Texas Heatwave Highlights A Major Problem With Wind Power 

Texan wind project [image credit: Newscom]

It’s an obvious problem that politicians ‘would much rather not talk about’, as the article puts it, while noting it may be ‘good news, at least for birds’. Running away from reality isn’t going to work.
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The Texas energy grid has been under severe stress due to a heatwave, and lower than average wind speed means wind energy has been unable to counter demand, says OilPrice.com.

Texas is suffering a major heat wave. Three-digit temperatures are straining the state’s grid and earlier this month prompted ERCOT, the Lone Star State’s grid operator, to ask Texans to conserve energy. It also severely affected wind power generation.

Bloomberg reported this week that wind turbines in Texas are operating at just 8 percent of their capacity because of low wind speeds. This is really unfortunate because demand for electricity is on a strong rise because of the weather.

There is a certain irony that the biggest wind energy generator in the U.S. cannot utilize its capacity to serve its citizens at a time of peak demand. But it is certainly no surprise that this is happening. Wind power generation depends entirely on the weather; when the weather is unfavorable, generation drops.

Europe was reminded of the importance of wind speeds last year when these fell below average, causing lower than normal wind power output and partially contributing to the energy crunch that hit much of the continent in the autumn.

The wind industry recognizes this fact: wind industry journal WindPower Monthly had an article that explained how wind park output depended more on wind speeds than on turbine performance, regardless of the age of the turbines.

Vestas and Ørsted, the world’s turbine manufacturing leaders, both said their financial results for 2021 were affected by low wind speeds. The industry is not hiding the direct relationship between wind output and wind energy output. Politicians, on the other hand, would much rather not talk about it.

When the Texas Freeze left thousands without power for hours and, in some cases, days, critics slammed the overbuild of wind turbines in the state because they froze during the cold spell. In truth, so did gas wells, and so did gas-fired power plants. It was everyone’s fault that Texas froze. Both fossil fuels and renewables failed. But while gas-fired plants can be winterized, turbines will not turn when there is no wind.

“A combination of extreme peak demand, low wind, and high outage rates from thermal generators could require system operators to use emergency procedures, up to and including temporary manual load shedding,” the North American Electric Reliability Corporation said in its Summer Reliability Assessment report released earlier this year.

The report made references to solar farm shutdowns in Texas and California last year, saying these disrupted the operations of conventional power plants and caused outages. The shutdowns were caused by power inverters: devices that connect wind and solar farms to high-voltage lines. Unless correctly programmed, these can—and did—shut down, causing a grid disruption.

But while one can program the power inverters of wind and solar farms, there is no way to make the wind blow on demand. This was demonstrated by NERC’s warning to ERCOT’s fellow in the Midwest, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, that parts of the area under its management are under threat from blackouts this summer.

“More extreme temperatures, higher generation outages, or low wind conditions expose the MISO North and Central areas to higher risk of temporary operator-initiated load shedding to maintain system reliability,” NERC said.

As the Bloomberg report from this week notes, the relationship between high atmospheric temperatures and low wind speed is not exactly news. It is a well-documented relationship between high-pressure weather systems that push temperatures up, at the same time sapping wind speeds. It is also quite an inconvenient relationship for wind power in the summer.

Full article here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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July 14, 2022 at 07:51AM

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