Big Battery Bunkum: Why Grid-Scale Storage of Renewable Energy Will Never Work

Banishing our good friends, logic and reason is essential to the notion of an ‘inevitable transition’ to an all wind and sun powered future. Ignorance of simple maths, the laws of physics, economics and meteorology helps, too.

Which explains why the naïve and gullible are merrily swallowing the story that we’re just a few mega-batteries away from our wind and solar powered Nirvana.

The ‘storage is a costless cinch’ is yet another myth peddled by those profiting handsomely from the greatest economic and environmental fraud, in history. And the need to spin the ‘batteries will save us’ story arises from the total and totally unpredictable collapses in wind power output and/or the inevitable daily solar power output collapse (aka ‘sunset’).

However, when we reengage our critical faculties, it’s pretty easy to see just how ludicrous the proposition being advanced is. To that end, here’s Willem Post attempting to bring us all back to earth.

Reality Check Regarding Utility-Scale Battery Systems During a One-Day Wind/Solar Lull
Wind Task Force
Willem Post
26 December 2020

Environmental sciences professor, Jacobsen, at Stamford University, CA, claimed in 2015, almost all US energy requirements, for all uses, could be supplied by wind, solar and hydro. He excluded energy from bio sources, mainly because of excessive cropland area requirements, and because forests are a major absorber and storer of CO2.

This article deals with wind, solar and hydro for only the electricity part of all US energy.

The below analysis shows the cost of the battery systems, if the US would have a major wind/solar lull covering 25% of the land area.

Electricity Short-Falls During Heat Waves with Wind/Solar Lulls California
Hopefully, California learned an expensive lesson, due to relying on weather-dependent, season-dependent, wind and solar electricity to such an extent, it decided to close down power plants, that produce reliable, not variable, not intermittent, low-CO2, low-cost electricity, 24/7/365, regardless of weather or season.

Typically, California imports electricity from nearby states to cover any wind/solar electricity short-falls. This was not possible, because the US Southwest had a major, multi-day, heat wave. As a result, electricity imports to California were curtailed by the exporting states.

Prior to the heat wave, as a part of climate change fighting, California had unwisely closed down 15 of its 19 high-efficiency, low-CO2, gas power plants, on the Pacific coast. Those plants had not been kept in reserve, i.e., staffed, fueled and kept in good working order to immediately provide electricity, just in case of a major heat wave.

The result was, California had multiple days with rolling black-outs, i.e., no air-conditioning during periods with temperatures up to 115F. Living conditions were made even worse by the smoke of large-scale forest fires.

Electricity Short-Falls During a One-Day Wind/Solar Lulls
According to weather data, the US has multi-day, wind/solar lulls covering at least 25% of the land area. They occur at random times throughout the year.

A lull is defined at 15% of normal electricity output for that time of year.

US generators feed about 4000 billion kWh/y into the US grid, which would become at least 6000 TWh/y, after widespread use of EVs and heat pumps.

A TWh = one billion kWh

About 6000 x 0.25 = 1500 TWh/y would be used by 25% of the land area

Assume, for calculation purposes, the US has 80% of its electricity from wind and solar, and 20% from hydro and other sources.

The short-fall would be about 1500 x 0.8 x (1.0, no lull – 0.15, lull) = 1020 TWh/y, or about 1020/365 = 2.79 TWh/d

The capacity of any storage systems would need to be much greater than the discharge, because when a one-day lull would occur, the systems likely would not be fully charged, plus another one-day event might occur. In the real world, such events usually involve more than one day.

Battery Reserve Capacity for Utility Service and Electric Vehicles

Utilities: Typically, the capacity of large-scale battery systems would be specified as 100 MW/150 MWh, i.e., capable of delivering 100 MW of power for 1.5 hour to the grid, as AC. However, they would need to deliver only about 80% of that, or 100 MW for 1.2 hour, to achieve their 15-y battery life, i.e., an initial reserve of 20%. The reserve decreases as battery systems age.

EVs: EPA determines driving range under laboratory conditions, i.e., level, dry road; no wind; about 65F

Tesla Model S has available for driving all of the charge; no initial reserve, because Tesla has detailed, vertical quality control over battery manufacturing.

Tesla Model S uses 29 kWh AC/100 miles, drawn via a wall plug, or 116.58 kWh AC/402 miles, per EPA

Tesla model S battery charge available capacity ranges from 100 to 105 kWh, on average, about 102.5 kWh DC.…

Audie E-tron makes available for driving 86.5 kWh of the 95.3 kWh charge; an initial reserve of 9% for a battery that likely would be used about 10 years.

Audie E-tron uses 78 kWh AC/100 miles, or 173.16 kWh AC/222 miles, per EPA

Audie E-tron battery charge available capacity is about 86.5 kWh DC.…

Table 1 shows the Tesla Model 3 is much more efficient than the energy-hog Audie E-tron, (heavy, poor aerodynamics, inefficient drive train, etc.), because it uses only 0.252 kWh AC/mile, whereas the E-tron uses 0.742.

It was assumed 13% of the kWh AC, drawn via a wall plug, was used for charging the Tesla 102.5 kWh battery, or 0.038 kWh AC/mile.

It was assumed the E-tron would also use 0.038 kWh AC/mile to charge its 95.3 kWh battery, i.e., the same as Tesla.

Table 1
Model 3 vs. E-tron
Tesla Model S Audie E-tron
EPA combined, kWh AC/100 miles 29 78
Range, mile 402 222
kWh AC/range 116.580 173.160
Total consumption kWh AC/mile 0.290 0.780
Charging loss, assumed, % 13
Charging loss, kWh AC/mile 0.038 0.038
Driving, kWh AC/mile 0.252 0.742


Comments on Tesla Model S Battery Degradation Graph
The graph shows the percent aging of Tesla Model S batteries versus distance driven.

Ten years of driving results in 8.5% of capacity loss/range loss after 250,000 km

Fifteen years of driving results in at least 10% of capacity loss/range loss after 375,000 km

Utility Service versus Car Service: Much greater reserves would be needed, if utility-scale battery systems were used during utility service, i.e., 24/7/365 for 15 years.

Such service is much more demanding than the service of a car for a few hours per day for 10 years.

This article assumes a 20% reserve for utility service.

Cost of Midday DUCK-curve Absorption by Batteries

It is assumed net-metered electricity causes the midday DUCK-curve

The initial 1000 kWh AC of net-metered electricity becomes about 802.8 kWh AC, after it has passed through a battery system, and fed into the grid system.

Its cost increased from 21.5 c/kWh to about 26.8 c/kWh.

Our battery system would use 1000 kWh of net-metered electricity, and deliver 810.9 kWh, an electricity loss of 19.7%, or 0.197 X 1000 kWh x 0.215 c/kWh = $42.36/day.

That loss is in addition to the daily cost of owning and operating the battery system.…


Table 2
Energy Cost of DUCK-curve
Net-metered paid to owner, c/kWh 18.0
Net-metered paid to utility, c/kWh 3.5
Charged to utility rate base, c/kWh 21.5
Net-metered electricity, kWh 1000.0
Step-up transformer loss, % 1.0 990.0
Transmission to battery system loss, % 1.5 975.2
Step-down transformer loss 1.0 965.4
AC to DC conversion loss, % 2.5 941.3
Battery charging loss, % 6.0 884.8
Battery discharging loss, % 6.0 831.7
DC to AC conversion loss 2.5 810.9
Step-up transformer loss, % 1.0 802.8
Efficiency, A-to-Z, %; 810.9/1000 19.7
Electricity cost, c/kWh 26.8


US and New England Turnkey Capital Cost
Assume battery design capacity is 16.25 TWh, in battery

Discharge loss, A-to-Z basis is 10%. See URL

Battery deliverable electricity is 16.25 x 0.9 = 14.625 TWh, as AC to HV grid

The capital cost will be based on deliverable electricity, per standard industrial practice.

Battery reserve is 20%

Available operating charge is 16.25 x (1 – 0.2) = 13 TWh, in battery

Assume battery is partially charged, at start of lull, is 50%

Available operating charge is 13/2 = 6.5 TWh, in battery

Charge required for one-day lull is 6/2 = 3.25 TWh/d, in battery

Charge remaining for subsequent one-day lull, or another event, is 3.25 TWh/d

Discharge loss, A-to-Z basis is 10%. See URL

Electricity for one-day lull is 3.25 x 0.9 = 2.93 TWh/d, as AC to HV grid, which is sufficient to serve the above 2.79 TWh/d short-fall…

Battery turnkey unit cost is $500/kWh, delivered as AC. See URL

Turnkey CAPEX would be about 500 x 14.625 billion = $7.313 TRILLION

Battery life is about 15 years

New England Turnkey Capital Cost
Turnkey CAPEX for New England would be $21.0 billion, based on a similar analysis.

However, a major NE wind/solar lull could cover all of New England, i.e., the CAPEX would be $84.1 billion

CAPEX for custom-designed, utility-scale, site-specific, battery systems would still be unaffordable, even if $/kWh, delivered as AC, were to decrease in the future. See URL

Table 3
One-day Wind/Solar Lull


TWh/y TWh/y TWh/y
Electricity fed to US grid, at present 4000 115 115
EVs and heat pumps 2000 57.5 57.5
Electricity fed to grid, future 6000 172.5 172.5
US area covered by wind/solar lull, % 25 25 100
Electricity from wind/solar, % 80 80 80
Electricity from wind/solar = 6000 x 0.25 x 0.8 1200 34.5 138
Wind/solar electricity during lull, % of normal 15 15 15
Electricity short-fall during one-day wind/solar lull 1020 29 117
TWh/d TWh/d TWh/d
Days/y 365 365 365
Electricity short-fall during one-day wind/solar lull 2.79 0.080 0.321
Assume battery available charge, as AC to HV grid 13.0 0.37 1.50
Assume partially charged, at start of lull, % 50 50 50
Available charge 6.50 0.19 0.75
Charge required for one-day lull 3.25 0.09 0.37
Charge remaining for another one-day event 3.25 0.09 0.37
Discharge loss, A-to-Z basis, % 10 10 10
Electricity for one-day event, as AC to HV grid 2.93 0.084 0.336
Battery turnkey unit cost, $/kWh, as AC 500 500 500
Battery charge available, TWh, as AC = 16.25 x 0.9 14.625 0.420 1.682
CAPEX @ $500/kWh, $TRILLION 7.313 0.210 0.841
Battery life, years 15 15 15


Wind Task Force

Sorry son, the only thing ‘big’ about it, is the price tag.


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January 29, 2021 at 12:31AM

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