Tesla to Add 50,000 PowerWalls in Australian Homes, Creating Virtual Grid Battery

According to this story from Electrek, the government in South Australia is working with Tesla to install 5kW solar arrays and 13.5 kWh battery packs on 50,000 houses, including 1,100 low-income houses, creating what amounts to 250MW virtual power plant, with 650MWh of battery storage. Australia seems to be embracing the modernization of its electrical grid having just complete a 129MWh battery site just this past Fall.

Now if only we could fix Puerto Rico with his solution.

Musk sends Tesla

Tesla Is Sending Battery Packs to Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico
Bloomberg News

Tesla Inc. is sending to Puerto Rico hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels in an effort to help the battered island territory restore electric power, the company said Thursday. Some of the systems are already there and others are en route.

The equipment is sorely needed, since the island remains largely without electricity more than a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20. The company has employees on the ground to install them and is working with local organizations to identify locations.

Apparently, that S.O.S. paid off. I note from the article that Musk moved faster than the U.S. government in dispatching equipment and trained techs to coordinate with locals on which arrays to get up first.

Solar PVs – 1, CAT 5 Hurricanes – 0

Antigua’s PV systems sustain impact of hurricane Irma
Solar Daily

Designed to withstand hurricanes of up to the category 4, each of the 55 solar power installations on Antigua, ranging from several kWp to the 3 MWp and 4 MWp utility scale installations at the international airport of Antigua and in the Lavington/Bethesda region with a total of 38,000 panels mounted, have survived hurricane Irma without damages or substantial system failures.

One of these PV systems, based on a 50 kWp sun2safe hybrid converter, was even able to generate 25% of its maximum expected performance during the worst hours of the hurricane, thanks to its proprietary MPPT tracking algorithm which is able to optimise the production even under extreme weather conditions.

A little deserved bragging from a trade journal, but this really should be on the evening news. This is the good news. The bad news is that since almost all PV arrays are “grid-tied” they require the main grid to be up in order to provide power. When the main grid goes down, absent a battery or a special inverter, the solar array goes down as well. This is primarily a safety issue, since you don’t want linesmen injured working on a downed power line they think is dead, but is actually energized by a solar array.

Unlike traditional power sources on poles, solar arrays are highly resilient and likely to survive these types of storms. What they need now is a battery backup so they can be isolated from the main grid, and continue to provide power when the mains are down. Cheaper battery prices will make this a reality in the next few years (much to the horror of many utilities who are fighting the future instead of embracing it).

Wind & Solar Exceed Expectations, Again…

Wind power costs could drop 50%. Solar PV could provide up to 50% of global power. Damn.

Solar and wind energy have been underestimated by analysts and politicians again and again and again. They have gotten cheaper and scaled up faster than even the most optimistic forecasts of a decade ago, or even a few years ago.

And there’s good evidence we’re still underestimating them. In fact, two new reports — one on solar, one on wind — make the point vividly. They argue that the radical trends of the last decade are going to continue, which is all that needs to happen for the energy system to tip over from disruption into revolution.

Lots of charts and graphs in this article you need to see, so go read the article.

Bottom line: The costs of solar/wind continues to drop, as market penetration gets deeper

Health cost for renewable vs fossil energy 7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Health benefits of wind and solar offset all subsidies
Ars Technica

A paper in Nature Energy this week dives into the weeds by trying to estimate the economic benefits of wind and solar power across the whole of the US. Berkeley environmental engineer Dev Millstein and his colleagues estimate that between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths have been averted because of air quality benefits over the last decade or so, creating a total economic benefit between $30 billion and $113 billion. The benefits from wind work out to be more than 7¢ per kilowatt-hour, which is more than unsubsidized wind energy generally costs.

Two ways to look at this: Either we should be subsidizing the cost of solar/wind at 7 cents/kWh or we should be adding a 7 cents/kWh tax to all fossil-fuel generated electricity (coal/oil/NG).