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View Diary: For electric power generation, the end of fossil fuel is in sight (215 comments)

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  •  Storage costs (6+ / 0-)

    The cheapest form of electricity storage that is actually in use is pumped hydro. It requires the right kind of geography for high and low reservoirs close to each other in an area with lots of rainfall and abundant water supplies to fuel the storage system.

     It's mostly civil engineering, digging large holes and pouring concrete and it costs about a billion bucks US in 2010 money for a 10GWh storage facility that can produce 1 or 2 GW output on demand for a few hours. 850GWh of storage would cost about $85 billion, maybe a little less for production-line manufacture of turbines etc. That's enough to supply the entire US demand for electricity... for about 40 minutes at peak consumption. It's also wasteful with a round-trip efficiency of about 65-70% i.e. putting a GWh of electricity in to pump water uphill will return 650MWh of electricity and waste 350MWh in friction, generating losses etc.

     Batteries cost about a million bucks per MWh (promising candidates include sodium-sulphur assuming NGK can solve the "bursting into flames" problems their first-generation designs have been prone to), that is ten times the cost of pumped storage although losses are smaller. Flywheels are in the same ballpark, capacitors are a lot more expensive.

     Considering those numbers nuclear grid generating stations ($10 billion build cost, 60 year lifespan, 3c/kWh operating costs covering fuel, waste disposal and decommissioning to generate 1.5GW for 90% uptime and no CO2 emissions) start to look like bargains.

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