating the Magnox and AGR into the same thing; I believe the changes to the other RBMKs after the unpleasantness resulted in them also having to use a similar enrichment to AGR. I forget where I read about the CO₂ acting as part of the reactor's moderator offhand: I'm not terribly well organised with my "ooh, that's quite interesting!" and don't trust my memory enough to insist! And also as part of my "I don't trust my memory" I thought it was the oxygen that captured the neutrons; whatever it is, IIRC they were jettisoned again just a couple of seconds later but by that time it was no longer in the core.

                There was another UK design that I think was in competition with the AGR at one point which was also very similar, the Boiling Heavy Water Reactor (or more correctly Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor I think) at Winfrith; obvs. the heavy water avoided the gnarly positive void problem but the interesting thing about it is that instead of control rods it used a liquid boron solution to moderate it.

                1. Oglethorpe

                  The really neat thing is, as opaque as the Soviets were, that they did have to make some concessions to the IAEA after dusting Europe with radioisotopes so we now know that they raised their enrichment from 2% to 2.4%, if it's a topic that interests you:

                  https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/publications/magazines/bulletin/bull38-1/38102741017.pdf

                  apologies if not. For moderator vs capturing, it's one of those things that's 'yes, but also no (and also, yes)'. All elements do both neutron capture and scatter (moderation) to a greater or lesser extent and it's the starting energy of the neutron that determines it. This is the cross section and the complexity is why early reactor designers (no computers powerful enough to run the simulation) took a 'suck it and see' approach to design.

                  I wasn't aware that Winfrith was similar to CANDU, thanks for that, it looks like a really interesting read.

    6. StargateSg7

      In our parent company's northern Britisg Columbia, Canada datacentre, waaaaay back in the day, we were one of the first customers for multiple 500+ KW CATERPILLAR-branded multi-fuel gas generators which we used PROPANE for which ALSO back in the day was MUCH CHEAPER to buy in bulk than today in 2022! I think we eventually bought over a 100 of them which worked for over 20 years so YES! we used 50 Megawatts for our datacentre back in the day. The propane was easy to store and transport over natural gas since we are in a very remote location and needed to take cold-weather transport and storage into account!

      Because of modern data centre requirements, power needs have grown by leaps and bounds which now THREATEN the stability of many countries' power grids! We took that into account and configured our own solution to powering our internally-constructed and operated datacentres.

      Nowadays, due to the ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE power requirements (Terawatts-level!) of our Yotta-scale supercomputer datacentre, we now use MANY liquid metal acoustic-wave plasma compression reactors which we hook up in-series to get us those Terawatts of continuous PRIME POWER supply! We have gotten around the Lockheed Martin and General Fusion company patents by using our own in-house reactor and plasma compression design for the plasma compression technology so we are good to go power-supply-wise! While NOT as elegant or small as the LMCO or General Fusion designs, they do work well for our use since we are an underground facility anyways so reactor size was NOT an issue!

      Basically, we brought 1960's-era technology into the 21st century and simply brute-forced the design and construction of our reactors. Sometimes, the ageless design and use of a sledge hammer IS THE BEST SOLUTION for your workplace needs! Using an automotive analogy, you can't beat the MASSIVE APPLICATION OF SHEER AMOUNTS OF OLD-FASHIONED CUBIC INCHES to a BIG V8 or big V12 engine for getting high horsepower and torque! We just simply applied THAT design philosophy to reactor-based electrical power production!

      For many of you, I would actually suggest Natural Gas-based or even Propane generators EVEN WITH their current high prices per cubic metre or litre. Natural Gas or Propane generators in the 500 KW to Two Megawatt range can be had for relatively inexpensive prices and can be hooked up in series for megawatts to gigawatts of PRIME POWER (i.e. always-on continuous electrical power supply).

      if you have direct access to a natural gas line then that is the cheapest option for local power production. If you have a very remote location and need local fuel storage that needs little maintenance and lasts forever, then PROPANE is the better fuel choice!

      Now You Know!

      V

  3. Filippo Silver badge

    Decommissioning?

    Let's get something out of the way: I'm in favor of this, and I'm generally in favor of any attempt to contribute to solving the energy problem. I do not like comments on the line of "they should be doing X instead", because I think that we ought to deploy all credible solutions, aggressively and at the same time.

    That said, what about decommissioning? This is a site full of hazardous chemicals, that don't have an infinite useful lifespan, and the recycling of which is not yet working perfectly. Has decommissioning been factored in? We make quite a big deal of it when talking about nuclear; it seems only fair that we should talk about it in the context of other energy-related technologies too.

    1. Tom7

      Re: Decommissioning?

      Not to mention that to make wind energy actually reliable in the UK, you'd need to build somewhere around 9,000 of these - that would allow you to power 30 million homes for about a week.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Decommissioning?

        Which, in turn, would require near-doubling the amount of energy production in order to both charge the storage and also meet regular demand. This is just one of many reasons why grid-scale battery storage is a stupid, stupid idea. It's only touted because of the need to compensate for the unreliable nature of wind and the fact that solar (already a poor proposition in the UK) supplies at about a third of its nominal capacity when demand is highest.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Decommissioning?

          It's only touted because of the need to compensate for the unreliable nature of wind and the fact that solar (already a poor proposition in the UK) supplies at about a third of its nominal capacity when demand is highest.

          But this is the point. It's about compensation and collecting subsidies, not doing anything to overcome the fundamental problems with 'renewables'. As rg287 points out..

          196MWh is a nice amount for frequency management and smoothing renewable inputs.

          Especially when the grid/system operator will pay you a LOT of money for that service. So it massively inflates the cost of 'renewable' energy, along with providing some arbitrage ability, ie charge when prices are low, discharge when they're extortionate because there's no wind and impending blackouts. We may get a taste of this next week, depending on how our weather develops.

          1. I could be a dog really

            Re: Decommissioning?

            So it massively inflates the cost of 'renewable' energy

            Let me correct that for you ...

            So it massively inflates the externalised cost of 'renewable' energy. It's yet another cost that the renewables suppliers & supporters generally leave out when claiming that "X is cheap". Yeah, most renewables are cheap at the point of export to the grid - but the externalised costs add a lot. And I notice the article failed to mention the cost of this drip in the ocean.

            Call it 200MW for 2 hours. That's perhaps around 1% of peak demand - so if we are to be able to stop burning gas for backup then we need many, many more just to get the capacity. And then in winter we can get long calm periods - measured in weeks, not hours - so then multiply the battery capacity by (say) 168 (12 (2 hour periods in a day) * 14 (days in a fortnight)) and you are around what's needed for all out renewables supporting demand.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Decommissioning?

              So it massively inflates the externalised cost of 'renewable' energy. It's yet another cost that the renewables suppliers & supporters generally leave out when claiming that "X is cheap".

              Yup. That's where most of the costs (and subsidies) originate. That rot started when DECC produced their 'levelised cost' comparisons, which ignored those external costs (connectivity, backup etc) and also loaded other costs onto competing solutions. So nuclear costs get inflated by not treating it as low/zero carbon, or assuming FOAK (First Of A Kind) costs for reactor designs that have already been built.

              But those costs are horrendous, eg-

              https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2022/11/24/obr-reveals-the-crippling-cost-of-net-zero/

              Over the full period of 2020 to 2050, the total public spend on Net Zero is as high as £573.1 bn. The Low /High Share scenarios simply reflect what proportion of the cost the government will pay as opposed to the public. It does not alter what we will have to pay in total terms, whether via tax or private spending.

              And it'll make Net Zero difference to global warming, especially if China, India and even Germany build coal power stations instead. But then we could have been building modern coal power stations to replace our old ones, have cheaper/more reliable electricity and still reduced our carbon emissions. Even without wasting money on CCS.

            2. midgepad Bronze badge

              Re: Decommissioning?

              Extinction is the externalised cost of the fossil fuel approach.

              Cheap, right?

            3. midgepad Bronze badge

              Winter

              Perhaps we'll have an occasional week off work. Bad huh.

              However, your arithmetic is wrong.

              A daytime with no wind and no sun is unlikely.

              The demand is elastic to a degree.

              And while the wind may, the tide waits for no week.

              1. I could be a dog really

                Re: Winter

                Perhaps we'll have an occasional week off work. Bad huh.

                Very bad for most industries. Doable, but a massive added cost and an incentive for your customers to go and buy from someone else (in a country that has different priorities) who can deliver when they said they would rather than saying "sorry, will be a week late as we'e shut down due to no lecky".

                And will you be happy to be told "you have a week off - without pay" ? Suddenly I suspect you don't see it as the good thing you imply. If you aren't off without pay, then your employer is paying you to do nothing - and thus at a significant disadvantage (see previous para).

                A daytime with no wind and no sun is unlikely

                Actually, they occur fairly frequently. Not "no sun", but "not a lot of sun" - winter gives short days with a low sun which further reduces panel output.

                And these periods tend to be in winter. I recall Dec 2010 was one such - we had around a fortnight with naff all wind, and short winder days. It was "blooming cold" as well, where I lived it rarely got above freezing during the daytime in that fortnight. And for good measure, such static systems tend to be fairly widespread, meaning low wind generation across northern Europe and Scandinavia.

        2. Displacement Activity

          Re: Decommissioning?

          Which, in turn, would require near-doubling the amount of energy production in order to both charge the storage and also meet regular demand. This is just one of many reasons why grid-scale battery storage is a stupid, stupid idea.

          Errr.... have I missed something here? Any charge of the batteries can be carried out slowly, and off-peak. No increase in generating capacity is required.

          The worst-case scenario is that you drive the entire peak-usage grid from the batteries, while simultaneously charging the batteries from your generating capacity, which would need an increase of 5-10% of generating capacity to account for inefficiencies. But that would be very, very, dumb.

          1. I could be a dog really

            Re: Decommissioning?

            There's a big difference between generating capacity and energy production. So yes, by charging off-peak you can use "spare" generating capacity, but you do still need additional energy production.

            However, an important thing to consider is that, except for a few short periods when the renewable gods give us ideal conditions (bright summer sunshine, the "right sort" of wind) and demand is low (such as in summer when heating is more or less un-needed) - we never have "spare" generating capacity that isn't CO2 producing. That's a fundamental fact that means many (most, almost all ?) "we've gone green with 100% renewables" PR pitches are nothing but greenwash.

            Anyway, the net result is that except for a very few short period (in this country), the extra energy to cover the round trip inefficiencies with a battery storage system will somewhere come from burning more fossil fuel. Given that we will be retiring most of what's left of our nuclear fleet in the not very distant future, and we want to add demand from EVs and heat pumps, I don't see that changing soon.

            1. midgepad Bronze badge

              Re: Decommissioning?

              Your assertion is that we have built every wind turbine and every solar panel that will ever be in place, and that there will be no tidal power.

              Oh, and that fission will fizzle out and not be replaced either.

              Could you show your workings for that, please?

              1. I could be a dog really

                Re: Decommissioning?

                No, that's not what I said - you clearly missed the "I don't see that changing soon" at the end.

                Nuclear is going to effectively fizzle out (IIRC there's only one nuclear power plant in the UK which isn't already on borrowed time), and it's not being replaced soon either.

                Yes, things will change, but not any time soon. So the statement still stands, other than a few short periods a year, in the UK any extra demand on the grid will come from burning fossil fuels, and that's going to be the case for some time. Those "few short periods" will probably get a bit longer and more frequent, but we are a very long way from having a surplus of renewables/low CO2 generation routinely.

            2. max allan

              Re: Decommissioning?

              > such as in summer when heating is more or less un-needed

              I used a lot of watts this summer keeping my AC going. And it is looking like it could be even hotter next year the way the climate is going...

              On the bright side, I haven't used much heating yet this year.

              Any of these long term schemes and predictions needs to consider that literally anything could happen with the weather. As global weather and ocean flows change who knows what will happen.

              Next year we might be stuck under a permanent cloud with little wind. Requiring heating in summer and not getting much solar or wind power.

            3. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. jmch Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Decommissioning?

        30 million homes is the whole of the UK, so you'd only need that much backup if wind power was 100% of your generation. Not even the most ardent wind power proponent is saying that.

        With a strong nuclear baseload supplemented by solar, hydro and geothermal where appropriate, you would need max 30% wind-sourced generation. Then with interconnectors to Europe (and possibly from Moroccan-based solar) you could supplement most of the difference - it's rare but possible for there to be no wind at all across all of the UK at the same time for a week. It's pretty much impossible for that to be the case across all the UK, the offshore farms in the North Sea AND all of Europe.

        So you would probably need storage for approx 10% of total demand for a week (3 million homes rather than 30 million), or 900 of those installations.

        That's still a bloody lot of batteries!!

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Decommissioning?

          Wind is 38% of generation at the time of writing, and it isn't particularly windy at the moment.

        2. Tom7

          Re: Decommissioning?

          Solar is a really dumb idea in the UK and makes the problem worse; all the generation is at the time of minimum demand.

          Nuclear is not a bad idea but extremely expensive as it is currently implemented. Much more expensive than wind.

          Hydro is a good idea but we've run out of suitable geography to build more.

          Geothermal is a good idea but it's not obvious that there is a large, economic resource in the UK.

          I really shouldn't have to explain why an interconnector from Moroccan solar output is not a solution here.

          So wind is pretty much what we're stuck with. It is far from impossible for there to be very little wind across the whole of Europe - there have been several electricity price shocks in the past few years that have been linked to exactly that.

          Yet another thing you've not taken into account is that "powering 300,000 homes" means meeting the current electricity demand of 300,000 homes. That's about 1/3 of the current energy demand, with the other 2/3 roughly split between transport and gas use. If we're going to transition to a future with no fossil fuels, that triples the electricity demand.

          1. Dante Alighieri

            Wave and Tide

            But the massive energy of waves impacting the UK is completely unrealised.

            There are interesting demonstrators around Scotland, including small inlets, air compression chambers and bidirectional turbines

            Nothing needs to get wet.

            And there *are* always waves.

            Tide is more problematic, needs larger projects and timing keeps shifting.

            1. max allan

              Re: Wave and Tide

              > Nothing needs to get wet.

              Except wading birds and tidal estuary ecosystems. Which have been confounding the construction of a Severn estuary tidal generator for what feels like 20+ years.

              It is starting to come down to : do we care more about a few birds in an eco-niche or the rest of the inhabitants or our energy demanding way of life?

              I expect that in 100-200 years, we will be considered like the sailors who killed all the dodos. Except that we will be killing a LOT more than a single species to satisfy our demands for energy.

          2. Snobol4

            Re: Decommissioning?

            You are forgetting that there are alternative forms of nuclear power that offer far cheaper cost models, both capital costs and running costs.

            Capital costs now are high due to the high-pressure nature of PWR reactors and all the safety systems needed to protect from the potential modes of failure, for example the pressure vessel and containment building. Molten salt reactors significantly reduce these costs as they operate at atmospheric pressure, meaning a hugley expensive pressure vessel and conatinemnt building are not required and that the naturally shut themselves down in the vent of a failure in cooling.

            Running costs due to the use of Thorium instead of the far rarer Uranium 235 and the fact that liquid fuelled reactors burn all the fuel as opposed to 95% of uranium in a PWR remaing unburnt when the fuel rods are removed as "spent" and the massive reduction in radioactve "waste"

            China and India already have experimental reactors running.

            So, "new" nuclear remains by far the greenest, sefest and most likely cheapest form of energy for the future, it just requires people to look at the realities of nuclear, particularly new nuclear, and leave their historical prejudices behind.

            What is often completely ignored in the race to net zero, is that the COST needs to be affordable. If people cannot afford the cost of green energy, then net zero won't happen anyway, no matter how good the intentions.

          3. midgepad Bronze badge

            Re: Decommissioning?

            Demand is not fixed in time.

            Also, every megawatt of electricity produced from the sun is a megawatt and a half of gas not burnt - it isn't cheap or unlimited and that will steadily bite more under assumptions independent of warming - and CO2 not yet added to the air.

            Saving spare solar etc capacity - as it develops - by electrolysis and burning the result in those gas combjned cycle turbines may be worth doing to avoid wasting sunshine or piping gases to homes. Once it is spare, it is cheap.

    2. bonkers

      Re: Decommissioning?

      I agree that decommissioning needs to be included in any fair assessment, but it's more complicated than that.

      Firstly, I don't believe that Li-Ion batteries are particularly toxic, certainly nothing at all like nuclear, and their reprocessing is already implemented on a large scale.

      Secondly, there is a good case for taking "exhausted" car batteries (Li-Ion) that have fallen to 70% capacity, and rather than recycle them, just continue to use them in fixed installations till they drop to 50%. This would easily double their working life.

      Thirdly, flow batteries are possibly a better contender for long-term storage, like keeping a weeks worth of power stored.

      1. AdamT

        Re: Decommissioning?

        Yes, I think this was the original Tesla plan. All the batteries that go into cars should end up returned either at end of car life or if the capacity has degraded too much. Then the packs will be stripped to the individual cells which will be tested and anything above 90% (or maybe 80%?) will just go straight into a storage pack - if they are 10-20% physically bigger that is not a big deal especially if you then get the cells basically for free. Then when the storage pack has degraded you ship the cells back one more time and they are physically stripped down to component/goo level and those are reused (where possible) and recycled otherwise. Again the claim was that the reuse percentage should be quite high.

        I think that last piece is still under development though. Someone senior at Tesla left a year or so ago to set up/run a company that was specifically doing this.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Repurposing Tesla Batteries.

          That was the plan but as with everything that Elon does, it changes and not always for the better.

          Now that Tesla is using structural batteries repurposing packs is next to impossible as evidenced by the tear down that Sandy Munro did recently. The things are deliberately made impossible to repair just to save a few cents in the build cost.

          Tesla is on my 'do not buy list'.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Repurposing Tesla Batteries.

            Buy a used Chevy Bolt. I'm sure you'll be ok.

      2. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Decommissioning?

        In principle ex-car batteries could be used, but there'd be issues with extracting battery packs from vehicles where they form the vehicle structure and then the failed individual batteries need to be found and removed* before creating a standard fit item for battery farms. New purpose built packs are probably cheaper.

        Then again as a home build-your-own battery system this does have enough merit to investigate if the costs stack up in the right direction.

        *assuming the insurance people would even consider it, old Li-Po have issues.

      3. bonkers

        Re: Decommissioning?

        I was rather hoping that the entire EV battery pack could be re-used – with all its busbars and monitoring electronics intact. This could give the “scrap” battery a real value of maybe 25% of the £10,000 original price.

        The alternative, disassembly, is extremely hazardous due to stored energy and all the connections being welded – I can’t see it being done by machine, other than with a month underwater and a big crusher. The Lithium, which we do need to reclaim, is then only worth £500, and that is when fully refined – I don’t see that it covers the costs and risk involved.

        Ideally, there would be a standard subset of CAN commands to allow re-use of the whole pack, automotive makers have been quite good about this in the past, particularly when forced. However, it is not absolutely critical – I’m sure that software drivers could be made for each BMS (battery management system) supplier.

        Of course, I doubt that datacenter-sized battery farms would want a hotch-potch of different equipment all under one roof, they would be better making their brand-new packs compliant as above, and selling the exhausted packs on.

        For £2500, say, versus £10,000, I’m sure that domestic PV enthusiasts would use them, they’re even a reasonable proposition for garage-based electricity resellers, like Tesla’s wallpack thing. Finally, there will be a growing market at recharge sites, like motorway services, garages, where they need more peak power than the grid can provide them - and would greatly benefit from buying cheap-rate versus peak.

  4. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Tiny

    I worked on Dinorwig pumped storage power station (near Snowdon in North Wales) - that can store about 9.1GWh - over 46 times as much energy.

    A side note - the original computer system monitoring the Dinorwig power station was a PDP 11/34 that handled approximately 5000 plant inputs and drove 3 displays and 6 line printers. Handling all that on a small 1/3 MIP computer with 160kbytes of RAM and 4.8Mbytes of disk storage was an interesting challenge!!!

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Tiny

      That works both ways. Based on the capacity they seem to be using about 60 megapacks. Assuming a generous spacing that's 60 X 100 square metres or just over half a hectare. I'm guessing Dinorwig is slightly larger than that. At a rough estimate I'd say just the reservoir is about 30 hectares. So this compares favourably in size and has the bonus that you don't have to find a mountain.

      1. Nik 2

        Re: Tiny

        True, but you can't* swim in a field of batteries.

        *If you find for any reason that you can, you /really/ shouldn't.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: Tiny...

          ... it would be, as the lake is quite cold.

          While you can swim in it. I think there are signs up saying you shouldn't?

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Tiny...

            While you can swim in it. I think there are signs up saying you shouldn't?

            Yes. It doesn't have an emergency rescue service, and they don't want to be liable for somebody diving in and getting caught in water currents while it's turned on.

            That, and the reservoir might contain a dangerous concentration of dihydrogen-monoxide etc.

            1. Red Ted
              Go

              Re: Tiny...

              The local mountain rescue team did respond to a call out a few years ago where a couple of people got lost in poor weather on the mountain near Dinorwig. They were well prepared, so set up camp next to the lake they found, so as they could wait for morning, but had to be rescued in the middle of the night when the lake started getting bigger and flooded the camp. The lake was, of course, the top one of the pump storage scheme!

              1. stiine Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Tiny...

                Who in their right mind makes camp below the high tide line?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Tiny...

                  They may not have realised that this lake was tidal :).

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Tiny...

                    Then they shouldn't be allowed outside their concrete jungle without a guide. The signs of tides are myriad.

                2. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Tiny...

                  City folk.

            2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

              Re: Tiny...

              the reservoir might contain a dangerous concentration of dihydrogen-monoxide

              Upvote for that - haven't heard that one in a while :)

      2. breakfast
        Thumb Up

        Re: Tiny

        For many offshore projects along the east coast finding a mountain is likely to present significant challenges.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Tiny

          Seeing as there are no mountains worth the name in the British Isles, I'd suggest the challenges are more than just significant.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Tiny

            With the appropriate indigenous population of the female persuasion,you can climb a hill and come down from a mountain...

      3. Andy_Lee

        Re: Tiny

        And more to the point you don't have to hollow it out with all the attendant energy and waste output that generates

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Tiny

          And there's no risk of it being taken over by a Bond villain...

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Tiny

            What kind of bird is it?

      4. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: Tiny

        As there are Containerised, I’d like to think they can be stacked ?? Perhaps not like Felixstowe/Newark docks - due to fire risk.

        Much more opportunity for Pumped/storage Hydro in the U.K. … and could be combined with far better overall utilisation of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural needs and negate the need for unnecessary water extraction from rivers and aquifers.

        Self-evidently when it pisses down, much is lost eventually into the sea. Several parts of the UK still under a hosepipe ban (from the summer). Smoothing out the bumps and lumps of supply and demand.

        Combined Power and Water Storage - who’d a thunk ??

    2. Danny 14

      Re: Tiny

      Looks better, doesnt involve as many hazardous chemicals (yes, a lot of concrete and a missing chunk of land). I suppose there arent as many places where a Dinorwig can live though whereas a farm of shipping crates can be placed anywhere

  5. Fazal Majid

    Coire Glas

    There is a pumped hydro storage project in the works in Scotland at Coire Glas that would have 1.5GW power and up to 30GWh capacity (for reference, the peak power consumption in the UK is about 30GW).

    https://www.coireglas.com

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Peak power consumption

      Is NOT about 30GWh. Try 40GWh.

      https://grid.iamkate.com/

      At the present time, it is showing 40.4GWh with around 10% being exported. that leaves 36GWh and it is only 13:30. When it gets cold, we'll see 45GWh.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Peak power consumption

        And that 's before all vehicles are electric and all heating provided by heat pumps (scheduled for the 12th of Never).

      2. FrogsAndChips
        Headmaster

        Re: Peak power consumption

        Really tempted to downvote for using energy units (GWh) for instant production, especially when the proper units (GW) are used on the source website.

  6. rg287

    Tiny

    I worked on Dinorwig pumped storage power station (near Snowdon in North Wales) - that can store about 9.1GWh - over 46 times as much energy.

    And even Dinorwig (incredible engineering feat that it is) isn't that big in terms of national demand - 9 hours worth of one nuclear reactor output, capable of running itself dry in about 4hours if you really open the taps. If the wind stops blowing for a prolonged period (e.g. one of those pesky high-pressure winter systems that leave us with dark, flat weather for a week), storing energy for a week's worth of demand is simply unfeasible. The storage required in itself is monumental, before we consider the surplus generating capacity required to fill it.

    196MWh is a nice amount for frequency management and smoothing renewable inputs. It could even take the edge off the evening demand peak. It might also have prevented the 2020 blackout, which was predominantly down to a cascade of perfectly good generators isolating themselves due to frequency excursion (given this is in Hull, where the Hornsea field supplies power into, I suspect the 2020 incident is actually a key reason its being built!).

    But it's not storing meaningful amounts of energy for actually filling demand.

    And somewhere along the line it needs charging up first. Storage is no replacement for generating capacity. Which means if we "go green" and spurn nuclear, we'll need to keep a fleet of gas turbines around the country to fill in for mid-winter.

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Boffin

      Frequency trimming?

      One of the things that the big rotating machinery is good at is frequency maintenance. My understanding is that the inverters on wind farms are network-synced, and so can't drive the frequency.

      So, can the monstrously-huge inverter on this lot do that?

      1. rg287

        Re: Frequency trimming?

        One of the things that the big rotating machinery is good at is frequency maintenance. My understanding is that the inverters on wind farms are network-synced, and so can't drive the frequency.

        So, can the monstrously-huge inverter on this lot do that?

        Yes, it's one of the roles they tout on the website. Renewable smoothing; Voltage & Frequency Regulation & Demand Support. The batteries can cut in on extremely short notice (milliseconds) to avoid frequency excursion.

        Stability was one of the key reasons that Tesla built the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia back in 2017/18. Wind and solar were causing instability and brownouts as the grid didn't have enough inertia. If I recall, the Hornsdale battery ended up paying for itself in something like 18months through stability controls - more so than actual storage of surplus energy.

        The new 450MWh Victoria Big Battery (also Tesla Megapacks) is likewise being built as much for stability and inertia as it is for storage.

      2. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Frequency trimming?

        If they were synced to the mobile phone network, you could have 50Hz +/- 50ppb.

        In this day and age it really is a mystery why we can't do our mains frequency to this sort of accuracy, then anything could maintain good enough sync with a TCXO, and one initial sniff of mains.

        1. Colintd

          Re: Frequency trimming?

          The shifts in frequency are used to managed production capacity vs load.

          When the network load is less than instantaneous generation capacity, the excess energy increases the kinetic energy stored in the turbines and they speed up, increasing the frequency. The governers then decrease the amount of steam being fed in, balancing the power, and lowering the speed/frequency to the target. When the network load is higher than the generation capacity, the turbines are robbed of kinetic energy, slowing down and decreasing the frequency. More steam in added, and the system comes back to balance.

          Hence short term balancing is dependent on the inertia of the turbine/generator sets. The problem when a large fraction of the generation comes for inverter systems (batteries and solar), is that there is minimal inertia in the system, and it becomes significantly more unstable, and prone to trip outs.

          1. midgepad Bronze badge

            Dynamotors, ancient screaming horror

            I recall sitting in front of noisy valve radio sets which made EHT from 12V batteries by running a common axle which was a 12V motor at one end and a generator at the otter.

            I recall there were big AC ones including ones which ran on 50Hz at one end and 60Hz at the other, separated by a very long DC cable.

            But just spinning a big thing up without blowing steam into it would make a good stabiliser, even better if you want a gyroscope.

            1. Claverhouse Silver badge

              Re: Dynamotors, ancient screaming horror

              I now image a power station with an otter at the helm.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Frequency trimming?

          But do you really want all of your generators - including those at the end of the undersea cables all linked to the same atomic clock? and all the problems of which clock to use and leap seconds...

          1. keith_w

            Re: Frequency trimming?

            Leap seconds no longer exist.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Frequency trimming?

              The Tories will insist on keeping them, you bet.

  7. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Excuse my ignorance.

    If you install a backup system for a datacentre, I would assume you specify and install a system that suitably sized for the datacentre in question, the aim being to keep it running for as long as you need to until the grid capacity is restored. Unless the power requirement of a datacentre has reduced, I am missing the "excess capacity" bit.

    If you can use "excess" battery capacity I assume the facility is too big in the first place. If you use any capacity that is part of the spec then your own resilience drops as you've offloaded some capacity to the grid.

    I can only see this as deliberate over specifying a system - buy electricity at £x and suddenly "find" capacity which you "generously" donate to the grid in return for a generator tariff at £X+n when required.

    In fact, if your batteries are already charged, and you simply do a AC-DC-AC conversion, rerouting the equivalent of your battery capacity back into the grid, does that qualify for generator tariff? Do you even need to demonstrate the DC conversion? I'm getting too cynical in my old age but we're talking about Bezos business models to make as much wonga as possible ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excuse my ignorance.

      "buy electricity at £x and suddenly "find" capacity which you "generously" donate to the grid in return for a generator tariff at £X+n when required."

      formula is wrong at the end they'll be wanting £X*n

      where n is always 2+p

      where p stands for how much piss can we take.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Excuse my ignorance.

        I used to work at a DC which, for historical reasons, procured its power from the large industrial site (Think enormous electricity consumer, diverse pylon routes onto site, that sort of scale) next door and generally benefited from their preferential rates. They also suffered, however, from Load Management Periods when for certain periods on certain winter days, power would cost ££££s per KW. Switching to the gens was cost effective but equally, a larger battery service would have worked and offered some daily potential to save on time of use variations in tariff.

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Excuse my ignorance.

      Everybody tends to overspec systems slightly when they put an order in to allow for future expansion and a fudge factor, but your quite right.

      Anybody who's ever ordered (or been involved in speccing/ordering) a UPS system knows dammed well that battery storage is insanely expensive next to a generator. As in, about 15 minutes runtime on a UPS buys a generator that'll run for many hours, with the constraint being the size of the fuel tank on it. The economically sensible decision is to have a UPS that'll cover the load long enough to spin the genset up and nobody sensible is going to run down their batteries, especially given that they'll want to do it as a last ditch measure to prevent the lights going out; precisely when your going to actually need your batteries...

      The people at the national grid surely understand this perfectly well (that or they are incompetent) so I read what they are saying is "we're fucking desperate; please consider running your backup generators and supplying power to the national grid to help keep the lights on as a last resort".

      "And for PR purposes, please don't tell people this and pretend that it's all green energy from batteries."

      The overpriced battery system in the article is obviously designed to prevent a reoccurrence of blackouts when the wind stops blowing by doing the same thing for the national grid that it does for us; provide enough time to spin up a real generator to provide power.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Excuse my ignorance.

        everyone seems to have forgotten that GOV realised closing powerstations had fucked up how much reserve we had.

        They now pay £££££££ for idle deisel generators to sit idle, for when shit hits the windfarms.

        I drive past at least 2 sets of these on the way to work.

    3. bonkers

      Re: Excuse my ignorance.

      I hope you don't mind me re-posting my comments above? I think they fit better here:

      It's a linear programming problem.

      If you build your energy reserve just big enough to cover the specified power-outage duration, it is a lot of cost that sits there doing nothing for nearly all of its life.

      If you increase the reserve by just 20%, you can trade power every day, generating an income. You can get the best spot-price of the day, and the wear-out costs for just 20% cycle-depth are minimal. It also keeps the equipment "exercised" at full power, so you can trust it.

      You might just choose to decline the peak electricity price and run your datacentre from batteries for an hour a day, using electricity that you've bought at minimum price, minus your electrical losses.

      Now run the numbers for [x%] of additional reserve, additional installed cost, and you can see it works better. In fact, for a 20% increase in capacity you'd only be looking at more batteries, the converters would remain the same - so a cost delta of 10% say.

      You can even play with the statistics - the power outage duration is a Gaussian, unlikely to coincide (in its worst case) with you being at your minimum of stored power. So, for a small increase in the risk that you won't cover the outage (already a non-zero risk) you can pay back some costs, even with zero increase of your energy reserve.

  8. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Real numbers

    When homes are preparing the Sunday roast on a bitter winter day with the heating full on, they are using roughly 10KW. So 196 MWh of energy for 300,000 homes will last roughly 40 minutes. I am unimpressed.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Real numbers

      So you're assuming that none of them have a fireplace where they can burn wood to heat the house instead of electricity ?

      Out of 300,000 homes I'd suppose that there is a portion of them that have one. That would lower their electricity consumption for heating drastically.

    2. Real Ale is Best

      Re: Real numbers

      > When homes are preparing the Sunday roast on a bitter winter day with the heating full on

      Gas heating and cooking here. I'm pretty sure I don't use 10kWe while cooking dinner.

    3. Danny 14

      Re: Real numbers

      not a worry at the moment. Cant afford heating. So doing my bit for the grid and just not switching the heating on.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Real numbers

      40minutes? OK if you like your beef rare...

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Real numbers

        How do you dare suggest any other cooking for beef???

        Philistine!

    5. midgepad Bronze badge

      Insulate Britain. And

      Shut your oven door.

    6. badgerhardy

      Re: Real numbers

      Average household electricity usage is 2900kWh per year which equates to around a third of a kilowatt hour per hour.

  9. Old Tom

    Per home usage

    I always hate it when we're told some fantasy number of homes that power schemes will power. In this case they're saying that 196MWh will last 300,000 homes for two hours but that allows each home less than 1/3kW. Is 1/3kW a standard per-home figure in such calculations or do they just make numbers up to suit?

    1. dogcatcher

      Re: Per home usage

      That's enough to keep my CPAP running as I freeze to death.

      1. TDog

        Re: Per home usage

        I find the mask tends to keep my face warmer in a cold room and bed. That and the bobble hat on my slaphead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Per home usage

      well considering most electric cars state X miles, but in reality do about 60% to 80% of that unless you drive miss daisy, possibly worse in winter.

      Seems to be within piss take standards.

    3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: Per home usage

      They make the numbers up, of course! Otherwise the real answer (it can replace a single power station for about 6 minutes) sounds less impressive.

      One trick is to use the daily consumption and divide by 24. Like we cook and wash through the night too.

      Homes use between 8-10kWh/day (Ovo, repeating a figure from BEIS suggests 10.2kWh). So at 10kWh, that's going to be 10/12 kW (about 830W) mean consumption during the daytime. So the actual answer is ~236000 homes for 1 hour. Their figure assumes average consumption is 327W, a daily waking hours consumption of about ~4kWh. Fantasy.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Per home usage

        Or, even less impressively, power the national grid (~40GW before all the new cars and heat pumps come on stream) for 18 seconds. My understanding (possibly out of date) is that the site is currently 98MWh, with capacity for expansion to 196MWh, so that would be just 9 seconds. Contrast that with the cold, still, dark period we experienced last February for two weeks.

        Still, if we follow Hunt's suggestion and wear an extra jumper, I'm almost certain we'll be able to keep the lights on. Probably.

      2. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: Per home usage

        "So the actual answer is ~236000 homes for 1 hour."

        Only if the batteries are called into action during the 12 hour period you've decided is where all household electricity consumption takes place. And yes, people do cook, wash, watch TV, WFH etc. through the night. Especially so if by "night" we're referring to that 12 hour period in which you've decided no household consumption could possibly take place.

        There is undoubtedly some fudging of the figures to make these schemes look more impressive, but your calculations are so far skewed in the opposite direction that I hope you were looking in the mirror when you wrote "they make the numbers up, of course"...

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: Per home usage

          Well, yeah, supplying homes in the daytime would be the point.

          Most people do their stuff in the daytime. The result I get is at least defensible, where the one they use is just nonsense.

          1. ChrisC Silver badge

            Re: Per home usage

            Except it's not, because your calculations are still assuming that the ENTIRE electrical consumption of all homes in the area occurs within this arbitrary 12 hour daytime period you've chosen, which I can assure you will be complete fantasy for ANY average collection of homes in the UK, and is almost certain to be fantasy even if you cherry-pick specific homes unless you can find some occupied by ultra-efficiency types who switch off absolutely everything - router, Virgin/Sky box, fridge, freezer, microwave, oven, and anything else which, in most homes, damn well WILL be continuing to consume electricity 24/7 (and in some cases will be consuming the majority of it outside of daytime hours - e.g. mains connected security lights) - before all going to bed at roughly the same time.

    4. rg287

      Re: Per home usage

      Is 1/3kW a standard per-home figure in such calculations or do they just make numbers up to suit?

      I don't know where they got that numbers, but our daytime draw for two adults working from home is 270-350W (lights, 2 computers, NAS), so not far off actually. That's with gas heating mind.

      Obviously there are spikes to >3kW when boiling the kettle, etc. But as a baseline, it's in the ballpark.

      Albeit that ballpark is on its way up with increased electric cooking, heating and EV charging.

      And of course the battery isn't supposed to operate in isolation. It manages voltage & frequency, and could theoretically "top up" a small shortfall in preference to firing up a gas turbine for a couple of hours (though GW-scale storage like Dinorwig is probably better at that).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Per home usage

        Get an ASHP. I used 40.95kWh yesterday. ;(

        1. keith_w
          Mushroom

          Re: Per home usage

          Ontario Canada, so much of our electric power is provided by hydro and nuclear. We got our electric bill yesterday, for the 32 day billing period, we used 808 KWh, for an average for 25.25 KWh/day. Our heating, cooking, and hot water are all electric.

    5. Peterml

      Re: Per home usage

      Exactly, the perhome usage is an average over 24 hours. Although this is about right for my usage (covering everything apart from central and water heating which use gas) it sidesteps the inconvenient fact that actual usage is concentrated during cooking and washing/drying. Unsurprisingly these 300,000 homes (or whatever) tend to use large amounts of electricity at the same time and hence the furious nudging that has begun to try and get us all to use appliances at night. I don't know about anyone else but I am not going to run a tumble drier when I'm tucked up in bed given their propensity to catch fire.

      Mind you, that 1/3kW average (8kW hr per day) will easily double with a heat pump and last time my daughter wanted her EV charged it was drawing around 2.5kW for almost 24 hours which bumped up my daily average consumption to about 3kW.

      As far as I am aware these battery farms are mainly there to cover short term fluctuations resulting from wind lulls and cloud cover, and/or hold power up until a CCGT can be brought on line. It's a good job that we have plenty of gas available .........

      1. I could be a dog really

        Re: Per home usage

        I don't know about anyone else but I am not going to run a tumble drier when I'm tucked up in bed given their propensity to catch fire.

        Yeah, we have one bit of government saying "don't do X during the night" because of safety concerns, while another part is saying "DO do X during the night".

        But considering the noise and vibration washers and driers make, and how many people live in flats etc., it's a pretty anti-social thing to do for many people. I know I'd be "not very happy" if I was trying to sleep and there was a washer or drier using my ceiling like a drum skin !

    6. Danny 14

      Re: Per home usage

      usually goes - speak to salesman then: take cost and double, take specs and halve. When delivered, anything in between is a bonus.

    7. gotes

      Re: Per home usage

      They didn't specify whether the homes were inhabited or not.

  10. JulieM

    Still tiny

    Using rechargeable batteries to supply the National Grid is really not that much less crazy than using disposable batteries to supply the National Grid.

    You might have heard of a place in Wales that can store nearly 50 times as much energy, without any of the noxious chemicals .....

    1. Danny 14

      Re: Still tiny

      there are some nice articles based on a compressed air storage system that is being built in Manchester (highview power?) that looks promising and wont use minerals or chemicals. It will be a nice idea if it can be scaled.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still tiny

        "wont use minerals or chemicals"

        Ooooh, neat, no minerals or chemicals, that means containing compressed air using force fields... :-)

        On a more serious note, storing a lot of energy in compressed air is difficult. For high pressure storage, designing big high pressure cylindrical vessels to store a lot of energy gets difficult very quickly as the size scales, due to the axial load of the pressure acting on the ends. Large spherical or toroidal pressure vessels require thinner walls, making the welding easier, but imperfections in their shapes cause stress concentrations, so they are more difficult and expensive to manufacture.

        All in all, either pressures have to be kept low and the pressure vessels have to be very big taking up a lot of space, or the pressure is high and the vessel gets very expensive to hold high pressures.

        I'd be absolutely amazed if you could achieve the same energy density in a compressed air system as in a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery system, and it would probably need more preventative maintenance.

        1. rg287

          Re: Still tiny

          Highview Power are liquifying - their system is called CryoBattery. This takes the edge off pressures, but obviously incurs other engineering challenges in dealing with cryogenics.

          They're touting capacities of >250MWh. It's unfortunately not very easy to work out what the density (MWh per acre) is, because the Trafford project is on a larger site alongside an existing power station and where they're also putting in a hydrogen production plant, etc. Someone could probably dig through the planning documents if they were inclined and figure out exactly how big the storage development is. It's probably "more" than Li-Ion batteries, but involves fewer REMs. A diversity of approaches (even if some are less space efficient) is good, in the event that one supply chain struggles in future.

        2. graeme leggett

          Re: Still tiny

          The compressed air containers for big examples are underground caverns.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still tiny

          I don't want to rain on their parade, especially not if I'm wrong.

          However, there are inescapable thermodynamic losses involved with compressing and expanding fluids, and the temperature changes therein.

          Compressors run hot, like a bike pump, and air-powered tools can freeze-up. The energy lost to these adiabatic processes can be recovered to an extent, but you're into thermodynamics, and even 20% recovery is doing very well.

          A quick search puts pneumatic overall efficiency at ~30% - hence why industry moved from pneumatics to hydraulics, where it mattered.

          I'd be delighted to be proved wrong on this, and I certainly don't wish to suppress innovation and re-evaluation. We want many solutions.

          Would it be a Reg thing to do, to ask for their comment?

          ,

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Still tiny

      > You might have heard of a place in Wales that can store nearly 50 times as much energy, without any of the noxious chemicals .....

      Go ahead and inhale some of those chemicals from the place in Wales, I dare ya

      1. Spanners Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Still tiny

        Go ahead and inhale some of those chemicals from the place in Wales, I dare ya

        Is it more of that dodgy hydrogen hydroxide stuff again?

        I have heard the uninformable saying that you should count in all the fossil fuels used and CO2 generated when making an EV. If that was marginally rational, we should do that when using everything from this place to the unlamented Drax!

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Still tiny

          You have to count it, otherwise you're just pulling numbers out of the air.

  11. Howard Sway Silver badge
    Flame

    based on Tesla battery technology, employing multiple units of the company's Megapack system

    Good choice, if it wasn't for the fact that they have a history of catching fire..................

  12. Eponymous Bastard
    Coat

    This can't happen though can it?

    https://www.pv-magazine-australia.com/2021/08/02/fire-at-victorian-big-battery-now-under-control/

    I'll get me coat; the Nomex one.

  13. Andy3

    196 MWh is tiny.

  14. spireite Silver badge

    Staff car fleet....

    ... I expect they'll have a Road Assist package with the AA.

  15. toffer99

    Musk provided a Good Thing. So keep it under your hat. eh? The tabloids will.

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