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Texas Blackouts–Critical New Data Revealed

February 24, 2021

By Paul Homewood



This is the best analysis I have seen yet regarding the Texas blackouts. Yes Energy are a professional outfit of energy analysts, so have no axe to grind whatsoever.


By now most of the world knows about the cold snap in ERCOT the week of 2/15/21 (if not, check out our blog post here), but do you know the generation side of the story? You may know some of the story from watching the news, like we have – including claims that it was a wind issue or a natural gas supply issue.

History tells us that it will take months to determine the root causes of this event, but what was the data telling us in real-time during the crucial hours and minutes leading up to the event? Traders with access to market data in Yes Energy alongside real-time generation data from Live Power had critical insight into the generation side of this story. What happened and what role did generation play in this historic week in ERCOT?

First, prices in ERCOT were at their market cap of $9,000 per MWh for days on end the week of 2/15/21. This was not price node or load zone specific, this was system-wide in ERCOT for many hours and many days on end. The chart below shows the real-time LMP (with scarcity adders) at Hub North in ERCOT from 2/9/21-2/18/21, but this could have been any price node in ERCOT that week because this cold snap had system-wide implications.

Pic 1.PNG

The map below is a snapshot from 2/15/21 at 2 am from Yes Energy’s PowerSignals product that provides a visual representation of the high prices throughout ERCOT and the pervasive transmission constraints. In this visual, all of the red dots are price nodes in ERCOT (all are at or around the market cap of $9,000 per MWh) and the yellow circles & lines are transmission constraints binding in the real-time market. It is worth noting that during this time, as well as throughout the week of 2/15/21, ERCOT was in an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 (EEA3), which is due to an imbalance of supply & demand, thus rolling blackouts are required.

Pic 2.PNG

What happened right before this in the wee hours of 2/15/21? At 1:10 am CT Live Power data gave an early indicator of generation decay. This gave Live Power customers 45 minutes to react prior to 1:55 am CT when ERCOT frequency, which is the heartbeat of the grid (60 Hz is a normal beat) suddenly dipped to 59.38, which is significant. Had it dipped lower than that there could have been cascading blackouts across the entire state, which would have taken days or weeks to bounce back from. What led to this dip in frequency and what critical insight did Live Power customers have?

Pic 3.PNG

At the same time as ERCOT frequency dipped, there was a 6 GW loss of generation across all of Live Power’s monitored plants in ERCOT. What does that mean?

Pic 4.PNG

It means that ERCOT needed to shed load, and shed it fast because balancing load and supply on the grid is absolutely critical for the security and reliability of the grid. As seen below, shortly after the loss of generation, ERCOT quickly shed 10 GW of load to regain balance on the grid. This meant far reaching blackouts across the state.

Pic 5.PNG

What did Live Power customers know about this loss in generation? Within 60 seconds of this loss in generation, Live Power customers not only knew the relative magnitude of the lost generation, but they also knew the part of the supply stack that was affected, as well as which plants tripped offline. Circled in yellow below are the gas and coal facilities that Live Power monitors that had a sudden loss in generation at 1:55 am, which lead to the dip in frequency and the subsequent shedding of load. This sudden loss of generation was partially due to the widespread natural gas issues that were caused by the historic low temperatures across the state. For example, critical parts of the gas supply chain were freezing (valves, pipes), electric motors could not run due to the power outages, and there were compression losses throughout the system due to the cold temperatures.

Pic 6.PNG

Drilling into the Live Power monitored plants that suddenly tripped offline at 1:55 am, the chart below hones in on three plants in particular that contributed to this decay in generation, which in turn led to a decay in frequency. The green line is Live Power generation data for Colorado Bend II, the blue line is the Live Power generation data for Sandy Creek, and the pink line is Live Power generation data for Wolf Hollow. All of this generation data comes from Live Power and is piped into the Yes Energy platform every 60 seconds. Yes Energy and Live Power customers were able to layer this generation data in context with market data like frequency, which gave them critical insight during this historic week in ERCOT.

Pic 7.PNG


There’s quite a lot to take in, but these seem to be the salient points:


1) Market prices had already been flagging up danger signals days before the crash.

2) “At 1:10 am CT Live Power data gave an early indicator of generation decay. This gave Live Power customers 45 minutes to react prior to 1:55 am CT when ERCOT frequency, which is the heartbeat of the grid (60 Hz is a normal beat) suddenly dipped to 59.38, which is significant.”

In other words, it was clear at 1.10 am that something was happening.

This is a critical piece of information, that the drop in frequency and associated plant shutdowns occurred precisely at 1.55 am. Previously we have only been told that it happened between 1 am and 2 am.

4) Frequencies had already to started to decline before 1.10 am, which had obviously flagged up the warning.

5) Up until that time however, the three highlighted gas power plants were still operating normally. Indeed all three were varying their outputs, up and down, presumably reacting to demand.

6) Circled in yellow below are the gas and coal facilities that Live Power monitors that had a sudden loss in generation at 1:55 am, which lead to the dip in frequency and the subsequent shedding of load (6GW)

Pic 6.PNG


The analysis then goes on to claim:

This sudden loss of generation was partially due to the widespread natural gas issues that were caused by the historic low temperatures across the state.

It is absurd to claim that all of these plants packed up at 1.55 am, because they had all suddenly frozen up at precisely the same time.

Indeed it is obvious from the map that they are scattered across the state. While Wolf Hollow, for instance, is up north near Ft Worth, Colorado Bend is near the coast near Houston, where weather conditions would have been much different.

The media has been full of reports of how gas plants shut down because of freezing pipes, valves, shortage of gas and so on. But, and I might be wrong, I have yet to see any hard evidence of this at this particular time. If it had happened, surely it would have been easy to prove that XYZ power plant shut at such and such a time, because of frozen pipes or whatever.

From this new information, we can now infer:

1) The sudden drop in wind power of 4 GW on Sunday evening left the already highly stressed grid in a critical state. It was only the ramping up of gas power that saved a calamitous total collapse there and then – one that would have been much worse.

2) Something happened around 1.00 am to push the whole thing over the edge, as the 1.10 am warning confirms.

3) Whatever this “something” was (and it may have been supply or demand orientated), it caused the tripping out of 6 GW of generating capacity (mainly gas) at precisely 1.55 am.

4) At that stage there was no easy way back, and the widespread blackouts were the inevitable result.


To sum up, the loss of gas generation resulted from tripping out, and not because of freezing up.


Gas v Wind


There has been much debate about whether wind or gas power were most to blame, but it has been a meaningless, not to say misleading, one, based on a misinterpretation of the data.

To put the various roles of the two in perspective, let’s first consider this graph:



When wind power largely disappeared on Sunday evening, it was gas power that stepped up to keep the grid working. Clearly the opposite could not have happened.

Secondly, for the rest of the week, when demand was still high because of the cold weather and when supplies were still being restricted, gas generation remained flexible and stable, responding to rises and dips in demand, as well as the ups and downs of wind power.

During the days after the shutdown, gas power fluctuated between 25 and 35 GW. Indeed, it was running at 33 GW immediately after the crash. The total CCGT capacity in Texas is 41 GW, and about 4 GW was offline due to annual maintenance. There is some extra gas engine and single cycle capacity, but this is designed for peaking, not 24/7 running. It appears that it was the latter which helped gas power to peak at 43 GW at 11.00 pm. It may even have been problems at some of this peaking capacity which triggered the subsequent tripping out.

So, clearly the gas power grid was actually working pretty well, all things considered. To consistently run at over 30 GW, when available capacity is 37 GW, does not sound like a failure to me.

In comparison, wind power was effectively absent without leave for the whole of last week.



Finally, let us consider generating capacity in Texas:




Bearing in mind that demand peaked at 68 GW on Sunday evening, Texas only has 64 GW of 24/7 dispatchable power – CCGT, coal and nuclear.

Peakers are fine for operating for an hour or two at times of peak demand, but should not be relied on for continuous operation. (In summer, for instance, demand cycles from around 45 GW at night to 65 GW late afternoon. Peakers are ideal for meeting this predictable surge in demand for an hour or two each day).

ERCOT got itself into this mess because of a naive belief that wind power would always be available in large quantities. This was an accident waiting to happen. And it will happen again if Texas does not get at least another 10 GW of proper dispatchable capacity.

  1. 2hmp permalink
    February 24, 2021 3:39 pm

    How many times does it have to be repeated across the developed World – “we told you so”.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    February 24, 2021 3:48 pm

    “Peakers are fine for operating for an hour or two at times of peak demand, but should not be relied on for continuous operation.”?

    There is no technical reason peakers can’t be run continuously in an emergency.

    Their fuel & running costs are higher than CCGT, but in an emergency that’s of no great consequence if blackouts are the alternative.

    • February 24, 2021 7:23 pm

      There is a technical reason…

      “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.”

      So in areas where the electricity was coming mainly from wind power, turbine freeze-ups could cause gas supply problems.

      • February 24, 2021 9:47 pm

        No doubt gas supply did drop, but is there any evidence that power stations stopped running as a result?

      • February 24, 2021 10:35 pm

        Not much gas storage in Texas, so when pumps fail, whether due to power problems or freezing, there’s no plan B.

      • Joe Public permalink
        February 25, 2021 12:06 am

        Your explanation covers all gas-fired equipment in that specific situation.

        The point I made referred to this:

        “Peakers are fine for operating for an hour or two at times of peak demand, but should not be relied on for continuous operation. (In summer, for instance, demand cycles from around 45 GW at night to 65 GW late afternoon. Peakers are ideal for meeting this predictable surge in demand for an hour or two each day).”

  3. Ben Vorlich permalink
    February 24, 2021 4:02 pm

    When you have everything running at maximum and nothing left in reserve then it doesn’t take much to trigger a total collapse. In this case it may not have been a failure of wind that caused this final collapse but the fact most had disappeared gradually was putting more strain on what was available. In wild west terms like running a stage coach at the gallop until one of the horses goes lame or dies, at which point the bandits catch it and the gold has gone.

    I fully expect the blame to placed on whichever coal or gas plant went lame, and the renewables madness will continue unabated until we’re (Europe wide) running a four horse stage coach with a single fit horse.

    • roger permalink
      February 24, 2021 7:18 pm

      Ah yes! Saturday morning cinema club in the 1940’s watching interminable western ‘b’ movies for sixpence old money a go! Can you really be that old Ben?

  4. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 24, 2021 4:02 pm

    There’s been various versions of this story doing the rounds. No idea if it is true or has any real relevance, but some are saying demand could have been met but the Biden administration stopped it?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 24, 2021 5:16 pm

      That post is a misinterpretation of the order. ERCOT asked for dispensation on the understanding it would only be used if they were running with a capacity shortage, and plant would be required to resume normal environmental standards as soon as there was adequate capacity on the system. The order in fact echoes the language of the ERCOT application which you can read in full here:

      Click to access ERCOT%20202%28c%29%20Emergency%20Order%20Request%20-%2002.14.2021.pdf

      and grants the relief requested.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        February 24, 2021 9:04 pm

        Yes, I read that too, and a lot of people still disagree that their hands were entirely freed.

        With most of these things it’s all in the interpretation, and ultimately it’s all speculation.

        The whole situation is so complicated that it’s unlikely anyone will ever know anything for sure – including you – and all sides will continue to assert that the detailed data supports their truth.

      • dave permalink
        February 25, 2021 9:01 am

        “situation… complicated…”

        Perhaps; but the remedy is not complicated.

        With respect to every one of our public institutions the people need to adopt the actions of the mother in the old Punch cartoon, where she tells her maid

        “Go and find Master William, and stop him from doing whatever it is he is doing.”

        Chances of it happening, of course, are precisely zero.

        Or – in our dreams – the custom of the Sultans of Turkey who used to send billets doux to their subordinates

        “You no longer please me. Kill yourself.”

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 24, 2021 4:11 pm

    I flagged this source up both here and at WUWT when I was looking for better info on frequency than the snapshots of ERCOT dashboard archived at wayback. Bear in mind that they are using the article to give a taste of what their monitoring software can do. They want people to buy the software, so they lift up the corner of the rug, and illustrate the features with enough of a canvas to get an impression. But we don’t quite get the full story, even if it shows some detail that pundits and politicians don’t seem to have access to (or lack the will or the knowledge to try to find truths rather than support prejudices). Note also they admit their system doesn’t quite cover the whole of ERCOT, so be cautious when comparing with stats from the EIA or ERCOT itself.

    Of course the blow by blow stuff is also likely a 300 page report, not an online article.

  6. markl permalink
    February 24, 2021 4:17 pm

    The media spin to absolve renewable energy generation as the culprit is at full force. Like all “news” these days the public will never get a true accounting of what happened. We are in a a new “dark ages”.

  7. geoffb permalink
    February 24, 2021 4:38 pm

    Intermittent power on an Electrical Grid is a recipe for disaster, UK August 2019, California Summer 2020, Texas Feb 15th 2021, I believe the European grid was on the edge a few weeks ago. For frequency stability you need spinning mass, great big steam/water turbines driving great big alternators, Nuclear, Coal, Hydro do well. Gas turbines are not as good but have short response times and can track the load very well. Wind and Battery are solid state inverters no resilience, they trip out at the slightest overload, low I2t capability. Now what about reactive power, few understand the need for reactive power, every cycle give some and then take it all back, inverters struggle with this. In my opinion for grid stability no more than 10% should be intermittent inverter sources, just what are the alleged experts at our national grid thinking. There is also an article in the New York times this morning discussing the high prices during the Texas fiasco.

    here is the intro…its behind a firewall

    The disaster in Texas, however, was different. The collapse of the Texas power grid didn’t just reveal a few shortcomings. It showed that the entire philosophy behind the state’s energy policy is wrong. And it also showed that the state is run by people who will resort to blatant lies rather than admit their mistakes.

    Texas isn’t the only state with a largely deregulated electricity market. It has, however, pushed deregulation further than anyone else. There is an upper limit on wholesale electricity prices, but it’s stratospherically high. And there is essentially no prudential regulation — no requirements that utilities maintain reserve capacity or invest in things like insulation to limit the effects of extreme weather.

    The theory was that no such regulation was necessary, because the magic of the market would take care of everything. After all, a surge in demand or a disruption of supply — both of which happened in the deep freeze — will lead to high prices, and hence to big profits for any power supplier that manages to keep operating. So there should be incentives to invest in robust systems, precisely to take advantage of events like those Texas just experienced.

    geoffb BSc ENG guess what electrical 1970 when power was a third of the syllabus!!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 24, 2021 5:44 pm

      The ENTSO-E failure on 8th January had some similarities with the Texan one. The grid was stretched by very cold weather, and renewables input from wind and solar was minimal. There were inadequate reserves, and NW Europe was actually depending on supply from SE Europe – including as far away Turkey. When one of the supply lines was tripped out by arcing at a substation in Croatia, neighbouring transmission lines became overloaded, and in next to no time also tripped out, leaving a 6.5GW surplus in the SE and a corresponding deficit in the NW. The disruption triggered blackouts in the vicinity of the severed transmission routes all the way to NE Romania and beyond. One power station in Turkey had to deload almost 1 GW to cope with the overfrequency (50.6Hz), alongside several others in SE Europe not identified by ENTSO-E publicly. Meanwhile large interruptible industrial users were cut by at least 1.7GW (whether they will continue to accept interruptible contracts in future may be determined by any damage the power cut caused them) in France and Italy. I think the country by country demand data suggest that cuts were in fact more widespread than ENTSO-E have publicly admitted.

      The root cause was insufficient dispatchable capacity in NWE: inertia (of which there was plenty) can only save you if there is spinning reserve or other headroom to take over and restore frequency. Goodness knows what it will be like when the Germans, Belgians, French et al. start closing more nuclear and coal.

      • Joe Public permalink
        February 25, 2021 12:14 am

        “Meanwhile large interruptible industrial users were cut by at least 1.7GW (whether they will continue to accept interruptible contracts in future may be determined by any damage the power cut caused them) in France and Italy.”

        Would not “When one of the supply lines was tripped out by arcing at a substation in Croatia …” be considered to be a ‘force majeure’ by at least 50% of the legal eagles employed to fight it out?

  8. Cheshire Red permalink
    February 24, 2021 4:43 pm

    Politicians who willfully expose the grid and by extension the population to this type of known risk should be prosecuted for negligence.
    This is not just a policy decision which some may agree or disagree with; it’s much more serious. There should be no hiding place behind ideology or ‘saving the planet’, either.

    • Mad Mike permalink
      February 24, 2021 5:53 pm

      Wait until they get round to making the grid fit for purpose and telling the population what the cost will be. Texans, and Americans generally, are not shy of coming forward and making their opinions known

  9. Tom in BR permalink
    February 24, 2021 5:12 pm

    I agree fully, Markl, in your analogy to the Dark Ages.
    The Dark Ages v1.0 were the result IMHO of not only the replacement of inquiry by dogma courtesy of the Church gone over to power and wealth as opposed to love and salvation, but also in reaction to invasion by Islam, granting the Church immense power for defense.

    Contemporary times are indeed very similar in that an approved narrative generated by the State or the Party (depending upon one’s location) entirely displaces actual inquiry, proper analysis, and scientific methodology. Discovery of truth has been crushed in favor of nearly (soon to be totally) mandated acceptance of State/Party approved dogma – just as the Church demanded in the Dark Ages.

    As such, just as you say, we now have the beginnings of the Dark Ages v2.0…..and nothing good can come from this.

    Sidebar: Please tell the Washington Post their motto of “Democracy dies in darkness” is not only true, but apparently this IS their goal.

  10. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 24, 2021 5:56 pm

    Bear in mind that it wasn’t until Saturday 20th that temperatures lifted above freezing – there were several days of imposed blackouts for some, so the fact that there was some apparent demand response from gas generation is in a sense misleading. The grid had restored a bit of headroom to reduce the risks of another round of frequency trips like those at 1:52 a.m. on the 15th, but there were also additional trips for lack of gas supply etc. offsetting some of the plant that managed to get back on line. True demand was forecast to peak at 72-74GW for Monday and Tuesday. They were a long way off meeting that!

  11. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 24, 2021 6:11 pm

    This story about power stations captioned in the big trip is not without interest:

    Already, wind has been cannibalising revenues to the point of closing down capacity.

    Coal fired Sandy Creek also had financial woes:

    • GeoffB permalink
      February 24, 2021 7:40 pm

      UK Calon energy went into administration and mothballed two gas plants last year. Market distortion, as expensive and subsidised wind has to be utilised, means that gas plants supplying cheap reliable power are unable to compete. The grid must be sacrosanct and protected from failure, that is the number 1 priority in an economy that is totally dependent on reliable electricity supply. All this greening has to be second to grid integrity. NO MORE WIND.

  12. 10 to 1 permalink
    February 24, 2021 6:34 pm

    The blackout and price spikes are exactly what happened in south Australia before they installed a battery farm.

    The problem isn’t with renewable energy, it’s with a grid which doesn’t have some kind of system in place like a battery farm which can handle spikes in energy demand, instead of just circuit breakers which trip off when the demand exceeds the supply. Which results in less power supplied to the gird instead of more, further driving up both demand and price of the electricity being supplied.

    Getting rid of renewable energy sources isn’t going to fix the problem only make it worse.

    • February 24, 2021 6:48 pm

      Small scale peakers, such as gas engines, do exactly the same as batteries – that’s how the grid has worked perfectly well for years.

      But neither they or batteries can cope when demand exceeds supply as it did last week in Texas, or help when wind power collapses for days on end

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 24, 2021 8:05 pm

      Batteries would be a completely idiotic way to attempt to cover a demand surge that roughly doubled usage. Storage earns its keep by frequent turnover – from one gust of wind to the next through to daily fluctuations. Not once a decade cold snaps. Grid batteries mostly have a duration of no more than 1 hour, although a small number are now being built at up to 4 hours duration which is sufficient to shift a solar peak into evening peak demand in markets like California, but the capacities remain small relative to overall demand. For occasional shortages you need cheap capacity, and you don’t mind paying a premium for its fuel for the few times it is needed.

      ERCOT actually has a lot more capacity, but they had allowed a large chunk of it to go to maintenance. Normally maximum demand is in summer when temperatures soar along with aircon demand, so maintenance is done over the winter. Capacity has eroded with plant closures in recent years, placing a premium on winter maintenance. That is the result of reduced hours of operation to make way for wind. Getting rid of wind would ensure a much more viable level of operation.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      February 24, 2021 8:07 pm

      The big battery in South Australia has about 6 minutes capacity for the State (theoretical as it couldn’t supply at that rate). The grid authority installed 4 synchronous condensers last year (cost $160 million, about the same as that big battery) to stabilise the frequency. Providing the same effect that the demolished coal fired station gave for free.
      It isn’t the big battery that has saved SA from most blackouts (we’ve had some but only limited areas have been without power for an hour of two**) but extra generation capacity by diesel. There is lots of capacity in peaking plants but gas-fired diesels have similar startup times (and similar emissions and costs) and far better reliability.

      One thing is certain, there will be concerted efforts to deny the blackouts were caused by over reliance on unreliables.

      **7 hours last month where I live.

    • Joe Public permalink
      February 25, 2021 12:24 am

      10 to 1

      “The blackout and price spikes are exactly what happened in south Australia before they installed a battery farm.”

      And after.

      The much-vaunted BSAB has reduced, but not prevented them:

      “On Thursday 19 December 2019, the spot price in South Australia reached the market price cap of $14 700/MWh on two occasions at 7 pm and 7.30 pm.”

      “Power granted to switch off household solar in SA to prevent statewide blackout”

  13. David Wojick permalink
    February 24, 2021 7:24 pm

    My guess is that those gas plants tripped automatically because of instability, probably a frequency drop. This may well have been caused by erratic wind generation, as this is a known problem. Basically a partial cascade.

  14. February 24, 2021 7:34 pm

    Why all the types of electricity generation supply ran into problems in Texas…

    As it’s a cut-throat market, nobody wants to spend much on cold weather resilience in case they lose ground in the price war.

    • Mack permalink
      February 24, 2021 8:47 pm

      Indeed, ‘winterising’ infrastructure in a local climate that is infrequently impaired by winter weather, but remains a periodic risk, is a financial gamble. Judith Curry recently covered this same issue on her blog. The bottom line is, if utilities fail to protect their infrastructure properly and invest against all weather hazards, the potential for catastrophic failure is very real. Of course, many of the big utilities are now fully signed up to the hype of inexhorable global warming so they are reluctant to invest heavily in ‘winterising’ their assets. I dare say that few of their CEOs are conversant with an AMO turning negative. Good luck with that guys!

  15. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    February 24, 2021 9:40 pm

    There is a phrase: “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
    Another way: “A near miss” also fits.
    If you get a $9,000 electric bill, you had power (close) and took a hard hit (near miss).

  16. Gamecock permalink
    February 24, 2021 10:21 pm

    ‘the historic low temperatures across the state’

    BS. There was nothing ‘historic’ about them.

    • Duker permalink
      February 25, 2021 3:44 am

      They mean ‘historic’ in the terms of a ‘millennials lifetime’, any thing older than 40 years now is airbrushed from history

  17. Gamecock permalink
    February 24, 2021 10:25 pm

    ‘This gave Live Power customers 45 minutes to react prior to 1:55 am CT when ERCOT frequency, which is the heartbeat of the grid (60 Hz is a normal beat) suddenly dipped to 59.38, which is significant.’

    Bizarre. 60Hz is the frequency at which you reverse the cycle. Power generation dropping has double ought zero to do with the frequency. As power input drops, there is no ******* reason for the cycles to change.

    • Duker permalink
      February 25, 2021 3:51 am

      In practice it does because of the way AC generation grid works, if the grid frequency drops below the trigger point of the standard frequency, the generators trip off to protect them from damage, which also could extend to other parts of the grid. Frequency protectors cut load out as well and the generators cant reduce supply quick enough. I only have a rough idea, but the frequency is the holy grail which must be protected at all costs.

    • February 25, 2021 10:10 pm

      Look up frequency droop, you may then understand that the frequency of a grid varies all the time. It is how generators share the load amongst themselves automatically, without any computer or human control!

  18. February 25, 2021 4:38 am

    It’s all part of the climate crisis, I guess.

  19. europeanonion permalink
    February 25, 2021 9:51 am

    Listening to the weather forecast on Radio 4 this morning, the presenter mentioned the balmy weather in the South East of England (preceded by a sustained period of cold weather, but heh, we won’t mention that). The weatherman chorused that the Jet Stream was doing odd things, as if this was the only time that it had done odd things, inferring that it may never do such a thing again. Well, if the Jet Stream is capable of ‘odd things’ then surely this takes the weight off CO2?

    Whatever the levels of CO2 are, if the Jet stream behaves aberrantly, unpredictably then the situation is determined as being beyond reach and must attract planning that deals with uncertainty rather than steady steady, the determined projections that computer models have made with whatever baseline, with occasional differences. As we have absolutely no control over that wind and its weather creating propensity, then there seems to be a level of futility attached in efforts to moderate other factors, the ones we claim, hubristically, we can control. All that is achieved with that thinking is to provide a very expensive placebo.

    Back in the fifties, geography lessons were very certain about the predictability of our weather, the annual low pressure descending from Iceland in winter months, where was the Jet Stream at that time and why so conforming? We should be more interested in the Jet Stream’s perturbations than local factors. There are not butterfly wings determining here but greater astronomical aspects.

    • Julian Flood permalink
      February 25, 2021 12:21 pm

      When I did aviation met the jet stream was a result, not a cause. It reflects the position of warm and cold air masses.


  20. February 25, 2021 1:14 pm

    Wind power intermittency is a known fact of life, but it can be lived with to a certain extent if it is predictable, which it probably is for most of the time, but the models used almost certainly don’t take account of turbines stopping because of ice.

    Sadly the data available to the outside world are too coarse (typically every 5 minutes) to determine cause and effect, the very fine resolution data needed are only known by the grid operator, and it will probably be months before a verdict is reached.

  21. Pat from Kerbob permalink
    February 25, 2021 8:27 pm

    Seemes like there was a slight pull back on nuclear and coal due to cold freezing some cooling systems, not sure how true that is but some graphs i saw showed both declined slightly. That, with the complete loss of wind meant gas could not make it up
    Regardless, spending another 10 cents on wind before firewalling the real power assets is a losing proposition.

  22. February 26, 2021 3:58 am

    The EIA data shows the dramatic and abrupt reduction in the amount of Wind Tower electrical contribution to the ERCOT power grid on February 8, 2021. This dramatic change coincides with the dramatic 40 degree drop in temperature, from about 68 ºF to 32 ºF. I have converted the EIA hourly MWh data for the six ERCOT power sources (Natural Gas, Wind, Solar, Coal, Hydro and Nuclear) to a “Percent of Total MWh on ERCOT Grid” for the time frame of Jan 20 to Feb 18. The chart also includes a temperature chart from Dallas from Feb 1 to Feb 18. As a previous analogy was noted, the ERCOT stagecoach was getting pulled by six horses, but the “Wind” horse ran out of energy, so the stagecoach was down to five horses. The ERCOT MWH Percent chart can be found at the bottom of the web page referenced below.

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