Sunday, February 21, 2021

Affordably improving Texas power grid resilience

Hope you emerged from this crazy winter storm + power/water outage week relatively unscathed.  I certainly learned the value of stockpiling water and draining water pipes (esp. with a power outage), and ERCOT learned that it's a bad idea to cut off power to natural gas pumps across the state during a winter storm. I hope they spend a bit of time doing analysis before jumping to expensive solutions like full winterization of all facilities.  It's possible that if they had simply mapped natural gas pumps and compressors across the state and treated them as critical non-blackout facilities like hospitals, we might have gotten away with short-duration rolling blackouts that would have been far more manageable (like 2011). 

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Solutions will have to be nuanced and incremental. Winterizing all power plants would be unnecessarily expensive, and so would a complete overhaul of Texas' market design, which is partly responsible for consistently low power prices compared with the rest of the country." 

And an excellent idea: "One option could be rewarding liquefied natural-gas processing facilities in Texas to both curtail electricity usage and to redirect the feedstock natural gas for electricity rather than for exports."

And from Forbes - This Blizzard Exposes The Perils Of Attempting To ‘Electrify Everything’. Gas = resilience: 

"to equal the 80 Bcf/d of gas delivered during cold snaps, the U.S. would need an electric grid as large as all existing generation in the country, which is currently about 1.2 terawatts."

Unpopular observation: gas-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs were a critical source of resilience during this never-ending mass power-outage disaster by providing heat and recharging. If we all had electric vehicles, this disaster would have been epically worse. A hard truth. 

UPDATE 2/27/21: Confirmed that there may be a very simple solution here

"Grant Ruckel, vice president of government affairs at pipeline company Energy Transfer, testified that the biggest failure during the disaster was cutting power to gas pipelines, many of which are not listed as essential services, a designation made for hospitals and other critical infrastructure." ...

"Deshotel said he had asked generators how many plants would have gone down if they hadn’t lost gas pressure, and the answer was only a couple."

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At 11:24 AM, February 22, 2021, Blogger George Rogers said...

At 5:52 PM, February 22, 2021, Blogger VeracityID said...

The Ercot 30 day chart of the shares of generation by source with wind swinging wildly back and forth from 10 to 60 percent and then down to 2 percent was a wake-up call. Any layman who saw that chart would instantly realize just how vulnerable the system is. It's a reminder that sometimes the technical experts get so close to a problem that they forget to use basic common sense. Regards, Bill

At 7:35 AM, February 28, 2021, Blogger George Rogers said...

And B if you have gas heat you would still have heat during a blackout. This applys more to Dallas. The natural gas system is so important.


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