More Energy Storage Than Previously Believed

April 2, 2019

My recent vid on energy storage describes pumped storage as an option

New news on energy storage.

Science Alert:

We just got some massive news in the ongoing drive to switch to renewable energy: scientists have identified 530,000 sites worldwide suitable for pumped-hydro energy storage, capable of storing more than enough energy to power the entire planet.

Pumped-hydro is one of the best technologies we have for storing intermittent renewable energy, such as solar power, which means these sites could act as giant batteries, helping to support cheap, fully renewable power grids.

Added together, these hundreds of thousands of sites have the potential to store around 22 million Gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy. It’s more than enough to get the entire planet running on renewables, which is where we want to get to.

As of now the sites have only been identified by an algorithm, so further on-the-ground research needs to be done. But it was previously assumed there were only limited suitable sites around the world, and that we wouldn’t be able to store enough renewable energy for high-demand times – which this study shows isn’t the case at all.

“Only a small fraction of the 530,000 potential sites we’ve identified would be needed to support a 100 percent renewable global electricity system,” says one of the researchers involved in the survey, Matthew Stocks from the Australian National University (ANU).

“We identified so many potential sites that much less than the best 1 percent will be required. The perception has been there are limited sites for pumped hydro around the world, but we have found hundreds of thousands.”

The sites identified would rely mainly on solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power to pump water uphill when the renewables are plentiful. When energy is needed, the water will be released and pulled down by gravity to drive turbines and generate electricity. No fossil fuels are released in this process.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance:

London and New York, March 26, 2019 – Two technologies that were immature and expensive only a few years ago but are now at the center of the unfolding low-carbon energy transition have seen spectacular gains in cost-competitiveness in the last year.

The latest analysis by research company BloombergNEF (BNEF) shows that the benchmark levelized cost of electricity,[1] or LCOE, for lithium-ion batteries has fallen 35% to $187 per megawatt-hour since the first half of 2018. Meanwhile, the benchmark LCOE for offshore wind has tumbled by 24%.

Onshore wind and photovoltaic solar have also gotten cheaper, their respective benchmark LCOE reaching $50 and $57 per megawatt-hour for projects starting construction in early 2019, down 10% and 18% on the equivalent figures of a year ago.

Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF, commented: “Looking back over this decade, there have been staggering improvements in the cost-competitiveness of these low-carbon options, thanks to technology innovation, economies of scale, stiff price competition and manufacturing experience.

“Our analysis shows that the LCOE per megawatt-hour for onshore wind, solar PV and offshore wind have fallen by 49%, 84% and 56% respectively since 2010. That for lithium-ion battery storage has dropped by 76% since 2012, based on recent project costs and historical battery pack prices.”

The most striking finding in this LCOE Update, for the first-half of 2019, is on the cost improvements in lithium-ion batteries. These are opening up new opportunities for them to balance a renewables-heavy generation mix.

Batteries co-located with solar or wind projects are starting to compete, in many markets and without subsidy, with coal- and gas-fired generation for the provision of ‘dispatchable power’ that can be delivered whenever the grid needs it (as opposed to only when the wind is blowing, or the sun is shining).


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42 Responses to “More Energy Storage Than Previously Believed”

  1. jerry falwell Says:

    Where are the actual sites? We should have at least 20 picked at random to see if the research is BS or actually works. Plenty of sites are going to be unusable for various reasons like somebody lives there or some rare plant or animal lives there. If they use pumped storage they also need water really close by so again we need some sites to test to see if the list is correct.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Impressive, but algorithms are a long way from reality. Go to the site and look at the algorithms and maps. I’ve looked at the map for parts of the USA I’m familiar with and IMO the number of “suitable” sites is WAY high. Note too the following:

    Disclaimer: None of the sites discussed in this study have been the subject of geological, hydrological, environmental, heritage and other studies, and it is not known whether any particular site would be suitable. The commercial feasibility of developing these sites is unknown. As with all major engineering projects, diligent attention to quality assurance would be required for safety and efficacy.

    There has been no investigation of land tenure apart from exclusion of some environmental areas and urban areas, and no discussions with land owners and managers. Nothing in this list of potential site locations implies any rights for development of these locations.

    Accuracy of the sites depends on the accuracy of the source data. There may be sites that fall into protected areas or urban areas that are not identified by the source data. In coastal regions there may be a few lower reservoirs sitting on top of the ocean due to limited accuracy of the DEM data.

    Maps showing the locations of potential STORES sites and details of the team’s analysis are available at: http://re100.eng.anu.edu.au/global/

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Disclaimer: None of the sites discussed in this study have been the subject of geological, hydrological, environmental, heritage and other studies, and it is not known whether any particular site would be suitable.

      One major geological no-no would be to have a reservoir with varied sedimentary rock layers angled into the valley, as with the failed Vajont Dam in Italy. Filling the reservoir can saturate weak layers, allowing higher layers to slide off them causing a catastrophic water-displacement event (a type of tsunami).

      Hydrologically, the surrounding rock needs to be of low permeability, and the valley being able to handle upstream rain-bombs or water events like Typhoon Nina in 1975, which caused dam failures killing >170,000. Another way to lose reservoir function is for sediment, whether steadily or during high-rain events, to fill the reservoir.

  3. Peter Scheffler Says:

    An exciting statement, but as with dumboldguy, I have looked at the maps for the potential sites in the southeastern US. I find some sites that don’t appear to have a water source, others are along small rivers where flows could be greatly altered by the pumping and the release, and most are in the National Forest or along the Blue Ridge Parkway. So I doubt any are easily feasible for environmental reasons or due to extensive visual changes in a popular scenic area.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Yeah – wouldn’t want to spoil the view with an effing lake. The horror.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Instead of doing standup, GB, why don’t you look at the freaking map and tell us what you think of the sites in VT? There are only about ten of them.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          They are dots, DOG. Which would be a lake in real life.

          How dare you criticize my humor? – it is timeless. Go jump in the dot.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            You try my patience sometimes, GB. You can zoom in and enlarge the “dots” (see =/- icon in upper right). You also have coordinates given. You should be able to find the locations and zoom in on satellite views from google maps as if you were a Vermont-maple-syrup-vodka-fueled drone.

      • Peter Scheffler Says:

        Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. And there are already lots of lakes in the area created by damming the rivers. But pumped storage lakes fluctuate a lot and one of the pair is likely to be a mudflat at any time. Not saying it couldn’t be done, and with climate change maybe there would be greater adverse local environmental effects, but I’m just saying I think it would be a difficult sell right now. Still, maybe we are at the point where we have to make some hard tradeoffs.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The Lower Colorado River Authority maintains a string of dams in central Texas both for flood control and drinking water reservoirs. During very dry summers the evaporation alone can take meters of water away. Partially covering pumped-water reservoirs would just add to the cost.

  4. Sir Charles Says:

    Ireland not listed though. We only have one PHES here operating since 1974. The station generates up to 292MW during peak demand periods and can go from standstill to full capacity in 70 seconds. It can generate electricity at full load for up to six hours per day. An alternative project had been debated some ten years ago which involves larger seawater PHES and could have made Ireland’s electricity totally independent from fossil fuels by now. But the project was cancelled due to lack of funding. There has only been one seawater PHES project worldwide, but it failed. Look up ‘Okinawa Yanbaru Seawater Pumped Storage Power Station’ for details. One drawback is the need of a sealant (e.g.an impermeable liner) for the inner surface of the reservoir to prevent seawater from leaking and damaging the surrounding vegetation. But therefore you have the full height down to sea level and you only need one reservoir, not two. Another issue is interference with maritime life.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      WHOA, Chucky! Just because you make more “comments” on Crock than any other commenter and have a puffed-up self-image does not give you the right to strut around dissing others like Jerry who made a perfectly good comment, one that Peter S and Brent and I apparently agree with—since we were thinking along those lines as well.

      BTW, not to distract you from what you view as your god-given right to be an a-hole, I asked you on another thread to list out ANYTHING you liked about America or found to be positive about this country. Perhaps you could leave Jerry alone and answer that?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      In the greater scheme of things, what Ireland does matters little. There IS one area where Ireland should put its money where its mouth is, and that’s the CO2 emissions pumped out by one of its airlines—-which make that airline #10 on the list of ten biggest emitters in the EU after nine fossil fuel burning power plants.

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/01/ryanair-new-coal-airline-enters-eu-top-10-emitters-list

      UNEARTHED today:

      “Ryanair ‘the new coal’: Ryanair has become the first non-coal company to join Europe’s top 10 carbon emitters, according to EU figures.The Irish airline, which transports 130 million people a year, declared 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on last year and 49% over the last five years, according to data in the EU’s latest emissions trading system registry. Ryanair chief executive Michael o’Leary declared that climate change was “complete and utter rubbish”. “There is always some lunatic out there who points to a load of rubbish science; science changes” he added, sagely”.

      • Sir Charles Says:

        Big American supremacist dumbo is spouting his usual rant again. Ryan Air is a private company, dude.

        BTW, the EU is working at a jet fuel tax. Legal concerns should have got annihilated by now.

        https://www.transportenvironment.org/news/eu-moves-protect-its-right-regulate-aircraft-emissions

        https://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/domestic-aviation-fuel-tax-eu

        • dumboldguy Says:

          “Big American supremacist dumbo is spouting his usual rant again. Ryan Air is a private company, dude”, says Chucky. AND? So are the nine coal mines, most likely, and why don;t they all concern you the way you seem to be concerned about things in the USA that are none of your business.

          Exxon-Mobil is a “private” company too, and we ARE going after it. Why aren’t you and/or your government going after Ryan Air?

          And the whining about “Big American supremacist dumbo…” is a sing of weakness both in character and facts, Chucky—you embarrass yourself again.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            How can you judge what I’m concerned of and what not, dumbo? You’re long blinded by your hatred. So you know nothing about me. All you do is speculating and spinning conspiracy hypotheses. Go have a walk in the park. Better for you crank.

            Over and out.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Hatred? You flatter yourself to think that you could evoke that much feeling in anyone. To me you’re just an annoyance and someone with ulterior motives for posting here. About all you seem to be “concerned” with is massaging your ego by repeatedly cluttering up the threads with the same links and assorted anti-American bullshit. Have you ever noticed how little real support you have here?


    • Have you noticed how the modus operandi of at least one poster on these threads includes false claims, ad homimem attacks, poisoning the well and cherrypicking

      It’s almost as if he or she is just seeking attention

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Ar LEAST one poster? Exactly how many are doing these things, SG?

        He OR She is seeking attention? You can’t discern which gender this (these) poster(s) is(are)?

        The only one I see “seeking attention” here is YOU. We were having a nice discussion about energy storage (which would have soon led us into batteries), and YOU go off talking about gravity storage, of which there is next to none in operation beyond pumped hydro. (Notice too that you are being ignored by all except for the thumbs up you are giving yourself).

        And all this “modus operandi” stuff”? No, apparently no one HAS noticed. Oerhaps it would help if you gave SPECIFIC examples of each? And pointed out who these posters are (be they he’s or she’s)

        false claims
        ad homimem attacks
        poisoning the well
        cherrypicking

        We eagerly await your enumeration of these “sins”.


        • Sorry? why do you think I am talking about you?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            We don’t know WHO you are talking about, SG—-your communication skills are so weak that you could be talking about the man in the moon for all we know. If you would simply answer the question put to you and delineate the exact examples of the four “sins” you are babbling about, we could perhaps figure it out.

            Personally, I don’t think you really understand the meaning of those four terms, and are just playing D-K Demented Rooster with us. I will again invite you to instead join the discussion of stored energy that we are trying to have here—-put your punctured little ego aside and talk some science and perhaps Crockers will pay you some attention—if you haven’t noticed, you are being ignored (except for me, who is trying to TEACH you), and I’m about to give up on you again.


  5. Interesting that the authors claim only 1-2% of the sites identified would be needed.

    There are problems with any such reservoir system as previous comments have identified but that does not mean that the potential for significant storage is not there.

    Of course there are other such “kinetic battery” solutions; such as the proposal of Tata corporation for towers with massive weights or that of Gravitricity which proposes using the thousands of disused coal mine shafts.

    This last proposal would also apply to my own small corner of the world where tin mine shafts of 50 m or more are ridiculously common, tap Cornwall and it sounds hollow

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Leave it to “He-who-wears-silly-costumes-while-harrassing-good-Christian-ladies” to bring up gravity storage, another one of the scams like Solar Roadway that is designed primarily to put money in the pockets of its promoters.

      I know SG’s physics knowledge is limited, so he needs to look up “energy density”, among other things. Here’s a site with some interesting discussion of gravity storage:

      https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/305563/why-dont-we-use-
      weights-to-store-energy


      • Ahhh so in your “special” universe the Tata corporation is into scamming people

        Or do you just deny the fact that potential and kinetic energy exists?

        I notice that your confirmation bias selected the most popular answer but science is not a popularity contest. You ignored the other answers that point to the fact (you do know what “facts” are, I hope) that we already use kinetic storage. You need a lot of mass but a 3m dia weight 10m long has a mass (if made of concrete) of 169.6 tonnes. This mass dropped down a shaft like that of Wheal Concord (approx 80m) will produce (before losses) 135 megaJoules/s or 37.7 kW/h

        Another example Taylor’s Shaft near Portreath has a depth of approx 150m and a diameter in excess of 8m. 10m long weights made to fit this shaft would have a mass of 1.200 tonnes giving 1800 mJ/s.

        There are at least 30 shafts within 10 miles of my home that could be so used

        Do try thinking before you spout off

        • dumboldguy Says:

          We shall see whether Tata can make it work, they are grasping at straws, IMO—–and 35 MWH is rather puny. Do the math.

          RE: “Or do you just deny the fact that potential and kinetic energy exists?” and “Do try thinking before you spout off” Why do you continue to embarrass yourself with stupidities like these? It proves nothing other than that you too dumb to come up with real insults—it actually sounds more like whining.. (BTW, do YOU deny that such a thing as “energy density” exists—you missed your chance to take part in the REAL discussion here by avoiding that topic).


          • No I am fully aware of energy density that is why I supplied the appropriate calculations regarding how much energy is stored by by mass at a height. By your nonsensical arguments the potential energy in pumped storage cannot generate sufficient electricity. Go get some sort of education.

            Frankly you have become a joke because of your meaningless and vapid comments, your constant desire to insult and belittle those with better arguments than yours and your defense of nuclear powered tea kettles.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “By your nonsensical arguments the potential energy in pumped storage cannot generate sufficient electricity”. I said that? Where? If SG had asked (and looked at the data and other comments here), he MIGHT have figured out that we really don’t know and were trying to discuss it until he interrupted us.

            SG babbles about “logic”, but he continues to employ one of the most basic (and juvenile) logic fails—-the “bald assertion” SG—-pay attention—-just because you SAY it DOESN’T make it true! No matter how hard you WANT it to be true. FACTS always matter, opinions may or may not—-depending on how many FACTS back them up.

            “Go get some sort of education”. “SOME SORT?” Bwa-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!! (Perhaps you’re too new to Crock to have heard about my “education”—-I’ve mentioned it before—undergraduate degree in physics, graduate degree in biology—taught both subjects at the HS level for 8 years). Tell us about what “sort” of education YOU have, SG. What qualifies YOU to make comments here? You can’t even prove God doesn’t exist, never mind talk about anything “sciencey”.

            Speaking of “bald assertions” and “meaningless and vapid”, SG’s closing “meant to be a death blow” comments are examples of all that. Or is he putting us on? Is he actually saying that HE has “better arguments” or information about anything (other than the number of mine shafts in Cornwall)? Does he think that nonsensical talking about “nuclear powered teakettles” is clever?

            Frankly, YOU are the joke here, SG, and although we on Crock DO like to be entertained, your strutting around in your Demented Rooster Suit crowing bullshit is getting to be tiresome. Final warning—-get serious and join the discussion or be ignored (again).

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Sir Charles is so anxious to “score” on me that he is now mindlessly giving us links to things that have nothing to do with the non-“argument” that I am having with SG. And it’s a sign of his impotence and failure of imagination that he falls back on “medications” and the use of “dumbo” for his cheap shots.

            Dumbo is a much beloved Disney character in this country, so much so that there is a 2019 remake of the original 1941 Disney film. Chucky does NOT understand where the name come from. Perhaps this will help:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumbo_(2019_film)

            Just because the first letters of Dumbo and dumboldguy are the same does’t mean you can make a connection—-quite to the contrary. Since Chucky is an ignorant Irishman attacking America and Americans from afar, he probably doesn’t know that.

            You’re dealing not with a cute elephant here, Chucky, but with DOG, the loyal sheepdog of the truth about climate change. Beware his bite!

          • Sir Charles Says:

            OK. If you don’t like it, then we name you for what you are, dumboldguy

            A dumb old guy

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Come over here and share a beer with me. I know some good Irish bars and have some good Irish-American friends that would be glad to join our party. Of course, once you start showing what an a-hole you are, you might not escape with your life, but it’ll be fun while it lasts.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Chucky admits defeat yet again.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            I suppose I’m not uncivilized enough to fill myself up with bad beer and take part in a ‘debate’ which turns out to be nothing but shouting and punching each others faces.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            LOL You’ve proven yourself to be plenty uncivilized enough to take part in far more debased and disgusting activities than that. And we do have Guinness, Swithwick, Murphy’s, and Kilkenny (if you don’t mind drinking them out of a bottle).

            There wouldn’t be any shouting (except by you), and I suspect that there would be little “debate” or “punching of faces” by you either. Once you spouted your half-assed bullshit and the good and patriotic Irish-Americans got their jaws off the floor, you would be quickly and quietly pounded into oblivion and tossed in a dumpster.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Guinness out of the bottle? That’s worse than uncivilized.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Guinness opened its first U,S. brewery in over sixty years last summer. Only producing lager, no Stout, so bottles it is.

  6. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    When the ANU first published their data for OZ, I too went happily hunting over their sites. One extra problem was shortage of ‘area’ for storage. A couple of swimming pool volumes wont do it. There is an absolutely brilliant site, for pumping up seawater, just down the road. Unfortunately, putting salt water on land would start as a hanging offence and get worse. Expect pumped hydro has more applications, although still have not found an actual case study (energy out vs energy in). Have hope but little optimism here.

  7. Gingerbaker Says:

    Jeezum Crow. Actual nuts and bolts (practical) groundwork being done to build the RE infrastructure we need?

    The Koch bro’s and the board at Exxon Mobil must be furious.

  8. Sir Charles Says:

    Not as sufficient as PHES, but Europe Stores Electricity in Gas Pipes

    Converting excess wind and solar power into hydrogen can extend renewable energy’s reach


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