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ERCOT data showed renewable energy is not root cause of grid failure!

Yi Kang's picture
Application & Technical Support Manager for APsmart BU APsystems Solar

PV specialist has over 18 years experiences in solar industry, from R&D, Product Develop, Manufacturing and operation, to sales & marketing. I was focusing on PV & Electronic products...

  • Member since 2019
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  • Feb 18, 2021
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Wind - ERCOT finds that frozen wind turbines were the least significant factor in Texas blackouts - Renewable Energy Magazine, at the heart of clean energy journalism

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has released data showing that the vast majority of power plant outages in Texas were gas-fired generators. As multiple experts have documented, the vast majority of power plant capacity outages in Texas are at gas generators. ERCOT data show that around 25-30 GW of fossil capacity has been on outage, mostly gas generators, versus only around 4 GW of wind capacity.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 18, 2021

Do you think the issue was more the total outages or the lack of planning for what would happen during such outages? Is this a situation that may repeat itself and a more systematic solution should be investigated? 

Yi Kang's picture
Yi Kang on Feb 19, 2021

I never can image Austin will snow for a week, kids doing ski on the drive way. This is one time over100 years emergency situation.

Peter Key's picture
Peter Key on Feb 25, 2021

Whether this was a 1-in-100-year occurrence is being debated. Some scientists believe that the warming of the Arctic makes the polar vortex more unstable, which allows very cold air to break out of the region more frequently than in the past. Even if it was, however, Texas should have been more prepared.

In a Feb. 18 blog post, Roger Pielke Jr. said ERCOT was using a period of extremely cold weather in 2011 as a worst-case scenario in planning for winter demand, even though that was determined to be a 1-in-10-year event. Had it looked back another 22 years to 1989, it would have seen a cold snap that reduced Texas' power generation by 84 percent, as opposed to the 68 percent reduction caused by the 2011 cold spell.

"There are always important debates to be had over what level of hardening to build into infrastructure, typically based on cost considerations," Pielke wrote. "But it will surely be a rare case where that level is defined only as the 1-in-10 year event."

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 21, 2021

Yi, I think you need to dig a little deeper to get to the root cause.

Wind power, which ERCOT has been hyping for years to distract from Texas's role as the largest carbon polluter in the country, was billed by the state's all-powerful oil industry as the "replacement" for coal.

That's what we were supposed to believe, anyway, as Texas built gas plants hand-over-fist to replace most of the retired coal generation. The artifice fell apart, however, when the state discovered its fragile, intermittent renewable props didn't work in cold weather - and it hadn't built enough gas plants, and gas transmission, to pick up the slack!

"As multiple experts have documented, the vast majority of power plant capacity outages in Texas are at gas generators."

What multiple experts haven't documented is why there were outages at gas generators. Did pipelines snap in the cold weather? Of course not - gas plants and transmission work just fine year 'round, anywhere from Bangor to Corpus Christi. But when called on to replace 18% of Texas generation, there wasn't enough transmission to deliver fuel to them - the state's shiny new gas plants had literally run out of gas.

That one week Texas was bragging about the robust part wind plays in its energy future, and the next can't minimize it fast enough, is comical. But as the laughter dies down, and we're faced with the sobering reality that scores of Texans lost their lives due to ERCOT's poor planning, it's time to take stock -  and recognize that power plants requiring a constant supply of fuel don't work when the supply is disrupted, and power plants that require wind don't work when the wind stops blowing. It's time to recognize that when Texas was faced with both circumstances at the same time, disaster could have been the only result.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Feb 22, 2021

The gas gathering equipment froze. Pipelines are not entirely useful if they cannot be filled.

Too bad Texas shut down so many coal plants in response to the green religion.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Feb 22, 2021

No wind is the problem. Too much money was directed into an unreliable (and unneeded) energy at the expense of reliable generation. The quality of capacity reserve margins deteriorated as a distorted and ill-devised marketplace provided no particular incentive to maintain a properly prepared reserve margin.

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