Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Power emergency from lack of wind?

This does not bode well for wind power.

One of the problems I've pointed out with wind power is that the wind doesn't blow just because I want to cook dinner. It's an intermittent source that can replace demand power, but not base load units. Now we've got evidence of another problem.

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A drop in wind generation late on Tuesday, coupled with colder weather, triggered an electric emergency that caused the Texas grid operator to cut service to some large customers, the grid agency said on Wednesday...

System operators curtailed power to interruptible customers to shave 1,100 megawatts of demand within 10 minutes, ERCOT said. Interruptible customers are generally large industrial customers who are paid to reduce power use when emergencies occur...

ERCOT said the grid's frequency dropped suddenly when wind production fell from more than 1,700 megawatts, before the event, to 300 MW when the emergency was declared.

In addition, ERCOT said multiple power suppliers fell below the amount of power they were scheduled to produce on Tuesday. That, coupled with the loss of wind generated in West Texas, created problems moving power to the west from North Texas.

Wind power is a small fraction of total generation today. Proponents want to increase its contribution significantly. If this can happen at this level, we've got some things to work out before that can happen.

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