It could be a disastrously cold winter in Europe. Too bad they’re substituting unreliable renewables for reliable fossil fuels and nuclear power. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
Europe’s energy crisis is about to get a whole lot worse as the Northern Hemisphere winter is just weeks away. New risks are emerging across the continent that households and companies might have to scale back on power use or even plan for rolling blackouts.
There is no immediate fix to the energy crisis that comes from the supply side, with Russia’s Gazprom, the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe, only pumping what it has. At the same time, EU stockpiles remain well below trend.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Italy’s government is ready to combat soaring energy prices for households, according to Bloomberg.
“We set aside 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in June and over 3 billion euros in September,” Draghi said. “We are now taking steps in the budget and are prepared to continue doing so, with particular attention to the most vulnerable.”
“Given the current energy supply system, a blackout cannot be ruled out” across Europe, Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said, adding that “it’s important to neutralize the impact of increased energy bills on households and companies in the fairest way possible.”
Even before the winter season arrives, cold weather is driving energy prices across Europe to record highs. The massive rally in European gas prices is not diminishing anytime soon. Gas prices at the Dutch TTF hub, the benchmark gas price for Europe, jumped to €100 per MWh, adding more pressure on households who are already dealing with rapid food and shelter inflation.
You can’t throw out oil if you don’t have something that can replace it, and we don’t. From Jude Clemente at realclearpolitics.com:
Let’s start with the obvious: Oil is the world’s most important fuel, supplying 35% of all energy and over 95% of transportation needs. More than 6,000 everyday products contain oil as their core ingredient. Simply put, oil has no significant substitute, and it won’t for a long time. Massive amounts of wind and solar won’t displace “black gold” because these sources compete only in the power-generating sector, where oil effectively plays no role.
Most Americans probably don’t realize that electricity already lost the transportation race to oil and its powerful derivative – gasoline – 120 years ago. In 1900, nearly 40% of U.S. cars were electric. Today, less than 1% of cars run on electric power (1.8 million out of 270 million). Despite the huge subsidies thrown at the industry over the past 10 years, electric vehicles largely remain “toys for the rich.”
As the world’s economies rebound from COVID-19 and travel inevitably picks up, the need for more oil is becoming even more pressing. After the oil industry set a global-demand record in 2019 at 101 million barrels per day, the pandemic plunged demand to 92 million b/d in 2020. The Department of Energy, however, has just forecast that consumption will rise to 98 million b/d this year and above 101 million b/d in 2022.
Not even a price surge has slowed the need for a fuel embedded in just about everything we do: Oil prices just saw their best first half since 2009 (see below). In recent months, oil companies have had the best run of any sector in the S&P 500. Investors that bet against, or pulled out of, U.S. oil fund USO (NYSEARCA:USO) have been burned. The popular oil Exchange Traded Fund nearly doubled in value since October last year, and others such as DBO, BNO, and USL are once again making for sound investments.
Lots of people are all for wind power, but not in their backyard. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
The Biden administration’s infrastructure proposal layouts 100% carbon-free or clean electricity by 2035. Such an ambitious goal will require a massive new workforce, hundreds of billions of dollars in funding, and community support.
But all is not kosher as wind turbine projects across the country have hit turbulence among local officials and residents.
President Biden’s proposed Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard calls for tens of thousands of wind turbines. These massive windmill-looking machines destroy any beautiful landscape and are noisy.
WSJ explains since 2015, about 300 government entities across the US have rejected wind farm projects. In Scituate, Massachusetts, people complained to local officials that a wind turbine in the coastal town was noisy and prevented them from sleeping. Officials restricted the operation of the wind turbine to only daytime use.
Wind power is not very efficient and although it is renewable, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have significant environmental drawbacks. From Craig Rucker at realclearenergy.com:
The reality is a lot of turbines, not much energy.
President Biden recently announced ambitious plans to install huge offshore industrial wind facilities along America’s Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coasts. His goal is to churn out 30 gigawatts (30,000 megawatts) of wind capacity by 2030, ensuring the U.S. “leads by example” in fighting the “climate crisis.”
Granted “30 by 2030” is clever PR. But what are the realities?
The only existing U.S. offshore wind operation features five 6-MW turbines off Rhode Island. Their combined capacity (what they could generate if they worked full-bore, round the clock 24/7) is 30 MW. Mr. Biden is planning 1,000 times more offshore electricity, perhaps split three ways: 10,000 MW for each coast.
While that might sound impressive, it isn’t. It means total wind capacity for the entire Atlantic coast, under Biden’s plan, would only meet three-fourths of the peak summertime electricity needed to power New York City. Again, this assumes the blades are fully spinning 24/7. In reality, such turbines would be lucky to be operating a top capacity half the time. Even less as storms and salt spray corrode the turbines, year after year.
The reason why is there is often minimal or no wind in the Atlantic – especially on the hottest days. Ditto for the Gulf of Mexico. No wind means no electricity – right when you need it most.
Of course, too little wind isn’t the only issue. Other times, there’s too much wind – as when a hurricane roars up the coast. That’s more likely in the Gulf of Mexico. But the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 had Category 4 winds in Virginia, Category 3 intensity off Cape Hatteras (NC), Long Island and Rhode Island, and Category 2 when it reached Maine. It sank four U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships.
When storms or hurricanes hit, turbines can be destroyed. Repairing or replacing hundreds of offshore turbines could take years.
Texas was producing a lot more natural gas power than usual and a lot less wind power than usual during the recent freeze. From Robert P. Murphy at mises.org:
In the wake of February’s tragic power outages in Texas, during which 4.5 million households suffered service interruptions, partisans on both sides have been quick to interpret the events as confirmation of their preferred energy policies. With news images of helicopters deicing frozen turbines, conservatives lambasted Texas’s increasing reliance on wind power as the villain in the story.
Trying to temper this knee-jerk reaction, Reason.com columnist Ron Bailey argued that “[m]ost of the shortfall in electric power generation during the current cold snap is the result of natural gas and coal powered plants going offline.” And Paul Krugman for his part declared that it was a “malicious falsehood” to blame wind and solar power for what happened in Texas, as it was primarily a failure of natural gas.
In this article I’ll lay out the basic facts of which power sources stepped up to the plate during the crisis. Contrary to what you would have known from reading Ron Bailey (let alone Paul Krugman), when the Texas freeze hit, electricity from natural gas skyrocketed while wind output fell off a cliff. The people arguing that wind wasn’t to blame mean it in the same way Jimmy Olson wasn’t to blame when General Zod took over: wind is so useless nobody serious ever thought it might help in a crisis.
Most of Texas’s substantial wind power went off-line and natural gas couldn’t pick up the slack. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
With the worst of the Texas power crisis now behind us, the blame and fingerpointing begins, and while the jury is still out whose actions (or lack thereof) may have led to the deadly and widespread blackouts that shocked Texas this week, Cascend Strategy writes that “in case there was any doubt why the Texas grid collapsed, the data is clear”
Wind failed as “Ice storms knocked out nearly half the wind-power generating capacity of Texas on Sunday as a massive deep freeze across the state locked up wind turbine generators, creating an electricity generation crisis.”
Natural gas made up the difference for a while
But then everything else followed down
Some more detail from Cascend which lays out the events of this week in sequence:
A massive cold snap drove demand for electricity well beyond normal levels
Wind power failed to deliver it’s expected power – almost 40% of expected power – in part due to lack of winterized wind turbines
Whatever the merits of solar and wind power, they unambiguously weaken power grids. Germany may pay the price for its infatuation with green technologies. From P. Gosselin at wattsupwiththat.com:
Green energy and COVID-19 lockdowns are playing energy Russian roulette with people’s lives. Perfect winter storm brewing.
A winter blizzard is set to strike Central Europe, bringing with it the potential to wreak power outage havoc. Temperatures will plummet to as low as -15°C accompanied by bone-chilling high winds. Closed shops due to COVID-19 are leaving citizens unprepared. A protracted power outage would be devastating.
In the coming hours, a high pressure system situated over Scandinavia and storm Tristan to the south will collide over central Europe and develop into dangerous weather conditions over one of Europe’s most populated regions, North Rhine Westphalia Germany.
There are some major problems with this storm that will test the German power grid stability and even possibly the citizens’ ability to fend for themselves.
Power grid at risk: hours of freezing rain
First will be the band of freezing rain that is forecast across the Ruhr region of North Rhine Westphalia. According to Kachelmannwetter.de, the freezing rain period could last hours and thus lead to heavy weight loads on power transmission structures as ice builds up. Lines could collapse.
High winds – even heavier loads
To make matters worse, high winds will further exacerbate the loads on the already ice-coated power transmission infrastructure – thus increasing the probability of power line structural failure and an ensuing power blackout, which in turn could cascade and threaten the European power grid.
It looks like Germany’s all-knowing energy planners and green-power dreamers overlooked one tiny detail. From No Tricks Zone at climate-science.press, with a hat tip to SLL reader uwe.roland.gross
The rush to an all wind and sun powered future has left Germans sensing the kind of regret that comes with youthful exuberance – something about acting in haste and repenting at leisure springs to mind.
Having carpeted Deutschland with more than 30,000 of these things over the last 20 years, many of them are at the end of their serviceable life and a ‘green’ conundrum has arisen: what to do with all the toxic junk left behind.
Principal amongst the German green’s concerns is what to do with more than 90,000 turbine blades; each of which weighs up to 15 tonnes; each of which cannot be recycled; each of which has been deemed hazardous waste.
No Tricks Zone reports on another green disaster in the making.
1.35 Million Tonnes of “Hazardous Material”, Germany Admits No Plan To Recycle Used Wind Turbine Blades
No Tricks Zone
21 November 2020
Germany began installing wind turbines in earnest some 20 years ago. Now that their lifetime has been exceeded, many are being ripped down. But there’s a big problem about what to do with the leftover carbon and glass-fibre reinforced blades.
Take the numbers in this article with a grain of salt, but there’s no disputing the central argument—wind and solar can’t stand on their own two feet yet economically, they need government subsidies. From Norman Rogers at americanthinker.com:
The main problem with either wind or solar is that they generate electricity erratically, depending on the wind or sunshine. In contrast, a fossil-fuel plant can generate electricity predictably upon request. Blackouts are very expensive for society, so grid operators and designers go to a lot of trouble to make sure that blackouts are rare. The electrical grid should have spare capacity sufficient to meet the largest demand peaks even when some plants are out of commission. Plants in spinning reserve status stand by ready to take over if a plant trips (breaks down). Injecting erratic electricity into the grid means that other plants have to seesaw output to balance the ups and downs of wind or solar.
Adding wind or solar to a grid does not mean that existing fossil fuel plants can be retired. Often, neither wind nor solar is working and at those times a full complement of fossil fuel plants, or sometimes nuclear or hydro plants, must be available. Both wind and solar have pronounced seasonality. During low output times, as for summer wind, the fossil-fuel plants are carrying more of the load. Of course, solar stops working as the sun sets.
How about that, there are no free lunches in energy production. From Irina Slav at oilprice.com:
Germany, the poster child for renewable energy, sourcing close to half of its electricity from renewable sources, plans to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. Its coal-fired plants, meanwhile, will be operating until 2038. According to a study from the U.S. non-profit National Bureau of Economic Research, Germany is paying dearly for this nuclear phase-out–with human lives.
The study looked at electricity generation data between 2011 and 2017 to assess the costs and benefits of the nuclear phase-out, which was triggered by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and which to this day enjoys the support of all parliamentary powers in Europe’s largest economy. It just so happens that some costs may be higher than anticipated.
The shutting down of nuclear plants naturally requires the replacement of this capacity with something else. Despite its reputation as a leader in solar and wind, Germany has had to resort to more natural gas-powered generation and, quite importantly, more coal generation. As of mid-2019, coal accounted for almost 30 percent of Germany’s energy mix, with nuclear at 13.1 percent and gas at 9.3 percent.
Unlike many websites, Straight Line Logic does not solicit donations. If you're going to lay out your hard-earned money, you should get something in exchange. If you like the site and want to support it, buy The Golden Pinnacle or The Gordian Knot, either as a book or download. The links are on the right-hand side of the page, in the Blogroll section. You'll be supporting the site, and getting a great book and hours of enjoyable reading.