JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Queensland’s Near Miss: hydrogen may have exploded at a coal plant (and renewables don’t save the day)

Tuesday was a wild day for Queensland Electricity. An explosion struck the Callide C Power Plant triggering a cascade of other plants to switch off within seconds. The massive 2.5GW fall in supply took the grid frequency in Brisbane to a hair raising 49.55Hz. How close did it come to falling over? Half a million people lost power for a couple of hours but a Statewide blackout was averted. Luckily no one was hurt.

Meanwhile the people in power were not saying “Hydrogen”, or “explosion” but the Supercritical Units at Callide are cooled with hydrogen, and there was an explosion. The owner CS Energy called it just “a fire”. But in other news reports people in the nearest town said it was “the loudest explosion they have ever heard”.

Hydrogen, it seems, is used in some coal plants as a coolant, but Holy Hindenberg, it is known to explode. (See Ohio in 2007, Pittsburg in 2017 and India, 2019) . A Union official said it appeared the hydrogen filled generator of the main turbine had suffered a catastrophic failure. And it’s all exquisitely awkward, as David Archibald points out, happening while a two day Hydrogen Conference is on — as […]

France threatens UK electricity supply again, Navies called in

The island of Jersey gets 95% of its electricity via cables from France. The latest post-Brexit fishing dispute got so hot so fast, that a French minister even suggested cutting off the electricity if they didn’t get their way. 60 French fishing vessels were protesting at slow licensing. But naval ships from both sides were even called in to patrol the area, the situation has been defused.

Surely the UK government must be working out that electricity supply is a major tool for foreign disputes. Currently about 10% of the UK electricity comes in via undersea cables*, but that is set to rise to 25%, according to the Daily Mail. Surely alarms are ringing? This is not even the first time this outrageous threat was made. Macron himself threatened it last October too. See “Hands Up! Your money or your Fish!“

There is a very uneasy power balance here: The right to fish in British waters is worth about 650 million euros to EU fishermen, but European energy markets were worth up to £2.3 billion for the UK.

Not only does it leave the UK in a weaker negotiation position, but a selfish foreign player could also ambiguously twist […]

Texas dodged a bullet: Would you like explosions with your blackouts?

Houston Texas, Feb 2021. Image by Fish & Trips

Texas toyed with cascading crises

The Green Experiment could have gone so much worse. Here’s a man who was a gas industry executive involved in a near miss in New England in 1989. The four day blackout sounds bad, but it was a lottery win compared to the worst case scenarios. Not only was a full state-wide blackout possible, which may take months to correct, but the gas system is a bomb waiting to go off too.

ERCOT officials admit they only just averted a blackstart:

Texas was “seconds and minutes” away Texas’ power grid was “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, officials with the entity that operates the grid said Thursday.

— by Erin Douglas, Texas Tribune

The Blackstart in Venezuela took weeks to restart — rebooting an induction motor takes six times the normal current. Energizing a substation can cause explosions. It’s much easier to add load to an operating grid than to rebuild one from scratch. Surges on start up can break things, that fail. It can take rolling rounds […]

Texas: day four without power and water for some, fishtanks freeze, pipes burst, “worse than Africa”

Even if the Texas situation resolves tomorrow the anger will burn for months

A few hours ago, about one quarter of Texas still didn’t have power. After three or four days without power some houses are so cold the fishtanks have frozen over. Some people have been without power for 84 hours straight and ERCOT — the Texas Electricity management can’t say when it will be restored (though they have just announced it might be soon). It is still operating under the EEA 3 highest emergency level. Many people have had their power return for a couple of hours only to lose it again. And there is a burning anger at the unfairness of it all. People say they can see houses, shops and office buildings “lit up like Christmas trees” but have had no power themselves for days. Some are using their cars to warm themselves and charge phones but after three days they are running out of gas. There are restaurants that are offering free food.

It’s so cold in Texas homes that fish tanks are frozen. pic.twitter.com/IRuDjpG5Af

— Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) February 18, 2021

Others are desperately using gas BBQ’s indoors even though it […]

Texas: 20 dead — Many now going 50 hours plus without electricity, heating, water

Things are still not looking good in Texas.

At the peak demand on Sunday in Texas the people were using 70 Gigawatts of electricity — an all time record. Then both wind and gas generators failed. Currently the ERCOT Grid is using about 42GW of electricity and ERCOT reports of up to 46 GW of generators being out of action. Total wind output is still under 3GW out of 30GW* of wind capacity.

The gas was the back up to the Wind, but Wind power can’t be a back up to the gas (or anything else).

An ERCOT press release claims that they still have to loadshed 14,000MW which means 2.8 million homes.

“As of 9 a.m., approximately 46,000 MW of generation has been forced off the system during this extreme winter weather event. Of that, 28,000 MW is thermal and 18,000 MW is wind and solar.”

It’s not clear to me how they arrive at only 18,000 MW missing of wind and solar. Perhaps they are only counting the 6 or so GW they expected to be able to use of windpower?

There is so little power that the electricity companies can’t even rotate the blackouts between […]

Texas at -20C, five million without power as Wind Turbines freeze

Welcome to Woke World where states pretend to control the weather while the weather controls the state

An Arctic blast; an ice storm called Uri, has frozen up half the wind turbines in the hot southerly Big State of Texas.

Supplier Oncor is warning it may be hours before power is restored. People are livid, their pipes are freezing, some have had no electricity for 12 hours. Their website is down, their phone lines are out. People can’t even report outages.

UPDATE: NY Times is already blaming Climate Change for the frigid weather.

While the wind turbines have been working at only 3 – 10% capacity in Texas. Gas wellheads have frozen so there are gas shortages as well. Details at the end below.

Anchorage, Alaska is warmer than parts of Texas.

At least five dead and 5 MILLION without power as winter storm Uri sweeps the nation, freezes wind turbines, plunges wind chills to -20 in Texas and causes tornadoes in the south west

Records will be broken in Texas

 

Daily Mail

Temperatures nosedived into the single-digits as far south as San Antonio, and homes that had already been without […]

Hands up! Your fish or your electricity. Macron threatens to cut interconnector to UK

The UK wants to get back its fishing rights as part of a Brexit deal. The French aren’t too happy about that, but since the UK is heavily dependent on French interconnectors Macron can and is holding the UK electricity grid hostage.

Green Energy puts the UK in a much weaker negotiation position.

The French interconnectors under the Channel are needed both to import reliable nuclear power and to sell off the excess fluffy green kind of unreliable electricity that UK wind power makes at random times. The “value” of energy sales is more than the value of the fisheries (at least in hard currency). But UK imports are larger than the exports, and the UK electricity grid is so fragile it fell over last year leaving people stuck in underground trains for hours, and cutting off a million customers in an instant. The biggest weakness of all is probably the reliance on a foreign power to just keep the lights on. The cost of unplanned blackouts would trump everything else. And could the French “Break” the UK grid with plausible deniability and some inconvenient outage? Sorry but the interconnector had a fault?

I know they might not play that […]

Extension cord to rescue renewable South Australia will now cost $2.4 billion

It’s another hidden subsidy for “Green Power”.

Big-Bandaid: Unreliable generators need thousands of kilometers of extra transmission lines.

The totally non-essential new interconnector between NSW and SA will now cost nearly a billion more than was expected. It will add no new baseload generation but allow the random energy surges from South Australia to interfere with New South Wales supply. Surges of subsidized energy will break the balance sheets of cheap baseload infrastructure in NSW, making them less profitable, and driving them out of business unless they charge more for the fewer hours they operate. Both states will spend more on electricity but be less self sufficient, and more dependent on other states.

Why aren’t NSW generators complaining? Because they know prices will rise, not fall. Ask AGL — the more coal plants it can close, the more profits it can make from the gas and unreliable generators.

The extra interconnector won’t solve the real issues — it “probably” won’t change the massive high pressure weather systems that stop wind towers working in both states simultaneously. The magical transmission lines “probably” won’t stop the sun setting in Adelaide one hour after it sets in Sydney either. But it […]

Thanks to wind and solar power, Australians have to drive to work to save the planet

Australians used to have an electricity grid that gave them the freedom to work from home

For years they told us to work at home to help the environment. But thanks to a decentralized unreliable grid, Australians are now being warned that it will be a “disaster” for the grid if they stay home and work with their air conditioner on in summer.

Now we better drive to work so the solar-windy-grid doesn’t fall over:

Why working from home could be a disaster for Australia’s electricity grid this summer

Emma Elsworthy, ABC

Air conditioners could send Australia’s power grid into meltdown this summer, as roughly one third of the workforce do their jobs from home, experts have warned.

According to research company Roy Morgan, more than 4.3 million Australians are working from home…

But warmer weather has come with a warning that increased use of air-conditioning in homes could lead to more blackouts and higher electricity bills.

“Air-conditioning is what drives our maximum demand in Australia,” said Peter Dobney, the former founding chairman of the Energy Users Association of Australia.

“We can expect higher prices, in fact, I […]

SA: Still at risk of blackout, one third of solar PV “switching off” to save state, needs $1.5b interconnector bandaid to NSW

A $1,500 million dollar emergency line is needed to rescue South Australia from renewable blackouts. Image: Marcus Wong Wongm

 

Why do so few see the enormous subsidy cost of keeping the South Australian electricity experiment alive?

Having got too much intermittent, unreliable electricity, the state is still in danger of another statewide blackout. One third of the solar panels on homes are being switched off automatically because the electricity they provide is not just useless, but dangerous. What the state needs is baseload power, but the solution we’re told is to spend another incredible $1.5billion dollars on an interconnector with NSW, presumably so SA gets a lifeline to the reliable coal power in Queensland.

That’s a $1,500,000,000 repair bill for an unreliable system that cost a fortune to build, but is unsustainable without a giant bandaid.

Price rises coming in NSW and QLD:

As more unreliable generation and random green electrons infect the NSW and Qld grids, their cheap baseload providers will also find it harder to compete. The increased downtime will chew out some of their profit margins, but their costs will be almost the same. So, as sure as the sun rises, they will have to […]