Al Fonzi is a freelance columnist for The and Paso Robles Press; you can e-mail him at [email protected]
My column on the dark green energy disruption of the 11th. The March report, which critics called fact-free, was based on data from the government’s Energy Information Administration and has been documented by national publications such as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot) claims that Texas gets only 10% of its winter capacity from wind power, but this claim needs further analysis.
The term capacity is defined as the maximum potential capacity, which is different from the actual production of electricity. According to the WSJ, Texas’ total winter capacity is about 83 megawatts (MW) from all sources. The total peak demand to generation ratio is approximately 57 MW. Wind farms have a capacity of about 30,000 MW, but because it is impossible to winterize and there is too little wind, only 600 to 22,500 MW are produced in February. As the magazine reports, electricity generated by wind power dropped from 42% to 8%, and in one case to just 2%. Nuclear power has been on the upswing, but gas-fired plants that do not hibernate have suffered severe mechanical failures during severe cold spells where temperatures have dropped below 10 degrees. Texas gets colds from time to time, so there’s no excuse for not being prepared.
If the wind is not blowing, something else must generate power to prevent serious damage to the equipment. The misplaced confidence in wind and solar power stems from the fact that they cannot get off the ground when demand increases, as was the case during the freeze in Texas; wind turbines are unpredictable and create their own problems. Sunlight has been obscured by darkness and snow cover, increasing dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power.
Unfortunately, as I described in my previous article, subsidizing alternative energy sources at the expense of conventional energy sources has led to economic distortions that divert resources away from natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. Yields were higher than during the rainy season. Therefore, it was not possible to winterize conventional power plants in the same way as in the northern states. Reliability was sacrificed on the altar of pride and the inability to make realistic decisions, ignoring the possibility of a very severe winter storm and its impact on the fragile system. This has been exacerbated by the fact that the Texas power grid was taken off the national grid to insulate Texas from federal regulators. During the crisis, there was no way to get additional energy from other states.
Getting energy from less influential states does not always work. Recently, California experienced power outages because the massive heat waves in the West did not allow for an additional source of electricity. Parts of California are short of electricity and will continue to be so; expect more severe and prolonged power outages in the future if our current green energy policies continue at the expense of nuclear, coal, gas, and hydroelectric power; California is closing several conventional power plants without a reliable backup system.
As the tech industry consumes large amounts of electrical energy and continues to grow exponentially due to increasing demand from governments to switch to electric vehicles, the question is where will the energy come from to provide all this power? I see nothing on the horizon that will effectively meet electricity needs in the near term, let alone eliminate fossil fuels in transportation by 2035.
My point is not about resistance to change, but about recklessly diving into alternative energy sources without considering the pitfalls of limiting our energy systems to a few politically acceptable sources. The national media are not helpful; they routinely misinform and instill fear of conventional energy sources, while ignoring the vulnerability of an electricity-dependent civilization to grid failures. Alternative energy sources can provide a small amount of energy and reduce energy costs for homeowners and businesses, but they must be supported by traditional sources. Proponents of the alternatives also seem to assume that energy demand will remain stable, but population projections indicate a huge future demand for electricity that we will not be able to meet with Pollyanna’s current assumptions.
I recommend that readers take a look at two interesting books on these topics:
A question of power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations by Robert Bryce and The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein. Knowledge is power, and your future and that of your children will depend on the informed or uninformed decisions you make today.
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