RNE24: Batteries will fix all our problems, right?? Craig Piercy guests!

Thank you for joining us on Episode 24 of RadioNuclear! In this episode, we briefly discuss the passage of H.B. 6 in Ohio, effectively saving the two nuclear plants in Ohio for the time being. This week we also talk about a recent article detailing the true cost of using battery storage for energy. How much could using them for 100% renewable energy cost? Tune in to find out!

This episode’s guest is Craig Piercy, who serves as the Washington representative for the American Nuclear Society. In this role, Piercy helps devise and execute ANS’s federal outreach activities to Capitol Hill, the Executive Branch. Craig has over 20 years of experience in public policy, within government and as an advocate representing corporations, universities, and trade associations.

Enjoy the podcast.

2 thoughts on “RNE24: Batteries will fix all our problems, right?? Craig Piercy guests!

  1. Howard C Hayden

    No matter what the back-up system is — pumped hydro, batteries, compressed air, unobtanium …— it will always be cheaper to increase conventional “baseline” power from baseline power level to average power level, and have the backup handle diurnal variations than to use backup for solar and wind. Call this the “enhanced baseline” scenario. Conventional power would then require backup to store about a quarter of one day’s energy. By contrast, solar and wind would require several days’ storage. A mixture of conventional power and renewable power would require storage somewhere between.
    Conventional power is coal, nuclear, and more recently natural gas combined-cycle, and all perform at highest efficiency if run at high, steady power. They can do so around the clock with a backup system that stores energy during the late-night to early-morning times, and releases that energy during intermediate and peak times. A combination of renewables and nuclear would indeed require less storage than an all-renewable system, but an all-conventional, enhanced baseline system with storage would be better yet. Given that NGCC provides excellent steady output at very high efficiency, the gas industry would be very happy to provide a good share of the enhanced baseline power.
    Remember: we’re shooting for 99.9% reliability as a minimum.

  2. Jim Hopf

    I’m usually a glass-half-empty sort of guy, but I actually see some potential positive outcomes from increasing battery storage capability.

    A mixture of nuclear and renewables would require far less storage capacity than an all-renewable grid. And as the MIT article shows, storage will become the dominant cost contributor. This will result in a mixture of nuclear and renewables being the lowest cost option.

    While sufficient storage capacity for an all renewable (or even majority renewable) grid is nowhere on the horizon, we will soon see storage capabilities that will have a significant impact (e.g., enough to smooth out daily variations). Long before such storage would allow a majority renewable grid, it will allow nuclear and renewables to “get along” on the grid. This may keep nuclear plants open.

    As an example, they are closing Diablo Canyon because they say that there will be “no room on the grid” for it after the mandated installation of huge amounts of solar and wind. At peak generation times, all that solar and wind would require all other power plants to shut down, which is very problematic for nuclear plants. Diurnal storage would mostly solve that problem. Perhaps by 2025, Diablo’s planned closure date, the economic case for shutting it down will no longer be there.

    More generally, with a fair amount of (diurnal) storage, we would probably see an end to all the negative pricing (at peak renewable output and/or minimum demand times) that has been a problem for nuclear plants across the country.

    Ironically (for “environmentalist” boosters), electricity storage may not result in or allow an all-renewable grid, but may instead act to keep our nuclear plants open. The gas industry won’t be pleased…

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