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Nuclear Power Policy Activist Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

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  • Feb 16, 2021

Confronted with direct evidence of the intermittent, unpredictable, and yes - dangerous - shortcomings of their objects of worship, supporters of the 'energy transition' enter a new phase of denial.

"Frozen wind turbines and limited gas supplies have hampered the ability to generate enough power, according to a statement from ERCOT.

People in Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States, may be in the dark into Tuesday, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 1.2 million CenterPoint customers without power, including in the city of Houston and the Houston region, Turner said, a number that he said could increase as the weather gets colder in the evening.

'I just want to be very upfront with the people of the city: If you are without power right now, it is very conceivable that you could be without power throughout the rest of today and possibly even going into tomorrow,' Turner said."


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Lili Francklyn's picture
Lili Francklyn on Feb 16, 2021

A comment from Fortune:
"Don’t point too many fingers at Texas wind turbines, because they’re not the main reason broad swaths of the state have been plunged into darkness.

While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, wind only comprises 25% of the state’s energy mix this time of year. The majority of outages overnight were plants fueled by natural gas, coal and nuclear, which together make up more than two-thirds of power generation during winter.

“The wind is not solely to blame,” said Wade Schauer, research director of Americas power and renewables at Wood Mackenzie. He estimates that about 27 gigawatts of coal, nuclear and gas capacity is unavailable, in part because the cold has driven up demand for natural gas for heating. “That’s the bigger problem.”

Fortune says that wind generation exceeded the grid operator's forecast over the weekend. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 17, 2021

Thanks for some follow up on this Lili. Rather than trying to use this is a 'gotcha' moment on where wind, natural gas, or any other generation method may be vulnerable during extreme events, I'd be interested to hear what everyone thinks need to be the market/policy solutions to prevent this from happening. Is it a matter of needing to incentivize certain types of weather-hardended peaker generation? Should the existing generation be fitted with tech that allows them to withstand the cold temperatures (Northern states don't see their grid shut down from this type of weather, but that's because they prepare for it ahead of time), or is this such a rare occurrence that Texans don't need to overly worry about the recurrence of such challenges? 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 17, 2021

Matt, nuclear is vulnerable too - one reactor at South Point is down, due to a pipe carrying cooling water that was frozen. But what's more cost-effective: 1) installing insulation around a pipe, or 2) installing heaters on 10,700 wind turbines, and hardening 65 Texas peaker plants?

Like California blackouts in August, maybe advocates will be forced to rethink the assumption distributed generation is either more reliable or cost-effective, that breaking a problem into little pieces might put its solution further out of reach. Maybe it isn't a "gotcha", but a "wakeup" moment.

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