Climate Change Weekly #435: Power Off? Grid Operators Expect More Outages

From Heartland Daily News

H. Sterling Burnett May 19, 2022



  • Power Off? Grid Operators Expect More Outages
  • Podcast of the Week: Radical Environmentalists Have Been Lying for Decades
  • Electric Vehicle Fires Flaring Up All Over
  • Nature, Not Climate Change, Behind Ice Shelf Collapses
  • BBC Lied About Climate Change, Says Watchdog
  • Video of the Week: Gas and Diesel Prices Hit All Time High
  • Climate Comedy
  • Recommended Sites

Power Off? Grid Operators Expect More Outages

The Heartland Institute has repeatedly explained why prematurely shuttering economically viable power plants and replacing them with wind and solar invariably leads to greater profits for utilities and higher prices for ratepayers and taxpayers. Heartland has also repeatedly detailed the environmental harm caused by the switch from coal and other reliable sources to industrial renewables.

The third disastrous consequence of the politically forced and fiscally encouraged switch from coal (and nuclear and gas) to industrial wind, solar, and batteries is the damage it is doing to the nation’s and various states’ electric power grids.

As I pointed out in Climate Change Weekly 389, experience from Europe, California, and, most amazingly to me, my home state of Texas, shows the increasing replacement of reliable coal and nuclear power with industrial renewable power is making the electric grid less reliable. These policies are pressed by virtue-signaling legislators and rent-seeking utilities.

A large-scale power grid consists of two segments: baseload power and peaking power. Baseload power is the minimum amount of energy needed for the grid to function properly while delivering power on demand to every user who needs it during a normal day. For the grid to function, it needs a fairly constant flow of power. Coal, nuclear, and, increasingly, natural gas have satisfied the nation’s baseload demand for the past century. They operate full-time, with onsite backup (usually in the form of diesel boilers) to provide power during routine maintenance or breakdowns.

Peaking power is the additional power needed when the system is faced with unusual amounts of demand, usually in July and August in the South and West when air-conditioner use soars along with summer temperatures, and from December through February during the cold winters in northern states. Natural gas has commonly served to provide peaking power because natural gas plants can be built to scale, fuel can usually be delivered as needed, and facilities can be cycled on and off quickly.

Neither wind nor solar can be relied on for either baseload or peaking power. Wind turbines generate power only when the wind blows between certain speeds, and the power they generate fluctuates constantly with wind gusts. Solar provides no power at night or when the cells are covered by snow, ice, or soot, and it provides less power on cloudy days and during storms. Except on completely cloudless days with clear skies, the power generated by solar panels fluctuates second-by-second with the passage of clouds.

A power system that depends on the weather cooperating is a poor choice, yet it is what dim-bulb politicians in multiple states have mandated. Utilities, when not openly encouraging the shift, are happy to comply because it makes them money: state public utility commissions routinely grant 10 percent or greater returns on capital costs for new construction.

It seems others are finally taking note of the havoc premature coal closures are imposing on the regional power grids. With 80 coal-fired power plants scheduled to close across 14 states in the next six years, multiple media outlets have reported in the past few weeks that grid operators in those states and others are warning policies forcing the replacement of power from reliable coal and nuclear with power from wind and solar facilities threatens grid reliability, producing increasing instances of brownouts, blackouts, and extended power failures.

In a Fox News story on the topic, John Bear—CEO of MISO, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which is responsible for managing the electric power grid across 15 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba—said he thought the transition was being forced on the power system too quickly.

“I am concerned about it,” Bear told The Wall Street Journal. “As we move forward, we need to know that when you put a solar panel or a wind turbine up, it’s not the same as a thermal resource.”

The chief executives of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the California Independent System Operator (CISO) shared Bear’s concern.

“We need to make sure that we have sufficient new resources in place and operational before we let some of these retirements go,” said CISO CEO Mark Rothleder. “Otherwise, we are putting ourselves potentially at risk of having insufficient capacity.”

That is already happening. In early May the California Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, and California Independent System Operator warned the public should prepare for blackouts this summer. Without substantial improvement to the state’s energy supply and demand imbalance, the state will “have a capacity shortfall of about 1,800 MW, by 2025,” those authorities stated.

Commenting on the tenuous state of America’s electric power grid, Daniel Turner, executive director of Power the Future, told Fox Business state regulators should halt all plans to close coal and nuclear plants prematurely and should consider bringing some previously closed power plants back online.

“Any plans to remove nuclear plants or coal power plants or natural gas plants that are slated to be closed, that has to be completely suspended,” said Turner. “Many coal plants and nuclear plants can come back online. They’ve maybe been turned off and decommissioned, but they haven’t been torn down.”

You are preaching to the choir Mr. Turner, preaching to the choir. Let’s hope the congregation gets a clue.

SOURCES: Fox BusinessThe PipelineClimate Change Weekly

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Podcast of the Week

On Earth Day, Heartland Senior Fellow Anthony Watts was a guest on the Shaun Thompson Show on AM560 The Answer in Chicago. Anthony and Shaun talk about how the radical environmentalists have been lying about the state of the planet for decades. They discuss the greening of the globe, how miniscule human CO2 emissions are, and more on the show.Subscribe to the Environment & Climate News podcast on Apple PodcastsiHeartSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And be sure to leave a positive review!

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Electric Vehicle Fires Flaring Up All Over

In early March, Climate Change Weekly’s lead essay discussed the alarming tendency of electric vehicles (EVs) and their charging sources to catch fire without warning. In recent days, other media outlets have taken notice of this fiery proclivity of electric cars, motorbikes, and buses.

The Western Journal reports Paris, France’s public transit agency, Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, pulled all 149 of the electric buses in its fleet off the road after two of them spontaneously exploded in the same month while in service. The fires erupted in battery packs on the buses’ roofs. Fortunately, the drivers were able to get themselves and the passengers off the buses before the flames engulfed the passenger compartment and ultimately the entirety of the buses.

A few days later, Western Journal published a story detailing a growing number of cases of battery packs installed to charge homeowners’ EVs, packs located in the residences’ garages, spontaneously catching fire and causing thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the homes. In another location, a battery-powered scooter spontaneously combusted while charging, setting fire to an apartment complex, the Western Journal reports.

CNBC noted in a report on the growing phenomenon, “There is a particular danger when EVs catch on fire because their lithium-ion batteries are especially flammable,” Western Journal reports. “‘[E]lectric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries burn hotter, faster and require far more water to reach final extinguishment. … And the batteries can re-ignite hours or even days after the fire is initially controlled, leaving salvage yards, repair shops and others at risk,’ CNBC reported.”

In India, where scooters are a popular mode of transportation and delivery, the chief executive of Indian manufacturer Ola Electric issued an official warning that its scooters may spontaneously catch fire. This warning accompanied a recall of 1,400 of its scooters after the Indian government launched an investigation into their safety after battery packs erupted into flames.

When answering questions at an event, Ola chief executive Bhavish Aggarwal said the fires were “very rare and isolated.” However, Aggarwal later reportedly said, “Will there be occurrences in the future? There might be.”

India’s government is also investigating multiple spontaneous fires caused by scooters produced by Ola rivals Okinawa and PureEV.

This is not a good look or ringing endorsement for climate alarm elitists pushing electric vehicles as a replacement for transportation powered by internal combustion engines. When an electric vehicle catches fire in or after an accident, that’s understandable. Cars with internal combustion engines can catch fire in these cases as well. It’s another thing entirely, however, when a car spontaneously catches fire when stuck in rush-hour traffic or when parked on the street, in a garage, or at a public charging station.

SOURCES: Western JournalWestern JournalEconomic TimesClimate Change Weekly

Heartland’s Must-read Climate Sites

Nature, Not Climate Change, Behind Ice Shelf Collapses

New research translated for Eos, the science news magazine published by the American Geophysical Union, indicated recent large-scale ice shelf collapses in Antarctica were caused largely by a natural weather event that strikes the continent on a fairly regular basis: an atmospheric river.

Climate alarmists among the scientific community, political class, and corporate media have tied almost every large Antarctic ice shelf collapse to human-caused climate change, saying it is a harbinger of a warmer world with dramatically rising sea levels.

If this research is correct, cutting carbon emissions as an indirect way to control ocean and surface temperatures will have no impact on glacier calving in Antarctica.

The researchers found most of the ice shelves and glaciers that collapsed in recent years have been deteriorating for years, if not decades, even those in areas of Antarctica that have been adding ice and snow (such as East Antarctica),. They just needed that final push, which an atmospheric river event provided.

For example, an atmospheric river blasted across the continent just days before the Conger ice shelf collapsed in March 2022. The collapse made headlines because it was the size of Hong Kong. Although the shelf had been disintegrating for years, news outlets almost universally claimed the Conger’s collapse was the result of climate change, quoting scientists inclined to support that claim. However, as Jonathan Wille, a polar climatologist and meteorologist at the Université Grenoble Alpes—who was part of the team that discovered the link between ice shelf collapses and atmospheric river events—said, the Conger “was already on its way to collapse, and it looked like this [atmospheric river event] could have been the final kicker for that.”

In particular, the researchers found 13 of 21 calving events on the Antarctic Peninsula from 2000 through 2020 happened within five days after an atmospheric river event swept the continent or its peninsula. Eos describes it as follows:

Atmospheric rivers occur around the world, but they bring a perfect storm to Antarctica’s fragile peninsula. The storms hold vast amounts of moisture and heat and deliver extreme rain, snow, whipping winds, and unusually warm temperatures, causing melting and fracturing on the ice below. …

Atmospheric rivers make landfall on the Antarctic Peninsula about 1 to 5 times per austral summer, and of the 21 calving events identified, an atmospheric river preceded 13 of them within 5 days.

The study found the collapse of Larsen A in 1995 and the calving at Larsen C in July 2017 were both preceded by intense atmospheric river events. The study could not comprehensively examine the impact of atmospheric rivers across all of Antarctica because some regions are difficult to access and monitor due to cloud cover and other localized, persistent weather trends.

The researchers do not state whether climate change is causing atmospheric river events to become more intense or frequent. What the research clearly suggests, in any case, is scientists and climate modelers need a better understanding of, and need to account for the impact of, fast-changing events on ice shelves before linking every major calving event, whether anticipated or unexpected, to climate change.


BBC Lied About Climate Change, Says Watchdog

The BBC’s internal watchdog has concluded a BBC Panorama documentary about global warming made significant and false claims about climate change and its effects.

During the program Wild Weather, climate editor Justin Rowlatt claimed deaths worldwide were rising because of extreme weather caused by climate change. This is false, said BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU). Data clearly shows deaths due to extreme weather events and non-optimum temperatures have declined markedly during the recent period of modest warming, the EDU stated. Climate Realism has repeatedly reported on this fact, including herehere, and here.

In addition to the lie about an increase in weather-related deaths, the ECU also found Wild Weather falsely claimed Madagascar was on the verge of the first famine caused by climate change, even though “other evidence available prior to broadcast suggested there were additional factors which made a significant contribution to the shortage of food.”

It is noteworthy Wild Weather was broadcast in November 2021, coinciding with the international COP26 climate conference. One could fairly surmise, I believe, the broadcast was intended to put pressure on governments to take further steps to fight climate change at COP 26. Of course, the correction comes months later.

SOURCE: The Daily Mail

Video of the Week: In The Tank #346: Gas and Diesel Prices Hit All Time High

The Heartland Institute’s Donald Kendal, Jim Lakely, Chris Talgo, and Linnea Lueken present episode 346 of the In The Tank Podcast. On this episode, the ITT crew talks the Disinformation Governance Board being “paused,” as well as gas and diesel prices hitting all time highs … again.

Climate Comedy

via Cartoons by Josh

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Tom Halla
May 20, 2022 6:15 pm

Failure to properly discount wind and solar pricing to account for their weather dependence leads to an unstable grid.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 21, 2022 4:33 am

No the climate changers just need to computer model the wind better to save squillions-
More accurate wind forecasts can save Americans millions in energy costs (
They’ve already got cloud computing for solar silly.

May 20, 2022 6:41 pm

There are going to be some downed trees and power lines in Colorado.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Scissor
May 20, 2022 7:40 pm

Same system annoying us here in calgary.

I’m off at the lake in south Saskatchewan for the long weekend, we used to put docks in this weekend but 5 years ago changed to first weekend in June
Because it’s always cold and snowing on May long weekend.

If this catastrophic warming continues we’ll eventually be forced to move to July

Earth to Griff, send us some warming please
I don’t want “more” warming
I want “some” warming

Chris Morris
May 20, 2022 6:41 pm

The grid is even more complex than you make out. The generation has to near exactly balance the load (within about a 1% margin) at all times. There is load following by some generators needed (sometimes called governor control), plus machines on various levels of standby to cover trips and forced outages. As well, there can be sudden spikes in load like breaks in the Sperbowl.
Almost none of this is able to be covered by wind or solar. Batteries can do some. A lot of the variation is generation is caused by wind and solar not meeting dispatch.. .

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Chris Morris
May 20, 2022 7:36 pm

You mean droop mode?

But yes, grid has to balance
And you have to protect it from faults. A daunting task when there were dozens of generation sites.
With renewables there will be thousands if not tens of thousands of generation sites and at some point chaos will unfold and the grid will collapse, taking days or weeks to restore.
What are the chances of that happening during a benign weather period??

Murphey’s law will apply, and dig in hard

Chris Morris
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
May 20, 2022 10:38 pm

No – when it is running on governor, then the generator output will change according to the droop setting. Depending on the unit, they can have different droop settings.

Kit P
Reply to  Chris Morris
May 20, 2022 8:21 pm

Not a problem. The power industry in the US is that good.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Kit P
May 20, 2022 10:38 pm

Didn’t you forget the sarc tag?

Kit P
Reply to  Chris Morris
May 21, 2022 4:09 pm

No, I am retired from the power industry so I am not internet trained. My initial training was as a navy nuke.

I am not being sarcastic when I ask you what you do for a living because you are correct when you say the dynamics are complex.

I just do not think that wind and solar output fluctuations are difficult to manage compared or issues that happen daily. That is based on no observed problems so far.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Kit P
May 21, 2022 5:52 pm

“Planning Engineer” over at Climate Etc writes informative articles on grid issues particularly the issues of renewables integration. Now he is retired, he outed himself and gave links to other articles he wrote. Here is one he wrote on why the German miracle isn’t. Just overpriced and they sponge off their neighbours.

Chris Morris
Reply to  Chris Morris
May 21, 2022 5:37 pm

I’m a power station engineer who should be retired.
The US system is not good. A lot of grid engineers have been writing concerns about it for some years. They have just been disregarded. And no-one will do anything, until it goes black. When that happens, there will be kneejerk blaming by politicians and those engineers will get blamed.
As I wrote, balance should be within 1%, preferably less than that. This is no issue when the unreliables make up say <10% of the grid and are widely spread out. When they are large and concentrated, bad things happen. Think of a storm front hitting, how many hundred miles long that can be. Wind generation can go from low to ,very high, to overload and switch off very quickly. What is your balancing generators going to do? For large solar sites, think of those big black clouds. Full power to nothing in a few minutes, then back up to full power. It does happen, even with diffuse sites. Look at the data out of Oz. Also the events where they have tripped of States. A lot of Texas power failure was precipitated by the wind generators stopping working.
The fluctuations are difficult to manage because not only do the output of the generators go up and down, but this also affects the line voltages and phase angles in transmission system. You can easily end up on transmission lines with overvoltage trips at one end as undervoltage alarms at the other.

Reply to  Chris Morris
May 20, 2022 8:41 pm

Our power company has the solution and they tell you so when they mail you the bill. Just set your thermostat to 65 when you are cold and set it to 78 when you are hot. Then, turn off all your lights, do your laundry and charge your car after midnight.

Remember, if we all work together, we can solve this energy crisis, they say.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Doonman
May 21, 2022 4:05 am

Better idea- why don’t they solve the energy crisis they created so we don’t have to jump
through a bunch of hoops like trained dogs!

May 21, 2022 6:42 am

Relax everybody as the DOE is on the job de-risking the unreliables storage problem-
DOE Invests Half a Billion to De-risk Cheaper Energy Storage – SolarPACES
Just make sure you get all those de-risking proposals in by June16.

Rich Davis
Reply to  observa
May 21, 2022 8:05 am

We need to make sure that we have sufficient new resources in place and operational before we let some of these retirements go,” said CISO CEO Mark Rothleder. “Otherwise, we are putting ourselves potentially at risk of having insufficient capacity.”

How many 3MW windmills are sufficient to supply the 460 million kWh used in the US during an average hour on an average day? (4 trillion kWh per year)

Would you say 460,000/3=153,333?

Now how many will you need to prevent the grid collapsing when 75% of them are experiencing no wind conditions for a week?

There are no cost-effective storage solutions. So either we have to expect frequent long blackouts or variable pricing that drives us to voluntarily shut off our power.

navy bob
May 21, 2022 7:40 am

Conger ice shelf story doesn’t define an “atmospheric river” until the 7th paragraph, and even then it’s not a clear definition, only a description of some of its behavior, e.g., “The storms hold vast amounts of moisture and heat and deliver extreme rain, snow, whipping winds, and unusually warm temperatures…” No explanation of why this type of storm is any different from any other storm, or why it’s given its misleading name. Presumably the name comes from characteristics that differentiate these storms from others, but you’d never know that from the article.

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