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  • Add batteries to stabilize the grid

    [Edit 13th March – This has really blown up in the media since I wrote this blog over a week ago. I did not think it would gain as much traction so I just scheduled this blog to go live 1 week forward from when I wrote it (as I often do if I have a few blogs stacked up), but then I am also not sure that I have anything timely to say, so in the end, I am just a bit dejected that I was talking about this a week before mainstream media picked it up, but on the flip side, you do not come to this blog to be on the bleeding edge of tech news?]

    Ok, on the back of yesterdays blog, I just had to follow up with this other angle…..

    Tesla is in talks with the Australian Government about adding ‘utility sized’ battery storage to the grid to help stabilize it.

    Some takeaway points I want to highlight;

    The Australian government, which has been known for encouraging fossil fuels, currently counts on peaker plants and “clean coal” to fix the issue, Rive claimed that Tesla could do it better and faster.

    This puts the finger on the two points I made yesterday, pulling the gas (peaker plants) AND making the coal ‘clean’ is not the answer. You can’t just pull them out, put in some solar, wind and hydro plants, it just won’t be stable enough.

    He referenced the 80MWh Powerpack station with Southern California Edison in Los Angeles, which they built and brought online in just 90 days.

    This installation is just down the road from Temecula. There is nothing to look at, other wise I might drive down and check it out. The point is, Tesla have done it. They know this stuff. It is not bleeding edge, it is not rocket science. It is battery banks and inverters. That’s it.

    Tesla then really really hits the nail on the head;

    “It makes no sense to duplicate infrastructure. By the time it gets up and running, the technology will be obsolete. It’s going to take years. […] And it still doesn’t address the problem. It’s a bandaid. We don’t need to build more transmission lines. …The only reason we’re building more transmission lines is to address congestion that may happen a few times a year. Storage can fill that gap. Use the existing infrastructure (and add battery storage) and it solves the problem. It really does. And it’s more cost effective. Why go the other path?”

    Boom. Love this. Don’t spend millions and millions on 2-3 days a year for some weird sequence of weather events. Spend a little money that will fix the day to day, week to week disturbances on the grid.

    The article then goes on to talk about the Tesla Powerwall product, I have some thoughts on those too, but they will have to wait, along with the blog on the ‘duck curve’…..

  • 100% renewable grid

    What are you guys up to down there?

    Seems that the ANU has been paid to build a report that states Australia can run with a 100% renewable energy grid.
    Or so states the article I read on the ABC website.

    I am sure the guys that did the study are smart guys, but yikes….
    Here is the key bit that got my attention;

    “The reliability is there because we have done very careful, hour-by-hour analysis of the Australian electricity grid and we find that with a modest amount of storage and some increased interconnectors within the states, the entire stability can match anything coal and gas can deliver.”

    Yeah, right, cause we all know that interconnectors are super reliable. Just ask anyone in South Australia.
    I don’t know, I really should not be here throwing stones at their glass report, it just worries me that they are so excited to do away with all base load generation. Coal, yeah, perhaps, but you guys have plenty of that, and it’s cheap and can be made ‘clean enough’, but to want to drop gas generators as well, that’s where I kinda snorted at the computer screen and thought ‘I have to blog about that!’.

    I guess I should just pipe down and feel warm and fuzzy that this is the way progress goes. Do a report, shoot for the stars, land on the moon and end up making some change, cause to do nothing is worse.

  • Ron Allum

    Its a bit old, but I just came across this write up of Ron…. Thought it to be really well done and so here it is.


    He is described as a bush mechanic but a marine mechanic is perhaps more fitting: an Aussie with a love of the world beneath the ocean’s surface and a natural knack for problem solving.

    It goes on from there, not a huge read, I think its worth your time.

    I shared a cabin with Ron for the whole Deepsea Challenger Expedition. While it would have been great to get to know him better, we just were both so busy with our jobs, it just was not possible…. We often would go days without much more than a single hi, or bye, often at 2am…. Of course we spoke a lot while on the job, but it was very matter of fact, get the job done and often technical talk.

    All that said, I have a huge amount of respect for Ron. Very down to earth and humble guy.
    Don’t know him well, but proud to say I know him.

  • Airbag recall

    Not sure if this has hit Australia as much as it has over here, but there has been a problem with air bags that blow shrapnel as well as the bag when they deploy.
    Since the company that makes the bag supplies to a lot of automakers, pretty much all brands of cars have been impacted. [List at the end].
    I have not blogged about it because as widespread as it was, and as serious as it was, I had not read a single thing on what the root cause was… Till now.


    WASHINGTON — A consortium of 10 automakers investigating the root cause behind exploding airbag inflators made by Takata Corp. has fingered the ammonium nitrate propellant as a key factor in the deadly ruptures — but not the only one.

    According to the group, known as the Independent Testing Coalition, the ammonium nitrate propellant used in about 23.4 million inflators that Takata deemed defective last year was contained in inflator assemblies that failed to protect the chemical from moisture in humid climates. The exposure to humidity and repeated temperature swings over time can cause the ammonium nitrate to combust violently and rupture the inflator when the airbags deploy in a crash, the group concluded.

    So in non-geek speak, the airbag housing itself is the source of shrapnel.
    The gas they used, over time, broke down the container it was in, when the bag deploys, bits of the container come out since it has been weakened.

    customers affected by inflator recalls: Toyota, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Subaru.

    That’s a lot of car makers…..

    The inflator defect — linked to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide — is already the subject of one of the largest and most complex recall actions in U.S. history, with some 25 million U.S. vehicles affected and suppliers straining to produce enough replacement parts, even as new recall actions are announced.

    Regulators have acknowledged that many of the replacement inflators going into recalled vehicles may themselves have to be replaced later once investigators know more about the overall safety of ammonium nitrate.

    So yeah, if it has not made your news section, be happy. It is a long and expensive recall.
    Did you get that last block quote… The bags that they are replacing the current bags with may themselves have to be replaced in due time.
    This is not going to go anyway anytime soon.

  • Russian Standard Vodka

    Huh, go figure… I put off blogging about Vodka for the longest time because I thought that no one would be all that interested, and because I thought it did not really fit in with a techy geeky blog….. Seems I was wrong…
    (Yeah yeah, I know, I know, you want to hear about what interests me…. hey, it’s my blog, why would I blog about me!)


    Anyway, a few of you have emailed me off line and asked what is a good solid Vodka.
    So, here then is my daily drinker….

    This is a bottle of Russian Standard Vodka.
    There are three levels of this stuff, the stuff that suggest you start with is, The Standard.
    This bottle is one level up from that, it is the Platinum.
    The last is Gold. I have not yet had the gold, but am pretty excited to have a crack at it.
    It just so happens that I do not have a bottle of the Standard in the house at the moment to photograph, I have been enjoying this Platinum for a while.

    How does it rate?
    The Standard is a solid 3 /5. I almost want to put it at a 3.3 / 5 but honestly, while the Standard is a great intro to a drinkable Vodka, you really need to be keeping it in the freezer.
    The Platinum is a big step up. It gets you into the 3.75 / 5 range. Very nice. Nice enough to just keep this stuff in the fridge.
    Really looking forward to trying the Gold at some stage (soon!).

    And, to save you the work, I checked, you can get it in Australia!
    They also have the gold, but I did not see the Platinum…. It also looks like you guys are paying a lot more for it downunder…. We plonk down around 20 bucks tops for it here.
    We will keep an eye on the Dan Murphy Vodka list and see if we can find a nice 3/5 for a little less coin (but wow, he sells some really crap Vodka by the look of it!).

    So there you have it. Not a bad way to start the list… my current favorite daily drinker!

    Cheers, or should that be tva-jó zda-ró-vye (your health!).