This special interest group is for professionals to connect and discuss all types of carbon-free power alternatives, including nuclear, renewable, tidal and more.

Post

Energy Alerts in Texas and Alberta

Kevin  Wiens's picture
Owner/Technical Specialist Pacific Power Systems Ltd.

Forty years as an electrical technologist providing innovative solutions for development, design, construction, operations and regulatory issues and subjects with an emphasis on high voltage...

  • Member since 2021
  • 2 items added with 378 views
  • Jun 17, 2021
  • 378 views

This winter Texas experienced several days of brownouts/blackouts due in part to adverse weather causing forced outages of generating plants. The week of June 13th  they were again seeing numerous forced outages of generating facilities. 

Many people have blamed ERCOT’s difficulties on the large amount of renewable energy in Texas. I would like to point to ERCOT’s own press releases; draw your own conclusions where the problems lie.

Exerts from ERCOT press releases:

Feb. 19, 2021 - ".... As of 7:30 this morning, approximately 34,000 MW of generation remains on forced outage due to this winter weather event. Of that, nearly 20,000 MW is thermal generation and the rest is wind and solar."

June 14, 2021 - ".... Generator owners have reported approximately 11,000 MW of generation is on forced outage for repairs; of that, approximately 8,000 MW is thermal and the rest is intermittent resources. According to the summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy, a typical range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is around 3,600 MW. One MW typically powers around 200 homes on a summer day...."

Complete releases can be found at: http://www.ercot.com/news/releases

In the past we have also seen issues here in Alberta, the Energy Emergency Alerts (EEA) have mostly occurred during the summer on hot clear days when gas turbines are turned down (gas turbines have a negative temperature coefficient with regards to output) and with the high pressure systems the wind generally isn't blowing. These are perfect conditions for solar and if we had more solar then some of the past EEA's would not have occurred. -20 deg C is perfect conditions for gas turbines, the chinook winds we get in Alberta are perfect conditions for wind generation. 

That’s not say that renewable energy doesn’t also have limitations, you need the right topology, climate or other resources to apply this technology and they are intermittent and variable. Large scale storage is still not cost effective enough to replace more firm sources of energy but it is gaining traction.  

I believe that the best generation technology is a mix of technologies. 

Rather than decrying the challenges renewables bring let's start working together to solve the issues.
 

Kevin  Wiens's picture
Thank Kevin for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member
Discussions
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 17, 2021

That’s not say that renewable energy doesn’t also have limitations, you need the right topology, climate or other resources to apply this technology and they are intermittent and variable. Large scale storage is still not cost effective enough to replace more firm sources of energy but it is gaining traction.  

I believe that the best generation technology is a mix of technologies. 

This has to continue to be a key takeaway-- silver bullets don't exist, but fine tuned energy systems for a local region, based on their geophraphy and needs and inteconncetion opportunities will be the way forward. While Alberta and Texas are experiencing similar problems, obviously the solutions for each region will look different and specific to their area. 

Thanks for sharing Kevin

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Jun 18, 2021

Kevin, Thanks for helping to clear that up. Many assume it is the Renewables causing problems while the research said it was the gas distribution and thermal fossil fuel plants as you noted. Can we all imagine how much better our GRID would be with lots of renewable hydro, solar pv, wind and geo thermal. 

   When do you think this will reach the tipping point and grow to levels we can enjoy all the benefits? 

Kevin  Wiens's picture
Kevin Wiens on Jun 21, 2021

Hi Jim, I think there are several key issues when it comes to renewables, one will be storage but it has to be competitive and reliable. Pumped hydro and hydrogen in particular as these will supply long duration make up up power.

Another option is small nuclear, this of course is quite controversial for the obvious reasons but if these issues can be overcome it would be capable of supplying the base load.

Thirdly, carbon capture.

Finally - Interconnections. Using Alberta as an example, we have very poor topography for hydro (although there are several sites suitable for pumped hydro) and the one area suitable for large scale hydro is quite environmentally sensitive so will most likely never happen. We also don't have the proper geo-thermal resources for large scale geo-thermal electricity generation and we are poorly Interconnected to WECC with only one 500 kV line. With more interconnections we could draw on neighbouring hydro resources and supply wind and solar when we are over producing.

Those are some of the technical issues, there are also the political, regulatory, image, etc. issues to overcome. The willingness to cooperate between jurisdictions will a large one.

All of this can be dealt with if the people as whole have the will to do it and we quite pointing fingers without offering solutions.

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Jun 30, 2021

The solution already exists and we all know it: nuclear. The initial cost would be high, but like with anything, it would quickly go down if a lot of plants were constructed. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 1, 2021

Would scale be what brings down nuclear costs? Perhaps for SMRs once they're able to be deployed, but for traditional nuclear plants they are massive installations and I don't think the economic challenge for them is scale or replicability

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jul 1, 2021

Go ask Vistra - the owner of current Comanche plant in TX - if they want to build some new reactors. They have kept open the possibility of adding a third and fourth reactor.

If they started today - might be able to get license and start construction by start of 2023. First reactor at Comanche took about 16 years to finish and second reactor took 19 years - so we could have these finished by 2039 and 2042.  Just in time to replace the existing first two reactors which will be over 50 years old by then.

 

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »