The Manhattan Contrarian Energy Storage Paper Has Arrived!

6 12 2022

Francis Menton

Today my long-awaited energy storage paper was officially published on the website of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Here is a link. The paper is 22 pages long in the form in which they have published it plus another few pages for an Executive Summary and table of contents. They have given it the title “The Energy Storage Conundrum.”

Now I’ve been writing stuff like this for years, but who is this guy nobody’s heard of before? Well it turns out that a little research reveals he is neither an engineer nor a scientist. He’s a lawyer. I found this podcast of him on youtube where he rants about Manhattan New York where he lives. And the politics of New York…. it’s obvious he doesn’t like Democrats because he quite rightly believes that Biden’s push for a Green New Deal will destroy his precious capitalist economy. He talks about the limits of what I like to call Non Renewable Renewable Energy Harvesting Technologies (NRREHTs), without knowing anything about the limits of fossil fuels or the limits to growth. It’s a classic example of left meets right! The paper at the above link is well worth the read….

Now I’m not exactly encouraging you to go to this clip, it’s there for your information. Certainly the political rant at the start is less than interesting, especially if you’re not American. Nonetheless he makes very good points which I agree with, like this from his blog:

“Consider the case of Germany, the country that has gone the farthest of any in the world down the road to “energy transition.” My Report presents two different calculations of the energy storage requirement for Germany in a world of a wind/solar grid and no fossil fuels allowed (both of which calculations have been previously covered on this blog). One of the calculations, by a guy named Roger Andrews, came to a requirement of approximately 25,000 GWh; and the other, by two authors named Ruhnau and Qvist, came to a higher figure of 56,000 GWh. The two use similar but not identical methodology, and somewhat different assumptions. Clearly there is a large range of uncertainty as to the actual requirement; but the two calculations cited give a reasonable range for the scope of the problem.

To give you an idea of just how much energy storage 25,000 (or 56,000) GWh is, here is a rendering (also from my Report) of a grid-scale battery storage facility under construction in Queensland, Australia by Vena Energy. The facility in the rendering is intended to provide 150 MWh of storage.

Remember that 150 MWh is only 0.15 of one GWh. In other words, it would take about 167,000 of these facilities to provide 25,000 GWh of storage, and about 373,000 of them to get to the 56,000 GWh in the larger estimate.”

Yes Queensland is going nuts over deployment of NRREHTs…. like this new massive wind farm the state government is backing to the hilt, in Warwick. Warwick? You’ve probably never heard of it, but I’ve been there many times and honestly, I don’t ever recall it being a windy place. Let’s face it, when I did my Diploma in Renewable Energy Technology thirty years ago, nobody mentioned Warwick as a windy place. In fact it was pointed out that nearly all of Queensland bar a couple of exceptions was nearly useless for wind energy, it’s not called the Sunshine State for nothing. So I did some research, and indeed I found that Warwick has no wind resource.

To start a wind turbine requires wind speeds above 22km/hr. Whose idea was it to invest 2 billion dollars in this? At least they won’t need storage!

The morons in charge will do anything to stimulate economic activity, and screw the climate in the process. The global economy is already in dire straits due to a lack of SURPLUS ENERGY. Deploying these projects requires shedloads of fossil fuels, whose ERoEI is already falling off a cliff, the last thing we need are more energy sinks.

I truly despair sometimes…..

Francis Menton has also written another post about my favourite pet hate, Hydrogen.. Hydrogen is even worse than batteries when it comes to energy storage. If you want to make the surplus energy crisis worse, just kick start the Hydrogen Economy and see how far you go. Aren’t we lucky there’s only five or so years of this BS left?



6 responses

6 12 2022

And only a tiny percentage of people have talked about energy conservation and the need to De-Grow our lifestyles and economies.
We will all find out the hard way as the seneca cliff approaches.

6 12 2022

Hi Marg, your comment reminded me of my very mainstream suburban sister in law who said she’d rather be dead than live my low energy lifestyle.
That’s why they don’t talk about it.
That’s why they’ll never De-grow.
They won’t care about the cliff as long as it takes them out when we all hit the bottom.
She’s not an outlier, she is your quintessential suburban woman.

6 12 2022

Yes Angela, Politicians are always blamed but what are the chances of election for a candidate who says – we need to cut back on consumption, downsize our houses, car share, eliminate most one use plastics, eliminate overseas travel, pay more for energy, maybe increase our taxes and a myriad of other things that are needed.
Not good at all – because the truth is that the overwhelming majority of people would vote them down.

7 12 2022

I’m confused Mike – if he’s a lawyer why are you recommending his paper?

7 12 2022

He obviously got his information from someone who knows, and it’s totally correct. That’s why.

8 12 2022

Ted Trainer sent me this comment via email… :

I believe that the magnitude of the task for a high-penetration renewable system is enormous and probably quite unaffordable, but the article is seriously mistaken in its conclusions and method. I have completed a study re the Aust situation, draft attached.

The fault in the Andrews Energy Matters analysis is that it is for a system in which the amount of renewable plant is sufficient to produce annual consumption, in one year. But all 9 of the simulations carried out for Australia take detailed weather data for most of the continent and try to work out what pattern of how much renewable wind and solar, biomass h hydro would be needed to meet demand reliably, even through the worst times. You could generate enough power via coal to meet demand with about 35 GW of coal fired plant operating at .8 capacity factor. But the amount of renewable plant the simulations find is necessary varies from around 90 to 160 GW…because you need a lot of redundant plant to get through bad weather periods.

I have published a paper arguing that none of these simulations is satisfactory, and that the amount of capacity needed would be much greater than they claim…or that you would need to add a lot of storage capacity. Obviously the more capacity you are prepared to build the less storage you will need. What we need are studies trying to find the amounts of each that will minimize total system cost.

One paper finds that Germany fairly often has wind capacity very low for 5 and sometimes 8 days in a row. One would think this applies to Europe too, with its 500 million people.Sometimes the Aust wind system operates at about 3% capacity factor. You could meet the 27.8 GW demand with wind and no storage if you built 33×27.8 = 917 GW of wind capacity. It would make sense to build less and to resort to storage of some kind. It is surprising that there has been almost no effort to work out the best mix…a few have recognised this.

But all that only applies to electricity; renewable supply of total energy needed would multiply the task by at least 5, assuming you could convert all functions to electricity.

I am sending this to Menton and the other authors.


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