Light on battery power
THE boss of Glencore coal has indirectly put his finger on what megabattery backup for our future power network will do for consumers – it’ll keep the lights on long enough for you to root around to find some candles.
But as for airconditioning in summer and heating in winter? Fuggedaboutit.
Glencore’s Peter Freyberg noted in a speech yesterday that the much heralded Tesla mega- battery – it’s so mega, it’s claimed to be the biggest in the world – proposed to keep the lights on in South Australia, would actually only keep one aluminium smelter operating for 7.7 minutes.
Well, SA does not and never will have any such smelters to soak up all the power so that’s plenty of time for South Australians to find the candles before the battery goes flat and the lights go out. But until they invent candle- powered aircon or heating, tough.
And where SA goes – almost literally tomorrow – so most of the rest of Australia; first Victoria, then NSW, then Queensland follows courtesy of the combined insanity of State and Federal governments.
Now you might say that Fryberg was ‘ talking his book’ – he is after all, the boss of Glencore Coal. And he would unashamedly agree; he’d also reasonably claim that he was talking the most basic common sense.
Glencore is putting its money where its ( boss’s) mouth is: it’s just spent nearly $ 1.5 billion to buy half of the power station coal mines in the Hunter Valley which have just been bought by China’s Yancoal, after a vigorous bidding duel between the duo, also putting its money where its common sense is.
That common sense is that there are plenty of people around the world who want reliable coal- fired power to keep their lights on and their factories and heavy industry operating.
They also tend to be the people who ‘ gamed us’ well and good through the Paris Climate Change Fake Accord. But don’t blame them, we asked to be gamed; some might use a different two- word phrase of which the second word is ‘ over.’
Back to Fryberg and that 7.7 minute ( mega) battery runtime: You want to keep the lights on for minutes, or even a few hours, then the combination of wind when it blows and solar when the sun shines, and mega- batteries when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine, might cut it.
But as for keeping factories open and especially heavy engineering like aluminium smelters? Again, Fuggedaboutit.
And then there’s the little problem, as SA discovered after its statewide blackout last year – caused, in supreme irony, by the wind blowing too hard – of kickstarting the system after the blackout.
It couldn’t be done by wind; SA had to default to the ‘ long extension cord’ into a real power station, a coalfired one in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
So how do you get the kick start when your ‘ extension cord’ is no longer plugged into a real power station but a flat battery? Sorry, a flat MEGA- battery?
I guess you’d just have to call the RACQ.