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Tesla Leads the BEV Takeover in Europe in September!

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Before I start with the text, I want to share that I had 3 working titles for this article. One was “Tesla Model 3 Was the Best Selling Car in Europe.” The second was “1-2 Win for Tesla.” The third was the one that I ended up sticking in the article. There was just so much happening last month that I wasn’t sure which to choose. I ended up with “Tesla Leads the BEV Takeover,” because while Tesla’s performance was impressive in itself, it happens in a wider context of BEV adoption, as proven by the fact that all top 13 spots in September belonged to BEVs — but more on that later.

The European passenger plugin vehicle market is staying in the fast lane. More than 227,000 plugin vehicles were registered in September — which is +42% year over year (YoY). This performance is even more impressive when we consider that the overall auto market continues to fall off a cliff — down 25% last month!

With plugin registrations rising fast and the overall market shrinking significantly, plugin vehicle market share had to rise significantly, and it did. Last month’s plugin vehicle share of the overall European auto market was 23% (15% full electrics/BEVs). That result pulled the 2021 plugin vehicle (PEV) share to 17.3% (8.7% for BEVs alone).

Growth came from both plugin fields, with BEVs (+54% YoY) outrunning PHEVs (+25%) this time, allowing them to represent the majority of registrations in August (62% vs 38%). That pulled BEVs to the front in the YTD count by some 1,000 units.

Also worthy of notice is the fact that plugless hybrids now represent 21% of all registrations, which is already above what pure diesel sales have been this year (18%). Added to the plugin share, 38% of all passenger car sales this year in Europe have some kind of electrification….

#1 Tesla Model 3 — Although not scoring a record month, since Tesla’s midsizer had already delivered over 26,000 units last June, the sports sedan had another great result, scoring 24,952 deliveries in September. That meant that Tesla’s bread and butter nameplate became the best selling automobile in the overall market. That’s a major feat and required a number of factors — the usual end-of-quarter Tesla peak happening at a time where the overall market was contracting for various reasons (-25% YoY), plus the end of the reign of the once all-mighty VW Golf, which is slowly giving was to its ID.3 successor. Add in the fact that Renault is doing the same thing to the usual runner-up in the European ranking, with the Clio living alongside its EV sibling, the Zoe. Overall, all of those things made it easier to claim the throne. In fact, if we were to add the VW Golf with the ID.3 registration numbers and the Clio with the Zoe, the Model 3 would have been 3rd last month, behind the 25,899 units of the VW Golf/ID.3 and the 25,072 of the Renault Clio/Zoe tandem. So, as Larry David would say: Curb your enthusiasm. Yes, it is an EV landmark for the future, but do not think this means Tesla will have the overall European market in the bag anytime soon, as I have seen written in some places. Well, this individual comment is already too long, so I will cut to the chase and mention the markets where the Model 3 excelled: the UK (6,900), Germany (6,828 units), France (2,833), Norway (2,218), Switzerland (1,062), and Italy (1,000) were countries where the Model 3 reached four-digit scores (just barely in that final case).

#2 Tesla Model Y — Tesla’s crossover jumped to the runner-up position in only its 2nd month in Europe, scoring 9,496 deliveries in September, which is a full letter of intention on where the Model Y is aiming. It will be interesting to see if the Model 3 is affected by the arrival of its younger, larger, and more practical sibling. While in China the sedan market is still a thing, in Europe it’s mostly reduced to a niche, with the Model 3 being the exception, because it was the cheapest way to have a Tesla. Now, with the more palatable Model Y on the field, it will be interesting to see how the two midsize Teslas live with each other. Trying to identify the first signals, one can see that Tesla focused Model Y deliveries on the Nordic countries, with Norway leading the charge with 3,562 units, followed by Sweden with 1,213 units, Germany in 3rd  with 1,073 units, and Switzerland 4th with just 567 units. Interestingly, the VW ID.4 also has the same 3 top markets (NO, SE, DE), which I don’t think is a coincidence. …

#3 Volkswagen ID.3 — The German hatchback is slowly returning to form, getting 8,392 deliveries last month, its best score in 2021. Expect it to continue improving in the remainder of the year. It should be a regular presence on the podium, probably also winning a couple more monthly best seller titles. Regarding September, the ID.3 had its home market as its main source of sales. Germany logged 2,694 registrations, followed by the United Kingdom in #2 (2,100 units) and France in #3 (749 units).

#4 Renault Zoe — Its 6,808 deliveries in September represent a 40% sales drop YoY for the French hatchback — so, while in isolation its 4th place result doesn’t sound so bad, when we look at where the Zoe was a year ago, we can start to notice the wrinkles on the Zoe’s face. Maybe it’s time for a significant price cut in order to stop the bleeding? I mean, the new Megane EV is at least 6 months away, and the competition is pushing forward every single month. … In any case, the main markets in September were the usual, with France (2,382 units) leading by far, Germany (1,536) in 2nd, and the United Kingdom in 3rd (1,400 units).

#5 Skoda Enyaq — Sitting on the vortex of the current hottest trends (plugins and compact crossovers), the Enyaq was supposed to be just another Skoda, a spacious workhorse serving as lieutenant to General Volkswagen ID.4. Only … while the ID.4 came out a bit meh, Skoda hit the sweet spot. The Enyaq has all the attributes of a Skoda, like space, commonsenseness, utility, and affordable pricing, and it added a simple yet interesting and, dare I say, premium design to its first MEB-based EV, gathering positive views from many. All of that must be contributing to the Czech crossover’s success. And September was no exception — thanks to 6,048 registrations, the Enyaq was 5th among electric vehicles, ending over 1,000 units ahead of its theoretical superior rank, the VW ID.4. Regarding last month’s performance, the Enyaq’s main market was Germany (2,027 units), with Norway (787 units), the United Kingdom (600 units), and the Netherlands (575) being the crossover’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best markets.

Looking at the rest of the September table, one should highlight that the best selling PHEV was only #14 and there were just 4 plugin hybrids in the top 20, with the Ford Kuga PHEV winning the category trophy thanks to 3,695 registrations.

Above the Ford plugin hybrid, it was all BEVs, and the best part of that was that these 13 BEV models created quite a diverse group — from city cars/A-segment cars (Fiat 500e, Dacia Spring), to subcompacts/B-segment cars (Renault Zoe, Peugeot e-208, Hyundai Kona EV) and compacts/C-segment (VW ID.3/ID.4, Kia Niro EV), to midsizers (Tesla Model 3/Model Y/ Hyundai Ioniq 5), there’s a little bit for everyone, which is a big advancement over what happened a few years ago, when it was just Tesla and a few smaller models.

Among these models, there were a few highlights, like the record performances of the #6 Kia Niro EV (5,527 units) and #9 Peugeot e-208 (4,752), and the first private delivery month of the #10 Dacia Spring (4,181). Additionally, the #12 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (3,732) continued its deliveries ramp-up and the #13 Audi e-tron (3,702) had its best month of the year in September.

The Audi Q4 e-tron joined the table, in #19, thanks to a record 2,894 registrations. It was the 4th MEB-based model in this month’s top 20. The recent BEV push has even put some wind in the Nissan LEAF’s sails, with the Japanese hatchback reaching #16 last month thanks to 3,301 registrations, its best score in 6 months.

Speaking of veteran models benefitting from the changing winds, below the top 20, we have the BMW i3 getting 2,396 registrations, its best score this year, allowing it to beat its iX3 sibling (2,179 registrations). We also have two Stellantis models are on the rise, with the Opel Corsa EV (2,751 registrations) and Peugeot e-2008 (2,543 registrations) looking to return to the best sellers table, just as the Mercedes EQA is (2,541).

Finally, the quirky Mazda MX-30 had its best score so far in 2021, with 2,161 registrations, so we might have a surprise coming from this crossover-that-thinks-it’s-a-sports-car soon.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, the main news is the BEV takeover of the ranking, with the #6 Kia Niro EV and #7 Hyundai Kona EV surpassing the Volvo XC40 PHEV as well as the #9 Fiat 500e switching positions with the BMW 330e. The little Italian is now looking to surpass the #8 Volvo XC40 PHEV in the next couple of months.

It was the same story in the second half of the table, with the #11 Peugeot e-208 now running ahead of its 3008 PHEV sibling and looking to overcome the BMW 330e soon. The Nissan LEAF jumped two positions, to #18, while the #16 Audi e-tron surpassed the Volvo XC60 PHEV.

Another model on the rise is the Skoda Enyaq, which jumped to #13 and might join the top 10 already in October.

Interestingly, BEVs are now the majority in the top 20, with 12 representatives, and the best selling PHEV (Ford Kuga PHEV) is 5th (for now). Expect this trend to consolidate through the rest of the year, with more BEVs joining the table. The Ford Kuga PHEV, the most likely winner of the PHEV trophy, might still lose a few more positions by the end of the year.

Unlike the model ranking, where the leadership position is not really up for discussion, in the automaker ranking, things are more balanced. For the moment, Volkswagen (10%, down 1 percentage point) is maintaining its advantage over #2 BMW (9%) and #3 Mercedes (9%). Volkswagen is the favorite, but a lot can still change by the end of the year.

Off the podium, Tesla (7%, up 1 point) profited from its latest peak month to win some margin over Peugeot and Audi, both with 6% share.

Arranging things by automotive group, Volkswagen Group is far ahead, with 25% share, safely above Stellantis (13%, down 1%).

Despite the 1% drop, the multinational conglomerate managed to keep the distances between it and its closest pursuer, the #3 BMW Group (10%, down 1%).

On the other hand, #4 Daimler (10%) is now only 3,000 units behind its arch rival, so we could see a position change soon.

Do not expect Volkswagen Group to lose its commanding position in Europe anytime soon, as neither Stellantis (not enough firepower at the higher end of the market) nor Daimler or BMW (not enough firepower at the lower end of the market) are in a position to challenge the Volkswagen Galaxy.

Finally, Hyundai–Kia (9%) has won a little more space over the #6 Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, so the Korean group can start to look upwards and go after the two German groups ahead of it.

On the topic of Hyundai and Kia, looking at September’s overall top 30 brands in Europe, we can see that the overall crumbling of the automotive market is affecting almost everyone, with two-digit drops across the board. Only 5 brands posted positive results. Two of those were Tesla (+81% YoY) and MG (+82%), which obviously benefit from being EV-based lineups while EVs are the only thing growing right now. A third one was DS (+9%), a small surprise, until we realise that the small French premium brand has a short and electrified lineup. Finally, at the Big Boys table (top 10), #5 Kia (+8%) and #6 Hyundai (+6%) were the only ones escaping the current doom and gloom, thanks to heavily electrified lineups.


 

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Electric Car FAQs: Do EVs All Use the Same Plug?

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Electric cars are mostly like regular cars. You step on the pedal on the right and the car goes, you turn the wheel and the car turns, and the only real difference is what kind of fuel goes in it. We say stuff like that all the time. If we’re being completely honest, though, that’s only mostly true. 99% of the time the only difference is what kind of fuel goes into the car, but that last 1% probably needs explaining.

To provide that explanation, we’ve launched a new segment called “Electric Car FAQs” that hopes to answer those oddball questions that come up 1% of the time. Today’s question: do EVs all use the same plug?

EV FAQs: Do EVs All Use the Same Plug?

Even if you don’t know anything about how electric cars work, you could probably guess that they run on some kind of battery. You’d be right! That battery acts like a gas tank in a conventional car, storing “electric fuel” in reserve until it’s needed. You even fill it up like a gas tank — the main difference is you’re plugging the car into an EV charging station, not a gas pump. Sounds easy, right?

The good news is that it is easy to plug in your EV! But one thing that many people don’t realize is that there are different types of electric car plugs, and different types of chargers. Each one has different capabilities, costs, and charging speeds, and that’s where some confusion can sneak into the conversation.

As ever, we’re here to clear things up for you — starting with the chargers.

EV Charging Levels

Image courtesy of GM.

Level 1 is basically a standard 3-prong outlet, like the kind you have your phone charger plugged into. These work the same way, providing a slow trickle of energy to your electric car battery to basically replace a few miles of driving. You’ll usually get 2-4 miles of range per hour of charging, and it usually won’t increase your monthly electric bill by a noticeable amount, making level 1 home charging an extremely cost-effective charging solution.

Level 2 charging stations use 208 or 240 volts of electricity — more like the big plug your clothes dryer is plugged into. These are to charge your vehicle up to 10 times faster than a level 1 station. If you drive more than a few miles per day and want the convenience of knowing you’re starting each day with “a full tank” from charging at home, installing a level 2 charger in your garage is the way to go, and you can expect to get up to 200 miles of range from an 8 hour, overnight charge.

Because level 2 power is usually available in most commercial locations, many businesses that want to incorporate EV charging stations into their parking lot deploy level 2 charging stations. Whether you’re putting a level 2 one in at your home or at your business, be sure to check with your local utility for rebates and incentives to help keep costs down.

Level 3 DC Fast-Charging

DC fast-charging plugs are typically considered “level 3” and have significantly faster charging speeds than the level 1 or level 2 “AC” chargers. With enough juice, a DC fast charger can charge an electric car battery to 80% from almost empty in about 20 minutes (depending on the vehicle) … but this is a good time to tell you that not all “level 3” charging is created equal.

“Level 3” is a generic term that used to be quite clear. As technology has advanced, though, it’s a term that has led to more confusion that anything else, because it could mean anything from around 25kW of power to more than 300kW (!?).

That’s why some electric car owner apps like Chargeway have “split” Level 3 charging into levels — 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 — to highlight that difference. At a local (well, local to Chicago, anyway) “level 3” station in Chargeway, it would take about three and a half hours to go from 10% to a 90% charge in a car like the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E

Screencap from Chargeway app.

… at another local charger, a “level 6” to use Chargeway’s naming system — the time drops significantly. You can get the exact same charge in under 40 minutes (below), instead of (quick math) 2015 minutes. That’s a lunch stop or a grocery run, and knowing ahead of time what to expect when you get to a fast charger is going to make a big difference in your experience.

Screencap from Chargeway app.

The National Auto Dealers’ Association recently partnered with Chargeway to help train electric car dealers to use this more intuitive “level 1–7” power system as they talk about EV chargers … but they also want to use Chargeway to help simplify the conversion about plugs, which we’ll get to next.

Different Types of EV Plugs

CHAdeMO was the first type of DC fast-charging system on the market, and helped early e-mobility adopters reduce range anxiety. Cars with CHAdeMO plugs can fast charge a battery to 80% in about 60 minutes at a rate of roughly 2 miles of range added per minute of charging.

Image by CleanTechnica.

Today, the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (shown, above) are the most common CHAdeMO vehicles, but even they are switching to the more common J1772 with their next generation of electric cars. Still, there are hundreds of thousands of used EVs on the market that use this standard, so it’s worth knowing about.

Most “modern” electric vehicles (the notable exceptions being cars built by Tesla) use the J1772, and the J1772 plug can charge your car using 120, 208, or 240 volts of electricity, depending on the type of charger station you’re using. These are those “level 1” and “level 2” we talked about earlier, and it’s the most common type of charging you’ll find.

For fast charging, those same cars use the SAE Standard Combined Charging System, or CCS. Developed by the society of automotive engineers (SAE, natch), this is the most widely used fast charging standard globally, and works with most fast chargers — just not, currently, the Tesla Supercharger Network, will.

Tesla cars on the Tesla Supercharger network use proprietary standards that, while also called “level 3” by most networks, typically fall into the “level 6” or “level 7” range offered by Chargeway. Tesla drivers have exclusive access to the national network of Tesla Superchargers to charge their vehicles, but they have to use an adapter to charge at other DC fast-charging stations that use CCS or CHAdeMO plugs and at Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations.

Tesla Supercharger in Florida, by Zach Shahan/CleanTechnica.

Colors & Numbers

We already talked about the way that a charging app displays information can have a huge impact on your expected wait times while you’re charging. Chargeway also simplifies the process of finding charging stations that work for your car. Instead of showing a “generic” charging map that shows all the chargers in your neighborhood, Chargeway only shows you the stations that will work for your specific car, reducing anxiety and making it easier to “fill up faster” with electric fuel.

Blue for CHAdeMO, green for J1772/CCS, and red for Tesla.

Image courtesy of Chargeway.

Higher numbers equal faster charging, so if you have a Chevy Bolt, that’s a Green 4. A Mustang Mach-E? That’s a Green, too, but it will go up to level 6. A brand-new Tesla Model S? Red 7.

It’s intuitive, and it’s the language that many dealers will soon be using. “Because the 16,000+ NADA member dealers represent nearly all the major automotive brands, their adoption of Chargeway will create a de facto ‘standard dictionary’ of EV charging terms,” reads the official NADA press release. “‘Green’ plugs, ‘Level 6’ chargers, etc. That will make it easier for EV dealers and buyers to communicate, regardless of brand.”

With all that said, we hope we’ve made it clearer for you to understand the different types of EV charging and chargers. If you want to hear about more clever ways to visualize or talk about EVs, you can tune into Chargeway’s founder, Matt Teske, on the Electrify Expo podcast with CleanTechnica’s Jo Borras (me!) on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Original content from CleanTechnica.


 

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Diess Survives Volkswagen Board Review — for Now

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Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, was put under the microscope recently after he suggested publicly that as many as 30,000 manufacturing jobs at the company could be lost if it fails to meet the challenge from competitors, principally Tesla. His remarks were interpreted by some, especially Daniela Cavallo, the head of the works council, as a threat to fire 30,000 employees.

Diess further inflamed the passions of company insiders when he invited Elon Musk to call in to a meeting of 200 Volkswagen senior managers. That annoyed just about everyone in the company who wasn’t already annoyed by the job cuts thing and resulted in a call to convene the rarely use mediation committee of the Volkswagen management board. That committee is made up of representatives from the company’s largest shareholders as well as the head of the works council (worker union).

A meeting was held last Tuesday but no announcements were made afterwards. The only things Reuters could uncover about the meeting were two statements from anonymous sources. The first said, “This topic is so hot, it is on a knife edge. I can’t say anything further.” The other said, “As expected, there is nothing new.” The most that can be gleaned from this kerfuffle is that Diess has been called on the carpet and warned that he must change his management style or face possible termination.

Changing his management style appears to mean he should stop pissing off the works council. Cavallo is on record as saying, “We’re tired of hearing time and again that the works council is apparently only concerned with preserving the status quo.” She insists that all the workers and labor representatives are fully supportive of the proposals Diess has put forth to speed up the transition to electric vehicles, including a major rethink of how they build cars at its largest factory, in Wolfsburg.

The crux of Diess’ recent remarks is that Tesla will soon be building electric cars in Grünheide in much less time with fewer workers. Stripping away all the emotional content of his recent remarks, it should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that you can’t compete successfully if your cars cost more to build than the cars your competitor is making. It’s as plain as the face on your nose, and yet Diess has been called to account for saying out loud what should be evident to everyone.

Sources tell Reuters that the committee is working to craft a position that will satisfy all parties — which means it will probably satisfy no one. Diess will be asked to change his management style, which is a little like asking a leopard to change its spots, while new board members will be announced, new assurances on job prospects for employees will be given, and new investment plans for Volkswagen Group will be put forth.

There are rumors — unfounded, unconfirmed, and uncorroborated — that if Diess is tossed overboard, he could wind up being tapped to run the automotive division of Tesla, which would allow Musk to focus his considerable talents on other things like SpaceX, energy storage, and tangling with Bernie Sanders on Twitter.

Part of Diess’ problems may stem from the fact that he is an outsider. From 1996 to 2015, he worked at BMW, where he was a member of its management board. Volkswagen, like any major corporation, has a culture of promoting from within. No doubt, bringing Diess in from outside the company — and from a competitor in the German auto industry at that — rankled lots of loyal Volkswagen managers who maybe thought they should have been promoted when the diesel cheating scandal hit in 2015 and Martin Winterkorn was given the heave ho.

Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Has Diess learned his lesson? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.


 

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Hydro Versus Batteries: Tasmania Pushes Its Undersea Cable Plan

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There is no question that hydroelectric power is a wonderful thing. It’s green, it’s renewable, it’s emissions-free, and it’s relatively inexpensive.  There is also no question that water can be stored behind a dam for days, weeks, months, or even years before it is used to spin turbines that generate electricity.

Tasmania has an abundance of hydroelectric power — quite a bit more than it needs, actually. It would very much like to sell some of its excess electricity to the rest of Australia. The plan put forward by Hydro Tasmania and TasNetworks is known as the Marinus Link — a 500-kilometer-long undersea transmission line linking Tasmania to Melbourne. From there it would connect to the utility grid on the mainland, making Tasmania Australia’s national battery, so to speak.

But there’s a flaw in the Hydro Tasmania plan. According to a report written by the highly regarded Dr. Bruce Mountain for the Victoria Energy Policy Center, the Marinus Link is a money-losing proposition that will only make less economic sense in coming years as the cost of grid scale battery storage continues to decline. Here’s a quote from the Executive Summary that pretty much says it all.

“The main conclusions of that report are that 1,500 MW of four-hour battery can be provided for less than half the cost of Marinus Link; that the same capacity of six-hour battery can be provided for 79% of the cost of Marinus Link and that 1,500 MW of eight-hour battery storage is still cheaper than Marinus Link.

“In other words, even if Hydro Tasmania is able to provide, for no additional cost, 1,500 MW that it could export to Victoria day-in day-out for eight hours at a stretch for the foreseeable future, it will still be cheaper to build 1,500 MW of batteries in Victoria rather than to build Marinus Link. Of course the Tasmanian electrical system has no-where near the power or energy capability needed to provide 1,500 MW of supply to Victoria for 8 hours every day and so many billions will be needed to expand its storages and energy production in Tasmania in order to be able to provide the capacity that Marinus Link claims to offer.”

The ending of the report is just as brutal. “We now feel able to conclude that not only does Marinus Link have no chance of competing with battery alternatives but that if Hydro Tasmania develops pumped hydro capacity in Tasmania it is very likely that, like Snowy 2.0, it will be stranded from the outset.”

Cuanto Cuesta?

So how much would the Marinus Link cost? The proposal calls for building two new 750-megawatt undersea power cables between Tasmania and Victoria at a cost of about $3.5 billion. Hydro Tasmania, which is owned by the state of Tasmania, plans to store power in Tasmanian dams by releasing water to generate electricity for export to Victoria when prices are high, and pumping the water back into dams when power prices are low.

According to MSN, Mountain claims that if the Marinus Link is funded by the Tasmanian or Commonwealth governments, taxpayers will be left paying for an asset that would cost more to build than it can earn. “It would be placing a dead weight on the shoulders of the people of Tasmania, if indeed the people of Tasmania bear most of the cost. If it’s borne by the Commonwealth in some way, it’ll be placing a burden on all taxpayers and energy consumers depending on how the bid ends up, when you build an asset that can’t compete.”

Mountain also expressed skepticism about the the long term benefits of construction jobs associated with the projects. “It would be much better for the community if the government simply gave that money out — frankly, it would be less of a loss for the community. Building a white elephant, a dead weight loss, entrenches disadvantage.” No namby-pamby, wishy-washy words from the esteemed Dr. Mountain. Better to take that money and just throw it in the street.

The Case For Marinus Link

Hydro Tasmania and TasNetworks aren’t giving up the fight. TasNetworks general manager for Marinus Link Bess Clark says both batteries and pumped hydro storage will be needed as Australia’s energy market transitions away from fossil fuels. “Marinus Link presents a once in a generation opportunity to double Tasmania’s clean energy, helps combat climate change, puts downward pressure on power prices and creates thousands of local jobs,” she says, before adding that modeling by the Australian Energy Market Operator shows the Marinus Link will be a key part of Australia’s energy grid in the future.

A spokesman for Hydro Tasmania said batteries wouldn’t be able to meet all of Australia’s energy storage requirements and that deep storage like pumped hydro will be needed. “It’s not a question of having one or the other. We will need all the relevant, cost competitive technologies to play their part to ensure all Australians have a power system that is reliable, secure and affordable,” he said.

Last week the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry threw its “wholehearted support” behind the Marinus Link project. “We know that this project will be fantastic not just for employment across the state over the next 50 years but also for the growth of business within Tasmania,” TCCI CEO Michael Bailey said.

All Of The Above

There are two sides to this debate and they both have points in their favor. Pumped hydro can supply power far longer than any grid storage battery in existence. A battery can react in milliseconds; pumped hydro cannot. One of the benefits of battery storage is its frequency and voltage regulation capability. Both save grid operators money but are services pumped hydro cannot provide.

Then there is the question of timing. Bruce Mountain tells the Sydney Morning Herald the Victorian Big Battery, composed of dozens of Tesla Megapacks, will be commissioned shortly, while a similar installation at Jeeralan should be ready by 2026. There are four more storage battery projects in the pipeline as well. A further four major batteries are likely to proceed. Those will all be in place and operational before the Marinus Link becomes operational.

“Battery storage capacity will be built and operational in Victoria long before Marinus Link and the Battery of the Nation developments in Tasmania are close to operational,” the VEPC report says. “Marinus Link continues to have no prospect of competing against battery alternatives in Victoria.” Mountain adds, “Considering the much higher efficiency and responsiveness of chemical batteries than pumped hydro, if pumped hydro is developed in Tasmania it is surely likely that it, not batteries, will sit idle.”

“It’s not a question of having one or the other,” Hydro Tasmania counters. “We will need all the relevant, cost-competitive technologies to play their part to ensure all Australians have a power system that is reliable, secure and affordable.” Tasmania also is investing heavily in the power of wind, something it also has in abundance.

The Trouble With Transmission

Solar power advocates like to say that a gigantic solar farm in a small corner of the Sahara desert could power all of Europe and the UK — if there were transmission lines connecting the two areas. In the US, some people dream of New Yorkers getting solar power from California after the sun sets on the Big Apple. That could happen if there were transcontinental high voltage transmission lines.

That being said, transmission lines can be hugely expensive to construct and maintain. They are also subject to disruption from any number of causes — wind, earthquakes, wild fires, even malicious damage. The world is learning a hard lesson about making stuff in one place for consumption in another place using a flotilla of cargo ships to connect the two. Anything that can go wrong often does go wrong and at the worst possible time. Just ask Puerto Rico about relying on distant generating stations to power its major cities.

Pumped hydro is an important piece of the energy storage puzzle but it can’t just be plunked down close to the places where demand for electrical energy is high. In theory, battery storage facilities can be sited almost anywhere. Ideally, they can go where retired thermal generating stations are located, places with the advantage of already having the connections needed to feed the stored power into the electrical grid.

Planning For The Future Is Hard

The objection is not to Tasmania’s abundant hydro power. The objection is the cost of getting it to distant markets at competitive cost. Then there a time considerations. What may seem like a good idea today may not look quite so appealing a few years down the road when the economics tilt more in favor of one solution than another. When there is not an unlimited supply of money, it is best to invest what you have in solutions that will be fiscally viable for the longest period of time, not one that will be come economically noncompetitive before the end of its useful life.

Perhaps Tasmania would be wise to invest its dollars in technologies that turn its excess electricity into green hydrogen or ammonia, which could then be exported at reasonable cost to anywhere in the world. The issue is not energy storage. The issue is energy transmission. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Australia, where wise energy planning at the federal level appears to be an alien concept.


 

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Source: cleantechnica.com

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