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« Dispatchable Wind turbine System | Main | How Should We Approach Saving the Environment? »

March 28, 2007



Really great development for renewable power generation and storage. Now can they build a 500,000 volt battery system to backup the HVDC power grid?

No more fossil fuel needed for baseload if that happens.


The "size" that is being changed here is the power of the system. The energy "size" stays the same (1.5 MW x 8 hours = 2 MW x 6 hours = 12 MW-hours).

The power resizing is valuable, as it allows additional operating flexibility. But it should not be confused with additional energy storage.

Paul Dietz

Didn't this one facility use something .1% of the entire world's annual production of vanadium?


VRB has a PDF file of the report at their website. 96 pages of very interesting reading!

Robert McLeod


I don't think so. Worldwide Vanadium production is around 100,000 tons/year. It also remains fairly underdeveloped. I know that, for example, the Venezula Boscan oil field is about 1 % Vanadium by weight. Going by the power density of 100-150 W/kg listed in their FAQ this facility would consume ~20 tons of Vanadium if composed of that and nothing else.

Paul Dietz

One can compute the amount of vanadium needed for the energy stored, and IIRC it was around 20 tons. So that power density figure could not have included the entire mass of the system, electrolyte included. Indeed, this link says the mass of the tanks, with electrolyte, is 600 metric tons.

World production of V in 2006 was 62 kilotons, so it's more like .03% of world production, not .1%.


Storage capacity with this technology equals bigger tanks of electrolyte, relatively easy to upsize.


Adding batteries with their charging and inverting equipment to wind farms will alleviate their voltage and frequency problems, allowing them to be installed at greater distances from conventional power plants, and somewhat reduce grid capacity requirements.

Windfarm construction and operating cost will increase. Round trip charge-discharge energy losses are 30%.

Claims that this makes wind similar to baseload plants are false. Imagine that your city is supplied with electricity by one or more coal fired power plants. Each plant has a coal yard that can hold a maximum 6 hour supply of coal. Sometimes coal trains arrive every hour, sometimes every six hours, and sometimes no coal trains for over a week. This is not reliable baseload power.

The analysis assumes a special 6 hour pricing scheme with only one hour of lead time, tailor made for the wind farm, page 71


If nuclear plants were given the same rules they could install batteries and store cheap energy at night and sell it at peak prices during the day, and blow the windmills off the map, while earning huge windfall profits.

brian hans

I would agree with most of what you said Bill. Except you forgot to tell them that windmills rarely go Chernobyl on ya.

Bill Hannahan

[[Except you forgot to tell them that windmills rarely go Chernobyl on ya.]]

Brian, remember the de Havilland Comet, first passenger jet. Thin skins and square windows made for exploding airplanes. None built in the last 40 years.

There were probably some people who wanted to give up aviation and go back to wind powered sailing ships, but fortunately cooler heads prevailed.

I’m willing to bet nobody will build another power reactor with a positive temperature coefficient of reactivity and no containment building. They never met US standards.

Our primitive 1960’s first generation slide rule designed steroidal submarine power plants have done more good than any other first generation energy technology I know of. We have just scratched the surface of nuclear power’s potential.

My recommendation is to increase R&D for all non fossil energy sources by two orders of magnitude and take what ever works best. Wind power will never be cheap or abundant. By the end of the century energy will be abundant, cheap and safe. Therefore wind and corn ethanol are destined to become dead end branches on the energy tree.

Coal kills over 20,000 per year in the US, perhaps a million worldwide and nobody seems to care enough to take serious action. Windmills and corn ethanol will never replace the worlds coal plants, nuclear power can.

John H

Hi, this thread appears cold but who knows?

How does Solar compare to Wind as a non-nuclear option? Would it be possible to float vast solar farms off in the oceans?

I do agree that nuclear is the most promising from a technical perspective. Yet I do fear that we can't trust big business *or* big government to be responsible enough.

Clive Burke, energy security campaigner.

Wind is cheap and reliable. VRB gives plenty of time for coal plant to start up should the wind die for hours. Improving weather prediction is helping here also. We shouldn't waste any more money on atomic fission, when fusion is in the pipeline. Too many unresolved issues with fission.

air jordan 1

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Small community wind and solar projects provide an oppertunity for funding projects that does not burden the tax payer or bill payer - more power to Westmill Wind's elbow :-))

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