Earlier I have made some observations on Mark Jacobson’s energy scenarios. See here and here.  I continue my dumpster diving in this post with few storage related remarks. Let me start by showing Jacobson’s assumptions on energy storage in USA.

Jacobson et al.2015 assumptions on storage. Basically free.

Jacobson et al.2015 assumptions on storage. Basically free. (Ignore the factor of 100 mistake in the 3rd column for UTES. They didn’t mean that.)

Notice that storage is dominated by underground thermal storage. According to Jacobson underground thermal storage of more than 500TWh deliverable heat would cost between $1.75-78.26 billion in USA. For me perhaps the most striking thing about those numbers is the range. If you cannot tell whether something costs few billion or almost 100 billion, I would say you don’t actually have any idea on the costs. You have no basis on which to make serious claims on costs. Be that as it may, notice how Jacobson also claims that storage doesn’t really cost anything…less than 1 cents/kWh delivered. How can that be true?  IRENA which is tasked to promote all things renewable certainly mentions cost as an obstacle. They also tell that UTES based on boreholes has an investment cost of 0.1-10 €/kWh (that range again!) which is dramatically different from Jacobson’s numbers.

For UTES Jacobson has model in mind in Canada. “UTES storage is patterned after the seasonal and short-term district heating UTES system at the Drake Landing Community, Canada”. This is a group of 50 homes that get lot of their heat from solar thermal coupled to seasonal storage. Let us google…. and find a presentation by American association of Physics teachers. Boreholes, district loop, and short term storage alone had a cost of more than 20000$/home. This is far more than what IRENA says is the limit for financial attractiveness (0.25€/kWh investment cost). These houses were built only with generous subsidies from the public sector. Furthermore, if I read correctly the seasonal UTES system in Drake Landing can store about 12000 kWh per household. Of this about 60% is lost to the ground. So in Jacobson’s electricity heavy scheme we need almost 3 kWh of electricity in the summer to have 1 kWh of heat in the winter.  If you compare the cost to heating with natural gas, there is easily an order of magnitude difference in favour of gas. Conveniently Jacobson et al. excluded other sectors than electricity sector in their cost discussions. Miraculously demand for an order of magnitude more expensive heat just appears to help solve the integration problems of 100% WWS scenario….Not that Jacobson would bother to mention the issue. Mind boggles. While we are thinking, how much would it cost to change american houses so that they would be heating from UTES systems?  Let me guess… about 0.001…0.002 cents/household?

Incidentally Jacobson also has a soft spot for using cars to assist electrical grid. In 2011 he (and Delucchi) gave some cost estimates.

Delucchi and Jacobson 2011 on cost of vehicle to storage

Delucchi and Jacobson 2011 on cost of vehicle to grid storage. Range 1.4-17.6 cents/kWh

Delucchi and Jacobson intepreting V2G costs...

Delucchi and Jacobson intepreting V2G costs…

Notice the absence of references and that they claim (among other things) that V2G cycling does not really degrade the battery in any relevant way. This is an interesting claim. Why are there no references? I want to learn more. Why haven’t I heard about this before? Aren’t the physical and chemical processes in V2G cycling precisely the same as the ones in driving a car (give or take the bumpy road)? However, as years passed Jacobson became unhappy with the earlier values and in 2015  they quietly “updated” (no reference given) the V2G figures so that the upper limit was removed while everything got even better.

Some update! Vehicle to grid is also almost free.

Some update! Vehicle to grid is also almost free.

Meanwhile on planet earth I notice that others don’t seem to think V2G is free. Googling I, for example, quickly find a recent estimates from pluginamerica.org. They give a cost range of  about 20-40 cents/kWh. This is not even contained in Jacobson’s earlier cost range let alone his 2015 update of 0.3-0.6 cents/kWh. Someone has made a mistake of a factor of 100 or so. (This time it is relevant.)Blackadder-Confused-Look

This is getting too depressing and disorienting. Time for a drink.