The outage of sanity

As Texas freezes in power cuts, the only sure renewable is climate madness

Britain’s prime minster Boris Johnson has said he wants to turn the UK into the “Saudi Arabia of wind” power.

How enlightened. Or, in the circumstances, the literal opposite.

As Texas and other southern American states are hit by ferocious snowstorms, millions have been left without heat or light. The Hill reports:

Southern states dealt with widespread power outages, with Texas seeing the most with more than 2.8 million homes losing electricity as temperatures dropped, according to poweroutage.us

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) moved to rotating outages on Monday morning, cutting off power to thousands of homes at a time to manage the high demand. “Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now," ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said in a release.  

But the power outages aren’t due only to high demand. As Anthony Watts reports

Ice storms knocked out nearly half the wind-power generating capacity of Texas on Sunday as a massive deep freeze across the state locked up wind turbine generators, creating an electricity generation crisis.

Wind generation ranks as the second-largest source of energy in Texas, accounting for 23 per cent of state power supplies last year, behind natural gas, which represented 45 per cent, according to Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) figures.

…At the same time the freezing temperatures were driving electricity demand to record levels, ERCOT reported while calling on consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as possible Sunday, Feb. 14 through Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. “At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.” Capacity is expected to fall short of demand by as much as 20,000 megawatts today, while the National Weather Service in Dallas predicts record low temperatures between -6° F to 3° F for Monday night.

… It is sad and ironic that in a state known for its huge petroleum and natural gas resources, the lack of reliability of wind power has brought the state to its knees in a time of crisis, not unlike that which California experienced in 2020 during record heat where wind and solar power could not keep up with demand and was near collapse.

As I observed here, wind power and renewable energy present blackout risks because, as the UK National Grid has warned, they increase the "unpredictability and volatility” of the power supply. There have been many other such warnings. 

Surely only a totally recklesss, brainwashed or insane prime minster, state governor or other official in charge of the power supply to millions would ignore this?

Speaking via video link to a round-table climate discussion at the UN in New York last September, Boris Johnson said that the UK held “extraordinary potential for wind”. The following month, he told the Conservative party conference: 

We believe that in ten years’ time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country…your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.

…Far out in the deepest waters we will harvest the gusts, and by upgrading infrastructure in such places as Teesside and Humber, and Scotland and Wales, we will increase an offshore wind capacity that is already the biggest in the world.

Maybe the people of Texas might like to have a word with him.

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