Lone Star Losers: Wind Power Collapses During Texan Heatwave & Power Prices Rocket

Star non-performers in the Lone Star State.

 

No one cares much about electricity, until they don’t have it. For the best part of a century, proles in the industrialised world have enjoyed electricity on the same terms as running water; ubiquitous, cheap and always available.

Infrastructure interruptions during electrical storms and wild weather aside, electricity has been generated and delivered on demand for generations.

Not anymore.

These days the prospects of having power on demand no longer depends upon good management and good engineering, it’s down to good luck and the right kind of weather. ‘Goldilocks’ wind speeds which are ‘just right’ – neither too slow nor too fast.

In the height of summer, breathless 42°C days see power demand spike as households and businesses crank up their air conditioners, simultaneous with which wind power output becomes a nonevent.

Sunset, of course, renders all those millions of shiny solar panels redundant and leaves the grid manager scrambling to keep the whole thing from collapsing.

The renewable energy obsessed states of South Australia and neighbouring Victoria are odds-on to suffer more mass load shedding and blackouts this coming summer.

Meanwhile, it’s the equally wind power obsessed Lone Star State that’s enjoying its fair share of weather related electricity chaos.

Texas Declares Second Power Emergency in Three Days
Bloomberg
Chris Martin and Naureen Malik
16 August 2019

An energy emergency that Texas’s grid operator was forced to declare on Thursday as an unrelenting heat wave threatened power shortages has ended.

While temperatures remained near 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) in some parts of Texas, the state’s electricity demand has begun to fall, and the region’s power reserves rebounded to more than 3,000 megawatts, according to the website of grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Earlier on Thursday, they had dwindled to about 2,000 megawatts, just 3% of total demand.

Wholesale power prices, which had surged by almost 44,000% to hit a $9,000 a megawatt-hour price cap for the second time this week, retreated to $7,927.92 at about 6:30 p.m. New York time.

Texas has been dealing with power price spikes and potential rolling blackouts for most of the week as a heat wave propelled electricity demand to record levels. It’s hitting just as the region is grappling with massive coal-fired power plant retirements that have shrunk its electricity reserves and made it more vulnerable to shortages.

“It has been five years since Ercot had to issue a similar call to conserve electric usage,” said DeAnn Walker, chairman of the state’s Public Utilities Commission. “This is an opportunity for every Texan to do their part to help.”
Bloomberg

The Texas Reliability Two-Step
Count on Coal
14 August 2019

The Texas grid has been pushed to its limits this week. Demand for power has exceeded supply, prices have soared and energy experts and consumers alike have waited with bated breath for rolling brownouts or blackouts.

On Monday, electricity demand hit a new record and electricity prices spiked to $6,500 per megawatt hour. On Tuesday, things got even stickier. The reserve margin of remaining power capacity shrunk to just 2 gigawatts in the early afternoon, less than 3% of total demand on the system, forcing the grid into emergency operation. The price of electricity surged more than 49,000% and hit the market cap of $9,000 per megawatt hour. That’s not a typo. Consumers were begged to conserve power. The system was on the very precipice of being overwhelmed. The threat of rolling outages and no AC for millions of families during triple digit temperatures was shockingly imminent.

How could this happen with all of the “cheap” renewables that have been integrated onto the grid? As Bloomberg reports, that’s exactly how it happened: “The unprecedented rally highlights how volatile the Texas power market has become as coal-fired power plants… continue to shutter. Texas’ grid operator has been warning for months that plant retirements and increasing electricity demand has left it with slim supply margins.”

At the heart of the problem is a market design that has thrown caution to the wind in search of marginally less expensive power. Fuel security, grid reliability and resilience have taken a back seat. For the better part of two years, as essential baseload power plants – including nearly 5,000 MW of coal capacity – have been forced into early retirement due to market conditions that could not support their continued operation, reliability experts have warned of an approaching crisis.

Texas has traded essential baseload capacity for heavily subsidized wind power. Now boasting nearly 25 gigawatts of wind generation, Texas has the largest wind capacity of any state. That increasing exposure to variable power hasn’t come without challenges. August, the month for peak electricity demand, is case in point.

Extreme heat and humidity are not conducive to strong wind. We’ve all felt it. A stifling hot day with oppressive humidity when even the faintest breeze would make all the difference, but nothing is stirring. Despite the state’s large investment in wind generation, it has been largely a no-show when it was needed most. Bloomberg reported that wind power generation has plunged for three straight days.

Renewable advocates have pointed to solar power as the perfect compliment to Texas’ summer wind woes but solar may not be the cure-all those advocates are counting on. Solar generation peaks at midday and ebbs into the afternoon just when power demand reaches its peak. If subsidized solar additions push even more baseload power into early retirement, Texas will again trade dispatchable generation for variable power that produces electricity not when needed but when it can. That’s the last thing ERCOT needs to maintain reliability.

Recent reliability challenges and price volatility show that our electricity markets are increasingly leaning on guesswork and hope, rather than on reality-driven strategy. Instead of doubling down on technologies that pose reliability challenges, ERCOT, like several other regional grids, needs to rethink its rate structures to properly value baseload, fuel-secure, dispatchable power that is the very foundation of grid reliability. Keeping essential coal capacity running is an important piece of a thoughtful, all-of-the-above energy strategy that also includes renewables. It’s past time to admit the obvious: the market is failing to provide the incentives needed to maintain a reliable, resilient flow of power. Texas shouldn’t wait another minute to fix what is clearly broken.
Count on Coal

Texan turmoil: Sun sets on 24/7 electricity supply.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  2. David Winterflood says:

    The whole of Australia’s Eastern seaboard is like Texas. We have a Yank named Audrey who is pulling the plug on our once cheap and reliable energy for all those foreigners who are paid to build and even finance the destruction of our energy system. Not just electricity. Foreign owned. Not just transport fuels ; petrol , diesel and jet fuel. All foreign owned and processed. Australia used to do all that. But our politicians sold us out. Australia was sold out ! And so were you. Western Australia was a little but smarter. We were dumb to allow this theft. !!!

  3. Uncle Vince says:

    The same thing is happening in Germany, where the Greens have gone nuts for wind and solar, hoping that when they’re up against the wall they can buy what they need from French nukes.

  4. Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

  5. Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

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