Green Energy Can Kill

Source: Karl Denninger.

Once you know that almost 50% of the Texas blackout consisted of shutdown renewable energy systems, it becomes easier to grasp the big picture of the event in semi-technical terms. Activist blogger and businessman Karl Denninger provides a colorful description:

Texas, like so many other areas, has put up windmills and solar “farms” for the last 20 years, shutting down older coal-fired plants and not modernizing and improving their “fossil fuel” energy production infrastructure. At the same time on a national basis the natural gas pipeline operators, in service to the woke green mob, have replaced fuel-fired pumps (that run on the gas in the pipe, therefore are failsafe so long as the pipe has something in it and is intact) with electrically powered booster pumps because, of course, you can get the power for them from “green” sources instead of all that eeee-vile carbon.

I remind you that natural gas does not freeze at other than cryogenic temperatures and as such the problem is not the gas freezing and as for machinery you have plenty of heat source in the pipe. By putting up with and responding to the “woke mob” instead of immediately frying and eating their entire blood line these companies took an ultra-reliable and essential energy delivery system that other than by physical destruction would nearly-always continue to operate and turned it into a fragile system dependent on multiple outside elements where if any of those elements failed so does the natural gas delivery.

Winter in the south is when nuclear plants are typically taken down for maintenance as well — since it’s the middle of summer when the A/C is blasting away. But those NatGas peaking plants and coal-fired base load infrastructure, well…. it’s not green enough, so let’s turn that stuff off and rely on the windmills and solar panels — and hope it doesn’t get destabilized.

Of course the “Globull Warming” screamfest folks always and forever have prognosticated that it will forever get warmer, that wind levels will rise forever and thus both solar panels and wind will forevermore continue to yield more and more useful energy.

All of that got blown up this week.

Texas is seeing wind chills in negative (Fahrenheit) numbers along with single digit or below temperatures. That plus moisture = ice, and windmill blades are wings and not only suffer the same problem an airplane wing does when it gets loaded in addition they go out of balance and thus the windmill has to be shut down lest it destroy itself. At the same time ice and snow cover solar panels and reduce their output to an effective zero.

The problem with the power grid is that in the event you demand more of it than can be delivered it becomes unstable due to a number of factors including, in the case of AC transmission, phase sag. If expected resources are not available — such as when your wind turbines ice up — then you have no alternative but to shed load (turn off people’s power intentionally) because if you don’t you will get an uncontrolled collapse and possible severe equipment damage. Further most nuclear plants cannot quickly load-follow — if you need more power quickly you better have something else, and if a bunch of load drops off rapidly you better have some other generation source you can shut down. Go outside the operating parameters and a nuke plant will “trip” and if they do most of them cannot immediately restart due to a phenomena called “xenon poisoning”; if the fuel has some age on it you must wait until that bleeds off because the core does not have enough reactivity to go critical until it does, which can take a couple of days or even more.

That’s exactly what happened.

The term phase sag may be unfamiliar. I couldn’t find a definition, but it appears to be a contraction of the longer phrase, single phase voltage sag. AC power typically consists of three separate energy streams, called phases. I take it, then, that phase sag refers to a voltage drop in one of the phases. Voltage sags and swells occur in milliseconds, and can damage the equipment used to control the total power output. I imagine technical problems arise, too, when unbalanced AC power is added to balanced AC power. Point being, phase sags, when detected, may require shutting down infrastructure.

I suppose it is possible to design anti-fragile electrical grids that incorporate renewable energy. A terrestrial design, however, would have to consist of a standalone fossil fuel-based system, with renewables-based systems added around the edges for use only during favorable weather conditions. Given these constraints (both technical and economic), space-based solar power generation looks like a more elegant solution.

56 thoughts on “Green Energy Can Kill

      1. Your statement is a LIE.

        The blackout was not caused IN ANY WAY by wind turbines being off line. They performed AS PLANNED given that they had not been equipped with cold weather kits which are offered by the manufacturers.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “The blackout was not caused IN ANY WAY by wind turbines being off line.”

          I didn’t say that it was. I said that windmills being offline represented almost 50% of the total power loss. The actual number was 40%.

          Like

  1. …”By putting up with and responding to the “woke mob” instead of immediately frying and eating their entire blood line”…

    Hateful comments such as the above are also not helpful in advancing your argument.

    By posting this blog excerpt, you prove something someone else said: You will plow the depths of the internet to find things that are, in a word, BS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The liberal crowd is full of ceaseless hateful comments. Liberal users of this board are especially bad. That is why I typically don’t engage in a worthless discussion.

      Like

      1. RE: “That is why I typically don’t engage in a worthless discussion.”

        Here’s my advice:

        Forget the back-and-forth.
        Take the time to make defensible statements and share them no matter what.
        Defensible means you make an assertion then substantiate it.
        Do that much, and someone may learn something from you they would not have learned otherwise.
        Baby steps change the world.

        Assert/substantiate is a simple formula with many variations. Liberals as a rule are big on assertions (like name-calling) but small on substantiations (like explaining name-calling). As a result, being big on substantiations, however modest, is a winning formula.

        Like

        1. Maybe you could try using facts other than those that feed your narrative. We can all find them. It just appears that the tendency from you is to search out things that back you and ignore or deride things you disagree with.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. It’s clear that anyone who corrects his “facts” is a “leftist”.

            The repeated attempts by anyone to explain any non-conspiracy based reality has resulted in repeated/tiresome deflections until the “who cares” is trotted out.

            Sounds like he is unhappy that less people will go down his rabbit holes….oh well.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. Such good advice. And then you ruin it with this bullshit . . .

          “Liberals as a rule are big on assertions (like name-calling) but small on substantiations (like explaining name-calling).”

          Uh, we “liberals” are not the ones who spend half their time pushing half-assed conspiracy theories and “alternative facts.” We are not the ones who try to refute obvious and documented facts by simple flat denials. We are not the ones constantly linking to hyper-biased and hyper-junky web sites.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. …”and windmill blades are wings and not only suffer the same problem an airplane wing does when it gets loaded in addition they go out of balance and thus the windmill has to be shut down lest it destroy itself.”…

    However, the energy “gods” in Texas opted NOT to add the deicing capabilities that are widely used in the Midwest even thought it was recommended to do so after the 2011 freeze. Except for those NOT on the ERCOT grid who DID follow the recommendations and did not have the freezing issues that plagued the rest of the state, the ERCOT overseers failed to do their duty to properly maintain their power generating sources.

    Like

    1. Probably the same morons who ignored warnings by engineers 10 years ago that Texas might get cold weather. It has happened before, admittedly not very often. As the old FRAM oil filter commercial used to say,
      “you can pay me now, or pay me later”.

      And the “later” is going to be huge.

      As you say, you carry a fire extinguisher on your boat. You may never use it, but if you needed to, it could save your life.

      The Texas power folks, as well as the government, will be facing some very angry residents when this immediate disaster devolves into years of repairs for cold damage to homes, businesses, water pipes and, of course, the deaths.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Cite?

        The oil industry loves natural gas compressors. They are super reliable, and really pretty quiet. They only turn about 200 RPM, kind of a tuma tuma tuma.

        One of my favorite bass fishing canals in Louisiana had one located there. It would run for months at a time until the maintenance guy came along and shut it down to change the oil. The guy gave me a 5 gallon can of the drained oil to use in my car, as he did in his own. It came out after 6 months looking just as it did when they put it in.

        Whoever came up with the idea, it wasn’t soomeone in the petroleum indistry.

        Like

        1. Cite?

          What. That gas compressors are widely used? That they have been replaced by electric compressors in some populated areas. You may find the sounds they make nostalgic or comforting but it is not hard to understand that people might not want to live with that sound 24/7.

          As I said, that claim in the piece seems exaggerated. To be clear, the claim is that environmentalists caused the gas network to be electrified and THAT is why gas pipelines failed. Baloney. There are MANY components of the gas production and distribution system that rely on electricity. And plenty that run on gas.

          Like

        1. RE: “Perhaps, but it smacks of environmentalists.”

          Renewable energy investments give a better financial return than thermal energy investments thanks to the generous tax breaks the environmentalists pushed through.

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          1. Subsidies again? The subsidies of the fossil fuel industry are well known, even though you deny they exist. And those lobbyists work very hard to keep them in place. They are fighting for PROFITS; environmentalists are fighting for a clean environment, which benefits all.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “They are fighting for PROFITS; environmentalists are fighting for a clean environment, which benefits all.”

            Do you know that ERCOT is a non-profit corporation? Yet it was ERCOT that invested in stupid engineering because the return on investment was better.

            Your demonization of “PROFITS” is misplaced.

            Like

          3. ERCOT was not the group I was talking about. I was talking about fossil fuel lobbyists who continue to fight for subsidies from the government to protect the profits of oil and gas companies.

            And this whole fiasco is proof of deregulation not always being a good thing.

            Nice attempt to misstate what I said, but you failed. Miserably. Again.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. “Your demonization of “PROFITS” is misplaced.”

            Actually, no it is not. ERCOT is a non-profit organization. True enough. But its financing comes from the for-profit power companies who also provide its governance. So, when push comes to shove their poor decisions can be traced to the profit motive.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. You have a real knack for finding intellectual garbage on the internet. We will have to give you that. Too bad you are unable to know what it is when you find it and end up embarrassing yourself.

    Any essay that starts with a sentence reading . . .

    “The Bidens and AOCs of the world are literally going to kill you.”

    marks itself as garbage without the need to read another word.

    And that laughable slander is offered in a world where 8 million people per year are dying due to the pernicious health effects of burning fossil fuel.

    https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2021/02/deaths-fossil-fuel-emissions-higher-previously-thought#:~:text=More%20than%208%20million%20people%20died%20in%202018%20from%20fossil,Leicester%20and%20University%20College%20London.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “Any essay that starts with a sentence reading . . .

      “‘The Bidens and AOCs of the world are literally going to kill you.’

      “marks itself as garbage without the need to read another word.”

      Since I didn’t quote that part of the story, I don’t see how your comment has any relevance. The problem of fossil fuel use externalities is also irrelevant to the topic at hand, which is the technical reasons for the blackout in Texas. Even so, I addressed that issue by noting that space-based solar power looks like a more elegant way to generate electricity.

      It is a shame you waste your privileges here trying to change the subject.

      Like

      1. Whether you quoted it or not, the fact that the article you cite tees up his piece was such nonsense discredits it from the get go.

        The problem of fossil fuel induced mortality is HIGHLY relevant if someone is going to claim that green energy will kill you. Duh!

        I get your reference to my “privileges.” Another lame threat of “moderation.” Pathetic every time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “Whether you quoted it or not, the fact that the article you cite tees up his piece was such nonsense discredits it from the get go.”

          In your mind only. If you want to discredit a source, tell us where it is factually incorrect. Your prejudices with respect to credible and non-credible sources are insufficient.

          Also, I made no moderation threat, but it is tempting under the circumstances.

          Like

      2. “It is a shame you waste your privileges here”…

        It is a shame you use yours to post such garbage-based opinion. Using an essay that starts off with name calling and then professing a lie about how much energy was affected by the windmill issue is disingenuous and as full of hate as a KKK rally.

        Cherry picking only the parts that you want and ignoring the rhetoric unfused throughout the piece is what you have been called out for. Defend the author or deny him. Either way, the piece is drivel driven energy bigotry.

        The fact that the windmills that remained operational outperformed expectations means nothing to you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “Cherry picking only the parts that you want and ignoring the rhetoric unfused throughout the piece is what you have been called out for.”

          So let me get this straight. I cut out language you consider offensive, and that is my crime?

          Like

          1. RE: “No, your crime is relentless bullshit that is easily disproved and typically off-point.”

            Where is the material I posted “bullshit” or “off-point”? If you won’t deal with that, then your personal criticisms of me are nothing but an unsubstantiated opinion, and a waste of time since no one inherently cares what you think.

            Like

          2. “no one“ ?

            You continue to believe (apparently) that everyone shares your beliefs/perceptions.

            When you post something worthy of comment on I shall, and who knows, maybe some”one” will care….

            Liked by 1 person

          3. RE: “You continue to believe (apparently) that everyone shares your beliefs/perceptions.”

            Thanks to you and others, I have no reason to believe any such thing. I do, however, insist that feedback to my commentary be competent. You rarely measure up in practice, though I suspect you could if you tried.

            Like

  4. Again, spin regarding windmills is recurring daily.

    So many ways to juggle the numbers, but the fact remains that Texas was relying only 7% or so of its power from wind in the winter, as calculated and expected.

    The problem was mostly frozen instrumentation for extraction and delivery of NG. Add in similar cold damage for coal and nuclear in combination with no grid access and you have the main issue.

    Of course fossil fuel industry and Texas politics cannot abide by reason that they might bear responsibility for the lack of electric power. Texas voters need a boogeyman other than the GOP leadership and the power companies. The right wing will see that they get one.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. RE: “So many ways to juggle the numbers, but the fact remains that Texas was relying only 7% or so of its power from wind in the winter, as calculated and expected.”

      7% is all that remained of its summertime renewables-based capacity of 20%. The loss of the difference means that Texas wasn’t relying on anything, but suffering. That same 13% of renewables-based energy lost actually represented 40% of the total capacity lost, which is what consumers experienced.

      More technically, the 7% contribution of windmills was insufficient to help the system as a whole meet base load demand. Because base load requirements couldn’t be met, infrastructure of all types had to be taken offline. The engineers knew the risks, but predicted wrong in assuming they would avoid them in practice.

      You simply cannot blame the whole failure on the natural gas parts of the system or the politics associated with the failure to upgrade them. The blackout occurred for technical reasons of which reliance on windmills was an integral part.

      Like

      1. The winter time losses with windmills is known and accounted for.

        Again, no cold weather protections for all the power sources, gas, coal, nuclear and wind and then staying off the grid were the problems.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “The winter time losses with windmills is known and accounted for.”

          Known, accounted for, and still risky. The problem is that risks materialize, and did so in this instance.

          Like

          1. Not a risk if they were winterized. Like I posted, Texas could pay earlier or pay big later. They chose to roll the dice with residents’ lives.

            Liked by 3 people

      2. “You simply cannot blame the whole failure on the natural gas parts of the system or the politics associated with the failure to upgrade them”

        There are NO POLITICS involved when you ignore the recommendations FROM 10 YEARS AGO to add available deicing capabilities to existing infrastructure.

        “The blackout occurred for technical reasons of which reliance on windmills was an integral part.”

        No it was not. Was it part? Sure. ALL of the failures contributed to the disaster. But preventable measures were offered and recommended 10 years ago wrt to wind generation. And the windmills that remained operating OUTPERFORMED their expectations.

        The blame rests squarely on ERCOT – IMO

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “And the windmills that remained operating OUTPERFORMED their expectations.”

          That may be true, but it doesn’t matter. The deicing recommendation for windmills, even if implemented and perfect, might not have changed the outcome. According to ERCOT’s own numbers, that would have prevented only 40% of the total power loss experienced in the storm. The same base load problems would have occurred.

          As I wrote in the original post, the only failsafe design for an electrical grid would feature a standalone fossil fuel infrastructure. That, from an engineering perspective, is the whole point of the story.

          Like

          1. “As I wrote in the original post, the only failsafe design for an electrical grid would feature a standalone fossil fuel infrastructure.”

            How so? Those power sources froze also.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “How so? Those power sources froze also.”

            Simple. Had the money spent to add renewable energy to the system been used, instead, to make the non-renewable energy component resiliant, there wouldn’t have been a problem. The reason is that renewable energy is not scalable in bad weather, but non-renewable energy is. That may not seem like much of a concern to anyone determined to believe that renewable energy is additive, but it changes safety- and reliabaility-factor calculations that engineers make in profound ways.

            Like

          3. Not scalable in bad weather.

            Sometimes true, but not in this case. IF the wind turbines had been fitted to operate in cold weather their output would have scaled up very nicely because of the windy conditions that were part of the storm. In fact, the overall output from wind power was ahead of plan even with the outages because those still operating were harvesting the increased wind.

            Liked by 1 person

      3. Only in “conservative” circles is performing as planned a failure.

        And that planned performance was a function of a decision to NOT equip the turbines for bad weather. An analogy would be for you to take the battery out of your car and then complain that the car was unreliable because it won’t start. Wind turbines need cold weather kits to work in cold weather. Not having those kits and therefore not working in cold weather does not mean that wind turbines are unreliable. In fact, it is likely that with the windy conditions of the storm there would have been no crisis at all if those turbines had been fitted to run in cold weather. Management gambled and they lost. And the money they “saved” is gone many times over.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “Only in ‘conservative’ circles is performing as planned a failure.”

          So your spin is that the failure was planned and desireable? ERCOT lost 45 gigawatts of generation capacity during the storm. Had the wind turbines been fitted with deicing kits, do you really think it would have lost only 27 gigawatts, or that that was a planned for contingency?

          Like

          1. Uh, I did not say it was “desirable.” I stated the fact that those who made the decision to avoid the expense of cold weather kits understood how that would affect the availability of these turbines in severe winter weather and planned accordingly. Again, a machine not performing in an environment that it was not fitted out for is not a failure – it is a management decision.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “I stated the fact that those who made the decision to avoid the expense of cold weather kits understood how that would affect the availability of these turbines in severe winter weather and planned accordingly.”

            Got it. Their plan was faulty, but you spin it as not-faulty.

            Like

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