Tuesday, February 16, 2021

When the Lights Went Out in Texas

You probably know that Germany is suffering a protracted cold spell. The cold spell is so bad that the virtuous Germans are firing up the coal power generating plants. You see, as we reported here less than a week ago, the German green energy grid, filled with virtuous wind turbines and solar panels, has frozen. That means, the wind turbines no longer turn and the solar panels are iced over.

So, blackouts forcing a return to coal plants-- Germany is having a reckoning for Merkel’s green energy folly.

But, fear not. Bad ideas do not stay fixed. They proliferate. Mini-minds like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and John Kerry want us all to suffer the same green power grid failures. Why, it was only a few days ago when the billionaire widow’s lothario-- the one who spent a fortune on his very own cosmetic surgery and hair treatments-- was lecturing the rest of us on the greatness of the new solar panel and wind turbine jobs. 

But now, what started in Germany has come to America. Specifically, it has come to the American Southwest, to Texas. Among other great American states. The states that bought into the climate change hysteria-- luckily they are no longer calling it global warming-- find themselves out of power. People are freezing to death in Texas, the home to massive quantities of oil and gas, because its political leaders bought the climate change narrative and did not think about unexpected outcomes-- like a cold wave that shuts down the electricity grid. Since this is Texas, we know that the program was adopted by both Democrat and Republican government officials. 

As the Babylon Bee headlined this morning-- the power grid broke down in order to make all of those who had moved to Texas from California feel at home. Blackouts for everyone.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized this morning. 

A mix of ice and snow swept across the country this weekend as temperatures plunged below zero in the upper Midwest and into the teens in Houston. Cold snaps happen—the U.S. also experienced a Polar Vortex in 2019—as do heat waves. Yet the power grid is becoming less reliable due to growing reliance on wind and solar, which can’t provide power 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Texas’s energy emergency could last all week as the weather is forecast to remain frigid. “My understanding is, the wind turbines are all frozen,” Public Utility Commission Chairman DeAnn Walker said Friday. “We are working already to try and ensure we have enough power but it’s taken a lot of coordination.”

The power may be out but the Commissioner is a woman. Another blow for diversity. As it happens, she is a Republican appointee.

Blame a perfect storm of bad government policies, timing and weather. Coal and nuclear are the most reliable sources of power. But competition from heavily subsidized wind power and inexpensive natural gas, combined with stricter emissions regulation, has caused coal’s share of Texas’s electricity to plunge by more than half in a decade to 18%.

Wind’s share has tripled to about 25% since 2010 and accounted for 42% of power last week before the freeze set in. About half of Texans rely on electric pumps for heating, which liberals want to mandate everywhere. But the pumps use a lot of power in frigid weather. So while wind turbines were freezing, demand for power was surging….

Gas-fired power plants ramped up, but the Arctic freeze increased demand for gas across the country. Producers couldn’t easily increase supply since a third of rigs across the country were taken out of production during the pandemic amid lower energy demand. Some gas wells and pipelines in Texas and Oklahoma also shut down in frosty conditions.

The same applies around the world, though, to be fair, China has not bought the green energy mania. It keeps building coal power plants and even nuclear. Obviously, this proves that they are evil.

Europe and Asia are also importing more fossil fuels for heat and power this winter. U.S. LNG exports increased 25% year-over-year in December while prices tripled in northern Asian spot markets and doubled in Europe. Germany’s public broadcasting recently reported that “Germany’s green energies strained by winter.” The report noted that power is “currently coming mainly from coal, and the power plants in Lausitz” are now “running at full capacity.”

Coal still accounts for 60% of China’s energy, and imports tripled in December. China has some 250 gigawatts of coal-fired plants under development, enough to power all of Germany. Unlike Democrats in the U.S., Chinese leaders understand that fossil fuels are needed to support intermittent renewables. “Power shortages and incredibly high spot gas prices this winter are reminding governments, businesses and consumers of the importance of coal,” a Wood Mackenzie consultant told Reuters recently.

Surely, Democrats are leading the march, but still, in fairness, Texas is not being run by Democrats. 

Fear not. The Biden administration is on the case. It is going to solve these problems by banning fossil fuels. No kidding. Now, if Republicans only had the backbone to stand up to this illusion-- but perhaps that is too much to expect.

After all, everyone must believe in climate science, the science that told us that converting to renewables would provide an endless source of unreliable energy and that would cause rolling blackouts. In its wish to return to the state of nature, the radical left does not care if the power goes out. After all, America deserves to be punished for its bigotry.


David Foster said...

There was a power blackout in NYC sometime in the mid-2000s, and I remember commenters asserting that Americans deserved such things.

Concerning the impact of weakening our energy capabilities, see my post Power: Mechanical, National, and Personal


Sam L. said...

The lights went out at my house Friday about noon, and came back Sunday about 1PM. Drove 30 miles for shopping and I've NEVER seen so many trees, branches, limbs down along (and into) the road from my house to the road that goes to the highway, and down the highway. Good thing we have a gas fireplace and a gas stove/oven.

hayek said...

For anyone who had any interest in looking into the science regarding the climate, you will discover that there is no evidence, based on the scientific method, that atmospheric CO2 has a major influence on our climate, and is certainly not a control knob. This is a more politicized area of science than even that regarding nuclear power. What I have learned is that our climate is an extremely complicated system, components of which are currently not fully understood, and certain aspects cannot be accurately simulated by all of the computing power presently in existence.

Webutante said...

My kids are shivering in Houston with no power, no heat, and no water. They're recharging their cell phones in the car and living on peanut butter and gallons of distilled water. They have disinfectant wipes and lots of prayers that they and millions of their Texas neighbors make it through this sooner rather than later with lessons learned.

Has anyone thought about what happens when the power grid goes down with all these electric cars? It eon't be pretty.

On another front: what has John Kerry done to his face? Face lift? Botox? It is the most ghoulish humananoid I can imagine.

David Foster said...

"Has anyone thought about what happens when the power grid goes down with all these electric cars?"

Now imagine that the railroads are also electrified...the freight rails, I mean, which are the ones that matter most.

Freddo said...

I'm under the impression that most freight rail in the USA is currently not electrified. The cost of doing so combined with replacement of the diesel locomotive fleet would be cost prohibitive. And whatever lobbying power rail has is probably directed at high-speed rail, which is a much sexier boondoggle.On the other hand, the crazies have just started governing, so anything might happen.

I note that Elon Musk is currently persona non grata after moving his business to Texas, otherwise I would have expected a push for "pollution free" autonomous electric trucks.

David Foster said...

Freddo...very little freight rail in the US is electrified. There were some lines electrified in the US circa the 1920s, straight business decisions, no crazies necessary: very useful on heavy grades because braking energy can be returned to the line (via regenerative braking) and very large amounts of power can be drawn when needed. But the capital investment is very high, and one more vulnerability is added to the power-grid failure situation.