Thursday, January 27, 2022

Are Batteries Really the Solution?

Dear Editor,

C’mon guys.

Surely, I’m not the only person in Meaford with access to the Internet and Google.

Batteries? Batteries??? Batteries?????

From Wikipedia:

Other energy storage solutions, such as pumped hydroelectric storage, continue to dominate the market. As of 2019, pumped hydroelectric storage accounted for 96% of global energy storage capacity. Pumped hydroelectric storage systems have relatively long lifetimes when compared to battery storage.”

Like, 50 years? And yet people say that – like it’s a bad thing?

As of 2021, the power and capacity of the largest individual battery storage power plants is an order of magnitude less than that of the largest pumped storage power plants, the most common form of grid energy storage. For example, the Bath County Pumped Storage Station, the largest in the world, can store 24GWh of electricity and dispatch 3GW while the first phase of Vistra Energy’s Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility can store 1.2GWh and dispatch 300MW. Grid batteries do not however have to be large, and smaller ones can be deployed widely across a grid for greater redundancy.”

Well. OK. Batteries are way too small. But batteries are definitely a lot safer. Right?

Some batteries operating at high temperatures (sodium–sulfur battery) or using corrosive components are subject to calendar ageing, or failure even if not used. Other technologies suffer from cycle ageing, or deterioration caused by charge-discharge cycles. This deterioration is generally higher at high charging rates. These two types of ageing cause a loss of performance (capacity or voltage decrease), overheating, and may eventually lead to critical failure (electrolyte leaks, fire, explosion).

An example of the latter was a Tesla Megapack in Geelong which caught fire, fire and subsequent explosion of battery farm in Arizona, fire of Moss Landing battery farm. Concerns about possible fire and explosion of a battery module were also raised during residential protests against Cleve Hill solar farm in United Kingdom. Battery fire in Illinois resulted in “thousands of residents” being evacuated, and there were 23 battery farm fires in South Korea over the period of two years. Battery fires may release a number of dangerous gases, including highly corrosive and toxic hydrogen fluoride.”

Twenty-three! South Korea? You don’t say.

I sure wouldn’t want to be on Cedar Avenue when the Hydrogen Fluoride comes rolling down the hill. I’m an old Biochemist. I remember that stuff. Nasty. I made my old lab partner handle the Hydrogen Fluoride. I’d take my zero percent chances of some water coming pouring down the hill over Hydrogen Fluoride – any day of the week.

Still, the battery example most battery people like to point to is Geelong, Australia. Tesla. Elon Musk. Cool. Not so much any more because theirs caught fire and rained toxic fumes on the Outback. It is worth noting however that before Geelong’s battery farm caught fire?

Geelong, Australia has a population of 253,269 people.

The population of Ontario is 14,789,778 people.

That’s 58 times more people. That’s a pretty big difference. How many extremely toxic burning Tesla batteries would it take to replace even one safe Pumped Storage Plant in Meaford? Perhaps TC Energy can do the math. I’m tired.

As Mr. David Blackburn of Meaford recently, and very rightly, observed, “there is a huge cost to our environment due to the need to rape our planet to extract lithium, rare earth, cobalt, and many other sometimes very scarce elements. Can we possibly equip each person on our planet with sufficient battery storage without paying a monstrous price?”

Mr. Blackburn failed to mention or maybe just overlooked that every ounce of Lithium wasted on electricity grid energy batteries is one less rare ounce that is desperately needed for electric and hybrid vehicles. To get rid of fossil fuel vehicles. To save the World. The one we live in? The only one we have?

Pat Zita (Mr.? Ms.? I apologize. I don’t know) challenged me:

However, where is the justification for destroying an irreplaceable resource like Georgian Bay for $250 million per year? I have not seen it from TC Energy. Perhaps Mr. Mason can publish it.”

I’m unsure of my task. All of Georgian Bay? Just our part? Exactly how much destruction do I have to justify?

This was a classic Save Georgian Bay tactic.

Justify something there is absolutely no evidence to make anyone believe will happen. Ever.

Mr. (or Ms.) Zita. I accept your challenge.

But first, I want you to justify NASA’s decision to fake the Moon Landings.

Or. Call Ludington, Michigan yourself to ask them to describe the absolute devastation their Pumped Storage Facility caused – to destroy their town and all of Lake Michigan. All of Lake Michigan. You know. For proof. Prove your point.

You pick.

If we save the World, we can save the frogs.

You could help.

We can all help.

Bruce Mason, Meaford

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