Minnesota Madness: Big Freeze Exposes Wind & Solar’s Deadly Flaw – Hopeless Intermittency

Power consumers pinning their hopes on the weather, inevitably learn to expect mixed results. 200,000 Victorian businesses and households learnt the hard way, as a sudden wind power output collapse left them sweltering during a summer heatwave.

At the other end of the temperature spectrum, the risk of being powerless is even more serious. The elderly and frail do not last long without reliable and affordable energy to heat their abodes.

Across America’s Mid-West a burst of frigid weather has exposed the fatal (literally) flaw in wind and solar power: they’re never there when you need them most.

Why “Green” Energy is Futile, In One Lesson
Powerline
John Hinderaker
31 January 2019

Here in Minnesota, we are enduring a brutal stretch of weather. The temperature hasn’t gotten above zero in the last three days, with lows approaching -30. And that is in the Twin Cities, in the southern part of the state. Yesterday central Minnesota experienced a natural gas “brownout,” as Xcel Energy advised customers to turn thermostats down to 60 degrees and avoid using hot water. Xcel put up some customers in hotels. Why?

Because the wind wasn’t blowing. Utilities pair natural gas plants with wind farms, in order to burn gas, which can be ramped up and down more quickly than coal, when the wind isn’t blowing.

Which raises the question: since natural gas is reliable, why do we need the wind farms? The answer is, we don’t. When the wind isn’t blowing–as it wasn’t yesterday–natural gas supplies the electricity. It also heats homes, and with bitter cold temperatures and no wind, there wasn’t enough natural gas to go around. The resulting “brownout” has been a political shock in Minnesota.

Isaac Orr, a leading energy expert who is my colleague at Center of the American Experiment, explains this phenomenon in detail:

[W]ind is producing only four percent of electricity in the MISO region, of which Minnesota is a part.

While that’s not good, what’s worse is wind is only utilizing 24 percent of its installed capacity, and who knows how this will fluctuate throughout the course of the day.

Coal, on the other hand, is churning out 45 percent of our power, nuclear is providing 13 percent, and natural gas is providing 26 percent of our electricity.

This is exactly why the renewable energy lobby’s dream of shutting down coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants and “replacing” them with wind and solar is a fairy tale. It simply cannot happen, because we never know if and when the wind will blow or the sun will shine when we need it most.

“But the wind is always blowing somewhere” ~ a renewable energy lobbyist

Renewable energy apologists often argue that although the wind may not be blowing in your neighborhood, it’s blowing, somewhere. All we have to do, they argue, is build wind turbines and transmission lines all over the country so we can have renewable energy everywhere. It turns out this old chestnut is also completely wrong.

For example, the wind isn’t blowing in North Dakota or South Dakota, where more than 1,800 MW (a massive amount) of wind projects are operating or planned, at massive cost, by Minnesota electric companies.

In fact, the wind isn’t blowing anywhere.

Just look at California, the state that is consistently the most self-congratulating about how “green” they are. Wind is operating a 3 percent of installed capacity, solar is operating at 12 percent, natural gas is running wide open, and California is importing a whopping 27 percent of its electricity from Nevada and Arizona.
***
Days like today perfectly illustrate why intermittent, unreliable sources of energy like wind and solar would have no place in our energy system if they were not mandated by politicians, showered with federal subsidies, and lining the pockets of regulated utilities that are guaranteed to profit off wind and solar farms whether they are generating electricity, or not.

Isaac’s real-world message is starting to break through, at least here in Minnesota. Tomorrow morning the Star Tribune is running Isaac’s op-ed headlined “Bitter cold shows reliable energy sources are critical.”

Lawmakers considering doubling Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate to 50 percent by 2030 should use this week’s weather as a moment to reconsider their plans to lean so heavily on wind and solar.
***
[C]oal-fired power plants provided 45 percent of MISO’s power and nuclear provided 13 percent — most of this from Minnesota’s Prairie Island and Monticello nuclear plants (which we should keep open, by the way). Natural gas provided 26 percent of our electricity use at that time, and the remainder was imported from Canada and other U.S. states.

Natural gas also heated the homes of approximately 66 percent of Minnesotans this week, by far the most for any home heating fuel, but there wasn’t enough gas to combat the frigid temperatures.

Because of the extreme cold, Xcel Energy urged its natural gas customers in Becker, Big Lake, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Princeton and Isanti to reduce the settings on their thermostats, first down to 60 degrees, then to 63, through Thursday morning to conserve enough natural gas to prevent a widespread shortage as temperatures remained 14 below zero. Some Xcel customers in the Princeton area lost gas service, and Xcel reserved rooms for them in nearby hotels.

This week’s urgent notice from Xcel to conserve natural gas shows there is real danger in putting all of our eggs into the renewables-plus-natural gas basket. At a minimum, pursuing a grid powered entirely by solar, wind and natural gas would require more natural gas pipeline capacity, which is likely to be opposed by the factions that are currently challenging the replacement of the Line 3 pipeline.
***
If Minnesota lawmakers are sincere in their belief that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions as soon as possible, they must lift Minnesota’s ban on new nuclear power plants, which has been in place since 1994.

Not only would nuclear power plants be essentially guaranteed to run in minus-24-degree weather, but a forthcoming study by American Experiment has found that new nuclear power plants could not only achieve a lower emissions rate by 2030, but also save Minnesota $30.2 billion through 2050.

Stay tuned. We will release that report in two weeks. I think it will be a bombshell, not only in Minnesota but in other states that are fecklessly mandating ever-higher utilization of intermittent, unreliable, inefficient “green” energy.
Powerline

Bitter cold shows reliable energy sources are critical
Star Tribune
Isaac Orr
4 February 2019

This week’s bitter cold had the potential to be deadly. But thanks to reliable forms of energy like coal, natural gas and nuclear power, it wasn’t.

Lawmakers considering doubling Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate to 50 percent by 2030 should use this week’s weather as a moment to reconsider their plans to lean so heavily on wind and solar.

On Wednesday, when the morning temperature in the Twin Cities was negative 24 degrees, wind energy provided just 4 percent of the electricity and utilized just 24 percent of its installed capacity in a region monitored by the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), a not-for-profit organization that ensures reliable, least-cost delivery of electricity across all or parts of 15 U.S. states, including Minnesota.

Meanwhile, coal-fired power plants provided 45 percent of MISO’s power and nuclear provided 13 percent — most of this from Minnesota’s Prairie Island and Monticello nuclear plants (which we should keep open, by the way). Natural gas provided 26 percent of our electricity use at that time, and the remainder was imported from Canada and other U.S. states.

Natural gas also heated the homes of approximately 66 percent of Minnesotans this week, by far the most for any home heating fuel, but there wasn’t enough gas to combat the frigid temperatures.

Because of the extreme cold, Xcel Energy urged its natural gas customers in Becker, Big Lake, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Princeton and Isanti to reduce the settings on their thermostats, first down to 60 degrees, then to 63, through Thursday morning to conserve enough natural gas to prevent a widespread shortage as temperatures remained 14 below zero. Some Xcel customers in the Princeton area lost gas service, and Xcel reserved rooms for them in nearby hotels.

Enacting a 50 percent renewable energy mandate will not replace coal-fired power plants with wind and solar. It will replace coal-fired power plants with wind, solar and natural gas — enough natural gas power plants to potentially generate up to 100 percent of our electricity needs in the very possible eventuality that wind or solar are generating zero electricity at a given moment. Or, on a day like Wednesday, 96 percent of electricity might have to be generated by natural gas, with wind contributing 4 percent.

This week’s urgent notice from Xcel to conserve natural gas shows there is real danger in putting all of our eggs into the renewables-plus-natural gas basket. At a minimum, pursuing a grid powered entirely by solar, wind and natural gas would require more natural gas pipeline capacity, which is likely to be opposed by the factions that are currently challenging the replacement of the Line 3 pipeline.

Lest I be accused of unfairness, it’s true that any number of unforeseen circumstances could prevent a coal, nuclear or natural gas plant from being able to run during a cold snap like this. But the key word is “unforeseen.” The intermittency of wind and solar is a feature, not a bug, which is why Minnesota lawmakers should reconsider the wisdom of enacting a mandate requiring 50 percent of our electricity to come from intermittent renewable sources.

If Minnesota lawmakers are sincere in their belief that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions as soon as possible, they must lift Minnesota’s ban on new nuclear power plants, which has been in place since 1994.

Not only would nuclear power plants be essentially guaranteed to run in minus-24-degree weather, but a forthcoming study by American Experiment has found that new nuclear power plants could not only achieve a lower emissions rate by 2030, but also save Minnesota $22.3 billion through 2050.

Minnesota can show true leadership, and provide reliable, affordable and safe electricity by legalizing new nuclear power, not by doubling Minnesota’s reliance on intermittent renewable power (and natural gas).
Star Tribune

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Shawna Bonini says:

    My hope is that people will stop villainizing fossil fuels. Bottomline, fossil fuels are the most reliable and cheapest form of energy. Not to mention, the government and our tax dollars don’t need to be used to subsidize the development. How is it possible that people are so clueless!!!

  2. David Lindsay says:

    Just tell all the Somali’s in Minnesota to revert back to burning goat dung for heat. There……..FIFY.

  3. Kristi Rosenquist says:

    In Minnesota, during the polar vortex, Ottertail Power testified to the Minnesota legislature that their turbines in the Dokotas “had a negative load of 2MW, which means they were net-electricity users because the turbines needed to be heated to keep the oil in the gearboxes warm.”

    https://www.americanexperiment.org/2019/02/american-experiment-testifies-bill-increase-renewable-energy-mandate/?fbclid=IwAR0pI_mjoSqVO6T-uGPEf7SEdIkiQX1PC_kspIgAyuT0XDrGKq5vpGr81a8

  4. Reblogged this on windfarmaction and commented:
    Interesting comments. Any meteorologist will tell you that when large scale highs sit over the UK for days on end the wind does not blow.

  5. raphael semmes says:

    Minnesota has a great home-grown group that fights against the windmills with the tongue-in-cheek name of Minnesotans for Global Warming. They do some great music videos like this one-
    “Where have all the eagles gone”

  6. ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.

    “Human Caused Global Warming”, ‘The Biggest Deception in History’.


    https://www.technocracy.news/dr-tim-ball-on-climate-lies-wrapped-in-deception-smothered-with-delusion/
    http://www.drtimball.com

  7. Steve holben says:

    Terrific story. Unfortunately politicians don’t deal in reality, and schools have so dumbed down ciriculums that kids are getting out of schooling completely ignorant of the reality in your post, and politicians are filling their heads with bull shit.

  8. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  9. Kristi Rosenquist says:

    Also, the turbines were shut down during this time, even when the wind was blowing. Why? Because it was too cold for the gear boxes. I’ve asked several times, and haven’t gotten an answer – how much electricity did MN wind turbines pull from the electrical grid during the polar vortex to heat their gear boxes?

  10. I have been sent a link to the new Nuclear Centre of Excellence in Bristol, UK. Progress is well under way on Hinkley Point C.

    https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/nuclear-centre-of-excellence-opens-in-bristol/

  11. To stop loadshedding world wide: I develop a device that will overcome the problem, look at http://www.lsnm.co.za
    Hope somebody will look at this and take it further, because in my Country South Africa every body is corrupt and did not want a solution to our energy crisis.
    Await your reply

    • Sounds like an excellent idea to turn off appliances that you are not using. I find when I have my stove on and my microwave, and my frying pan and my dishwasher just warming it up before filling it with my dirty dishes and the iron on in the bedroom, the swimming pool pump and all the lights on in the house just incase I forget to turn them on when I enter a room. Now we know why there was no electricity in Africa before the White Europeans arrived. Has this gentleman ever heard of the Zellweger electric switching device used for to control off-peak electrical loads such as water heaters. This system has been around in developed countries for half a century.
      I think the answer is Pixie dust that you can sprinkle on your fuse box when the lights go out.If Government haven’t the ability or knowledge to keep the lights on then no amount of load shedding will in the end work because the Government has already failed.

      • Freezer, fridge, furnace, phone, and computer are energized. All else de-energized when not in use. Phone because since fiber optic installation, I supply the power.

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