Blackouts in Texas as big freeze upends energy markets

Posted: February 15, 2021 by oldbrew in Energy, Temperature, weather

Texan wind project [image credit: Newscom]


What a surprise! Energy demand soars in really cold weather. One researcher served up the bad news: “When wind-turbine blades get covered with ice, they need to be shut down”. This in turn can cause sudden frequency problems on electricity grids. Global warming falls short yet again.
– – –
(Bloomberg) — Millions of households in Texas are suffering rolling power blackouts for the first time in a decade as an unprecedented Arctic freeze wrought chaos in U.S. energy markets, reports Yahoo News.

The largest cities from Houston to San Antonio were without power for spells of up to an hour at a time as supplies in the U.S.’s second largest state fluctuated wildly.

“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said Bill Magness President and Chief Executive Officer of Ercot, the operator of the state’s power grid.

The extreme cold caught the highly decentralized Texan electricity market by surprise despite a heads up a week ago about the impending frigid temperatures from the U.S. National Weather Service.

With the equivalent of 2 million households being cut off at a time, the situation is expected to worsen throughout Monday. Ercot is expecting power demand to hit an all-time high, breaking a record set during a summer heat wave in 2019.

These are the first rolling blackouts caused by cold weather since 2011. Spikes in electricity demand usually happen in summer in Texas when air conditioning use rises.

A loss of frequency on the grid has caused 30 gigawatts of generation to halt. Many stations will have been undergoing scheduled maintenance, leaving the grid more exposed during unusually large spikes in demand.

Rotating outages will likely last throughout Monday morning and are a possibility until the weather conditions ease, Ercot said in a statement.

About 800 daily records for cold temperatures have been surpassed in the past week as Arctic air pushes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Across the U.S., winter storm warnings and weather advisories are affecting 157 million people, said Brian Hurley, a senior branch forecaster with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

Parts of Texas were colder than Alaska, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature at 5 a.m. in Houston was 18 degrees Fahrenheit, matching the reading in Anchorage. In the Dallas Fort Worth area it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Frigid temperatures and a parade of storms in the U.S. follow other instances of extreme winter weather this year that have snarled ports and upended energy markets in Asia and Europe. Texas, which isn’t accustomed to winter’s full fury, is getting a big taste.

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency, mobilizing federal assistance to aid local response efforts.

Full report here.

Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    Newly installed President plans to install lots more weather-dependent wind turbines and shut down more weatherproof power stations. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. ilma630 says:

    This exposes the HUGE oversight the renewables protagonists have made, that all renewables need to be OUTSIDE exposed to the elements, whilst traditional generation, for that very good reason, is INSIDE and protected.

  3. P.A.Semi says:

    I’ve tried to warn American people, that God has displayed “USA Cold Hell” on the Sun at the end of January, and the following winter-storm in Pennsylvania was just the beginning… This “unprecedented Arctic freeze” may look like that…

    (Not sure, if it is intentional punishment for your Fraud, or if God merely predicted this seeing the Jet Stream getting broken…? And it’s also cold here in Europe, I’ve measured -14°C, but we are more accustomed on that… Meanwhile, the Pole is warmer than in last few years, because the Polar air was blown southward… And another cold cell is presently moving across northern Greenland toward Canada islands…)
    And just a note, that the Rhombus shape of cold weather somehow reminds me of DC, but not as exact as displayed sometimes on Sun with remarks…

    On this map in perspective projection centered 60°N, 87°W, compare 2019, 2020 and 2021:

    There have been a lot of more inscriptions following about the “US Theft”…
    http://pialpha.cz/Trump_2020#p32

    πα½

  4. oldbrew says:

    All that oil and gas, but not enough electricity 🙄

  5. ivan says:

    oldbrew, the problem is they now have a president that embraces the ‘green new deal’ which means shutting gas pipelines and cutting back on oil production.

    At the rate they are going they soon won’t have enough electricity to keep their government warm, and as the king in the cartoon ‘the wizard of id’ said ‘the peasants are revolting’, or will be.

  6. g2-3297bf0807f3ec600de3e9163016e8d4 says:

    How can the hypothetical CO2 correlation to temperature be maintained at this point? (*headscratch*)

  7. It doesn't add up... says:

    Apparently power cuts are not rotating in a bid to guarantee supplies to hospitals, etc. Outages may last through tomorrrow, and amount to 25% of homes and perhaps up to 30% of demand (50GW supply output of 72GW demand estimated). Natural gas fired stations are having difficulty getting supply, although in theory there is still enough capacity (EIA show 88GW for fossil fuel for Texas – ERCOT will be a bit less) if it were able to run, but doubtless a chunk was out for maintenance during what is normally the lower demand months for Texas. Numerous stations have tripped out with underfrequencies, which suggests ERCOT were too slow in imposing power cuts – or imposed the wrong ones that denied gas supplies. Their website is not accessible without a suitable VPN – snotty message offering a phone number to call if you want to justify access. I suppose it shows they take foreign hacking risk seriously. Half the wind (total about 34GW) is frozen out, with the remainder reported producing 4.2GW. Oil production is reported down 1mb/d, and several refineries have been forced to halt runs. Natgas physical prices have gone bananas – hitting $220/MMBtu for Chicago and $300/MMBtu (about $1/kWh) at the Texas/Oklahoma hub – while March NG futures are just $3/MMBtu at Henry Hub.

    Power cuts are now spreading to the neighbouring SPP grid that covers 14 states in the mid West from Oklahoma through the Dakotas.

    There was a similar, though less severe incident in 2011. Low temperatures lower the pressure in natural gas pipelines, and hence the supply unless there is compressor capacity to restore pressure.

  8. It doesn't add up... says:

    Probably worth noting that many Texans have experience of being without power, maybe for days or even weeks – in the aftermath of a hurricane. That may mean they adopt a more sanguine attitude to the present failures.

    Meanwhile, South of the border…

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-energy-idUSKBN2AF1G4

  9. tallbloke says:

    Yep. We told ’em.
    .

    The weather guessers have really screwed it up with their CO2 driven models.
    .

  10. tallbloke says:

  11. oldbrew says:

    Biden presides over freezing in the dark. Good start to the Green New Deal 🙄

    Texas today…

  12. oldbrew says:

    Could be more of the same come the next solar minimum.

    Spotless Days
    Current Stretch: 12 days
    2021 total: 29 days (62%)
    2020 total: 208 days (57%)
    2019 total: 281 days (77%)
    2018 total: 221 days (61%)

    https://spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=16&month=02&year=2021

    Solar Cycle 25 started over a year ago, officially at least. Not doing much, so far.
    = = =
    U.S. Energy Crisis Deepens With Nearly 5 Million in the Dark
    February 15, 2021, 12:41 AM GMT Updated on February 16, 2021, 9:20 AM GMT

    Blackouts are hitting states from North Dakota to Oklahoma
    Texas shortages continue with millions cut off amid freeze

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-15/winter-s-fury-unleashes-brutal-cold-over-u-s-with-more-to-come

    This is a wealthy country awash with gas, coal, and oil plus many nuclear power stations. Something badly wrong there.

  13. Jim says:

    And, according to the electrical codes in texas, the houses are not required to have generator sitting attached. Or the battery’s for solar, they have solar panels, to aid the grid, but not the home. And they want to seceed from the union. To become part of ? Mexico again?

  14. oldbrew says:

    Texas freeze raises cost of charging a Tesla to $900
    Date: 17/02/21 OilPrice.com

    The electricity shortage in Texas amid the cold snap has sent spot electricity prices soaring so much that the surge in power prices equals a cost of $900 for charging a Tesla.

    https://www.thegwpf.com/texas-freeze-raises-cost-of-charging-a-tesla-to-900/
    – – –
    Forecasting -11C for Dallas, Texas tomorrow night.

  15. It doesn't add up... says:

    Some interesting perspective on generation in ERCOT

    https://mobile.twitter.com/AlexEpstein/status/1362019477223706626/photo/1

  16. oldbrew says:

    Looks like they were gambling on having hardly any cold weather, ever. They lost that one big time.

    Woodfin said Tuesday that 16 gigawatts of renewable energy generation, mostly wind generation, are offline and that 30 gigawatts of thermal sources, which include gas, coal and nuclear energy, are offline.

    “It appears that a lot of the generation that has gone offline today has been primarily due to issues on the natural gas system,” Woodfin said during a Tuesday call with reporters.

    https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/16/natural-gas-power-storm/
    – – –
    There are no major west-east mountain ranges between Canada and Texas. Wind can blow cold air systems all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, and sometimes does.

  17. P.A.Semi says:

    why are my posts censored ?!

    [mod] WordPress spam filter mystery — recovered your comment now

  18. Paul Vaughan says:

    Sober Responsibility

    Mutually assured destruction is not a “solution”, weather climate or otherwise.
    May peace be with you as messaging spins with the times.

    God Bless

  19. David A says:

    Oldbrew, it is to early to tell about the natural gas issues. There are reports that most of the natural gas is still flowing, but has to be used for heat verses electrical generation. Also there are reports that some of the failure to produce electricity is due to compressors being booked to the failed grid. And finally we don’t know details about what choices gas plant operators had as far as capacity and utilization for generation due to government regulations. It may be some time before we get a comprehensive report. There dies appear to be some validity to the lack of winterization capacity for both wind and natural gas production.

  20. oldbrew says:

    David A – I think we can see some of the problem, here…

    Lines built for Texas wind power help supply Permian oil patch

    Congestion on the older West Texas power grid became acute in 2012 as oil production surged past 1.2 million barrels per day, creating a surge in wholesale power prices in the region.

    Now oil companies are embracing the new power lines to solve power issues in the bustling oil patch.

    “We’ve been able to utilize the transmission lines being built for wind,” Oncor’s Greer said. “They are now able to support this high-growth area.” [bold added]

    https://www.reuters.com/article/utilities-texas-permian-idUSL1N0I52C820131025
    – – –
    Presumably some of the local gas producers/suppliers also use these power lines.

    Also:
    “Gathering lines freeze, and the wells get so cold that they can’t produce,” said Parker Fawcett, a natural gas analyst for S&P Global Platts. “And pumps use electricity, so they’re not even able to lift that gas and liquid, because there’s no power to produce.”

    https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/16/natural-gas-power-storm/

    If that electricity is wind-dependent as seems likely in West Texas at least, there’s another problem.

  21. P.A.Semi says:

    @oldbrew – thank you for releasing filter… retrying, spacing out some words and adding more…

    The Texas power outage seems to be only partially caused by wind turbines shutdown, and the reason is not only oil or gas…

    Actually, it seems to be a coordinated at tack, shutting down coal and nu clear facilities to intentionally cause havoc and to h arm Texans…?!

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/02/texas-power-grid-crumples-under-the-cold/

    So as the God has predicted (or caused?) the “USA Cold Hell” in late January to come afterwards *,
    but the dis aster in Texas is rather man-made… (or rather jœω-made? hard to tell now who is to blame…)
    As it was promptly ab used by electricity peddlers to increase prices 1000x, I would suspect them of causing and ex ploiting intentional da mage… (by shutting down coal & nu clear facilities)


    * – When I inspected the weather record, the huge pressure high north of Alaska and pressure low north of Russia that together pumped the cold air southward, both intensified already at February 1 and 2…
    On this image, north pole is somewhere inside the red arrow triangle, and note the pressure gradients, almost 1060 hPa seems to be a lot – I’ve got a barometer at home and this would be off-scale…

    πα½

  22. P.A.Semi says:

    Pressure above 1060 hPa occurs frequently in Siberia, but seldom on Pole, once or twice per decade…

    This time there was not only high pressure peak on Pole (7th highest on record), but now rather a sustained high pressure peak for a significant time…

    In NOAA/NCEP re-analysis, 27-day average of (average Pressure on North Pole above 75°N) this February was the highest on record since 1948, second highest was in January 1977…

    For example, Sea-Level-Pressure at Arctic on February 8 from 2002 to 2021 :

    What is causal relation between air pressure and temperature and humidity? (Colder air is probably more dense, dry air is probably more dense… I’ll see later, how did it happen, that there was so high pressure on Pole, which started to rise since trough in mid-November 2020, with peak at 2021-02-10…)
    As someone speculated, that it may have been a weather-mod at_tack, but that was gradual build-up since later December, and until mid-January it could be a normal high, but it did not stop rising ever more since then…

    This high latitude is not visible from Geo-stationary weather satellites. Ozone levels do not seem any special this year (neither too high nor too low)…

    As I’ve included above February 15 sample to show WDC-like Rhombus, so an Ozone from February 15, there was probably no such Pentagram in Ozone since 2000, as if it should mean something :

    (Image somewhere from https://www.temis.nl/protocols/O3global.php )

    πα½

  23. ilma630 says:

    P.A.Semi, great report, but they’ll still blame it all on ‘Climate Change’, i.e. that tiny component of atmospheric CO2 emitted by man, no matter how many times it’s shown not to be.

  24. oldbrew says:

    Feb 17, 2021
    Biden administration sending [diesel] generators to Texas amid power outages

    “FEMA has supplied generators to Texas and is preparing to move diesel on to the state to ensure the continued availability of backup power,” said Psaki.

    https://www.axios.com/texas-power-outages-generators-biden-diesel-9f90d47f-327f-4d53-8cd6-9a74a2a06ec3.html
    – – –
    When the going gets tough, it’s time for fossil fuels again.

  25. P.A.Semi says:

    @ilma630 – Thаnk yоu…

    (аvoіdіng WP fіlter аgаіn?)

    CO2 іs nоt аny lеss thіs yеаr thаn prеvіоus… (I dоn’t knоw оf а dаtаsеt wіth CO2 lеvеls, іt mаy bе іntеrеstіng fоr еxаmplе tо sее rеgіоnаl dіffеrеncеs, but I’vе sееn а vіdео ( bit chute qYdG7RjCyqGt ) оf sоmеоnе mеаsurіng clеаr-аіr CO2 467 ppm, whіch іs nоrmаl hіgh lеvеl, аnd аftеr spеаkіng undеr mаsk fоr twо mіnutеs аnd mеаsurіng CO2 undеr mаsk аbоvе 9900 ppm (аlmоst 1 pеrcеnt), whіch іs а vеry lоt, іt’s vеry unhеаlthy tо wеаr а mаsk аnd еvеn tо spеаk undеr іt… It’s а Kаrmа fоr thеіr pеrsіstеnt lіеs аbоut suppоsеd hаrmfulnеss оf CO2 аt nоrmаl аnd bеlоw-оptіmаl lеvеls… Wе stаrtеd frоm 300 ppm іn 1850s, whеn Nаturе wаs stаrvіng оf CO2… Optіmum CO2 lеvеl іs 800 ppm аs іn sоmе аgrіculturаl grееnhоusеs bеcаusе Grееn Nаturе lоvеs іt, оr 1700 ppm аs іn tіmе оf dіnоsаurs – wе hаvе stіll а mіllеnnіum оf prеsеnt trеnd tо gо untіl rеаchіng оptіmаl CO2 lеvеls…)

    But аіr trаffіc іs prоbаbly sіgnіfіcаntly lеss thіs wіntеr… Mаy іt bе, thаt thеrе wоuld bе sіgnіfіcаnt cооlіng, іf wе dіdn’t mіtіgаtе іt by cіrrus clоuds frоm аіr trаvеl cоn_trаіls ?
    (But thеrе hаvе bееn rеpоrts аbоut wееk оr twо аgо оf sіgnіfіcаnt аіr cоn_trаіl аctіvіty оvеr mаny pаrts оf USA, аnd thеrе іs sоmе mіlі_tаry еxеrcіsе іn Nоrwаy – mаy thаt bе rеlаtеd??? Whо knоws… Prоbаbly nоt…)

    Lооkіng, іf pоlаr hіgh-prеssurе mаy bе rеlаtеd tо Sunspоt cyclе – іt dоеsn’t sееm sо, thеy оccur bоth іn mіnіmums аnd mаxіmums оf Sоlаr cyclе… But thеy sееm tо bе (mоrе оftеn but nоt аlwаys) rеlаtеd tо cоnjunctіоns аnd оppоsіtіоns wіth Vеnus оr Jupіtеr аnd Sun, whіch nоw оccurrеd Jupіtеr-Sаturn cоnjunctіоn оn Dеcеmbеr 21 аnd thеn Sаturn-Sun cоnjunctіоn оn Jаnuаry 24 аnd Jupіtеr-Sun cоnjunctіоn оn Jаnuаry 29, аnd Vеnus-Sun cоnjunctіоn (Eаrth-Vеnus Hеlіоcеntrіc оppоsіtіоn) nеаrіng оn Mаrch 26 – аnd thеsе оftеn bооst Sunspоt cyclе аlsо, lеt’s sее… At thе pеаk оn Fеbruаry 11 thеrе wаs Vеnus-Jupіtеr cоnjunctіоn аnd Nеw Mооn…
    Whіlе іt’s nоt much surе іf іt іs rеlаtеd, but іt mаy bе sоmеhоw…

    But аftеr аll – shuttіng dоwn cоаl аnd nu_clеаr fаcіlіtіеs аt оr bеfоrе wіntеr stоrm іs stupіd аt bеst but rаthеr оutrіght crіmіnаl…

    It mаy nоt bе rеlаtеd tо “A Bаddоn” us_urpеr іn WH, but tо thе Gаmе_Stоp, аs а rеvеngе оr cоmpеnsаtіоn? (I dоn’t knоw, just thіnkіng…) If Pоwеr Plаnt оpеrаtоr shuts dоwn hаlf оf іt’s prоductіоn аnd sеlls thе оthеr hаlf аt tеn tіmеs thе nоrmаl prіcе, іt mаy bе а hugе gаіn…? (Sіmіlаr tо оthеr Mаrkеt mаnіpulаtіоns…?)

    πα½

  26. P.A.Semi says:

    @ilma630 – Thank you…

    CO2 is not any less this year than previous… (I don’t know of a dataset with CO2 levels, it may be interesting for example to see regional differences, but I’ve seen a video ( bit chute qYdG7RjCyqGt ) of someone measuring clear-air CO2 467 ppm, which is normal high level, and after speaking under mask for two minutes and measuring CO2 under mask above 9900 ppm (almost 1 percent), which is a very lot, it’s very unhealthy to wear a mask and even to speak under it… It’s a Karma for their persistent lies about supposed harmfulness of CO2 at normal and below-optimal levels… We started from 300 ppm in 1850s, when Nature was starving of CO2… Optimum CO2 level is 800 ppm as in some agricultural greenhouses because Green Nature loves it, or 1700 ppm as in time of dinosaurs – we have still a millennium of present trend to go until reaching optimal CO2 levels…)

    But air traf_fic is probably significantly less this winter… May it be, that there would be significant cooling, if we didn’t mitigate it by cirrus clouds from air travel con_trails ?
    (But there have been reports about week or two ago of significant air con_trail activity over many parts of USA, and there is some mili_tary exercise in Norway – may that be related??? Who knows… Probably not…)

    Looking, if Polar high-pressure may be related to Sunspot cycle – it doesn’t seem so, they occur both in minimums and maximums of Solar cycle… But they seem to be (more often but not always) related to conjunctions and oppositions with Venus or Jupiter and Sun, which now occurred Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on December 21 and then Saturn-Sun conjunction on January 24 and Jupiter-Sun conjunction on January 29, and Venus-Sun conjunction (Earth-Venus Heliocentric opposition) nearing on March 26 – and these often boost Sunspot cycle also, let’s see… At the peak on February 11 there was Venus-Jupiter conjunction and New Moon…
    While it’s not much sure if it is related, but it may be somehow…

    But after all – shutting down coal and nu_clear facilities at or before winter storm is stu_pid at best but rather outright cri_minal…

    It may not be related to “A Baddon” us_urper in WH, but to the Game_Stop, as a re_venge or compen_sation? (I don’t know, just thinking…) If Power Plant operator shuts down half of it’s production and sells the other half at ten times the normal pri_ce, it may be a huge gai_n…? (Similar to other Market mani_pulations…?)

    [avoiding WP filter again? second retry… what does that robot dislike?]

    πα½

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