Renewables Rethink: Wind & Solar Obsessed Texans Scrambling For Reliable Power

Anyone placing the words ‘reliable’ and ‘wind’ or ‘solar’ in a sentence needs urgent help. Take them kite flying on a dead calm day show them a sunset, or two.

Take them to Texas or Germany in the middle of frigid, still weather when hundreds of wind turbines end up frozen solid and there is barely a puff of breeze just so much as spin those that aren’t.

Show them seas of solar panels plastered in snow and ice.

There ask them, where on earth they think their power is coming from?

It’s a question that Texan legislators are now being forced to answer.

Here’s Brent Bennett with some detail on the Lone Star State’s self-inflicted renewable energy debacle.

Texas Has Renewable Energy – Now It Needs Reliable Energy
Real Clear Energy
Brent Bennett
15 April 2021

Should power generators be required to guarantee that they can provide a certain amount of electricity? That’s what state legislators are considering at the Texas Capitol.

A cadre of out-of-state banks and tech companies fretted in a letter to state leaders that such a mandate would “inappropriately and unfairly” impose more costs on renewable energy companies. Instead, they argue that these costs should be borne by “all the beneficiaries of those ancillary services” – i.e., consumers. But February’s blackouts from Winter Storm Uri that left over 4 million Texans shivering in the cold – and killed at least 80 – should make it clearer than ever to legislators that state residents shouldn’t have to bear the burden of the intermittency costs of wind and generation, which are transferred to the rest of the grid and ultimately to consumers.

There has been ample debate in Capitol circles about who’s to blame for the blackouts. Is it ERCOT? Natural gas? Renewables? The renewable lobby’s strawman claim is that wind out-performed day-ahead forecasts, but the real issue is that wind usually generates the least amount of energy when it’s needed most.

So, let’s cut through the noise: Even if every generator that was online the night of February 14 had continued operating at full tilt, we still would have seen widespread and lasting outages. Weatherization and the need for more reliable natural gas infrastructure are only part of the problem. The legislature must make real market reforms, or else we will be back asking the same questions in the near future.

Texas simply doesn’t have enough reliable electricity generators – power plants that can be counted on to produce consistently and to ramp up during peak demand. Over the last five years, the Lone Star State has prematurely retired more than 5,000 MW in natural gas and clean coal while its population and economy grew significantly. Even though renewable capacity nearly tripled over the same period, the problem remains that wind and solar can’t be counted on to provide enough electricity when needed most because their output varies with the weather, not with demand.

How did we get here? There are several explanations. One involves decades of multibillion-dollar subsidies for wind and solar, including federal subsidies, which are often 50% or more of wholesale electricity prices. These subsidies give renewables an artificial advantage and make it almost impossible for reliable power plants to remain economically competitive in an energy-only market, hence the premature retirements of reliable generating capacity.

Additionally, wind and solar benefit from a hidden subsidy, in that they don’t fully bear the intermittency costs they impose on the rest of the grid. Econ 101 predicts that if unreliable capacity is subsidized and reliable capacity penalized, you will end up with over-investment in unreliable capacity and under-investment in the capacity most needed to keep the lights on. That describes Texas to a tee. Add to that the way in which Texas has socialized the additional cost of transmission for wind and solar, and you have a market far out of balance.

Texas’s current electricity market isn’t set up to properly value reliability in the presence of large amounts of variable wind and solar generation. Scarcity pricing and limited ancillary services (the technical term for backup generation to fill in gaps during peak demand periods) are designed to account for small variations in power availability – up to about 10%. These mechanisms aren’t capable of counterbalancing the 50% or greater variability of wind and solar during peak demand periods.

Electricity prices were near zero a week before the February blackouts, and negative – meaning generators actually paid the grid to take their power – just a day after it ended. It’s very difficult to invest in a natural gas power plant that relies on brief and unpredictable periods of high prices while losing money the rest of the year.

After the blackouts, it should be clear that cheap electricity is not very valuable if it is not there when we need it. Wind and solar generators make up a third of Texas’s generating capacity but produce only a small fraction of that capacity when they’re needed the most. The only way to move the market closer to a proper equilibrium is to require unreliable wind and solar generators to improve their reliability so that it is closer to that of thermal generators.

Some legislators are proposing a “capacity market,” which would socialize the cost of improved reliability through a flat fee on consumers. This is an ill-considered and inefficient solution that arbitrarily imposes the cost of intermittency on Texans, instead of on the generators that cause it.

Texas desperately needs more reliable electricity generation; the state’s economy, population, and energy needs show no sign of slowing down. But current projections suggest that Texas will lose at least as much reliable generating capacity as it will add over the next several years.

The Texas legislature should create clear guidelines for statewide electric reliability and ensure that California-style blackouts don’t become the norm here. Targeted and efficient market reforms can begin to solve this problem if legislators and the Public Utility Commission are willing to ask the hard questions about Winter Storm Uri – and learn the proper lessons from it.
Real Clear Energy

Not cool: never reliable & hopeless in icy winter weather.

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May 10, 2021 at 02:30AM

“Green Fraud” Book Review (one-stop shopping for energy/climate realists)

“Let’s expose this dangerous charade. The Green New Deal is not green. It’s not new. And it’s not a good deal for America.”

– Marc Morano, Green Fraud, p. 306.

“The sorry present of the climate/energy debate will need some vital books come the autopsy. When that time comes, Green Fraud will serve as a go-to book. In the meantime, America, read away as part of a public opinion shift toward climate realism and energy basics.” (below)

I remain a big believer in books in the age of short attention spans. But the book must cover a lot of material in an organized way–and have a thorough index for researchers.

Outside of a too-brief index, Marc Morano’s Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal Is Even Worse Than You Think (Regnery: 2021) is a worthy addition to any library concerning today’s raging debate over climate and energy. It is one-stop shopping–400 pages worth–for a mount of eye-opening, sometimes amusing, but ultimately sad exaggerations and puffery from the Church of Climate.

John Holdren, Bill Nye, Bill McKibben, and Joe Biden come in for a shellacking. The term central planning gets a lot of mention, as does bureaucracy and bureaucrats.

Greta and OAC might get the most mentions of all. Al Gore goes unmentioned, as does James Hansen, but they are taken care of in Morano’s other full-scale treatment, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change (2018).

Morano is a celebrity for the calm side of the climate and energy debates. He is the proprietor of Climate Depot, a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT). [1] With personality, he makes the serious fun (how can you not?) in an era of claimed ‘climate anxiety.’

One question the reader will have while turning the pages is how did all this get so far? The answer is a tsunami of Left foundation money, government push, politicized science (where believed-to-be theory trumps data with key metrics), and mainstream media (MSM) bias. Stories about all this salt the book.

Flipping the Pages

Perhaps the best way to review this particular book is by random sampling (true–no cheating).

I just opened the book to page 183. There is a sidebar story, “Where is Fertilizer, Cement, Plastic Going to Come From?” It is about Bill Gates at a 2018 Stanford University Energy Forum calling out the modelers for a lack of realism about energy supply and demand.

Page 54 presents data on tornadoes and hurricanes. Good stuff as that time of year is either upon us or nearly so. Expect every example of extreme weather to be reported in the MSM as either the result of or consistent with man-made climate change.

One more toward the back of the book’s main text: pp. 246–47 on “Woke and Weeping Climate Scientists.” Examples of government scientists all-in on the politics. Church-of-climate scientists who cannot think in terms of economics, entrepreneurship, and adaptation. And ignorant scientists who do not (chose not) to understand energy 101.

Conclusion

Marc Morano is the fellow the other side just wants to cancel. Put him in any forum, and a rat-a-tat of arguments and examples will leave a Sci-Guy-Nye high and dry.

Of course, Morano doesn’t get the opportunities and attention he deserves against, say, the angry, dodgy Michael Mann. But the last laugh will always be his as the great climate alarm gets disentangled as time goes on.

The sorry present of the climate/energy debate will need some vital books come the autopsy. When that time comes, Green Fraud will serve as a go-to book. In the meantime, America, read away as part of a public opinion shift toward climate realism and energy basics.

—————-

[1] CFACT’s mission statement reproduced below:

At the heart of CFACT, our goal is to enhance the fruitfulness of the earth and all of its inhabitants. CFACT accomplishes this through four main strategies:

Prospering Lives. CFACT works to help people find better ways to provide for food, water, energy and other essential human services.

Promoting Progress. CFACT advocates the use of safe, affordable technologies and the pursuit of economic policies that reduce pollution and waste, and maximize the use of resources.

Protecting the Earth. CFACT helps protect the earth through wise stewardship of the land and its wildlife.

Providing Education. CFACT educates various sectors of the public about important facts and practical solutions regarding environmental concerns.

The post “Green Fraud” Book Review (one-stop shopping for energy/climate realists) appeared first on Master Resource.

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May 10, 2021 at 01:13AM

Speed Bumps on The Road to Decarbonization – Part 1

The recent statements by several world leaders endorsing the political goal of reducing their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, if not sooner, has been followed by the … Continue reading

The post Speed Bumps on The Road to Decarbonization – Part 1 first appeared on Friends of Science Calgary.

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May 10, 2021 at 12:46AM

Supernovae twins open up new possibilities for precision cosmology

Cosmologists have found a way to double the accuracy of measuring distances to supernova explosions – one of their tried-and-true tools for studying the mysterious dark energy that is making the universe expand faster and faster. The results from the Nearby Supernova Factory (SNfactory) collaboration, led by Greg Aldering of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), will enable scientists to study dark energy with greatly improved precision and accuracy, and provide a powerful crosscheck of the technique across vast distances and time.

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May 10, 2021 at 12:27AM