It is beyond absurd when environmentalists call for 100% renewable energy. The reasons why are endless, as we discuss them regularly, but our recent Polar Vortex is a great reason. Had it not been for our reliable coal/gas/nuclear energy production, millions of us would have frozen to death. In fact, BigWind TOOK ENERGY FROM THE GRID during the blizzard cold temps….
As residents of the Twin Cities awoke on Jan. 29, the first of three straight days of subzero temperatures, about half of the region’s electricity was coming from wind farms dotting the Upper Midwest….
But grid operators would watch as electricity from wind steadily tailed off during the next day and a half…
That dip in wind output during last month’s deep freeze is now fueling debate about the nation’s embrace of renewable energy. The polar vortex arrived as calls grew on the left for a “Green New Deal” to transition to renewables and tackle the threat of climate change, all while various state-level proposals to increase renewable energy penetration circulated across the country.
It was also fresh ammunition for a fossil industry and other critics of renewable energy mandates that have long sowed doubts about the ability to maintain reliability on a grid growing increasingly dependent on intermittent energy sources….
Other turbines across the Upper Midwest shut down due to plunging temperatures.
Output from wind farms — a technology dubbed as the new baseload energy in the Upper Midwest — fell off even faster than anticipated starting the night before as temperatures fell below minus 20 F, the cutoff point below which turbines automatically quit operating.
A MISO presentation released ahead of the committee meeting today shows that when the grid operator declared a “maximum generation event” just before 3 a.m. on Jan. 30, only about half of the almost 14,000-MW forecast of wind generation to be available was actually producing energy.
Brian Draxten, manager of resource planning for Otter Tail Power Co., said wind turbines across North Dakota shut down because of the extreme temperatures. In fact, he said the wind farms went from a power producer to a 2-MW load on its system because they required heat to avoid being damaged….
Extreme cold takes a toll on various parts of a turbine, from electrical cabinets to the gearbox, the generator, lubricants and steel components, which can become brittle if the temperature goes low enough, Skjoeth said.
While turbines can be equipped with de-icing systems to help operate through snow and ice, that isn’t the problem seen in extreme cold, such as what the Upper Midwest saw during the polar vortex, he said.
Meanwhile, Skjoeth said there’s been little focus in the industry on developing turbines to operate below minus 20 F because the economics of producing energy in such extreme conditions wouldn’t justify the additional cost.
“Historically, the really cold weather comes with a decline in wind speeds,” he said. “When you get that low, you don’t get that much wind, normally.”…
Within days of the polar vortex, a lobbyist for Dairyland Power Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative, told a Minnesota legislative committee hearing on the bill that wind energy didn’t show up when it was needed.
The lights stayed on “only because of fossil fuel power plants that could be called upon and dispatched,” he said…