Light on bat­tery power

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

Glen­core coal boss Pe­ter Frey­berg

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