Sitting freezing or boiling in the dark provides a moment to consider where one’s electricity comes from. Californians, South Australian and now Texans have all enjoyed the experience, one way or another.
The common thread, of course, is an obsession with sunshine-dependent solar and/or weather-dependent wind power.
The belief that we’re just a heartbeat (and a few TWhs worth of lithium batteries) away from an all wind and sun powered future is not just delusional, it’s dangerous.
Modern, civilised society depends upon having power as and when we need it. Not merely those occasions when Mother Nature feels inclined to deliver it.
The temporary loss of electricity to provide light, heating or air-conditioning might be an irritating inconvenience. But for the aged, the infirm and those on life support it’s no laughing matter.
Then, behind the curtain, there are a raft of critical systems – including communications (think mobile phone services and the Internet), sanitation and sewage, traffic lights and control systems, airports, etc, etc – that collapse into chaos in a matter of minutes or hours when power supplies are interrupted. Some may have uninterruptible power supplies available. But these too have limits. Wind ‘powered’ South Australia’s mobile phone system started to collapse after about 30 minutes, following its mass state blackout in September 2016. The battery backup systems in the transmission towers provided no more than about 45 minute’s worth of electricity, once the grid supply was cut. Traffic lights ceased to operate at the beginning of the blackout and did not operate until power was restored, hours later.
The renewables driven calamity in Texas could not have come at a better time. It has provided Americans with a pretty fair glimpse of where they’ll end up if Joe Biden and his Squad ever implement their promise of a ‘Green’ New Deal.
In short, Americans can expect to spend a whole lot more time freezing or boiling in the dark.
Here’s an editorial from the Wall Street Journal grappling with the topic of where America’s energy future is headed, now that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum.
More Green Blackouts Ahead
Wall Street Journal
23 February 2021
When the blackouts arrive, don’t say Americans weren’t warned.
You’d think the Texas blackouts would trigger some soul-searching about the vulnerability of America’s electrical grid. Not in today’s hothouse of climate politics. The Biden Administration is already moving to stop an examination of grid vulnerability to promote unreliable renewable energy sources.
Regulators have been warning for years that the grid is becoming shakier as cheap natural gas and heavily subsidized renewables replace steady coal and nuclear baseload power. “The nation’s power grid will be stressed in ways never before experienced” due to “an unprecedented resource-mix change,” the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned in 2011.
It added: “Environmental regulations are shown to be the number one risk to reliability over the next one to five years.” But the Obama Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) refused to consider how climate policies would affect reliability.
Since 2011 about 90 gigawatts (GW) of coal capacity have shut down, replaced by some 120 GW of wind and solar and 60 GW of gas power capacity.
But renewables don’t generate power around-the-clock as gas, nuclear and coal do. Gas plants depend on just-in-time fuel deliveries, which aren’t reliable in extreme weather. Government-made pipeline bottlenecks constrain deliveries in the Northeast. Liberals also say Texas could have better weathered the Arctic blast if its grid didn’t rely almost entirely on in-state power.
But the Southwest Power Pool, north of Texas, and the Midwest power grid—both of which rely heavily on wind backed by gas—also experienced power outages last week due to declining surging demand, wind production and gas shortages. California relies on gas and imports to back up its solar power. But last summer California couldn’t get enough power from its neighbors amid a heat wave that strained the entire Western grid. Hydropower from the Northwest and coal from Utah couldn’t stop blackouts.
The wind lobby says Texas should have required thermal (nuclear, gas, coal) plants to be weatherized to withstand single-digit temperatures. Perhaps, but wind still performed the worst during the blackout, generating power at 12% of its capacity compared to 76% for nuclear, 39% for coal, and 38% for gas, according to a data analysis by the Center of the American Experiment.
The ice-cold reality is that grid regulators across the U.S. are struggling to keep the power on during extreme weather. They have been able to avoid more blackouts by ordering energy conservation. But Texas shows that conservation isn’t enough, as government mandates make America more reliant on electric power for everything from heating to cars.
Most Texans use electricity for heating. Many pipeline gas compressors are electrified due to federal emissions rules so the blackouts limited gas deliveries to power plants. They also shut down water pumps and treatment centers.
Yet progressives want to make Americans even more dependent on the grid by banning gas hookups in homes and mandating electric cars. This is a recipe for blackouts nationwide as coal and nuclear plants retire because they can’t compete against subsidized renewables. New England’s grid operator in 2018 predicted outages in the winter of 2024-2025 in most cases it analyzed.
Paul Gigot: Welcome to the Journal Editorial Report, I’m Paul Gigot. Millions of residents in the Lone Star state were left without heat and electricity. This week as a winter storm and plunging temperatures crippled the Texas power grid and brought the nation’s most energy-rich state to its knees, the widespread power outages, leaving politicians and the press pointing fingers. So just what got Texas to this point? Let’s ask Wall Street Journal Columnists and Deputy Editorial Page Editor, Dan Henninger, Columnists, Kim Strassel and Editorial Board Member, Allysia Finley. Allysia, you’ve been following this closely, what happened here that caused the meltdown?
Allysia Finley: So it was a confluence of bad timing, bad weather and bad government policies. This is a historic freeze for Texas with temperatures dipping down, plunging into the single digits. But the bigger problem is there just wasn’t enough baseload power to keep the grid running. And that’s largely because the state has been forging more and more into wind over the last decade. The amount of power that it drives from wind has more than doubled, while the amount of power that it gets from coal has fallen by half. And coal and nuclear are the most steady sources of generation. And when you didn’t have that to back up the grid and it made surging demand for heating with other things, they had to resort to blackouts.
Paul Gigot: Okay. So when you mean, when you say baseload power, you mean reliable power that isn’t intermittent like solar, or wind that you can count on when the chips are down and that’s predominantly coal and nuclear, I guess. But where does natural gas fit in there? Because a lot of people are also blaming natural gas and the pipelines for freezing.
Allysia Finley: So natural gas can provide baseload power, but in Texas and most places nowadays, it basically ramps up when renewables decline, because it has a body of power plants or known as peaker plants that can quickly ramp up. And then the problem with natural gas, as we’re discovering is, it’s just in time, it delivers but it doesn’t have stored fuel at the plants. And so unlike nuclear and coal, which often, coal has 90 days stockpile, to produce heating or to produce electricity. Natural gas, it’s dependent on just-in-time deliveries. And in this case, some pipes froze, wells froze. So, you couldn’t increase the supply either.
Paul Gigot: Okay. Kim, what do you make of this … a lot of the politicians and I guess the press, in particular, have sort of rallied around this idea that wind was not the problem, this had nothing to do with wind power, nothing do with renewables. This was all about climate change. What do you make of that? What explains it?
Kimberley Strassel: Well, I think it explains why so many people don’t trust the press and politicians, because Paul, this isn’t a question that you can get around. This is physics. I think a lot of people don’t understand that when you have renewables and you build a new wind farm, or you build a new solar plant, you have to have baseload power. As Alicia was describing behind it, you’ve got to build more of that as well too, because people understand that these renewables, that they’re not consistent or steady. So you have to have the backup. What that means is that you can’t go along with Joe Biden’s argument, that we’re just going to have more renewables and simultaneously get rid of fossil fuels.
Now, anyone who understands electricity and energy production gets this, but there is such an agenda these days among the press and among so many politicians that they close their eyes to the truth. They want to pretend that it doesn’t have anything to do with the failure of wind when it’s standing right in front of them, as well as the entire reality of the infrastructure of how our grids continue to operate.
Paul Gigot: You know, Dan, I couldn’t help, but notice that the Biden administration decided to help Texas this week by among other things, sending diesel generators to Texas now, dirty old diesel fuel, which has nothing to do with wind or solar or renewables.
Daniel Henninger: Well, that raises an interesting point, Paul. They sent diesel generators because I guess solar generators don’t exist yet! And the serious point here is that serious environmentalists understand that the electrical grid is a very complicated piece of technology. It is not magic when you flip on your light switch and the lights come on. It’s a very complex system and the grid, there is no grid that exists yet that can be run wholly or predominantly on wind and solar and renewables. It’s a huge technological challenge, just as storage and batteries is a huge technological challenge. But the Biden administration and the most ardent environmentalist in Green East keep insisting that if we just go forward with wind and solar, without the complimentary backup of nuclear, which they eliminated years ago. Natural gas, which is clean, but they don’t like it because of pipelines. And indeed even clean coal that we are going to continue to have problems like that. It’s a problem that needs addressing. And I’m glad that this debate is being elevated by what’s going on in Texas.
Paul Gigot: Allysia, just briefly, are we going to see more Texas-like episodes, not just in Texas, but also in other parts of the country?
Allysia Finley: Well, I do think that’s going to be a real threat as these, especially as the constraints on natural gas if the Biden administration succeeds. And it’s trying to shut down and he’ll ban fracking and other fossil fuel production. And you’re going to have a constraint on supply. And I think where we’re headed is more coal and nuclear plants are already set to retire. I mean, this next year is expected to be the biggest year in nuclear plant retirement. And we’re just not going to have that baseload power to back up the renewables.
Wall Street Journal
via STOP THESE THINGS
March 8, 2021 at 12:30AM