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EGEB: Russia hacking US grid, Tesla Powerpack Australia battery farm explained, invisibility cloak, more

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Explainer: What the Tesla big battery can and cannot do – Of the 100MW/129MWh, around 70MW of capacity is contracted to the South Australian government to provide grid stability and system security. It will likely mostly provide frequency and ancillary services (FCAS) when needed (such as a major system fault, generator trip or transmission failure). The other 30MW of capacity will have three hours storage, and will be used as load shifting by Neoen for the Hornsdale wind farm, where it will be located. The first 70% will do what gas peaker plants used to do – something energy executives think will never be built again after 2020 in the USA. The second chunk will absorb wind generation when the grid can’t use it, and spend it when the wind slow down. Remember when they said this would never happen?

Invisibility cloak makes solar panels work more efficiently – On the front side of solar cells are metal strips that conduct electricity from the 60 or 72 solar cells on a residential or standard commercial solar panel into, eventually, the broader power grid. These metal strips block sunlight. It was only in 2008 when someone patented these metals strips on the backside of solar cells. This group built a structure that moves light around the metal strip to hit the solar cell directly behind the metal. This increased solar panel efficiency 9%!! Two caveats to be dealt with – The grooves in the cloaking material will introduce tiny spaces where dust can gather and block sunlight, he says. And over time the UV light in sunlight will degrade the cloaking polymer, decreasing its effectiveness.

Houston startup plans to store wind energy underground – How cool is this concept: A power plant that pumps air into underground caverns at high pressures, to later push itself out spinning turbines? Cool, right? But it’s never been done because to pump the air costs $$ – well – what if you happen to be in Texas where the price of WIND pushes electricity below $0/kWh at times. Using cheap wind powered electricity – to pump air into the ground. Its poetic. One strong point made though – it’s a lot of money, and is there any guarantee that the wind will always be cheap? I don’t know if I’d want to risk $500M on that game.

U.S. officials say Russian government hackers have penetrated energy and nuclear company business networks – I’ve never been one to believe that we should be completely disconnected by the power grid as individual businesses and private persons. However, with news like this – I’m very apt to support systems that can be instantaneously isolated, or lie within some sort of security island. Microgrids might make this work, and so would have a home solar+storage system. It is paramount that we improve the security of our distributed power system and not let them be taken over by like computer botnets propensity. Former respected Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz weighed in on the topic yesterday via Twitter.

Former Defense Officials, Officers Discuss Climate Change and National Security on Capitol Hill – “There’s a lot you can do to mitigate risk once you acknowledge the risk exists,” said John Conger – On Friday, our brief caught the attention of quite a few climate change deniers on Twitter. These folks ranged in response from ‘fake news’ to you ‘liberal fascist thieves.’ The US Military forces are not anti-capitalist, and not anti-USA. You’d be smart to listen.

Swiss Re shifts entire $130bn portfolio to ethical indices – (link is to tweet, which you then click to get article access) – Socially Responsible Investing – learn the term. You can invest in oil and coal and make some money, probably do great if you buy yourself some land in the Permian Basin and a fracking crew. Or – you can give a damn about tomorrow and invest in a way that might make you a bit less money, but leave you a decent planet on which to spend said returns.

Electricity now flows across continents, courtesy of direct current – The largest connector under construction, the Changji-Guquan link, will carry 12,000MW (half the average power use of Spain) over 3,400km, from the coal- and wind-rich region of Xinjiang, in the far north-west, to Anhui province in the east. This journey is so long that it requires 1.1m volts to push the current to its destination – HVDC is needed in China because I read about the western areas of the country having to waste 30% of their wind and solar because it cannot be efficiently moved across the country. When they fix this – wow – their grid will clean significantly. The USA is pushing HVDC also – wind from the midwest outward, everything back and forth across Texas (proud of them) and – one day – time shifting with solar power to take advantage of a wider, versus tall USA.

Interesting picture of the reality of energy politics in Australia below. The politicians said a carbon tax would lead toward increases in the cost of energy. So they got rid of the carbon tax – note the timeline and the highlighted areas. Look at the REALITY of money – not the words of animals owned by the fossil fuel industries.


Header image is from LinkedIN – shows the difference before and after a nice solar panel cleaning. High dust conditions need regularly cleaning.

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