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samanime t1_isshbgy wrote

This could be a really positive step for green energy, as well as a good economic move for Australia.

It's also a pretty decent idea. Farm solar power (or wind/hydro/etc.) in places that are best suited for it, then distribute it globally to those that can't.

It sounds a bit crazy at first, but we already have truckloads of cables running around the world to power Internet and whatnot. Wouldn't be so difficult to ship electricity in a similar way. Better than shipping oil.


samanime t1_isshbpy wrote

Which also makes me wonder, if we were to fill those giant shipping containers with batteries, I wonder if you could get anywhere close to economical levels of using batteries as a shipping "container" for electricity. We'd probably need a different chemistry (one that is better suited for rapid charging and discharging), but it is an interesting thought.


cantbuymechristmas t1_isskqlx wrote

this is kinda what the great battery race is all about. a ton of companies, startups and scientists are trying to crack the code to better energy storage


samanime t1_issli47 wrote

In this case though it is a little interesting, because it isn't really "storage" in the normal sense. It is more about how to maximize volume/weight and then be able to empty it out, like a jug of water, all at once.

Though, I suppose you could go more classic and just have two sets of batteries and you swap them with each shipment. Deliver full batteries and return the empties to get refilled.

The whole great battery race though is really interesting. Hopefully, eventually, some of the more fantastical claims will start bearing fruit outside of a lab. =)


Onlymediumsteak t1_issoqud wrote

Very unlikely as those batteries would need to be light, dense and cheap. You basically combine the problems of mobile and stationary batteries into one and lose the benefits of both. It would need some serious breakthroughs on multiple levels of battery technology and even then it would be hard to compete with cables, who are comparatively cheap in capex and maintenance.


samanime t1_isspi48 wrote

If they had significant reusability, they don't necessarily need to be cheap. And shipping container cargo ships can carry a crazy amount of weight, so they don't necessarily have to be light either.

A quick Google shows that those cargo ships normally carry about 24,000 TEU (the containers), and looks like each can weigh about 24 metric tons, which means a ship can carry, which is a little over half a million tons. That's a lot of battery power, even if they are heavy and not particularly dense.


Onlymediumsteak t1_issz979 wrote

Current top of the line lithium ion batteries achieve around 250 W/h per kg, top of the line ships like the tripple E class with a carrying capacity of 165.000t would translate to ((250 x 1000 x 165.000)/1000.000) 41.250 MW/h. Let’s be generous and say that the advances lead to 100.000 MW/h, which is most likely decades into the future, the sun power cable is supposed to provide 15% of Singapores electricity, their current production capacity is 12.000MW, so 1800MW. This means you would need about one ship at the current capacity and about 0.5 of the hypothetical one per day, just to cover 15% (!) of their electricity demand and those ships would require power too, block valuable port docks and be prone to accidents, which would be a huge issue as this is critical infrastructure. According to google it takes about a week for a container ship from northern Australia to Singapore, so you would need to maintain about 14 or hypothetical 7 (plus some for reserve/emergencies) ships to replace this one cable. According to the internet and some guy on Quora a kilometer of deep sea cable costs around 1 million $, their are 4200 km of cable according to the projects website, which checks out with the 20 billion $ price tag of the entire complex including the solar and battery storage. Which leads me to estimate that the cable will cost approximately 4.2 billion $, however the operational cost will be very low and its reliability much higher. Submarine power cables have an designed life expectancy of 25 years, so your ships need to have an levelized cost of less than 12 million $ (14 ships)/ 24 million $ (7 ships) per year. New 20.000 TEU container ships seem to cost around 200 million $ at the moment and have an life expectancy of about 10.5 years, so the build cost alone will already blow the budget even if you sell all the stell scraps afterwards, this also excludes the cost of the additional batteries required. So I would say it’s safe to assume that battery ships will not replace sub sea power lines connecting mayor economic areas, maybe it could be useful for very remote settlements/islands but even there it probably makes more sense, to just generate the energy locally via wind/solar/geothermal/wave/… as some local batteries would be required in both scenarios.


samanime t1_ist7iar wrote



And I certainly wasn't thinking they would replace undersea cables. That seems to be a no-brainer that they'd be the way to go whenever possible. I was just curious if they'd be economical as a supplement, or for locations where running a cable wouldn't make sense (such as smaller islands).

Sounds like without some radically new battery chemistries to crank up the density, it wouldn't make much sense.


Onlymediumsteak t1_iswgjo7 wrote

No problem, the military might be interested in the concept tough.


Inconceivable-2020 t1_isuupio wrote

If they ever perfect High Current High Temperature superconductors it will be feasible. As it is, electricity does not travel long distances economically.


empirebuilder1 t1_iswj89y wrote

> It sounds a bit crazy at first, but we already have truckloads of cables running around the world to power Internet and whatnot.

The physics of fiber optical data transmission are a good bit different than power transmission. Not that they aren't insurmountable, but the economics change fast when you're talking about moving terawatts of power.


Onlymediumsteak t1_issppr9 wrote

Australia should make this its number one priority project, if this works out they could become the main energy hub for Asia. Replacing countries like Saudi Arabia and getting rich in the process while also fighting climate change. Just the geopolitical aspect should be reason enough to do this.


The-Brit t1_ist61u7 wrote

Circuit losses? I see this as the main hurdle to overcome before this could become global. Real Engineering covers the losses issue in this video.


Supertrinko t1_isv1vtb wrote

Wouldn't that be the dream? A global power grid. Ridiculous levels of redundancy. Your local dam breaks that would otherwise cause a massive power outage? It'd be a blip on the global grid. Countries buying and selling to the grid, and a non-profit agency maintaining the grid based on fees taken from buying/selling.


New_Dawn t1_issu03z wrote

Great for people dumb enough to hand over energy security to a foreign power. Clown World 🤡