Wind Power Fail: Texas Heatwave Triggers Record Fossil Fuel Demand

  • 2022
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  • Wind Power Fail: Texas Heatwave Triggers Record Fossil Fuel Demand


Wind Power Fail: Texas Heatwave Triggers Record Fossil Fuel Demand

2 days ago

Eric Worrall


Essay by Eric Worrall

Echoes of the 2021 Texas ice storm outage – Texans are once again learning the hard way that you can’t count on renewables during extreme weather events.

Texas Heatwave Highlights A Major Problem With Wind Power

By Irina Slav – Jul 13, 2022, 5:00 PM CDT

A major heatwave has hit Texas and put the Lone Star State’s energy grid under severe stress.

At the same time, low wind speeds mean that wind turbines in Texas are operating at just eight percent of their capacity.

Ultimately, intermittency is a major problem for wind power, especially during periods of hot weather when demand increases and wind speeds fall.

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.

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On Tuesday ERCOT received permission from environmental regulators for fossil fuel generators to exceed pollution limits, to satisfy a record demand for power.

U.S. Central states, Texas power use to break more records this week

Tue, July 19, 2022, 11:19 PM

July 19 (Reuters) – Power use in Texas and other Central U.S. states will likely break all-time highs in coming days as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners to escape a lingering heat wave, regional electric grid operators forecast on Tuesday.

Grid operators in the region have already started taking early steps to ensure they have enough resources to keep up with soaring demand.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state’s power load, got permission from the state’s environmental regulators to allow power plants to exceed their air permit pollution limits on Monday.

Last week, ERCOT met demand in part by urging customers to conserve energy to avoid taking much bigger actions to reduce usage, like rotating outages.

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which operates the grid for almost 18 million people in 17 states from North Dakota to Texas, has not taken as many steps as ERCOT to control usage.

SPP, like ERCOT, has asked its members to postpone maintenance on some critical equipment like power lines and generating plants, a common step grid operators take to ensure resources will be available during times of high demand.

Extreme weather is a reminder of the February freeze in 2021 that left millions of Texans without power, water and heat for days during a deadly storm as ERCOT scrambled to prevent a grid collapse after an unusually large amount of generation shut.

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I’m at a loss for words. How many more times does this have to happen, how many Texans have to die, before Texan politicians accept they backed the wrong horse? If the Texan state government is worried about air pollution from fossil fuel generators, they should increase their fleet of reliable zero carbon nuclear reactors.

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