Posted 24 февраля 2021,, 06:56
Published 24 февраля 2021,, 06:56
Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38
Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38
The disaster that occurred in Texas, where dozens of residents died as a result of abnormal snowfall and cold weather, and almost the entire state was left without electricity, made experts wonder why the most powerful country in the world, the United States, does not know how to cope with the elements, be it hurricanes, typhoons or snowfalls natural disasters?
“Oil-rich Texas is called the 'energy capital of the world', while its 3 million inhabitants are left without electricity, freezing and starving.
Some conservative politicians and opinion leaders tried to blame everything for blackouts, from the state's dependence on wind energy and other "green" energy sources (which has some truth to it) to socialism (what has it to do with it ?!).
Former Texas Governor and Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Democrats left people without electricity in order to introduce socialism in the state. Others, such as Senator Ted Cruz, emphasized the state's dependence on renewable energy.
At the same time, according to statistics, between 2008 and 2017, the United States had 3,188 power outages on average, and over 3,000 over the past five years. For example, on July 13, 2019, New York City experienced a massive blackout, during which even traffic lights went out. And at the end of 2019, a storm off the California coast led to a loss of electricity for 300,000 people in Michigan, Ohio and California.
While natural conditions also play a role, there are deeper systemic problems in the US power grid, including aging equipment and transmission lines. Analysts say profit-hungry private firms and failed governance cannot (and do not want to) fix these long-term problems.
A 2015 U.S. Department of Energy report found that 70% of transformers in the country are over 25 years old, 60% of fuses are over 30 years old, and 70% of power lines are over 25 years old. This reduces their ability to cope with physical activity and can lead to an increase in the number of breakdowns.
In comparison, China is actively investing in research and development of energy technologies that make energy distribution smarter and safer.
For example, with the help of big data and other innovations, the development of new power grids is actively using "isolation sensors" that act like smart watches to monitor your health, but only in the energy sector.
“The US does not have a nationwide power grid like China does. When faced with harsh weather, one state is unable to help others, as Chinese provinces and regions do in similar cases, ”said Lin Bokyang, director of China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.
But the deeper problem of repeated blackouts in the United States is the ineptness and incompetence of the political system to deal effectively with any crisis. Experts note that this can be seen in their failures in responding to other challenges, such as numerous cases of mass shooting or the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite warnings about the problem in national power grids, which were highlighted in the DOE reports, the US government did not even try to fix these problems, leaving them in the hands of private companies, which are focused on maximizing profits, not safety.
At the same time, governed by well-coordinated nationwide plans with large investments, China has built one of the largest and most advanced power grids in the world, allowing not only to immediately identify problems, but also to quickly redirect energy from other regions if necessary.
China has also mastered the most advanced technologies such as microwave transmission and flexible DC transmission, which has made it possible to implement West-East and North-South electricity transmission projects. This, in turn, created opportunities for the development of the western region of the country.
“Texas officials criticize people who are unhappy with the government’s actions that have left people in trouble. This reflects the failure of the American system of government and the imbalance between federal and local governments. The Texas example shows that American social Darwinism is failing completely..."
As an epilogue, Rogers noted:
“If Chubais's plans to split the Unified Energy System (UES) of Russia and to privatize it succeeded, then, given Russia's size and climate, we would have experienced no less problems than the Americans. But, fortunately, these plans were not implemented and Russia avoided the flawed American scenario. Public administration and socialism have once again demonstrated their advantage over the "market settled" and "defective private owners".
However, Anatoly Chubais himself did not stand aside from the discussion of the problem and wrote in his blog:
“In Texas, due to the unprecedented cold weather, the energy sector could not stand it. The shutdown of a number of generating facilities led to massive rolling blackouts of consumers (thus, which we coped with thanks to large-scale investments attracted to the energy sector by the reform of RAO UES).
However, our professionals (though not energy, but television) decided to make an unexpected propaganda trick out of this: renewable energy is to blame for everything!
As always in such cases, the politicians of the opposite camps are trying to benefit, this time, however, surprisingly symmetrically on both sides of the ocean (see my last post).
I specifically asked my colleagues - but what about our very young Russian renewable energy, after all, we have not minus ten, but minus thirty! The answer is unambiguous - we initially took into account such temperature regimes, and as a result, both wind and solar energy go through a period of extreme cold without any interruptions.
This proves a simple truth - the nature of the energy disaster does not lie in the plane renewable / non-renewable, but in the plane of readiness / unpreparedness for the extreme autumn-winter maximum.
“Officially, the exact reasons for the accident in Texas will be named only after an investigation, but the main factors leading to the disaster are already known. Wind power is indeed quite active in Texas, but wind farms account for no more than 20% of the electricity produced in the state. Most (50%) of electricity is provided by gas-fired power plants, another 30% is produced at coal-fired thermal power plants, nuclear power plants and solar power plants. At the same time, it is important to note that on frosty days or other worsening weather, the system operator takes into account in the schedule the production of WPPs only in the amount of 7%.
Abnormal frosts led to the fact that gas in the gas transmission system simply froze, its delivery to thermal power plants became impossible, the system lost 26 GW of capacity. The equipment also stopped working at gas wells and refineries, the generating equipment of the nuclear power plant was turned off. Collectively, the system has lost 30 GW of gas, coal and nuclear power plants, according to the Texas Council on Electricity Assurance (Ercot). The capacity of the stopped renewable energy generation, mainly wind farms, amounted to about 15 GW.
All of these blackouts occurred against the backdrop of a sharp increase in power consumption, which reached 69 GW against the standard target of 58 GW. The totality of man-made accidents against the backdrop of a natural cataclysm led to the loss of 50% of energy capacity.
“At the same time, the lack of the proper volume of reserve capacities is also not the reason, the frost would be merciless to them, at the right time they would also stand without gas. Apparently, this natural anomaly will further push the development of the industrial energy storage sector and the decentralization of energy supply, ”the Association for the Development of Renewable Energy (ARVE) believes.
According to ARVE, Russian RES generation, against the background of Western colleagues, copes well with frosty days. Solar and wind farms in Russia were originally designed to operate in low temperatures, including extreme climatic events. Renewable energy generating facilities, which have been operating in different regions of Russia for more than 3 years, have never failed. The experience gained by Russian companies in operating facilities with a total capacity of more than 2.5 GW testifies to their stability and system reliability.
“The equipment installed at our wind farms in the Ulyanovsk and Rostov regions, as well as in the Republic of Kalmykia, was designed taking into account the climatic features of the region. Our experience in operating wind energy facilities in Russia is already three years. During all this time, no weather anomalies have led to the forced stop of the equipment", - the press service of PJSC Fortum reports.
Severe weather conditions are also taken into account when selecting and completing equipment that is installed on wind turbines in Russia. The conditions of icing are also taken into account. Therefore, Russian wind turbines will not require heating from traditional energy, like the Texas ones. Although the incident in Texas gave impetus to the entire global energy segment to work on errors in the event of working in an emergency..."