Texas Winter Storm and Power Outages

Mendel

Senior Member.
These are the outages that actually caused the blackout.
Note that a NG (natural gas) plant is supposed to be able to produce 100% power, while a wind farm is not (more like 30% of rated power).
SmartSelect_20211203-040906_Samsung Notes.jpgSmartSelect_20211203-040944_Samsung Notes.jpg
Not so much wind there, is it?

For reference (red dots is ERCOT turning power off somewhere):
1-s2.0-S2214629621001997-gr3.jpg
 
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Fallingdown

Active Member
You misunderstand. "Load shedding" means that consumers are switched off, not generators.
They had to switch consumers off because too many gas power stations had dropped offline. Wind power was delivering 5 GW at the time, which was close to average and well over what it was expected to deliver in an emergency scenario.

I've given you multiple quotes that freezing was a big issue with gas power.
I've also quoted you graphs that after the blackout was ordered on the 15th, many more gas plants went offline because they or their suppliers suddenly lacked electricity. But this blaclout wasn't ordered because wind power failed.

Your argument that gas plants lacked electrical power before the blackouts is wrong. A lamp doesn't turn off unless you switch it off, and that only happened on the 15th.
I haven’t spoken about load shedding.

I spoke about the fact that when there’s too much demand on turbines a circuit breaker kicks them off line to protect the machine.

Circuit Overload​

When a power source is drawn beyond its allowance, the circuit breaker is liable to trip due to overload. At an industrial facility, overloading can occur when too many machines or tools are connected to the same power source. Despite the high thresholds of most industrial breakers, there are still limits to the amount of power that can be drawn from a single source. If too many high-power pieces of equipment are active simultaneously, the power source could become overloaded and cause the breaker to shut off the power as a protective mechanism.

https://gesrepair.com/circuit-breaker-tripping/





I've given you multiple quotes that freezing was a big issue with gas power.
And I’ve shown you that lack of electricity caused problems at well head and other critical points .

I've also quoted you graphs that after the blackout was ordered on the 15th,
My topic is the 10th and 11th of February 2021 and the fact that wind failed first.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
And I’ve shown you that lack of electricity caused problems at well head and other critical points .
Where?
I haven't seen you cite a single source that lack of electricity caused problems with the gas supply on February 10th or 11th.
The grid was operating on these days.
My topic is the 10th and 11th of February 2021 and the fact that wind failed first.
Why? There weren't any power outages on these days. That's simply off topic for this discussion.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
During the week of February 7, ERCOT and SPP experienced rising load, as well as increasing generating unit outages, primarily caused by wind turbine blade freezing as a result of freezing precipitation, and natural gas fuel supply issues. Although ERCOT and SPP issued several alerts, they did not have to take any emergency actions because enough generation remained online to meet load.
That week is Feb 7 - 13, covering the days you are going on about.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.

Timeline:​

• snow and ice and maintenance cause outages for wind and gas turbines
• electrical grid still works
• winter storm Uri moves in on the 14th
• power demand rises (people need heat)
• in the night, scores of gas power plants fail because of the weather (not winterized)
• the grid can't meet the load, ERCOT orders blackouts (1-2am Feb 15th)
• some gas infrastructure that hasn't filed as critical loses power because of the blackout
• more gas power plants go offline as a result (cascading failure)

The data and every single source in this thread supports this.
 

Fallingdown

Active Member
Where?
I haven't seen you cite a single source that lack of electricity caused problems with the gas supply on February 10th or 11th.
Reply #30

The systems that get gas from the earth aren’t properly built for cold weather. Operators in West Texas’ Permian Basin, one of the most productive oil fields in the world, are particularly struggling to bring natural gas to the surface, analysts said, as cold weather and snow close wells or cause power outages that prevent pumping the fossil fuels from the ground.

I haven't seen you cite a single source that lack of electricity caused problems with the gas supply on February 10th or 11th.

That’s another strawman . This whole thread has been that the events of the 10th and 11th contributing to the power outage and the windmills were the first to fail.
 

Fallingdown

Active Member
That week is Feb 7 - 13, covering the days you are going on about.
Define emergency. Is a circuit breaker tripping considered a emergency?

Please supply a quote so I don’t have to click on the link.

But supply the link because it’s mandatory per guidelines.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Another reason less capacity was available is that a number of thermal plants were down for scheduled maintenance to take advantage of Texas’ normally mild winters when demand is low. This schedule is typically interpreted as good planning because it was intended to ensure sufficient reserve in summer time. ERCOT in its seasonal winter maintenance schedule had forecast 4 GW of scheduled maintenance. Analysts from Wood Mackenzie wrote that the actual amount of plants down for outages in the week leading up to the freeze was more like 14 GW,

windmills were the first to fail.
Sure, mate.
If you ignore all of the gas power plants down for maintenance.

Wind power outages did not cause the cascading failure. Wind power generation was 1 GW below average when ERCOT introduced the blackouts to make up for a 20 GW deficit caused mainly by gas power outages.
 

Fallingdown

Active Member

Timeline:​

• snow and ice and maintenance cause outages for wind and gas turbines
• electrical grid still works
• winter storm Uri moves in on the 14th
• power demand rises (people need heat)
• in the night, scores of gas power plants fail because of the weather (not winterized)
• the grid can't meet the load, ERCOT orders blackouts (1-2am Feb 15th)
• some gas infrastructure that hasn't filed as critical loses power because of the blackout
• more gas power plants go offline as a result (cascading failure)

The data and every single source in this thread supports this.

Yup it sure does.

It explains perfectly how failure of the windmill Farms could put a strain on the system leading to power outages. You just described a cascading effect from your first point.

Please supply a link and a quote for everyone of those. You’re making a definitive statement you should be able to back it.
 

Fallingdown

Active Member
If you ignore all of the gas power plants down for maintenance.
Gas and power plants down for maintenance didn’t “fail”.

It was a planned event.

I’ve been talking about the windmill failures. Please you stay on topic.
Wind power outages did not cause the cascading failure.
Then show me a link with that exact wording.

Do you remember what we went through about my usage of the word “Unprecedented”.

I’m applying the same standards to your response.
 

Mauro

Active Member
It explains perfectly how failure of the windmill Farms could put a strain on the system leading to power outages. You just described a cascading effect from your first point.

Are you implying more and better weather-ruggerized windmills would have saved Texas?
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
That seems to be your most persistent argument.

Except my point was that the windmill failures contributed to the blackouts not that they unilaterally caused them.

"Contributed to" is weasel wording. How does their contribution compare to the other contributions, such as NG?
 

Fallingdown

Active Member
"Contributed to" is weasel wording

Only in your head. My point since the beginning of this thread is that the initial problem started on the 10th and 11th when the windmill farms went down. Which put in motion the rest of the events.

Cascading Failure​

A cascading failure in an engineered system occurs when a failure in one of the collection of interconnected parts that delivers a service triggers the failure of successive parts.

Actually the usage of phrase cascading failure isn’t accurate. Because a cascading failure in most cases refers to a totally failure.

So in order to avoid a appeal to definition argument.

I’m gonna amend that phrase to say partial cascade failure.


How does their contribution compare to the other contributions, such as NG?

Actually you answered your own question. All of those factors had a role in the outages. Which means they all “contributed”.

At this time no single event can be pinpointed as the cause of the outages.

*Ripples in a pond.

* Note that analogy applies to a pebble being thrown in the middle of a pond and it’s rippled touching every part of that pond.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
At this time no single event can be pinpointed as the cause of the outages.
The main cause was gas power going offline due to weather in the night of the 14th/15th.
If this had not happened, the blackout would not have been necessary.
If wind power had produced to expectations (6-8 GW, depending on how you compute it), the gas power failures would still have triggered a blackout.

Wind turbines freezing made the blackout worse, but didn't cause it.
And they, like gas equipment, can and should be weatherized.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.

The Claims​

It may help to look at the actual claims we are debunking. All of the highlighted statements are false, as I've shown above.

Source: https://mobile.twitter.com/ndrew_lawrence/status/1361866553998909442?s=20



"This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and nuclear as well as solar and wind," [Texas governor] Abbott said during a Tuesday interview with Sean Hannity.

"Our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis," he said.

"As a result, it just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the State of Texas as well as other states to make sure we'll be able to heat our homes in the wintertime and cool our homes in the summertime."
Content from External Source
Article:
Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian, part of the body that regulates the state’s fossil fuel production, told The Texan about the natural gas deficiencies, “[E]very natural gas plant online at the start of this crisis stayed online.”

Jason Isaac, director of the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Life-Powered project, told The Texan, “Texans are used to being asked to conserve power — but usually it’s in the heat of the summer, not during the winter. This week’s rolling blackouts should be a wakeup call that we’ve put too many eggs in the renewable basket.”

Isaac points to the state’s large investment over the previous decade in wind and solar power coming at a cost to fossil fuel development.

“With over half of our wind turbines frozen solid and the rest projected to bottom out at 2.5 percent of installed capacity [Monday night], the reason for these rolling blackouts is clear. Reliable natural gas generators can ramp up to meet most of the electricity demand, but with such a big gap in wind production, there’s only so much they can do.”

“While there have been some issues with natural gas production during this storm, much of that has to do with ERCOT cutting off power to well sites in West Texas. ERCOT assumed the state would have 67GW from thermal sources (gas & coal), but ended up only being able to get 43GW online,” said Christian.


Article:
When the power went out for Marsha Hendler on Feb. 15, she rushed to her downtown San Antonio office to ride out the winter storm. Thankful to find the electricity and heat still on, she typed out an email to the elected officials who regulate her small, independent oil and gas company.

“I strongly urge you to make public statements, to develop a PR program around our current energy conditions,” Hendler wrote at 2 p.m. that day to the three members of the Texas Railroad Commission, according to an email obtained by The Texas Tribune and ProPublica. “Assure citizens that blending oil and gas production with green [energy] will keep Texas energy strong.”

It’s a sentiment that many in the oil and gas industry echoed during a crisis that forced millions to endure freezing weather for days without electricity and eventually led to the deaths of more than 100 people. And even as Hendler typed, Railroad Commissioners Christi Craddick, Wayne Christian and Jim Wright, all Republicans, had already begun to do what she had requested.
 

Fallingdown

Active Member
The main cause was gas power going offline due to weather in the night of the 14th/15th.
Yup

But that doesn’t mean 2 days of windmills failing didn’t contribute.

If wind power had produced to expectations (6-8 GW, depending on how you compute it), the gas power failures would still have triggered a blackout.

How do you know that you’re fact ?

Wind turbines freezing made the blackout worse, but didn't cause it.
And they, like gas equipment, can and should be weatherized.
Yup
Again you’re 100% accurate.

Wind turbines freezing made the blackout worse.

But the elephant in the room. Is that they did so from the very beginning.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
The main cause was gas power going offline due to weather in the night of the 14th/15th.
If this had not happened, the blackout would not have been necessary.
If wind power had produced to expectations (6-8 GW, depending on how you compute it), the gas power failures would still have triggered a blackout.

Wind turbines freezing made the blackout worse, but didn't cause it.
And they, like gas equipment, can and should be weatherized.

In @Falling Down's dfens, I would say that it's useful to draw a distinction between proximal causes and ultimate causes, and of course when you draw attention to preparation/maintenance issues you too are doing that - those are the ultimate ultimate causes. However, your "main cause" above is just the proximal cause, and FD's trying to rewind the clock before that - what lead up to those catastrophic NG failures. I don't think we have enough data yet to debunk a claim - and here I'm rewording in order to hopefully clarify, if this is not what's intended I will retract this immediately - that "without the Wind failures the blackouts wouldn't have happened".
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
I think we need to go back a bit as well, even if wind power was the primary reason for what happened, the failure of the system is not because wind power is bad, it's that the power system was badly designed, badly managed, badly maintained or badly monitored or some combination of all 4.

The blame of it on specifically solar/wind power seems to a political message designed to deflect from system failures caused by a policy of neglect of the entire system and also fits a narrative that some people (that might be more inclined to have voted for the politicians responsible) hold that renewable alternatives to fossil fuels are not workable.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
However, your "main cause" above is just the proximal cause, and FD's trying to rewind the clock before that - what lead up to those catastrophic NG failures.
Yes. But "led up to" implies a causal connection.

Consider the NG failures that happened before the ERCOT went into EEA3 and started shedding load at 1:23 am on the 15th. These failures happened because gas production equipment, gas supply lines, gas power stations (and I think in rare cases, electrical substations connecting power stations to the grid?) suffered from the winter storm.

The fact that wind power under-produced by a few GW didn't matter because up until then, the grid wasn't affected, except for voluntary measures: some industries can shed load when ERCOT tells them to, and likewise some smart homes can reduce consumption. The gas infrastructure still had full power.

And there is no other link between wind turbines and the gas power infrastructure than the electrical grid.

I've given plenty of quotes that clearly state NG equipment failed because it was freezing.
I don't think we have enough data yet to debunk a claim - and here I'm rewording in order to hopefully clarify, if this is not what's intended I will retract this immediately - that "without the Wind failures the blackouts wouldn't have happened".
Yes, we do have the data.
1-s2.0-S2214629621001997-gr2.jpg
There's a demand forecast peak on the morning of Feb 15th, around 8 am, which exceeds the 1 am load by about 10 GW. For no blackout to happen, that power needs to come from somewhere. But if we look at the actual outages, wind had less than 10 GW outage at that time:
SmartSelect_20211201-222123_Samsung Notes.jpg
And more NG kept going offline, many because of the blackout, but some because of the fuel issues (see the gas graph in post #11) and the cold; 1.4GW of nuclear power went offline at 5:27am "due to cold weather-related issues in the plant's feedwater system."

The shortfall was more than wind turbines could've made up even if all of them had been weatherized (as they are in colder climates).

At the same time, both wind and solar were the only power sources that actually exceeded their "extreme weather scenario" quotas.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
I think we need to go back a bit as well, even if wind power was the primary reason for what happened, the failure of the system is not because wind power is bad, it's that the power system was badly designed, badly managed, badly maintained or badly monitored or some combination of all 4.
After the winter of 2011, it was obvious that Texas power infrastructure needed to be winterized, but politics didn't want to mandate it, and gas/power companies didn't want to spend the money. That is the ultimate reason for the 2021 blackout, across all power types.
(Utilities not being aware of where not to cut power is the reason for the failure cascading.)
The blame of it on specifically solar/wind power seems to a political message designed to deflect from system failures caused by a policy of neglect of the entire system and also fits a narrative that some people (that might be more inclined to have voted for the politicians responsible) hold that renewable alternatives to fossil fuels are not workable.
The Texas Tribune article I quoted in post #58 makes this point strongly and in great detail.
I think it's fair to say that much of the misinformation around this event originates with the oil/gas lobby. (Branding gas power as "reliable" in the context of this event is laughable.) The railroad commission trying to deflect from their failure to safeguard the gas supply is another motive.
 
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FatPhil

Senior Member.
The fact that wind power under-produced by a few GW didn't matter because up until then, the grid wasn't affected, except for voluntary measures: some industries can shed load when ERCOT tells them to, and likewise some smart homes can reduce consumption. The gas infrastructure still had full power.

And there is no other link between wind turbines and the gas power infrastructure than the electrical grid.

I hope you appreciate that I already felt your conclusions were correct, I was just uncertain that every step in the argument was unassailable. I am now happy that the above removes the last doubt. Thank you for filling the gap.

As a whimsical aside, I find it amusing how the "thermal" power sources suffered the most from the cold.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
As a whimsical aside, I find it amusing how the "thermal" power sources suffered the most from the cold.
I'm imagining gas heaters at the wells and pipelines now... :)

I don't usually think about why someone posits a question for clarification, especially if it seems well-stated and to the point, as yours was. In my previous posts, I've tried to summarize the information I learned from the various sources, but it's still a lot to take in and connect. In that situation, a good question helps me spotlight a point that got buried in that group of longer posts.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Define emergency. Is a circuit breaker tripping considered a emergency?
No circuit breakers were tripping.

You can imagine an electric generator like a brake: the more electrical power you draw from it, the stronger it brakes. The electric grid in the US is supposed to run at 60 cycles per second, which you can imagine as a genedator shaft rotating at 60 turns per second. Once we put the brake on, that shaft slows, and the frequency drops. When that frequency drops, the power plants are supposed to turn up the heat and provide more power to keep the shaft turning at 60 Hz. So the grid frequency tells us how well the grid is dealing with the load, if there's enough power to counteract the brake.

If the grid frequency drops too low, power plants are in danger of being overloaded and overstressed, and will trip off. Because of outages, at 1:51am, the grid frequency dropped below 59.4 cycles, and if it had stayed there, many power plants would have tripped off at 2:00am. However, ERCOT immediately turned the power off for 3 GW worth of consumers (blackout), which stopped the frequency from dropping further. 4 minutes later, they blacked out another 3.5 GW, and that finally reduced the load enough for the grid frequency to come back up.

None of this was automatic.
No power plant shut off from being overloaded.
No circuit breakers tripped.

1-s2.0-S2214629621001997-gr3.jpg
 
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