Wind power was the major failure in Texas

Plus failure to winterize the gas infrastructure in the way that is standard in places where extreme cold occurs regularly.

Cascend_ Data Shows Wind-Power Was Chief Culprit Of Texas Grid Collapse _ ZeroHedge

Coal and nuclear both underperformed, but not by much, due to non-winterized equipment.

Solar underperformed for a few days but is back, although is far too intermittent to help without storage except during heat waves.

And Texas’ grid couldn’t buy enough power from neighbors to make up the difference

The simple 5-step solution according to Cascend:

Winterize equipment
Require power reserve
Connect the Texas grid better
Add solar with storage (storage is key)
And add more natural gas.

This entry was posted in Electric Power and Energy, Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Wind power was the major failure in Texas

  1. mundi says:

    Seems somewhat presumputious.
    If the winter weather is rare, it may make more sense to just have people use local generators for the down times.

    Its like in Australia have at one point the various grids were gold plated so that there would be not outages other than 1 in 100 year storms. This was ridiculously expensive to get you an a few extra hours/days per decade. Not worth it. Now it has thankfully been rolled back a bit.

    Power prices in QLD have actually gone down from not gold plating.

  2. H B Bear says:

    Looks like the usual cost v risk trade-off with some frozen windmills thrown in for good measure.

    Renewables certainly don’t help though.

  3. Damon says:

    Isn’t there something called the law of unintended consequences?

  4. MatrixTransform says:

    storage is key

    storage is pixie suffocating from a unicorn’s fart

  5. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    This is the problem you get when you believe lies. The lie that children won’t know what snow is. So there’s no need to winterize power generation because the ‘experts’ have said winter will be replaced by thermageddon.

    Anyone with a brain would look at history and paleoclimatology and work out that the likely direction for climate is towards cold. That is in keeping with the solar cycles, minima like Dalton and Maunder, and longer cycles like Milankovitch. Then you’d work out that winterizing is needed, at least in the long term.

    But pseudoscience seems to be the way the Left wants to go. I am puzzled by the tech billionaires though – you’d think their businesses would make them keen to have reliable power, but all of them seem to believe in wind farms and stupid solar thermal and PV generation.

  6. Roger says:

    Wind power was the major failure in Texas

    As soon as he gets home from Mass, Bob will be in here to explian that it was actually market failure.

  7. Eyrie says:

    Simple to prevent such events in future:
    Eliminate windmills (C4 makes it easy)
    Build more nukes for baseload (make sure they are winterised for the odd cold snap)
    Use natural gas for peak loads (use local gas generation to keep the gas flowing to power stations)

  8. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare says:

    What’s wrong with more coal-fired power?

    It’s been fine till the mass hysteria of global warming.

  9. max says:

    with coal power you can prepare for the unknown — and you include reserve in the price of energy you sell.

    with wind and solar there is no reserve and there is no incentive for coal or gas to prepare and buy reserve.

  10. Kneel says:

    BoN: “…you’d think their [big tech] businesses would make them keen to have reliable power…”

    They are indeed – large data-centres such as AWS and Google have, get at least 2 high power feeds from separate substations and also have diesel back generators.
    The more businesses rely on cloud services like SalesForce, NetSuite etc, the more critical such reliable power becomes, not just to the provider, but to the entire economy, whether small, medium or large enterprises.
    There is also an issue with starting this stuff up from scratch – most run on “modern” linux systems, and these are now – at least for humans – more stochastic than deterministic in how they start up. Technically deterministic yes, but practically from the PoV of fixing startup issues by humans, for all intents and purposes they stochastic. If a large super-cluster in AWS/Google/Azure goes down completely, restarting it may require considerably more time and effort than many would suspect and have planned for, with potentially devastating consequences economy wide.

  11. dopey says:

    Greg Norman wants international action. He would have won 10 Masters except for climate change, or something.

  12. incoherent rambler says:

    Greg Norman wants international action.

    To stop him freezing up on the 18th?

  13. Davey Boy says:

    Gerg Norman, the Great White Choko.

  14. old bloke says:

    Texas has plenty of coal, they export it to other states, they should go back to coal generated electricity.

    Coal generators aren’t concerned about the weather, they are reliable, and they are the cheapest way to generate electricity.

  15. Eyrie says:

    Anyone who keeps critical data for his business in the Cloud is a fool.

  16. Rafe Champion says:

    Trump’s energy secretary Ric Perry wanted Texan coal plants to have reserve coal standing by for emergencies.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/20/the-trump-energy-resilience-plan-which-would-have-saved-texas/

    Federal regulators rejected the plan, on the grounds that Rick Perry failed to provide enough evidence that retiring coal and nuclear plants was undermining grid stability. The plan was eventually dropped, after vigorous lobbying from gas and renewable energy groups.

  17. wal1957 says:

    The simple 5-step solution according to Cascend:

    Winterize equipment
    Require power reserve
    Connect the Texas grid better
    Add solar with storage (storage is key)
    And add more natural gas.

    Step 1 should be to fire the numpties that thought/think that sunshine and breezes are a great idea to power an electricity gris.

  18. Rex Mango says:

    ABC RN had an ‘expert’ on to explain this before I left for work Friday. He explained that Texas only had 20% wind power & the real failure was gas pipes freezing, so it was actually fossil fuels that were the problem & the storm was caused by extreme weather due climate change. So yeah same ole story. Like that Led Zeppelin movie The Song Remains the Same.

  19. TBH says:

    When I lived in Texas the only thing that took power out was hurricanes and that was only temporary. They should never be without electricity with the amount of available gas and nuclear.

  20. incoherent rambler says:

    Anyone who keeps critical data for his business in the Cloud is a fool.

    + ∞

    I seem to be in total agreement with all posts by Eyrie today.

  21. Daily llama says:

    I recall a comedy skit of 30-odd years ago that introduced a new Greg Norman signature edition Holden Commodore Surrender, with automatic choke…

  22. duncanm says:

    system design failure.

    Renewables depend on fast reacting backup – that’s gas.

    Renewables failed in the weather conditions.. but then so did gas. Lack of interconnect to other states then put the final nail in the coffin.

    Of course if they’d had nukes and/or coal, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Noone would have noticed the weather, and people wouldn’t be dying from lack of heating.

  23. New Chum says:

    Raff here is a link to an interesting article and some of the comments might be of interest.
    Dr. Libby forecast a rise in temperatures until the year 2000 when it would get colder again for the next 50 years.
    Climate is in the Twilight Zone
    https://donsurber.blogspot.com/2021/02/climate-change-is-in-twilight-zone.html

  24. Boambee John says:

    Once the PC revisionists re-do the story, wind will have struggled heroically against the drag on the network caused by coal stations producing reliable, continuous power.

  25. Kim says:

    According to the regulator the energy loss was about 60% gas and 20% renewable. The rest is due to one of two nuclear plant going offline. All due to inadequate investment in weatherproofing.

  26. maree says:

    More truth now, it WAS windmills that caused the disaster. hey? Despite every believer pointing in the fossil fuel direction.

  27. Zyconoclast says:

    The ghost of Enron?

  28. duncanm says:

    Kim
    #3762818, posted on February 21, 2021 at 1:40 pm
    According to the regulator the energy loss was about 60% gas and 20% renewable

    yes – the ultimate failure was gas – that was the backup they had to the intermittent renewables.

    Start with coal and nuclear, with no need for gas backup, and you’re rosy.

  29. Mater says:

    According to the regulator the energy loss was about 60% gas and 20% renewable. The rest is due to one of two nuclear plant going offline. All due to inadequate investment in weatherproofing.

    That’s such a superficial view of the scenario, it not even really worth responding to.
    I’d explain it to you, but having watched your carry on on this site, I fear it’d be wasted effort.

    That said, here’s a hint for further investigation. When it’s cold, people draw more gas for direct heating purposes, and steal it from Gas Fired Electricity Generators, especially when the authorities prioritise it that way.

  30. RobK says:

    Baseload generators are long lived and generally oversized to allow for future markets and to do scheduled maintenance. These weather events do not turn up without some warning and rescheduling routine maintenance to accommodate the weather/ market is common place.
    RE on the other hand is entirely opportunistic and dictates to the market.

  31. Snoopy says:

    All this to and fro over which electricity source was most responsible for the grid failure ignores what the climate ‘experts’ said, “Snowfalls are just a thing of the past”.

  32. Lloyd says:

    One nuclear plant shut down as its cooling plant was electrically powered so when the renewable electricity supply stopped due to weather, the cooling plant stopped working.

    The gas pipelines apparently used electrically powered compressors to feed gas to the gas turbine plants. When the renewable electricity supply died because of the weather, the compressors locked up, resulting in some of the gas shutting down.

    Lessons:
    The failure of solar and wind is the primary cause of this event, not coal, gas or nuclear.
    Natural gas and nuclear plants must be made to be independent of renewable power. After all, they are serving as the backup to renewables. You can’t have the backup power generators being dependent on the power supply which it is supposed to be backing up.

    IMHO, though it’s a dumb piece of system architecture. If you’re going to need back up generation to cover the loss of renewables, why not just simply run on non-renewables and dispense with the complications and uncertainty?

  33. Tel says:

    When it’s cold, people draw more gas for direct heating purposes, and steal it from Gas Fired Electricity Generators, especially when the authorities prioritise it that way.

    Difficult problem … if they had prioritized the available gas for electrical generation then people at home would have found their heaters stopped working, probably bringing more direct political pressure on the regulatory authorities.

    Most people think that gas comes straight up the pipe out of the ground ready to use, but actually it contains a lot of water and other impurities so although dry methane is immune to cold, the wet mix in a well head can freeze … thus restricting supply of gas to the system.

    Natural gas and nuclear plants must be made to be independent of renewable power.

    There’s nothing more reliable and quick to start than yer-basic diesel generator and having them around to at least supply basic things like cooling pumps, etc makes a lot of sense. There will always come a day when the grid drops out, supplies stop coming, and your local area is on its own so plan for that day … I thought this lesson was learned at Fukishima.

  34. Terry Pedersen says:

    Wind power was not the major failure in Texas

    FIFY

    How Texas’ Power Generation Failed During the Storm

    natural gas — which is a crucial power source when electricity usage peaks — was hit hardest.

    far, far more than everything else combined were the shortfalls from natural gas.”

    During the blackouts, the grid lost roughly five times as much power from natural gas as it did from wind. Natural gas production froze, and so did the pipelines that transport the gas. Once power plants went offline, they were not prepared to restart in the below-freezing conditions.

    Demand for natural gas to heat homes and businesses also spiked, contributing to shortages.

  35. Mater says:

    Opinion: Electricity reliability on a tightrope

    Note the date: 3 June 2020

    As millions of Texans sweated through a heatwave last summer, the electric grid was pushed to its limits. Power demand surged to a record high. Texas wind generation — which provides more than 20% of the state’s power — flopped.

    Because wind turbines don’t operate in the still air of July, reserve margins evaporated. Officials with ERCOT, the state’s main power supplier, looked on in disbelief as electricity prices spiked from the normal range of $20 to $30 per megawatt-hour to $9,000 not once but twice.

    Had a power plant or two gone offline for maintenance or a gas pipeline ruptured, the entire electric power system would have come undone.

    The Texas grid has long been recognised globally as being on a knifes edge due to its high proportion of intermittent renewables.
    Don’t blame the thermal generators when they can’t always achieve the impossible, especially when their fuel source is diverted away.
    It’s the typical response of Green activists, but it’s a cheap stunt. Unfortunately it also works with the technically illiterate…potentially.

  36. Mater says:

    The last paragraph of the article I linked to above:

    Politics and taxpayer subsidies have artificially tilted the playing field in favor of renewables for producing electricity. But it doesn’t matter how cheap renewables are if they can’t deliver power when it’s needed. Regulators should act now to ensure they have enough baseload generation. It shouldn’t take a crisis to spur action.

  37. maree says:

    #3762576: Bruce of Newcastle, obviously not sucked in by scaremongers, and from an engineering field(?) going by your well-informed posts. We live in the same city, worked on the media side, and are hardcore cynics about this postmodern ratbaggery.

    People dying because of greenfraudery and bigpharma in the northern hemisphere makes me happy to live by the beach at Merewether, while our son rakes in the iron ore dollars in the Pilbara and our daughter looks after the canteen for local RAAF people.

    Great Southern Land, as Iva once sang.

  38. max says:

    The Department of Energy tracks electricity generation hourly. On Sunday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m., this was Texas’s electricity makeup in megawatt-hours:
    Natural Gas: 43,798
    Coal: 10,828
    Wind: 8,087
    Nuclear: 5,140

    The next day, during the height of the storm at 8 p.m., this was the makeup:
    Natural Gas: 30,917
    Coal: 8,023
    Wind: 649
    Nuclear: 3,785

  39. Rafe Champion says:

    Mater, thanks for reminding us that wind droughts are the real Achilles heel of the RE system because they happen frequently and there is no way of “weatherproofing” to overcome them, as there is for extreme cold conditions.

  40. Astatine Jones says:

    Plenty of independent analyses out there discrediting this argument and highlighting the political agenda behind scapegoating wind generation in this event.

    Blaming wind generation solely for the Texas power fail is like attributing an inability to walk to a broken foot – when you’ve also broken several bones in the leg to which it’s attached!

  41. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Plenty of independent analyses out there discrediting this argument and highlighting the political agenda behind scapegoating wind generation in this event.

    Hahahahaha. Good joke.

    Blaming wind generation solely for the Texas power fail is like attributing an inability to walk to a broken foot – when you’ve also broken several bones in the leg to which it’s attached!

    Oh no, we don’t solely blame wind turbines (although the birds might). We blame solar too!

  42. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Here you go Mr Radioactive.

    What Happened In Texas (20 Feb)

    It’s obvious. Just as it was obvious why Alice Springs was blacked out by a single cloud, and when SA’s entire grid collapsed.

    Greens are idiots, proof is just above my previous comment.

  43. another ian says:

    One reference which goes into why the wind turbines iced up in Texas whereas they might not further north. Plus what electricity came from what

    “The Texas Energy Disaster”

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/20/the-texas-energy-disaster/

  44. Astatine Jones says:

    Power Line is a site that features commentary on the news from a conservative perspective.

    Hardly ‘independent’. Clearly biased against wind energy generation (like most commentators here) for several reasons, at least one of which largely prevents rational debate on the topic.

    At the end of the day, Texan energy infrastructure and governance fail on multiple fronts, however it’s painted.

  45. David Brewer says:

    Interesting new angle on this here:

    Who is responsible for providing adequate capacity in Texas during extreme conditions? The short answer is no one. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) looks at potential forecasted peak conditions and expected available generation and if there is sufficient margin, they assume everything will be all right. But unlike utilities under traditional models, they don’t ensure that the resources can deliver power under adverse conditions, they don’t require that generators have secured firm fuel supplies, and they don’t make sure the resources will be ready and available to operate.

    Unlike all other US energy markets, Texas does not even have acapacity market. By design they rely solely upon theenergy market. This means that entities profit only from the actual energy they sell into the system.

    The energy only market works well under normal conditions to keep prices down. While generally markets are often great things, providing needed energy during extreme conditions evidently is not their forte. Unlike the traditional approach where specific entities have responsibilities to meet peak levels, in Texas the responsibility is diffuse and unassigned. There is no significant long-term motivation for entities to ensure extra capacity just in case it may be needed during extreme conditions.

    The incentive for gas generation to do the right thing was taken away by Texas’s deliberate energy only market strategy. The purpose of which was to aid the profitability of intermittent wind and solar resources and increase their penetration levels. I don’t believe anyone has ever advanced the notion that fossil fuel plants might operate based on altruism. Incentives and responsibility need to be paired. Doing a post-mortem on the Texas situation ignoring incentives and responsibility is inappropriate and incomplete.

  46. Just checked – my schadenfrude popcorn stocks are running low.
    We at least know that the fatality rate for renewable rethinking is more than 100 people.
    I think that’s about how many will have frozen by the time this episode finalises.
    The terrible thing is – from what I’m reading – there was actually just enough power generation capability available but the bureaucracies wouldn’t allow it.
    Is that what others are reading?

  47. Kneel says:

    “…yes – the ultimate failure was gas…”

    Oh?

    Wind was running at 7% of what they expected to get.
    Gas was running at 450% of what they expected use.

    In other words, wind at 93% deficit, gas at 4.5 times expected usage – gas was the only thing holding the entire Texas grid up.

    But it’s that nasty FF gas that “caused” the problem.
    Sure.

    PS I have a bridge for sale, one owner, impressive harbour views, going cheap, be quick!

  48. Rorschach says:

    I note it is hard to find (on Google) current Texas death tolls due to the cold. I suspect that there will be well over the 70 or so that are so far acknowledged in the media.

    What I want to point out is the bureaucracy that pandering to the Green Enviros demands. It appears that in anticipation of the unusual freeze, Texas asked formal permission of the Dept of Energy to bring online power generation units that are governed by emission standards … essentially asking for permission to breach these standards.

    According to ERCOT, the measures taken by ERCOT and other state agencies may not prove sufficient to avoid rotating outages of as much as 4,000 MW. Moreover, ERCOT has been alerted that numerous generation units will be unable to operate at full capacity without violating federal air quality or other permit limitations.

    ERCOT requests that the Secretary issue an order immediately, effective February 14, 2021 through February 19, 2021, authorizing “the provision of additional energy from all generation units subject to emissions or other permit limits” in the ERCOT region.

    The secretary … generously … allowed this but put two + pages of conditions before these were allowed to be used.

    Because the additional generation may result in a conflict with environmental standards and requirements, I am authorizing only the necessary additional generation, with reporting requirements as described below.

    Read it and weep.

    https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2021/02/f82/DOE%20202%28c%29%20Emergency%20Order%20-%20ERCOT%2002.14.2021.pdf

  49. Rorschach says:

    One of the conditions imposed by the Secretary of Energy was that any ERCOT power plant [subject to emissions standards] was brought on line,

    This incremental amount of restricted capacity would be offered at a price no lower than $1,500/MWh.

    We now have a situation that a lot of Texans who were not on fixed / capped electricity prices face ruinous bills in the multi-thousands of dollars for the couple of days of where they had power…

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/20/us/texas-storm-electric-bills.html

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