Renewables and the Great Texas Blackout: Baker Institute Study Tiptoes to Key Causality

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. 

… communications between different regulatory agencies as the event approached were inadequate. Transparency regarding the location of natural gas supply infrastructure was atrocious.”

“Currently Texas is #1 in the nation in terms of existing wind capacity. It is also #1 in terms of planned capacity additions for wind and solar, and #2 in the nation for planned battery capacity additions. However, there is little-to-no planned capacity addition for other forms of dispatchable generation. This could become an issue for reliability.” (Baker Institute, study, below)

There is not only government failure in the quest to address market failure. There is analytic failure in identifying market failure that government is empowered to correct. Restated, problems attributed to markets are often the result of prior government intervention on close inspection.

This is true with some classic examples in the energy field, from the origins of public utility regulation of electricity to oil overproduction under the ‘rule of capture’, stories for another day.

Analytic failure has plagued a proper analysis of the Texas Blackout of February 2021, the greatest energy failure in U.S. history. Numerous studies dwelt on the physical seen of electricity provision during the winter storm (natural gas outages, in addition to wind/solar falloff).

But neglected–the rest of the story–is the unseen: renewable-energy–forcing over the last decade damaging the economics of the “reliables”–natural gas, coal, and nuclear. The result? Premature retirements, a lack of new capacity, and cost cut operations of dependable (baseload and dispatchable) generation. And other intervention contributed as well.

———————

Rice University’s Baker Institute recently released a study of the Texas debacle by economist Peter Hartley et al., ERCOT Froze in February 2021. What Happened? Why Did It Happen? Can It Happen Again? Political correctness rules at Rice and Baker, long a bastion of climate alarmism and forced energy transformation. So the study pulls its punches, requiring reading between the lines at times.

Still, compared to the usual fare, enough is said to get toward the real causality of wind/solar systemically damaging the grid–and a problematic future from increased wind/solar/battery reliance.

Where the study does not go is to a bottom-line verdict: a variety of reinforcing government intervention, state and federal, caused the unprecedented Texas Blackout of February 2021, a story I have outlined elsewhere. A “market failure” it was not!

The Baker study usefully presents a list of potential culprits in the mass blackout:

• wind generators,
• thermal generators,
• natural gas suppliers,
• Texas opposition to inter-connections,
• ERCOT management, and
• ERCOT market rules.
“Each of these could fairly share some blame, but none was solely responsible.”

Comment: Four of the six “scapegoats” involve government intervention: wind generatorsTexas opposition to inter-connectionsERCOT management, and ERCOT market rules. (Nighttime and diminished daytime solar falloffs could be added–making a fifth government failure.)

But the other two reasons—thermal generators and natural gas suppliers—subtly involve government intervention. Specifically, the margins for the “reliables” have been compromised by a decade or more of artificially low margins from government-enabled wind and (on-grid) solar. Phantom (missing) generation and poor operating standards resulted. [1]

A total of 263 power plants within ERCOT experienced at least partial outages at some point between February 10 and 21, with 95 plants, accounting for 14.6 GW, experiencing a 100% shutdown. The peak capacity unavailability was over 40 GW on February 15-16. Natural gas and wind each accounted for about 41% of the peak unavailable capacity, while coal, solar and nuclear accounted for the remaining 14%, 3% and 2%, respectively. Excluding existing outages, ERCOT listed weather (53%), equipment issues (14%) and fuel limitations (12%) as the top three causes of the derated capacity. (pp. 9-10)

Comment: Call it a large cluster of entrepreneurial error. But profit-seeking entrepreneurship is all about anticipating and profiting from change and challenge. Why the failure?

All types of generation were compromised. For wind and solar, 139 and 23 units, respectively, experienced outages or derates during the freeze. Eight coal-fired power plants experienced derates or outages, losing a total of 5.6 GW. The partial outage at the South Texas nuclear power plant was caused
by low steam generator levels from the loss of two feedwater pumps. One hydro plant and 9 battery storage facilities also experienced derates, although the lost capacity from these plants was minimal relative to the magnitude of overall outages. (p. 10)

Comment: Ditto–why the entrepreneurial failure with the ‘reliables’ when the greatest profits were available?

According to the Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) report for
ERCOT published December 16, 2020, solar resources are rated at 80% of nameplate capacity during the summer, but only 7% during the winter. Wind resources in the Texas panhandle, the coast and other locations are rated at 29%, 61% and 19%, respectively, during the summer, and 32%, 43% and 19%, respectively, during the winter. The seasonal deratings, applied to assess “likely” resource availability, are based on the typical solar irradiance and wind velocities in each season and location. (pp. 10-11)

Comment: This is the intermittency problem that government policy put on an otherwise stable grid.

Natural gas capacity suffered the most outages and derates during the freeze, yet generated significantly more power than is typically seen during February…. The pattern prior to February 8 and after February 19 typifies February in ERCOT. Despite the outages …, roughly twice as much gas was used to generate electricity during the days running up to and during the winter freeze. Unfortunately, the grid needed more. This highlights the importance of “resilience” in energy systems, or the ability to respond when needed at all times and under all circumstances. (p. 11)

Comment: Imagine a free market, the difference being what was under government compared to what could and should have been in a free market.

In addition to load shed, the shortfall of generation relative to demand for an extended period drove extremely high payments to demand-side management program participants, which became politically contentious. These programs generally work as intended without issue. Their performance during the extreme winter storm is not evidence that they should be abolished. (p. 12)

Comment: Demand-side management, a regulatory program under public utility regulation, should not be excused or “grandfathered in” by political correctness. It should be abolished as part of a wider deregulation program.

The rapid pace of natural gas outages in the 12 hours following the EEA level 3 declaration is striking…. [L]oad shed orders in those 12 hours reached over 16 GWs. A confounding factor is that the coldest hours of the winter storm were also reached in morning hours of February 15, as was the peak anticipated demand. Unfortunately, absent data on the reason for outages at each generation facility hinders a deeper investigation of the natural gas-electricity interdependency. A University of Texas study commissioned by the PUC of Texas was given access to confidential data and noted,

“Wind turbines suffered some of the earliest outages and derates as freezing precipitation and fog resulted in ice accumulation on blades and – eventually, as temperatures dropped further – in the gearboxes and nacelles. Unit-specific data indicate that other types of generators – mostly those fueled with natural gas – were facing pre-blackout fuel supply issues, and were starting to go offline or derate capacity as early as February 10 due to fuel delivery curtailments.” (pp. 14-15)

Comment: This speaks for itself.

For the winter event of February 2021, communications between ERCOT and LDCs appeared satisfactory. However, communications between different regulatory agencies as the event approached were inadequate. Transparency regarding the location of natural gas supply infrastructure was atrocious. This has since been addressed by calls for a standing committee of personnel from various agencies. An alternative would be the creation of a single “Texas Energy Agency” with direct oversight of all relevant agencies. (p. 19)

Comment: Welcome to central planning–and the pressure to expand government intervention in the quest to correct prior government involvement. Here, the study should have at least footnoted the true free market alternative: remove state and federal regulation and allow “the obligation to serve” to go from regulators to companies.

From 2011–2021, responsive reserve capacity increased from 1062 MWs to 1570 MWs, that is, from 2.4% to 2.6% of forecasted peak load. The events of February 2021 suggest that this needs to be increased, and its operational capability warranted. According to ERCOT’s capacity, demand and reserves reports, the winter reserve margin was 72% of expected load in the winter of 2011, but had fallen to 43.2% for the winter of 2021. Some have called for adding a capacity market in ERCOT to improve reliability. However, a brief examination of historical electric disturbance events across the entire United States does not reveal that capacity markets are positively correlated to reliability. We suggest that this should be carefully examined before dramatically changing market structure in ERCOT. (pp. 19-20)

Comment: Hint, hint: renewables increased at the expense of forgone reliable capacity. How should it be addressed? A regulatory capacity market or not? How about neither–and private entrepreneurship pricing instead? Remember two-part pricing, a demand charge and a volumetric charge?

Even though deficient fuel supply was not a major cause of outages in the 2011 winter event, subsequent reports noted interdependence of electricity and natural gas markets in Texas and the importance of protecting natural gas production from cold-weather related disruption. Natural gas production and use in Texas have increased in the interim, as has the use of electric drive for compression (driven largely by environmental and operational motives). The latter has more deeply integrated electricity and natural gas markets. Moreover, gas has become more critical for balancing the electricity market as wind penetration has increased and coal use declined. There is no question that the natural gas production, gathering, storage and distribution facilities should be identified as critical load customers. (p. 20)

Comment: An unintended consequence of “green” government intervention: “… the use of electric drive for compression (driven largely by environmental and operational motives).”

Renewable generation has also been blamed for compromising reliability during the winter storm. The majority of wind generation capacity derating occurred prior to February 15, as equipment froze and generators were declared inoperable. This played a role in the subsequent cascading failures of natural gas generation by compromising electricity supply to field operations and supply infrastructure, but the story is hardly so simple because many other factors also contributed. In fact, during other periods when wind generation drops, which is a normal occurrence, fuel supply remains robust as other resources fill the power generation void. (pp. 21-22)

Comment: So intermittency played a part in neutering natural gas that, in turn, was not available for power generation. A second-order distortion from government intervention.

Historically, a diversity of resources was used to provide lowest cost dispatchable generation to serve loads at different times of the day. Over the last decade plus, wind generation capacity has grown substantially in ERCOT, and the variation in wind output has increased along with it. Although wind generation has desirable environmental attributes with regard to emissions, it is nondispatchable, and its output varies across short time intervals in unexpected ways. This places greater demands on dispatchable generation resources to be sufficiently responsive to maintain system balance. In ERCOT, natural gas generation has served this role. Moreover, the periods of highest grid stress historically occur during summer peak demand periods, where a combination of dispatchable resources – mostly natural gas – and demand-side management accommodate fluctuations in wind generation. (p. 22)

Comment: This also speaks for itself. “Although wind generation has desirable environmental attributes with regard to emissions…” is hardly a benefit compared to wounding a grid. (This sop to wind is political correctness.)

The consistent delivery of reliable electric power is the most sophisticated engineering and logistics problem in energy. Not only does demand vary within and across days, the availability of generation resources varies as well. Hence, there needs to be sufficient generation capacity that is capable of responding in real time to these fluctuations to maintain system balance. Reliability matters, and coordination across energy sectors, as well as across generation technologies, is essential. (p. 22)

Comment: Sounds like a challenge for free markets, not government officials. A footnote about the “knowledge problem” of central planning would have been appropriate here.

The diversity of available resources to meet unexpected changes in net load is important. Especially in the lead up to February 15, 2021, wind generation dropped and demand was high. If resources on the ERCOT grid had responded in February 2021 as they did in August 2020, market balance may have been possible without involuntary load shed. However, that possibility could not be realized due to a lack of adequate winter weather preparations and fuel supply deficiencies resulting from lack of coordination between the electricity and natural gas systems. (p. 25)

Comment: A “lack of coordination between the electricity and natural gas systems”? Coordination is a hallmark of market reliance. BTW, where are the combined gas and power companies to internalize transaction costs? Integrated power majors? Oh, they are not permitted under a 1935 federal law.

The debate around wind generation and its role in the winter storm outages thus has highlighted a critical issue in power systems with increasing penetration of non-dispatchable resources. When wind delivers above its seasonal rating, as it often does, price is driven down as wind displaces plants with higher operating costs. In the extreme, if wind is providing marginal output, price can be driven to minus the value of wind production subsidies (including renewable production credits). Wind generators are willing to pay up to that much to avoid simply spilling their output. When wind delivers below its seasonal rating, as it often does, price may not increase very much, depending on demand relative to available resources, due to the competition between generators at the margin. Thus, the net impact of variability in wind generation, ceteris paribus, can be to reduce incentive to invest in all types of capacity on the grid, which can compromise reliability over time. In effect, the social benefit of reliability associated with available, dispatchable generation capacity, regardless of type, is left unaccounted if it is not fully priced into a market where load net of non-dispatchable generation becomes increasingly variable. Questions of market design, and the pricing of reliability, as the proportion of non-dispatchable capacity on the grid increases are fundamental to the future of grid design, but a full exploration is beyond the scope of this paper. (p. 24)

CommentBINGO! This is where an econometric study needs to be done to estimate how higher margins, sans wind and solar, would have resulted in greater reliable capacity and better maintained capacity.

Wind underperformed relative to its nameplate capacity, but this is always true. While the narrative around the incredible growth of wind is usually framed around installed nameplate capacity, expectations for wind generation should not be based on nameplate capacity because that amount of energy is rarely, if ever, delivered on a day-to-day basis. The more relevant benchmark for expected performance is rated capacity. Wind generation capacity is “rated” at a discount to nameplate capacity
that is inherently based on the expected availability of wind resources from day-to-day, which is why wind is referred to as a “non-dispatchable” resource. Wind often outperforms expectations, or exceeds its capacity rating, but it also often underperforms relative to its capacity rating. During the winter storm, wind underperformed on that metric. (pp. 24-25)

Comment: Wind power is a mess in a world where reliability is the most important factor given the instantaneous nature of electricity production and consumption. The Texas grid needs less, not more, wind power (and solar power).

All this stated, the reason for wind’s underperformance during the winter storm, as opposed to other times of year, was only important for grid stability because other resources were also not available. It is well known by grid operators and power market participants that wind varies frequently, so planning should ensure the availability of other flexible resources that can respond quickly and reliably to maintain supply when wind is unavailable. As the fraction of supply coming from non-dispatchable resources increases, the social value of reliability, the value of lost load and demand flexibility become more important issues that must be addressed and internalized by market participants, regulators and ultimately consumers. A resilient, reliable electricity system requires resources to be appropriately priced to ensure adequate levels of investment in all types of capacity. None of this means that we should not
invest in wind. It does raise questions, however, about what drives investment in various forms of generation capacity (i.e.- subsidies, mandates, commercial returns, environmental preference, etc.) and whether capital is being appropriately directed, but that is beyond the scope of this paper (p. 25)

Comment: Perhaps it does suggest that “we” not invest in wind power, a notorious drain and parasite on the reliables. Wind and solar are politically correct, economically incorrect resources.

Thermal capacity suffered significant deratings, but the reasons varied across generation types. A facility-by-facility assessment is needed to ensure similar types of outages do not recur. A lack of transparency on all facility-specific derates means that regulators must address this issue with facility owners. As noted above with regard to wind capacity, winterization of thermal capacity can be an important first step. If all capacity in ERCOT had remained operable during the winter storm, load shed would have likely been necessary, but remained voluntary, thereby avoiding the EEA level 3 declarations. Nevertheless, the value of winterization may vary in different parts of the state and across generators, so a careful analysis of reliability standards that accounts for location and age is needed to drive a better long-run outcome(p. 25)

Comment: Winterization? Why does this have to be mandated? Private companies have incentives to operate during high-margin periods and are subject to must-perform contracts in a real free market. Higher margins from less intermittent sources is a better approach.

During the February 2021 winter freeze, natural gas generated more power than any other source, and natural gas generation exceeded what it would have been on an average February day. But the winter storm of February 2021 was not average; it was extreme. Power cuts to infrastructure along the natural gas supply chain played a major role in the failure of natural gas generators. Hence, to avoid a single point of failure along the circular, interdependent natural gas-electricity value chain, fuel supply chain infrastructures should be mandatorily designated as critical load customers. (p. 25)

Comment: Electricity failed natural gas, not only did natural gas fail electricity. Intermittent resources again.

ERCOT’s resource adequacy assessments need to be further enhanced to better account for extreme winter events…. As such, better coordination among state agencies is needed. Perhaps a single “Texas Energy Agency” could have ensured better coordination by establishing greater accountability and transparency through agency derived protocols across various offices. Regardless of the approach taken, better coordination and information sharing is needed. The effectiveness of steps taken to date, such as establishing a standing committee comprised of representatives from different state agencies, remains to be seen. (p. 26)

Immediate calls for a capacity market in the wake of the winter freeze ignore the fact that neither nameplate nor rated capacity adequacy was the issue. Operational capacity adequacy, or ensuring existing capacity is operational, was the problem. Even if a capacity market had ensured more capacity were on the ERCOT grid, the other problems we identified suggest that capacity would have likely been inoperable too. Winterizing existing generation and energy infrastructure along with correcting fuel supply issues would have abated the crisis that unfolded. Nevertheless, a careful analysis of reserve margins as intermittent capacity expands is warranted. (p. 26)

Comment: Master of the obvious, plus pulled punches.

… a careful analysis of reserve margins as intermittent capacity expands is warranted. Currently Texas is #1 in the nation in terms of existing wind capacity. It is also #1 in terms of planned capacity additions for wind and solar, and #2 in the nation for planned battery capacity additions. However, there is little-to-no planned capacity addition for other forms of dispatchable generation. This could become an issue for reliability. For example, wind generation in Texas is at seasonal maximum in the fall, while demand is a maximum in the summer. Battery installations currently planned are short duration and will convey significant benefits for frequency management. However, during events such as the winter freeze of February 2021, or even more regular occurrences of meeting peak summer demands when the wind is not available, other types of backup capacity are needed. If the load growth in ERCOT over the last 20 years continues, as is projected, resource inadequacy could become a more frequent issue. Hence, factors such as the social value of reliability, the value of lost load and increased demand management need to be more actively discussed and integrated in market rule-makings so that they can be appropriately priced to ensure adequate levels of different types of investment(p. 26)

Comment: Ditto: master of the obvious and pulled punches. A true free market in electricity, anyone?

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[1] A proper study of the Great Blackout would calculate the reduction in margins had a free market been in place versus what resulted from wind/solar forcing. This difference would then be translated into (reliable) capacity and improved operating performance. Estimates of the unintended effects of other government involvement versus a true free market would be necessary too.

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Steve Case
September 30, 2022 10:36 pm

ERCOT stands for Electric Reliability Council of Texas 

Why did I have to look that up. 

Why do people insist on using undefined acronyms.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Steve Case
October 1, 2022 9:00 am

I don’t think it’s so much people “insist” on but rather forget or assume the reader knows already. (i.e. “IRS” probably doesn’t need to be defined unless it’s NOT referring to The Internal Revenue Service.)
It’s a good habit, especially for the author of a post, to define the acronym the first time it’s used.

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Gunga Din
October 1, 2022 9:50 am

A fundamental of good technical writing (or any kind of writing for that matter).

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Steve Case
October 1, 2022 1:14 pm

To me the bigger reason to spell it out once is the opportunity to point out that the “R” stands for “Reliability”; something which ERCOT has systematically failed at doing.

Reply to  Steve Case
October 1, 2022 2:01 pm

Name change to EURCOT

Electric Usually Reliable Council of Texas 

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 6:24 pm

Electricity Rarely Connected On Time

Mike Maguire
September 30, 2022 10:47 pm

Green Energy Scores a 76X ROI for Their Lobbying Efforts (in Texas)

https://www.transparencyusa.org/article/green-energy-lobby-roi

Twenty-Five Industrial Wind Energy Deceptions
https://www.masterresource.org/droz-john-awed/25-industrial-wind-energy-deceptions/

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Mike Maguire
October 1, 2022 10:04 am

Allegedly conservative Republicans have been in power a long time in Texas, so it is they or at least a significant subset of them (along with 100% of Dumbocrats) who have sold us out to the unreliables lobby. The Texas deep-freeze event was merely a harbinger of things to come. Unreliable in an infrequent severe weather event will lead to unreliability as a common occurrence even during frequently expected conditions. Were there another party that could win and represent conservative social values as well as good business sense, I would vote for them. But alas, our choice is often between bad and worst. May no Dumbocrat win another statewide office in Texas, at least not until he or she has repudiated and rejected their lunatic fringe. Meanwhile, we need a populist wave to unseat Republicans who are not serving our best interests, beginning with Senator Cornyn.

Sean
Reply to  Pflashgordon
October 4, 2022 2:36 pm

I disagree. The solar and wind credits are Federal, not State. People build what they get paid to build. The money has NOT been there to build thermal.

fret
October 1, 2022 12:25 am

Top items sold in the UK…

Chainsaws and wood burners

Bryan A
Reply to  fret
October 1, 2022 9:13 am

Ever try to use an electric chainsaw to fell and reduce a tree to rounds?

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Bryan A
October 1, 2022 1:17 pm

To be fair, that’s not what they were designed for. Even small gas powered saws have a problem with that task. Although there are 40v electrics now that are quite capable, I’m assuming you were referring to the 18v models.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Bryan A
October 2, 2022 11:56 am

I have been amazed at how well a corded chainsaw works on trees – felling and bucking. Keep it sharp. For most people a 16″ model is large enough. It can handle a ~24″ tree. They are $150 new. I have no experience with battery powered chainsaws to report. I look forward to others commenting.

A saw and wood stove are more reliable than anything else on the planet.

A friend in Poland, facing a very precarious winter fuel supply, reports that people are collecting everything they can get their hands on. Old furniture, anything that will bur. It is being stored in anticipation of a grid disaster only a few months from now. Eastern Europe has experienced this within the last 40 years whereas Western Europe always assumes the government will sort it out. He reports that coal, when you can get available, is triple the usual price. The low water level in the rivers has brought deliveries to a halt.

Coeur de Lion
October 1, 2022 12:51 am

Was it 200 deaths?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
October 1, 2022 4:51 am

Are you asking about Hurricane Ian?

If so, I believe the number of dead so far is about 30 people in Florida.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 9:15 am

I wonder how many of those 30 had EVs with depleted batteries and so couldn’t evacuate.

Simon
Reply to  Bryan A
October 1, 2022 11:00 pm

Or cars without gas.

Bryan A
Reply to  Simon
October 2, 2022 12:16 am

Cars without gas take 5 minutes to fill up on the fly at any of hundreds of available pumps at dozens of stations. Just a quick 2 minutes will get you 80 miles. An EV will get 12 miles from 2 minutes plugged in

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 12:39 pm

Think he was asking about the Texas blacmout caused deaths.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
October 2, 2022 3:44 am

Yes, after I answered, I realized he was probably talking about the deaths in Texas from the arctic cold front.

I’ve got hurricanes on my mind, I guess. 🙂

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
October 1, 2022 10:19 am

Each death is a personal tragedy. However, 200 is not really so bad on the death count over a week-long period considering the size, population and diversity of Texas. If one were to examine that count for location and cause of death, many or most were likely unrelated to or not directly caused by the power outages. Car crashes on icy roads, homeless people freezing outdoors, heart attacks from shoveling snow, carbon monoxide poisoning or fires from unwise use of alternative heating. I doubt that many people actually froze to death in their own homes, and those who did were likely the elderly who didn’t have someone looking after them.

We see similar issues with reported (inflated) hurricane deaths. Few are usually killed by the storm itself. Many lose their lives during the recovery phase. I expect we will see that in Florida with Hurricane Ian. In fact, that is what was predicted by the Governor ahead of the storm.

As we have also debated for two years, how many people actually died of COVID (admittedly a large number), but inflated by misreporting in government and the media.

Mike Lowe
Reply to  Pflashgordon
October 1, 2022 12:46 pm

But the big question re deaths by Hurricane or Covid is: Should a death caused indirectly by the hurricane be attributed to the hurricane? The answer is usually related to the answer preferred by the questioner. Especially with Covid!

Jim Mayer
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
October 1, 2022 2:50 pm

It was ~200 deaths. Unfortunately some deaths were due to people not understanding the dangers of being out in 16F degree weather in a windbreaker.

Paul C
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
October 1, 2022 5:53 pm

Yes, and no! I do not think there is a reliable estimate of deaths attributable to the blackout, but many initial estimates said “approaching 200”. However, buzzfeed calculated the number of excess deaths during that period as a much higher figure – 702 was their best estimate in a range from 426 to 978 which does concur with other sources.

Tony Taylor
October 1, 2022 2:00 am

I reckon Texas is the same as South Australia. A rush to renewables, misplaced faith in renewables, an over-reliance on renewables, a weakening of the network because of renewables, a loss of renewables, a loss of the whole network. How’s the parable go? You’ve got an old bridge which is functioning fine, but you want a new bridge because the old bridge is made of non-carbon-neutral iron, so you knock down the old bridge then start building the new bridge and wonder why there’s all this honking behind you from drivers who can’t get across the river until the new bridge is built. (And then you hope the new bridge is strong enough, even though it is made of lollypop sticks. But you have faith. You believe.)

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tony Taylor
October 1, 2022 4:52 am

“I reckon Texas is the same as South Australia. A rush to renewables, misplaced faith in renewables, an over-reliance on renewables, a weakening of the network because of renewables, a loss of renewables, a loss of the whole network.”

By golly, I think you nailed it! 🙂

toorightmate
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 7:23 am

Is Texas really the basket case that South Australia is?

Pflashgordon
Reply to  toorightmate
October 1, 2022 10:23 am

It is becoming so with respect to electricity. Part of the problem is that deregulated generating companies looking for good wind conditions come to Texas, not because we need them or invited them. The big players are often based in states or regions lacking good wind assets, so they come here like a bunch of Yankee carpetbaggers.

Jim Mayer
Reply to  Pflashgordon
October 1, 2022 2:53 pm

The managers running the ERCOT system at the time of the “big freeze” weren’t even residents of Texas.

jeffery P
Reply to  Tony Taylor
October 1, 2022 8:01 am

What parable is that?

Tony Taylor
Reply to  jeffery P
October 1, 2022 7:17 pm

The Boy who Cried Blackout.

griff
October 1, 2022 2:14 am

Natural gas capacity suffered the most outages and derates during the freeze’

‘In fact, during other periods when wind generation drops, which is a normal occurrence, fuel supply remains robust as other resources fill the power generation void’

Failure to winterise fossil fuel plant is the main and overwhelming cause of this failure.

kim
Reply to  griff
October 1, 2022 2:34 am

The EPA mandated conversion of the pumps compressing natural gas for transport to the fossil fuel plants from gas fueled to electrically fueled diminished the winterization of said plants.
This was Obama’s EPA but I hardly blame him for that failure of vision. For that I blame everyone with the mindset of griff.
==============

Reply to  kim
October 1, 2022 5:00 am

The obvious question that you failed to consider:

EPA rules apply to all 50 states
Did other states have similar problems to Texas?
If not. then why was Texas unique?

Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 5:54 am

Texas wasn’t unique, just worst hit.

Fraizer
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 7:07 am

EPA rules do not apply evenly across all 50 states or even within a state. There are things such as nonattainment areas where all electric is mandated. In other areas, gas-fired compression is the norm.

EPS keeps screwing down their definition on nonattainment and adding new areas.

Current Nonattainment Counties for All Criteria Pollutants | Green Book | US EPA

Reply to  Fraizer
October 1, 2022 2:15 pm

Can you name any northern, colder states using electric pumps for natural gas pipelines that had cold weather problems similar to Texas. Or was Texas unique?

Jim Mayer
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 3:10 pm

The Obama EPA ruled that wellhead gas or associated gas from the lease could not be used to run heaters, pumps or compressors to run the operations of that lease. When the grid started to go down, so did the gas production to the power plants that were still operating. Not saying that gas producers were not somewhat at fault, but wind failed before the big freeze.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 9:17 am

EPA rules apply to all 50 states”

Mmmm …. yes and no.
The US EPA may put out a regulation but then it’s up to the state’s equivalent to come up with a plan to comply. If they don’t give a acceptable reason why they can’t or don’t need to and then continually fail to comply, then the USEPA may step in directly. (i.e. Years ago Ohio was required to test for an herbicide that was only used on pineapples in Hawaii. That rule was waived.)
(I know. That was over simplified.)

Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 3:59 pm

Kansas is #2 in wind energy and we had blackouts (“involuntary interruptions” in the PC language of the report).

Paul C
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 6:47 pm

Yes, other states did have similar problems to Texas, but not the severity. That meant there was a lack of power available for Texas to import through its limited interconnectors. The greater reliance on wind power made Texas more vulnerable. The infrequency of severe and persistent cold in Texas resulted in power infrastructure not being adapted to cope with those extreme conditions.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Paul C
October 2, 2022 2:16 pm

No. It means that Texas was pressured by the Greens to abandon coal and severely reduce nuclear power that had worked in the past.
Natural Gas back-up was forced to use electric compressors rather that gas powered (by Obama).
All to promote the Green wind and solar “power” which failed when most needed.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  kim
October 1, 2022 12:43 pm

Agree except regarding Obama’s EPA. They own all the shit they started by force-feeding worse-than-useless wind and solar into our grid (including the Texas grid, whether directly or indirectly).

Reply to  kim
October 1, 2022 3:58 pm

The night of the 15th — when the severe problems began — the winds were calm. Winterization didn’t matter. When the wind is calm, wind turbines produce zero energy.

Reply to  griff
October 1, 2022 4:57 am

Griff is correct

Texas energy infrastructure does not perform properly in extremely cold weather. That’s why rolling blackouts affected 3.2 million Texans in February 2011 and about 5 million Texans were affected by blackouts in February 2021

That’s also the reason there were no blackouts between February 2011 and February 2021 — no extremely cold weather in that period.

Investing a lot of money in windmills between February 2011 and February 2021 made the cold weather problem worse. The windmills were not equipped with optional blade heaters, to save money. And windmills require 100% fossil fuel backup that operates in extremely cold weather. Texas did not have such backup. And still does not — so they remain vulnerable to extremely cold weather.

Blaming windmills for a lack of wind is ridiculous.
Blaming the windmill’s fossil fuel backup for failing
in extremely cold weather makes sense.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 5:59 am

Blade heaters on the windmills wouldn’t have solved the issue completely. As far as I’m aware, gearboxes and internal workings froze on the windmills causing them to be unable to work – blade heaters just deal with ice buildup and shedding on the blades.

Bryan A
Reply to  Richard Page
October 1, 2022 9:33 am

Here’s the energy profile during the Blackout in questioncomment image
It’s obvious how Gas failed to “Step Up” isn’t it…Oh Wait…

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Bryan A
October 1, 2022 10:29 am

Wind tanked while demand soared. Any system would have been challenged during the freeze with soaring demand, but wind power, as usual, was nowhere to be found.

Reply to  Pflashgordon
October 1, 2022 2:20 pm

When wind power is low, there needs to be 100% fossil fuel backup power that works properly in extremely cold weather. Not enough of that backup power was available in Texas.

MarkW
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 4:16 pm

The stupidity was relying on power sources (wind and solar) that you know will cut out in bad weather.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 7:00 pm

Correct. There was a capacity shortage. Partly because subsidised wind had eroded profitability, and partly because of a fond belief that you could assume 8% of capacity as a guarantee from wind. It fell IIRC to just 127MW out of a nominal 30,000MW

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 4:06 am

Somebody needs to tell those Texas politicians that. They still don’t have adequate backup, and I’ve seen no plans to fix the situation.

Reply to  Bryan A
October 1, 2022 2:13 pm

The important point, not clear with that chart, is that when a lot of natural gas-powered electricity was needed, it was not available. The natural gas fueled electricity fell from about a 45 gigawatts peak on Sunday February 14, to about 30 gigawatts on Monday February 15, in spite of higher demands for electricity.

That decline is easy to see on a chart here:
2021 Texas power crisis – Wikipedia

There is no doubt that the primary cause of blackouts in Texas during February 2021 was the failure of natural gas power plants to deliver electricity when it was needed most.

jeffery P
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 2:44 pm

Oh, so it’s not the fault of the failed primary systems, it was the underfunded backups. Sure, that’s the ticket.

My state relies primarily on natural gas and we were in the same deep freeze. Why didn’t we and everyone else who uses fossil fuels suffer the same blackouts? Seriously, if it was the natural gas plants that failed, why weren’t the blackouts more widespread?

Reply to  jeffery P
October 1, 2022 3:26 pm

I previously wrote that Texas natural gas powered electricity fell by about one third in one day. i did not say it fell to zero.

“Why didn’t we and everyone else who uses fossil fuels suffer the same blackouts?”

I don’t know what your state is. Why don’t you tell us why you state did not have cold weather problems?

Did your state’s natural gas pipelines use
electric power for the pumps?

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
jeffery p
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 9:37 am

That’s a straw man. I didn’t say we didn’t have cold weather problems. I said we didn’t have the same blackouts as Texas. As to what state? All the others, more or less.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 7:10 pm

The cause was a lack of capacity leading to no spinning reserve leading to one power station trip causing a rapid RoCoF, which led to a cascading trip of several other power stations in a matter of seconds before automated demand disconnection kicked in at 59.3Hz.

The disconnection then affected key gas compressors needed to deliver gas to some power stations, starving them of fuel, and thus unable to restart or being forced to shut down. Overlaid was a continuing drop in wind output, and confusion in the control room. It should never have allowed the cascading trip, and ought to have implemented rotating power cuts way before it ran out of reserve. That way the outage would have been much less severe, with fuel supply maintained ex storage to keep stations running.

Ted
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 5:48 am

During the week of storms, wind fell from 22 MW to zero, a far larger loss than the drop in natural gas. After the sudden drop, natural gas had gone from 15 MW before the storm to 32 MW after the dip. The cause of the blackout was the failure of wind to deliver electricity when it was needed most.

Sean
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 4, 2022 2:45 pm

It’s a bit difficult to turn molecules into electrons when your primary fuel source (natty) is frozen in, which in no small part due to the fact that gathering field electric compression was blacked out by ERCOT for load shedding purposes. When it’s that cold, even when power was restored, wells had already frozen in, or compressors mechanically just would not operate.

Natural gas transmission capacity was NOT the issue. There was a lack of natural gas to put into the transmission pipeline.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sean
Reply to  Richard Page
October 1, 2022 2:18 pm

Blade heaters would have allowed more windmills to operate. However, the wind power output would still have been low anyway, because the wind speed was low for a week. There is no good excuse for fossil fueled backup power to fail to operate properly in very cold weather. Except that is exactly what happened in Texas.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 5:13 pm

Do you not see it, even when you have written both parts of the answer in the same post? Wind failed and then the gas backup generators, which rely on electricity from the wind turbines to power their pumps, started to fail as well. As far as I’m aware, those few gas systems that didn’t rely on wind turbines to power the pumps, kept working but couldn’t ramp up enough to cover the shortfall.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 7:13 pm

Blade heaters would be completely uneconomic in Texas, reducing normal output and saving next to nothing in the rare cases of cold Dunkelflaute.The solution would be more dispatchable capacity and better grid management.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 6:38 am

‘And windmills require 100% fossil fuel backup that operates in extremely cold weather. Texas did not have such backup.’

Texas did not have ‘such backup’ because the gas system’s compressors were stupidly electrified, and because any other needed modifications to harden the grid were rendered uneconomic due to the parasitical effects of so-called ‘renewable’ energy.

Specifically, it should be obvious to anyone that if an inferior good (non-dispatchable energy) is mandated to receive the same, or greater, compensation than a superior good (dispatchable energy), the former will eventually supplant the latter in a regulated market.

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
October 1, 2022 10:35 am

The compressor issue was a factor, but I wouldn’t overplay that. In the larger scheme of things, unreliables policies that skew the market have been economically disadvantaging dispatchable generating capacity for some time. Maintenance, weatherization, new fossil and nuclear capacity all suffer when one source gets highly preferential treatment, especially when the government-favored option is costly, damaging and unreliable.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Pflashgordon
October 2, 2022 4:12 am

“In the larger scheme of things, unreliables policies that skew the market have been economically disadvantaging dispatchable generating capacity for some time.”

That’s the heart of the matter. Greedy windmill subsidy miners are ruining our electrical grids.

jeffery P
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 8:06 am

As I recall, ERCOT does not require electricity suppliers to deliver. There was no incentive to make the system reliable.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  jeffery P
October 1, 2022 7:17 pm

There is no capacity market if that is what you mean. No payment for being available to generate, so peaker plant has to rely on extreme price gouging when it gets called on. If the weather doesn’t break that way for a year or two, they have no income and go broke.

jeffery p
Reply to  It doesnot add up
October 2, 2022 9:40 am

I know I didn’t state that well. Operators were paid for electricity but did not have to guarantee performance. There is no penalty for failure to deliver a minimum amount of electricity. To the best of my knowledge, that is a standard requirement in most other places.

Had ERCOT required delivery, there would have been an incentive to invest in the equipment needed to avoid those blackouts. Of course, nobody knows how to make the wind blow. But don’t blame windmills for that.

MarkW
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 8:27 am

Spending millions on blade heaters that might get used one or two days out of every 10 years is not a good use of money.

Blaming windmills for a lack of wind makes perfect sense. Since windmills without wind are completely useless.

The fact that windmills require 100% backup is all by itself, proof that windmills are a stupid idea in the first place.

Last edited 1 month ago by MarkW
MarkW
Reply to  MarkW
October 1, 2022 8:46 am

Another issue is that blade heaters consume power. Lots of it. That leaves less energy to sell to consumers. Even worse, the blade heaters have to run even when the wind isn’t blowing. The reason for this is that if you wait till the wind starts blowing in order to start the blade heaters, the blades will end up throwing all the ice that formed on them.

Reply to  MarkW
October 1, 2022 3:29 pm

Another point: It might be a waste of electric power to stop a windmill, and heat the blades, if there was very little wind available (which was true for about a week in Texas) after the blades were deiced.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  MarkW
October 1, 2022 12:46 pm

Last paragraph nails it. Ditto for solar.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MarkW
October 2, 2022 4:14 am

“Blaming windmills for a lack of wind makes perfect sense. Since windmills without wind are completely useless.

The fact that windmills require 100% backup is all by itself, proof that windmills are a stupid idea in the first place.”

MarkW makes two great points.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 9:17 am

Griff is NOT right, he never is. Renewables destroy the economics of a reliable grid.
Let’s watch germany this winter shall we?

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 1, 2022 2:26 pm

Griff was right about extremely cold weather causing electric power generation problems in Texas. Renewables without 100% fossil fuel backup that operates properly in extremely cold weather was the problem. The Texas grid functioned properly for many decades, EXCEPT when the weather was very cold in February 2011 and February 2021. That’s strong evidence extremely cold weather caused the problems.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 7:23 pm

Texas has run into problems in hot weather too. It’s not the cold, it’s the lack if dispatchable capacity that is the problem.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
October 2, 2022 6:21 am

The hot weather problems are more recent — they happened after the February 2021 blackouts. Adding more unreliables increased vulnerability in very hot weather. If Texas does not change their policies their grid will eventually be vulnerable to problems in the Spring and Fall too. One bad energy decision after another.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 2, 2022 4:17 am

“Renewables destroy the economics of a reliable grid.”

That’s right, and here we have the taxpayers subsidizing the destruction of their own electrical grids by subsidizing windmills, thanks to clueless and/or greedy, conniving politicians

Ted
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 2:20 pm

A) Backups are only used when the primary fails. If the backup failed, then by definition the primary also failed.
B) The fossil that are labeled the backup were not designed to be backup. Even when using nearly identical equipment, a backup will have different response time, fuel staging, accessories, and staging. They were designed as primary and the succeeded in that role by providing the bulk of the power needed.
C) Windmill operators should be required to procure or lease their own fossil backup to make costs and expenses transparent.

jeffery P
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 2:39 pm

The fault rests with the humans who promoted this unreliable power scheme and the politicians who made it happen.

Reply to  jeffery P
October 1, 2022 3:30 pm

That’s exactly right.
Financial incentives for building windmills were a decision made by bureaucrats — the wrong decision.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 4:24 am

That’s exactly right.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 4:03 am

“The windmills were not equipped with optional blade heaters, to save money.”

That would have made no difference. Windmills all over the western U.S. were having the same problems with the cold, and they also had another problem Texas had: The wind was not blowing at critical times.

joe
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 12:45 pm

Greene –
Except
1) the failure of wind for the 9 days in texas and th 4 days across the entire north american continent shows that wind is not a solution and can never be a solution.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
October 1, 2022 5:08 am

From the article: “All types of generation were compromised. For wind and solar, 139 and 23 units, respectively, experienced outages or derates during the freeze. Eight coal-fired power plants experienced derates or outages, losing a total of 5.6 GW. The partial outage at the South Texas nuclear power plant was caused by low steam generator levels from the loss of two feedwater pumps. One hydro plant and 9 battery storage facilities also experienced derates, although the lost capacity from these plants was minimal relative to the magnitude of overall outages. (p. 10). . .

Unfortunately, absent data on the reason for outages at each generation facility hinders a deeper investigation of the natural gas-electricity interdependency.”

Yes, we definitely need to see a detailed account of why each generation plant suffered outages.

It appears that the main problem was the inability to supply the natural gas plants with natural gas. Some of the problem was freezing pipes and some of the problem was that electric pumps that were supposed to pump the natural gas were not working because there was no electricity to run them.

We can fix the problems that hampered the natual gas plants. We can’t fix the problems that hampered windmills and solar.

jeffery P
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 2:47 pm

It’s not the natural gas plants’ fault there was no natural gas.

There. Nailed it.

MarkW
Reply to  griff
October 1, 2022 8:24 am

As usual, little griff didn’t bother to actually read the article. He just repeats what he has been told to believe.

Bryan A
Reply to  griff
October 1, 2022 9:28 am

Of course Griff the Wise
We all know the truth (as you insist it to be)
A 95% decrease in available wind wasn’t to blame was it oh Griff the Great Sage
Twas Gas generation failure to step up wasn’t it Griff the All Knowing
comment image
Apparently Gas was unable to increase its capacity beyond 200% (by the chart)

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Bryan A
October 1, 2022 10:45 am

From the chart, it appears that gas more than doubled its output to compensate for increased demand and wind power losses during the event, while wind collapsed. Basically, the capacity factor (what percent of nameplate can be reliably counted on) for wind is practically ZERO, and ERCOT has been saying this for years. How can anyone call that a failure on the part of natural gas? The problem is, the state nevertheless continued to encourage growth in wind generators to the detriment of reliable fossil and nuclear. We could have really benefitted from a fleet of coal plants with their own stockpiles of fuel sitting in their yards continuing unaffected by the cold to provide steady baseload.

Bryan A
Reply to  Pflashgordon
October 1, 2022 11:49 am

Another aspect of the “Problem” lies in that, while the state increased their share of renewables (unreliables…ruinables) they decreased (retired) sufficient amounts of FF generation sources that they lost 100% back-up capacity.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
October 1, 2022 2:35 pm

Correct
And even worse, a large percentage of the backup fossil fueled power plants did not operate properly in extremely cold weather

Reply to  Bryan A
October 1, 2022 2:32 pm

The 95% decrease of wind energy was only for a few hours and it was from a very low level. But natural gas power decreased by about one third when it was most needed on February 15, 2021. It’s on the chart, but not so easy to see. The energy from wind and solar is barely visible on the chart. So any decline of wind and solar — even a large percentage decline — does not mean much for the total electricity generated. But the one third decline of natural gas fueled electricity in one day was a HUGE problem in Texas.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
jeffery P
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 2:49 pm

Just shows wind and solar are too unreliable for widescale use.

Reply to  jeffery P
October 1, 2022 3:38 pm

Solar is somewhat reliable — you expect no energy at night. Wind is almost completely unpredictable, even over a whole state. You can average 25% of wind nameplate capacity over a month, yet have near zero wind power for an hour, or a few hours, or a day, at random. Guaranteed to reduce grid reliability as the use of windmills and solar panels increases.

There may be an unreliables “tipping point” where the electric grid becomes unmanageable, unless there is a huge interconnection capacity with other electric grids. Texas has very low interconnection capacity with other electric grids. So they can’t buy much out of state electricity, no matter how much money they are willing to pay.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 7:30 pm

Interconnection solves nothing unless at the other end of the line is a dispatchable power plant with free capacity. In which case it is cheaper to build it locally and save on the long distance transmission lines. Renewable failures easily extend over very wide areas. Most of Europe for example, or the US East of Rockies.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  It doesnot add up
October 2, 2022 4:36 am

Yes, the Southwest Power Pool, made up of a number of States in the central U.S. were experiencing eletrical deficiencies of their own during the arctic cold front, and had no electricity to spare for Texas even is there was an interconnection.

The windmills in the SPP didn’t fare any better than those in Texas. They were plagued by the cold and the lack of wind, which is common underneath a large arctic high pressure system. This particular system covered half the United States and parts of Canada.

RossGH
Reply to  griff
October 1, 2022 4:32 pm

The problem is that when power got tight, ERCOT, properly, started prioritizing who got shut-in. Unfortunately, the did NOT prioritize the gas fields/wells. Most gas wells require electric power for controls and dehydration pumps. They will automatically shut-in when the power goes off. They don’t restart automatically.

The gas supply graphs only show the gas SUPPLIED for Texas power generation. They do not show gas production or where the gas came from. When the outage happened Texas (ERCOT?) stopped supplying gas to anybody outside Texas (a lot of gas) and non-power generation users (some gas). They drew gas from outside Texas where ever they could get it (not much).

What happened is obviously more complicated than this, but I really suspect the bulk of the problem is an error by ERCOT.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  RossGH
October 1, 2022 7:37 pm

ERCOT certainly had no understanding of which compressors needed to run to maintain supply. The Texas system is designed to be robust to production losses, such as occur when a hurricane breezes through the GOM. There is extensive storage, and in fact it supplied some 156bcf in the cold week according to EIA data. Ensuring (dry) gas got from storage to power stations should have been a critical mission.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  It doesnot add up
October 2, 2022 4:39 am

“Ensuring (dry) gas got from storage to power stations should have been a critical mission.”

It’s amazing that this wasn’t one of the highest priorities. Somebody wasn’t thinking ahead.

Paul C
Reply to  griff
October 1, 2022 6:24 pm

The PLANNED outage of several gas generators for routine maintenance at a time of year which had low predicted demand was unfortunate, but even at short notice of an increase in demand, some capacity was reinstated. That some capacity was subsequently lost, and lack of fuel supply (and storage) due to that infrastructure relying on “green” electricity rather than fossil fuels is also unfortunate. Basically ERCOT took a risk, and lost. Putting money into intermittent generators, and starving dispatchable generation of profit/investment created a fragile grid. Another major problem was the use of electricity to run (domestic) heating systems. The additional load from heat pumps operating inefficiently in freezing temperatures further stresses the grid when it is most vulnerable.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Paul C
October 2, 2022 4:59 am

Heat pumps switch to resistive heating when it gets that cold. Other resistive heaters were also likely switched on to try to top up.

joe
Reply to  griff
October 2, 2022 12:42 pm

Griff – there were three major failures in the Texas freeze fiasco

1) diversion of maintenance funds to renewables which impacted the funds that did not get spend to winterize which led directly to the failure of gas generation on 2.15.2021 which lasted approx 48 hours

2) the failure of wind in texas to generate electricity that lasted 9 days – 70% loss of generation for 5 days and 90%/95% loss of generation that lasted 4 days. That loss of generation from wind was across the entire north american continent.

3) The loss of wind for the 9 days shows that wind is NOT the solution. Contrary to the lunacy of marc jacobson

Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 3:54 am

From the article: ““Currently Texas is #1 in the nation in terms of existing wind capacity. It is also #1 in terms of planned capacity additions for wind and solar, and #2 in the nation for planned battery capacity additions.”

Texas politicians are pretty stupid. I thought this was a Red State. Oh, that’s right, Republicans are just as stupid as Democrats when it comes to CO2 and Human-caused Climate Change. Too many Republicans believe in something that is not real, and then they act as though it is real and screw up Texas as a result. That’s what is taking place now.

Keep an eye on Europe this winter, Texas politicians. You might learn something important, like maybe wind and solar aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

Yes, unfortunately, Republicans are just as credulous about Human-caused Climate Change as the dumbass Democrats. And this stupidity is going to affect a lot of us adversely. It already is affecting us adversely. Checked your electric or gasoline bill lately?

There’s not a shred of evidence proving CO2 is doing what alarmists claim it is doing to the atmosphere, yet here we have our politicians jumping through hoops to fix a problem that they cannot prove even exists. And the politicians jumping through these hoops screws all the rest of us.

Welcome to the Idiocracy.

The Idiots will only learn after everything crashes and burns. Let’s get rid of the idiots before that happens. In the upcoming elections, I mean. 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 2:39 pm

I think we can find a correlation between electric grid reliability and the growing use of unreliable sources of energy. A strong correlation !

If you are claiming human caused AGW does not exist, then I believe you are jumping to a conclusion. The claim that CAGW does not exist is true. The claim that AGW does not exist is jumping to a conclusion, with too much evidence the conclusion is wrong.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 4:49 am

No, I’m not saying CO2 does not absorb and emit radiation, I’m just saying there is no evidence that this has anything to do with the Earth’s weather.

I do not believe that CO2 is responsible for a large percentage of the temperature increase we have seen since the 1970’s, since we have seen the same temperature increase, the same magnitude, in previous decades, when CO2 was not considered a factor.

So, yes, I believe CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and no, I don’t believe it is a control knob of the Earth’s weather. It is just one of many factors and is not a major factor since there is no evidence for it being so.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 2, 2022 6:28 am

Agree, except my answer to how much warming CO2 caused since the 1970s is “I don’t know”

I do know that whatever the right number is, any CO2 induced warming since the 1970s was mild and harmless.

Based on the locations with the most warming (Arctic, Siberia, etc.) and the timing of the most warming (TMIN during the colder months of the year) it was beneficial warming.

Tom C
October 1, 2022 4:02 am

I’m not sure this line from the study didn’t get more notice, “solar resources are rated at 80% of nameplate capacity during the summer”. Apparently Texas has solved the little noticed nighttime problem most solar systems face!

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tom C
October 1, 2022 12:50 pm

They forgot to mention that the 80% applies ONLY between 11AM and 1PM on sunny days…

Nik
October 1, 2022 4:03 am

Restated, problems attributed to markets are often the result of prior government intervention on close inspection.”

Strange way to spell “interference.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Nik
October 1, 2022 4:55 am

Obstruction.

Ken Irwin
Reply to  Nik
October 1, 2022 11:31 am

Let us assume we have a power problem……

Government solution – Rationing or Rolling Blackouts – Demand Management – Load Shedding

All “Power Failures”

Free enterprise solution – “How Much Do You Need !”

Government interference in a problem is usually as bad as the problem – Milton Friedman

My caveat – it’s usually a lot worse.

Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 4:26 am

From the article: “As noted above with regard to wind capacity, winterization of thermal capacity can be an important first step. If all capacity in ERCOT had remained operable during the winter storm, load shed would have likely been necessary, but remained voluntary, thereby avoiding the EEA level 3 declarations.”

What do you do when the wind doesn’t blow? How do you fix that?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 2:42 pm

What do you do when the wind doesn’t blow? 

Portable nuclear-powered fans to spin those pesky windmills!

Next question?

jeffery P
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 2:52 pm

Build 100% backup capacity is the answer. Or build reliable primary power systems instead and avoid the costs of using “renewables” in the first place.

Richard Page
Reply to  jeffery P
October 1, 2022 5:17 pm

Exactly – if you have to have 100% backup for a system then why bother with it, why not just use the backup?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Page
October 2, 2022 4:59 am

The only reasons I can think for promoting unreliable windmills and solar is the politicians are clueless and believe the CO2 demonization and/or they are in it for the money and power.

Unproven assertions about CO2 has led the world to the insanity of trying to power the world with windmills.

I think we are just about to reach the breaking point for some power grids that are depending on too many windmills.

Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 4:31 am

From the article: “Hence, to avoid a single point of failure along the circular, interdependent natural gas-electricity value chain, fuel supply chain infrastructures should be mandatorily designated as critical load customers. (p. 25)”

They are just now figuring this out? The Stupid, it burns.

Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 4:42 am

From the article: “a careful analysis of reserve margins as intermittent capacity expands is warranted. Currently Texas is #1 in the nation in terms of existing wind capacity. It is also #1 in terms of planned capacity additions for wind and solar, and #2 in the nation for planned battery capacity additions. However, there is little-to-no planned capacity addition for other forms of dispatchable generation. This could become an issue for reliability.”

This is what Germany and other European countries have done. They have added unreliable windmills and solar, but have not added reliable generation to back up the unreliables when they don’t perform to capacity.

The only way to keep your grid stable is to add coal, gas, or nuclear generation equal to the unreliable windmills and solar that are added, effectively doubling the cost of electricity generation. Otherwise, your grid goes down when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. It’s really pretty simple to figure out. We must have some really stupid politicians if they can’t see this.

The best way to proceed is to add coal, gas and nuclear generation equal to our needs and leave the windmills and solar out of the mix.

Unfortunately our stupid politicians have been fooled into thinking CO2 is a demon gas that is going to kill us all if we let it increase in the atmosphere, and windmills and solar will save us from that fate. Nothing could be further from the truth, except maybe the thinking processes of our elected officials.

Plebney
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 2:18 pm

Although “stupid politicians” is a popular theory, if you look at the connections between what politicians do and the money they make it would tend to support an alternative theory about why they act as they do.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Plebney
October 2, 2022 5:07 am

I think politicians have various motivations. Some of it is money, and some of it is power and some of it is just plain stupidity/ignorance.

Not being a mindreader, it is difficult to distinguish the motivations. Although one can guess. 🙂

Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 1, 2022 2:46 pm

Unfortunately, our stupid politicians have been fooled into thinking CO2 is a demon gas 

Even if you thought CO2 was a demon gas, would the best solution be the biggest expansion of mining and manufacturing in world history to support Nut Zero? Lithium mining and battery manufacturing will use a lot of fossil fueled electricity. Manufacturing solar panels and windmills too. That will result in a lot of CO2 emissions … with the goal of making electric gris less reliable.

Alexei Markevitch
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 6:04 pm

Some of them may be stupid or naïve to sincerely believe in what they say, but most are just hypocritical and cynical. The goal is not Net Zero. Net Zero is a goal stated for the masses. The real goal is to move money from pockets of majority into pockets of minority. The goal is to artificially create new investment cycle into green economy and rip the profits of it.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 2, 2022 5:18 am

“Even if you thought CO2 was a demon gas, would the best solution be the biggest expansion of mining and manufacturing in world history to support Nut Zero?”

No, that would not be a good solution, it would be harmful, but I don’t think most politicians and others who support reducing CO2 realize the magnitude of the problems they are advocating.

ATheoK
October 1, 2022 5:16 am

Rice University’s Baker Institute study involves typically convoluted alarmist logic, phrasing resulting in confirmation bias conclusions.

William
October 1, 2022 6:08 am

You don’t need a big study to understand what was the cause of the problem – as the WSJ reported Texas was getting over 40% of its electricity from wind and solar immediately before the storm – when the storm hit that percentage want to 8% – no surprise that millions were wo power

Reply to  William
October 1, 2022 2:51 pm

The low point for wind was well under 8% but he main problem was a one third decline of natural gas powered electricity on February 15 when electricity was most needed in Texas. ERCOT has forecasts for wind energy averaging about 6% of nameplate capacity for a week in February as a worst case estimate. Even though the wind power average in February might be 25% of nameplate capacity.

They should have been able to compensate for that wind power decline with fossil fueled electricity. Which did not work properly in the very cold weather, when it was most needed,

Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 4:07 pm

Ah, yet again we have the “we expect wind to be unreliable” excuse for it delivering 1% of nameplate rating the night of the 15th.

Do you think the voters and politicians would have stood for the takeover of the grid by wind energy if they were told that they could expect 6% during February and 1% when it was needed the most?

Reply to  Mike Smith
October 2, 2022 6:34 am

6% of nameplate capacity was a worst case estimate for a whole week in February. There were actually quite a few hours under 6% and I believe close to a week averaged under 6%. Natural gas was expected to offset the low wind power, which can happen for an hour, or hours, in any week of the year. I think it makes more sense to blame the Texas energy infrastructure for their cold weather problems then to blame windmills for weak winds.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Richard Greene
October 1, 2022 7:45 pm

Why did the gas contribution fall so much? Start with running out of reserve – I.e. capacity shortage. Continue with a plant trip causing high RoCoF leading to a rapid cascading trip only halted by automated demand disconnection that then cuts off fuel supplies.

Bad grid management was the partner to capacity shortage. Blaming cold weather is the excuse they hide behind.

Tom Halla
October 1, 2022 6:16 am

The malallocation of investment to wind was the problem, as the subsidy mining made other supplies much less economic to invest in. As wind is not dispatchable, the prices paid for wind should be penalized, not subsidized.

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 1, 2022 3:51 pm

The misallocation of investment to wind was the problem,

That was the root cause of problems in Texas.
They invested mainly in wind power from 2011 to 2021
That did nothing to solve the cold weather energy infrastructure problem. When electricity was most needed, windmills did what they always do when the wind is weak — provided a tiny percentage of nameplate capacity.

The open question is whether anyone learned from the experience.

It does not seem that any lessons were learned:

““Currently Texas is #1 in the nation in terms of existing wind capacity. It is also #1 in terms of planned capacity additions for wind and solar, and #2 in the nation for planned battery capacity additions.”

They are still planning to build windmills and solar panels?
While batteries can be useful, they are also extremely expensive.
So money spent on batteries will not be available for investment in reliable fossil fueled sources of energy.

toorightmate
October 1, 2022 7:22 am

When I visited Texas in the 1980s (from Oz), I was impressed by Texas Utilities and the way they handled coal mines and power utilities.
Another good engineering era ruined by academic rubbish and LIES.

Olen
October 1, 2022 8:05 am

The Texas state government was concentrating on sales rather than energy generation and reliability.

MarkW
October 1, 2022 8:19 am

Restated, problems attributed to markets are often the result of prior government intervention on close inspection.

My only quibble is that “almost always” is more accurate than “often”.

Last edited 1 month ago by MarkW
Pflashgordon
October 1, 2022 8:50 am

I see two key money quotes:

Currently Texas is #1 in the nation in terms of existing wind capacity. It is also #1 in terms of planned capacity additions for wind and solar, and #2 in the nation for planned battery capacity additions. However, there is little-to-no planned capacity addition for other forms of dispatchable generation. This could become an issue for reliability

and

‘“But neglected–the rest of the story–is the unseen: renewable-energy–forcing over the last decade damaging the economics of the “reliables”–natural gas, coal, and nuclear. The result? Premature retirements, a lack of new capacity, and cost cut operations of dependable (baseload and dispatchable) generation.”

Aside from the severe weather event itself, the major cause was penetration and preferential treatment of unreliables into the Texas ERCOT grid. Yet, if the authors are to be believed, Texas is poised to worsen the damage. The legislature can stop this lunacy by leveling the playing field. Stop all renewable mandates, subsidies, tax breaks, etc. for unreliables. Force them by law to ensure reliability, or get out of town. Stop letting Texas be the “beneficiary” of out-of-state generators’ green dreams just to fulfill their renewables commitments. Instead, they just fired a few people, shuffled the deck, then moved on as if all is well.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Pflashgordon
October 1, 2022 10:27 am

“But neglected….” –I recall reading and probably posting the link that the 2021 “reference” freeze consideration only went back a couple of decades. Regardless, this is more of a root cause, along with amazing, and I do mean amazing, lack of homework about Texas freezes and renewables. We had serious freezes in 1940, 1951, 1962, 1983, 1989 (2), a hiatus until 2021. 2011 was minor relative to the others. 1962 was considered nearly as bad as 1899 which had evidence that it may have been the worst recorded. I studied serious coastal fish kills in 1983 and 1989, a little in 2021. They are all different but along with a small version of the renewable experiment then should have been a lesson taken from the 1980s. Severe freezes go back as far as records in Texas, a state in 1845, weather records in 1880.

On example is the entire Taylor army bivouacked in Corpus Christi during the winter of 1845-46 fed with many wagon loads of freshly killed fish and turtles. From a letter by General Marly, in Collins, J. W. 1884. History of the tilefish. Report of the Commissioner U. S. Fish and Fisheries. 10(1882):237-292. This was a North Atlantic exceptional kill of tilefish and cod in 1882, probably not recovered until 1898. Maybe related to the AMO.

Pflashgordon
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
October 1, 2022 2:09 pm

At the time, people were spouting “unprecedented” left and right, as well as the new favorite weather word “extreme.” My boss is our university system’s crisis and emergency manager and communicates conditions out to our member institutions and system administrators. I cautioned her not to use these words, not to lessen the severity of the situation but to be circumspect and honest. As you said, H.D., this had happened before in my own living memory and likely worse in earlier times.

Reply to  H. D. Hoese
October 1, 2022 3:20 pm

 We had serious freezes in 1940, 1951, 1962, 1983, 1989 (2), a hiatus until 2021.

There were already cold weather problems in the 1980s
The problems got worse as the population grew without a proper increase in fossil fuel baseload power plants. The problems got worse when pumps in natural gas pipelines were converted from gas powered to electric powered. The problem got worse when windmills became the favorite power source after 2011. The problem got worse when the February 2021 cold weather was colder, and the cold lasted longer, than previous extremely cold weather.

Every energy decision made the Texas ERCOT grid less reliable. Only bureaucrats are capable of so many wrong decisions in a row.

Kit P
October 1, 2022 2:02 pm

So who is Robert Bradley Jr.and why should I spend time reading his thoughts?

Just another self proclaimed blowhard from the natural gas industry. Stop reading.

Ice storm and hurricanes are examples of events that take out power lines. If you are not prepared and waiting for the nanny state to recuse you, you may die of natural causes.

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Kit P
October 1, 2022 8:05 pm

Why don’t you take a minute and look him up? And who by the way are you and why should we respond to anything you have to say?

Bob
October 1, 2022 5:05 pm

“Comment: Winterization? Why does this have to be mandated? Private companies have incentives to operate during high-margin periods and are subject to must-perform contracts in a real free market. Higher margins from less intermittent sources is a better approach.”

To me this is the take home message, “Private companies have incentives to operate during high margin periods and are subject to must-perform contracts in a real free market.” This sentence holds the solution to the wind and solar debacle. Hold wind and solar to must-perform contracts and they will simply disappear.

Ken
October 4, 2022 6:21 am

We had no problems at all in Fayette County, possibly because the Fayette County Power Plant is a coal fired plant. Please don’t tell anyone

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