Renewables Ready for Prime Time | Fairewinds Energy Education
Written by Grayson Webb, Edited by Maggie Gundersen
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Let’s take a look at the Hornsdale Power Reserve Project in South Australia. This is the battery station that Tesla built after Elon Musk made a bet on Twitter with billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Musk bet that he would be able to install the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia within 100 days in order to fix their blackout problem, or he would supply it for free.
Early Concept of Hornsdale. Photo Source: Tesla
Fed by a wind farm, Hornsdale, with enough capacity to power 30,000 homes, is the world’s largest lithium-ion battery currently in existence (though maybe not for long!) and was completed within the 100 day time frame. On December 14th, only two weeks after the Hornsdale Project became operational, South Australia’s coal-fired Loy Yang power plant failed, and what normally would have caused a blackout was stopped in a record breaking 140 milliseconds as the Hornsdale battery noticed the power loss to the national grid and immediately pumped 100MW of electricity into the grid to cover the loss.
"That's a record and the national operators were shocked at how quickly and efficiently the battery was able to deliver this type of energy into the market," State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis told 5AA radio. According to the Bloomberg story, plans for more battery stations like Hornsdale are already in the works for Australia.
South Australia isn’t the only part of the world benefiting from renewable powered battery stations. Residents in Kauai, a small island that’s part of Hawaii, were reliant on polluting diesel generators. Fuel was expensive, so the island made the shift to renewables; but even then, with evening load demands, come dusk the generators would have to kick back on. Tesla became involved in March 2017 and built a battery station comprised of 272 batteries powered by 50,000 solar panels. This combined solar-and-storage plant provides enough energy to power 4,500 homes for 4-hours, greatly reducing the island’s fuel consumption at peak times. Kauai will be able to reduce its consumption of diesel fuel by 1.6 million gallons per year and plans to be 70% renewable by 2025.
Battery Storage in Kuaui. Photo Source: Tesla
While we have seen the cost of renewables plummet lower than ever: a report issued in late 2017 by the financial firm Lazard shows that it’s nowcheaper to build and operate new renewablesthan to continue operating existing coal plants. Previously, the cost of the combination of battery storage paired with renewables has for the most part remained more expensive than fossil fuels, meaning it only made economic or practical sense in certain cases.
Colorado has just started receiving new bids for a series of renewable energy plus battery storage projects planned for construction during the next several years. So far, the bids are already cheaper than 75% of Colorado’s current polluting coal-fired sources; in other words, it is cheaper to build and operate renewables with battery storage than to operate 75% of Colorado’s existing coal plants. This is a huge turning point for sustainable energy! As Arnie was quoted saying in Forbes,"We all know that the wind doesn't blow consistently and the sun doesn't shine every day, but the nuclear industry would have you believe that humankind is smart enough to develop techniques to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but at the same time human kind is so dumb we can't figure out a way to store solar electricity overnight. To me that doesn't make sense.” That’s why paring renewables with battery storage and having it be cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear power is a game changer for generating clean renewable electricity generation around the globe. This is the biggest death knell for the coal and nuclear industries yet.
Renewable energy has a lot of benefits besides reducing CO2 and pollution levels. Renewable energies create the good paying middle-class jobs that are currently in decline in the U.S. In fact, Solar technicians and wind turbine technicians are two of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. according to Bloomberg. Not only that but, the solar industry alone employs more people than the nuclear, coal, oil, and natural gas industries combined! That doesn't even include the jobs in the wind sector. Worldwide, renewables employ close to 9.8 million people according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. The reign of nuclear and fossil fuels is thankfully winding down as renewable energy continues to rise, bringing us cleaner air and good paying jobs.
Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear on CCTV:
Kevin Kamps, Nuclear Waste Watchdog of Beyond Nuclear, talked with Margaret Harrington, Host of Nuclear Free Future, about the federal plan to transfer 40 years of Vermont Yankee nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Kevin Kamps cites legal, scientific, and logistic reasons not to reopen Yucca Mountain or send Vermont Yankee's nuclear to an unsuitable site.
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Fairewinds Energy Education is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2008. Our mission is to educate the public about nuclear power and other energy issues. We have designed our website to be a hub for fact-based, undistorted nuclear energy information. Fairewinds’ website features podcasts and videos, in which we collaborate with experts in wide ranging fields to discuss nuclear energy issues.
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of the atom
save man's mode
thus we drift towards
He also said,
"Nuclear power is a hell of a way
to boil water!"