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Nov 10, 2008

Disaster Resistant Energy

11/10/08 - ChicagoBoyz.net by Shannon Love   --> Source

[edited] Advocates of alternative energy seem to work from an unconscious conception that energy is to some degree a luxury good. They believe that we can live safely, healthily, and well without it. They plan in a cavalier manner, assuming that conditions will always be ideal and predictable, and if not, well, we can do without luxuries if we have to.

Energy is the heart of our lives. Without it, most of us will die within days. Losing 50% of our energy during a northeastern blizzard would kill millions. Sustained shortages of energy would kill more slowly, but just as surely, as we reverted back to the horrific lives of our ancestors. We need to think about rare scenarios because we are so dependent on energy that it would take only one such scenario to destroy everything.

People who advocate alternative energy need to tear their eyes away from the marketing brochures and instead try think hard about how to keep an old woman in the slums of Detroit warm in the heart of a once-in-50-years blizzard. If they can’t do that, they need to shelve their plans.

What Happens When the Wind Stops Blowing?
06/01/09 - ChicagoBoyz by Shannon Love

Can we tolerate an electric grid that depends on windpower? What if the wind doesn't blow?

[edited] At 6:41 p.m. Feburary 26 2008, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) activated a stage two emergency response to keep the Texas power grid from failing and triggering rolling blackouts. The operators cut off power to “interruptible” customers, such as industrial sites who have their own power generators. They pay lower rates in return for being kicked off the grid during emergencies.

Translation: The wind stopped blowing. The grid couldn’t adapt to the loss of wind generated electricity and they had to kick people off the grid.

Currently, Texas receives 3% of its electricity from wind, the highest percentage in the nation. What will reliability be like when windpower contributes 10%, 20%, or more, as many people want to require by law?

Most people didn’t notice this incident because large numbers of diesel powered backup generators all across the state kicked in to take up the slack. In the future, are all electricity consumers, down to the individual small businesses and households, going to buy fossil fuel backup generators to handle routine outages of power? Is it even possible for backup generators to compensate for the loss of 10% or more of total power?

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