• Hannah Phillips

The Real Cost of the South Australian Mega-Battery


Battery technology has definitely come a long way since the early naughties when most of the discussion surrounding this area centred on whether or not a personal computer or pocket mobile device could maintain a battery life longer than 10 hours.


With innovations that have surpassed such expectations we can now fully realise the impact that battery technology can have on daily life in the 21st century.

With the announcement that the world’s largest battery is to be built in South Australia in the months and years ahead, it seems that Australia, and more specifically SA, has become the surrogate testing ground of this new technology.

However, as with all things that are the first in their class, there seem to be a number of drawbacks which haven’t yet been fully discussed.

Like most batteries, Lithium Ion batteries have three distinct issues in terms of their efficiency and therefore there will be costs associated with sustaining and maintaining power within the battery.

The first of these issues is the number of cycles for which a battery can last, the measure of which includes the amount of times it can fully be discharged (used) and recharged again.

As there has been no data released as to the specifications of this battery or batteries, there is no way to tell exactly how many cycle counts are to be expected from this battery.

The second issue is the depth of discharge (DoD) which describes the percentage of battery capacity that has been used and therefore describes how much the system can afford to lose before it may damage the rest of the battery.

For example, depending on the quality of material used in the battery, a system can afford to lose 50% of its total battery or DoD for the majority of its life.

In addition to this, as a battery ages through its cycles, it will exponentially decrease in DoD capability, ob-viously shortening its life and therefore requiring replacement.

The third issue is the question of its total round trip efficiency which describes the amount of energy that can be extracted from the battery as a percentage of the amount of input energy it took to store it.

On average a round trip efficiency of between 80% and 95% is to be expected.

The technology currently available on the market has definitely come a long way however it has not yet reached a level where a large-scale attempt should be considered.

It appears as if the mistakes made by the South Australian government in its handling of the state’s energy sector have forced the premature consideration of a major and costly project.

This project is being considered in the midst of the surge in energy bills across the nation.

In times of monumental shifts in economic conditions around the world, it doesn’t seem intelligent to start costly and, as of right now, inefficient energy storage solutions.

Ben Dennehy

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