ERCOT admitted that
more than 50 power units, capable of generating about 7,000 MW, were out of service.ERCOT reports focused on larger coal fired power plants
* Luminant's 568-MW Unit 4 at the Sandow coal-fired power plant in Texas shut on February 2 after a feed water flow low suction alarm. The alarm was triggered by a faulty feed water flow transmitter line that froze. Luminant expected the unit to return later on February 2.But the average size of the units that had stopped producing electricity, 140 MWs, suggested that they were natural gas burners. And a story in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram pointed to natural gas,
* Texas Municipal Power Authority's 470-MW Gibbons Creek coal plant in Texas shut on February 1 after the cold weather stressed many systems, including electronic level indicators and their transmitters. Specifically, the company said the drum liquid level indicators had frozen. TMPA said it was using heaters to unfreeze the affected systems but did not say when the unit would return.
Atmos had curtailed its supply of natural gas to industrial customers, including natural-gas-fired power plants, he said. Atmos did exactly as its protocol called for, he said, to make sure that residential and commercial users had enough gas pressure.Troy Fraser, The Chairman of the Texas Senate Natural Resources Committee, Stated that
We didn't have enough gas pressure available to bring up the power plants, . . . In a high-volume usage, the first ones they cut off are the power plants.Well that tells the story then. Some coal powered units shut down for reasons that were related to the effect of cold on equipment. Normally their backup would come from natural gas fired generators, but natural gas units were experiencing forced shutdowns too. But what about theTexas supplyb of renewable energy? According to the Lubock Avalanche Journal,
Wind generators apparently do not work as well when it is cold. There were enough areas in Texas on Tuesday where the night was clear and cold and the wind dropped, shutting down generating capacity apparently quite rapidly.While wind generation of electricity was high during the hours of 5 AM to 7 AM on February 2, wind generator output had dropped by the time the blackout reached my brothers house. In addition the windmills are a long way away from the Texas cities where there were rolling blackouts, and 30% to 35% 0f the wind generated electricity generated was lost during its transmission to those cities. So if wind did not rescue Texas on Tuesday Morning, where did the state find help? According to the Dallas Morning News,
Mexico agreed to transmit 280 megawatts of electricity from the border cities of Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Piedras Negras, . . .So renewables were of little help during the blackout, and natural gas, touted by renewable advocates as the the clean energy solution to the problem of renewable intermittent gaps in the electrical supply, turned out to be another weak link in the generation chain. Hence we had more proof, if we needed it, that renewable energy can't cut the mustard.
Update: Rod Adams has a complimentary post that deals with the role of nuclear power in providing electricity to the ERCOT grid this week. Need less to say the reactors did not let Texas Electrical consumers down.