Tuesday, February 16, 2021


Your right-wing relatives think advocates of green energy caused the Texas blackouts. Some of them are getting their (dis)information from Tucker Carlson:

Others might be getting their fake facts from the allegedly more high-minded Wall Street Journal editorial page:
Gas and power prices have spiked across the central U.S. while Texas regulators ordered rolling blackouts Monday as an Arctic blast has frozen wind turbines. Herein is the paradox of the left’s climate agenda: The less we use fossil fuels, the more we need them.
But as Bloomberg reports:
Don’t point too many fingers at Texas wind turbines, because they’re not the main reason broad swaths of the state have been plunged into darkness.

While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts, according to Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas, he said....

Wind shutdowns accounted for 3.6 to 4.5 gigawatts -- or less than 13% -- of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, according to Woodfin. That’s in part because wind only comprises 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year.

... wind generation has actually exceeded the grid operator’s daily forecast through the weekend.
As WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, reports, this is unusual weather for Texas, but not unprecedented -- and the precautions necessary to prevent system failure in cold weather keep being put off.
This isn’t the first time that weatherization has been an issue with equipment failure and rotating outages in Texas.

In August 2011, six months after an ice storm crippled much of the state and resulted in rotating outages, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation issued a report with recommendations.

"Generators and natural gas producers suffered severe losses of capacity despite having received accurate forecasts of the storm," the report states. "Entities in both categories report having winterization procedures in place. However, the poor performance of many of these generating units and wells suggests that these procedures were either inadequate or were not adequately followed."

That investigation revealed what happened in 2011, also happened in 1989, which is the first time ERCOT ever implemented rotating outages.

"The experiences of 1989 are instructive, particularly on the electric side. In that year, as in 2011, cold weather caused many generators to trip, derate, or fail to start. The [Public Utility Commission of Texas] investigated the occurrence and issued a number of recommendations aimed at improving winterization on the part of the generators.

These recommendations were not mandatory, and over the course of time implementation lapsed. Many of the generators that experienced outages in 1989 failed again in 2011," the investigation discovered.
That 1989 deep freeze was in December -- so if you want to blame Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for this, then she must be a real prodigy, because she was two months old at the time.

The breakdown in February 2011 wasn't just green energy, as the Texas Tribune noted at the time -- it also involved natural gas and coal.
Initially, it appears, some coal plants went offline due to cold-weather problems, taking a large chunk of electricity out of the grid. Luminant, a major power-generation company, confirmed that its two coal units at the Oak Grove plant in Robertson County failed, as did two units at a coal plant in Milam County....

Dave Knox, a spokesman for NRG, another power company, said that a cold-weather problem also caused a shut-down of its Limestone coal plant near Jewitt, Texas....

Natural gas plants were hastily turned on to make up for the coal-plant failures. But, Fraser said, some power cuts affected some stations for compressing natural gas — so without power they couldn't pump gas, causing some gas power plants to go offline....

Wind generators also appeared to be having problems, said Fraser; he had received reports of some turbines shutting down because of issues with ice on the blades.
So which forms of energy fail in Texas when it's cold? If you said "All of them," you win. But your right-wing relatives will never believe you.

No comments: