Here, on Texas isolationism:
No power system is immune to hazards. But policy decisions that increase the likelihood of hazards or multiply the resulting damages ought to be given careful reconsideration. In this case, the choice by Texas policymakers to keep ERCOT isolated from surrounding power systems prevented power companies within ERCOT from accessing excess power capacity elsewhere in the state and in neighboring states. Other policy issues also are raised by the emergency, but few solutions are likely to be as cost-effective and technically simple to implement as linking ERCOT to its neighbors.
Here, on nuclear and renewables:
…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.
Energy efficiency and conservation can make an important contribution to power grid stability. When the grid gets stretched to its limit, it’s a fine line between blackout and normal operation. It’s a balancing act for grid operators to have enough capacity to serve the peak demand, but not too much excess capacity, which would be costly and inefficient. It is generally recognized that building in efficiency and conservation is less expensive per MW than building new power plants. Also, when we have weather excursions into extremely low temperatures, improved building envelopes with less air infiltration and more insulation value will require less energy, regardless of the efficiency of the heating and air conditioning systems.
The White House chimes in:
Some are trying to blame these blackouts – which the industry has already provided explanation for – on Clean Air Act standards under consideration to curb dangerous pollution, including carbon pollution. While these claims gained traction on the internet, there is a major problem with this theory – no power plant in Texas has yet been required to do anything to control carbon pollution.
Today’s rolling blackouts show the potential problems with maintaining the careful balance of supply and demand that is required in a system that functions without large-scale energy storage as a back-up. This load-following design (where power plants respond to customer demand, instead of vice versa) lacks some of the flexibility needed to maintain grid reliability in the face of unexpectedly harsh winter weather. And, today, this design left many Texans in the dark.