Home » Posts tagged 'blackouts'

Tag Archives: blackouts

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire

Image: Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire
(Natural News) California issued its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years last week as the state’s grid operator tried to keep the power system from complete collapse in the midst of a heat wave, and some are pointing out that the situation demonstrates the failures of green energy.

The rolling blackouts affected upwards of 2 million Californians. Many of the outages took place in the afternoon, when power demand peaked as people starting turning up their air conditioning at the same time that solar power supplies started slowing down as the sun set.

The state’s three biggest utilities – Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric – cut off power to homes and businesses for roughly an hour at a time until the close of an emergency declaration, and this was followed by a second outage.

On top of that, erratic output from the state’s wind farms failed to make up the gap. Around a third of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources thanks to state law mandates, and these alternatives proved incapable of keeping up during peak power usage. In the past, utilities and grid operators in the state bought extra electricity from other states when it fell short, but the vast size of the heat wave meant that other states were also reaching their limits and had none to spare.

Governor Gavin Newsom ordered an investigation into the outages seen in the state over the weekend, vowing to uncover the cause. However, Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, who serves as the Committee on Utilities and Energy’s Vice Chair, said that the problem can be traced to California’s reduced dependence on natural gas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rolling Blackouts, Prolonged Heatwave, And ‘Fire-nados’ Sends California To The Brink   

Californians flocked to beaches, recreation areas, and lakes this past weekend to seek relief from one of the most extreme heat waves in a generation, straining the state’s power grid to the brink of collapse, reported Bloomberg.

The heatwave brought triple-digit temperatures to parts of California over the last three days and sparked concerns of fiery tornados on Saturday.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Weather Prediction Center (WPC) tweeted temperatures from Death Valley, a desert valley in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert, reached 130F, the first time since 1913.

Scorching temperatures were so intense, the state’s electrical grid warned of a continuous electricity supply shortage for Sunday into Monday and Tuesday.

California Independent System Operator (California ISO) had purchased additional power to prevent another rolling blackout and issued a Flex Alert, urging customers to reduce energy in the afternoons.

Severin Borenstein, a board member of the ISO and energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, told SFGate that rolling outages are expected to continue early this week:

“There is a real concern that they would have to do it again tomorrow and Tuesday,” he said Sunday about the rolling outages.

We noted Saturday that rolling blackouts started Friday when the state’s power reserves had fallen below a critical threshold due to elevated temperatures increased demand for power. The grid issued a “Stage 3 Grid Emergency,” which triggered the “load interruption.”

According to ABC News, this is the first round of “Stage 3” blackouts facing the state since the 2000-2001 energy crisis that forced the state’s largest utility – PG&E – into bankruptcy and led to the ouster of former Gov Gray Davis.

The blistering heat was also a major concern for firefighters battling several wildfires in Northern California.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California’s Blackouts Are Part Of A Far Bigger Problem

California’s Blackouts Are Part Of A Far Bigger Problem

California Blackouts

This past weekend, Pacific Gas & Electric had to resume electricity blackouts to 930,000 customers affecting upwards of three million people around San Francisco. Meanwhile, two major wildfires, one of which may have been caused by malfunctioning utility equipment, are burning and evacuations are underway. PG&E has informed customers that power in the affected areas may be out for up to one week.

It would not be overstating the case to talk about an air of crisis or panic in the state. Unfortunately, good ideas to resolve difficult, thorny issues seldom arise in troubled circumstances. And California’s Governor Newsom provides us with a ready case in point.

Yesterday Bloomberg News reported that the California Governor was interested in a takeover of PG&E by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Corp. On its face, it sounds logical in several ways. First, Berkshire already owns utilities serving California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah. Wyoming and Idaho. PG&E would fit in. Second, Buffet notoriously has told investors to buy when there is “blood on the streets”, that is, where the investment outlook looks bleak and most investors stay away, fearful of principal risk. Presumably, the governor envisages Berkshire purchasing the PG&E’s equity at a steeply discounted price, replacing a considerable portion of the utility’s outstanding long-term debt and appointing new senior management and a new Board of Directors.

There is one difficulty here in viewing Mr. Buffett as a potential financial white knight riding to California’s rescue. The current crisis is caused by an extensive above-ground high voltage transmission network sparking wildfires in an increasingly arid environment. Stated differently, the world that this transmission system was built for no longer exists. This is a profound operational problem.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“This Did Not Go Well” – PG&E’s Rolling Blackout Sparked Chaos In Bay Area

“This Did Not Go Well” – PG&E’s Rolling Blackout Sparked Chaos In Bay Area

Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) historic blackout plunging hundreds of thousands of customers into darkness last week was a massive communication breakdown that sparked criticism over the two-day blackout that was designed to avoid wildfires, reported The New York Times.

PG&E officials said over the weekend that most of the power had been restored to everyone except for 2,500 customers across several Bay Area counties and promised to fix communication channels with customers.

“We’ll get better in the next month and better in the next year,” PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said Saturday.

“Communication to customers, coordination with state agencies, website availability, call center staff, that’s where you will see short-term improvements.”

Last Wednesday, PG&E triggered rolling blackouts for nearly 735,000 homes and or businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area amid the threat of strong winds and dry conditions that would’ve damaged transmission wires and sparked dangerous wildfires, similar to what was seen last year. Most of the residents were restored by Friday afternoon, but 99.5% of its customers saw full power by Saturday. 

PG&E Blackouts Spread Across Northern California

The shutdown caused widespread confusion about the planned power outage, and according to some experts, billions of dollars in economic losses were sustained by local businesses during the two-day blackout.

PG&E’s website and communication network that relayed essential data about the blackouts crashed, leaving many without details about what was happening. 

“There were definitely missteps,” said Elizaveta Malashenko, a spokesperson for the state Public Utilities Commission who was in the PG&E control center. “It’s pretty much safe in saying, this did not go well.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Amid Blackouts and Food Shortages, Pence Unveils New Sanctions Targeting Venzuelan Oil Exports to Cuba

Amid Blackouts and Food Shortages, Pence Unveils New Sanctions Targeting Venzuelan Oil Exports to Cuba

Peace advocacy group CodePink says, “Reminder: sanctions are an act of war. #HandsOffVenezuela.”

Venezuelans seeking water during blackout

Residents carry water that they had to obtain from a natural source from the hill El Avila after the water supply was suspended following a nationwide blackout occurred March 10, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. (Photo: Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images)

Despite Venezuela’s worsening humanitarian crisis fueled by political unrest and economic sanctions, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced new sanctions targeting the government and companies that transport oil to Cuba as part of the Trump administration’s ongoing effort to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Recognizing that “oil is the lifeblood” of the Venezuelan government, Pence said in Houston on Friday that the United States is sanctioning 34 vessels owned or operated by Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA)—the state-run oil company—and two international businesses and a vessel that have recently shipped crude oil to Cuba, a key ally of Maduro.

“Cuba is a major importer of crude oil from Venezuela,” the U.S. Treasury Department noted in a statement Friday, “and in return, sends assistance to Venezuela in the form of political advisers, intelligence and military officials, and medical professionals, all of whom are used to ensure Maduro’s hold on power.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez immediately spoke out against the sanctions. “I strongly reject new measures of economic piracy adopted by Washington to damage #Venezuela and steal its resources,” he tweeted in Spanish on Friday. “They will fail.”

“These measures are an act of extraterritoriality, interference, and imperial arrogance,” Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez added on Saturday.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Avoid Blackouts Using 100% Renewable Energy

How To Avoid Blackouts Using 100% Renewable Energy

Solar

Researchers have proposed three different methods for providing consistent power in 139 countries using 100 percent renewable energy.

The inconsistencies of power produced by wind, water, and sunlight and the continuously fluctuating demand for energy often hinder renewable energy solutions. In a new paper, which appears in Renewable Energy, the researchers outline several solutions to making clean power reliable enough for all energy sectors—transportation; heating and cooling; industry; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing—in 20 world regions after all sectors have converted to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.

The researchers previously developed roadmaps for transitioning 139 countries to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050 with 80 percent of that transition completed by 2030. The present study examines ways to keep the grid stable with these roadmaps.

Multiple solutions

“Based on these results, I can more confidently state that there is no technical or economic barrier to transitioning the entire world to 100 percent clean, renewable energy with a stable electric grid at low cost,” says lead author Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

“This solution would go a long way toward eliminating global warming and the 4 million to 7 million air pollution–related deaths that occur worldwide each year, while also providing energy security.”

“…the greatest barrier to the large-scale implementation of clean renewable energy is people’s perception that it’s too hard to keep the lights on…”

The paper builds on a previous 2015 study by Jacobson and colleagues that examined the ability of the grid to stay stable in the 48 contiguous United States. That study only included one scenario for how to achieve the goals.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Welcome to renewables world: Australia plans for blackouts, throws billions of dollars, but ABC says it will get “cheaper”

Welcome to renewables world: Australia plans for blackouts, throws billions of dollars, but ABC says it will get “cheaper”

The fear is palpable

How much fun can you have living in a global experiment?  In Australia, peak summer is about to hit in a post-Hazelwood-electricity-grid.  We’re drowning in electricity news as summer ramps up. Everyday there’s another Grid story in the press, and a major effort going on to avoid a meltdown.  Minister Josh Frydenberg announced today that “we’ve done everything possible to prevent mass blackouts”. Or as he calls it, a repeat of the South Australian Horror Show.   Politicians are so afraid of another SA-style-system-black that they are throwing money: The “Snowy Hydro Battery” will be another $2 billion. Whatever. It’s other people’s money.

This is what they are afraid of:

The red bars mean “Reserve Shortfall”. The dark blue matter is “Generation”. The graph covers two years (sorry about the quality) so the two red bursts are summer 2018 and summer 2019.

SA MEdium Term Forecast, Outlook, AEMO, Mt PASA. Australian national electricity market, 2017, South Australia, Graph.

SA Medium Term Forecast, Outlook, AEMO, Nov 16th 2017, South Australia.

Oddly we are headed for a critical time, but this’s the most recent graph I can find  — thanks to Wattclarity –  from November 16th, 2017. (Here’s an earlier version from March 2017. and from Dec 2016). Perhaps there is a newer kinder forecast, but curiously the AEMO Medium Term Outloook page isn’t working “til early 2018″. Hmm? Odd time to take it down.

The words in that top box (rewritten below*) indicate they do a new outlook every two weeks, but I can’t find one on the Wayback Machine, or Google Cache. Perhaps you can? Please let me know.

Australian electricity prices forecast to rise and fall at the same time

The ABC tells us prices look set to fall:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Report: Hackers can now cause blackouts on US electrical grid

Report: Hackers can now cause blackouts on US electrical grid

It was inevitable that someday, hackers would have the ability to exert control over the U.S. electrical grid.  According to the computer security firm Symantec, someday is today.

Hacking attacks over the last several months that targeted U.S. energy companies have been able to gain “operational control” over systems, thus threatening blackouts across the U.S., says Symantec.  The hacker group known as DragonFly 2.0 was able to gain control in at least 20 places, according to the firm.

Wired:

Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey – none of which Symantec will name – their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.

“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage … being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Blackout: California In Power Grid Emergency: “All Customers Should Expect 14 Days Without Power”

Blackout: California In Power Grid Emergency: “All Customers Should Expect 14 Days Without Power”

power-grid-attack

The entire Los Angeles metropolitan area and most of Southern California can expect blackouts this summer.

The power grid is under direct threat as a result of the unprecedented, but little reported, massive natural gas leaks at Alisco Canyon that was ongoing for  four months as an intense summer heat wave sets in.

According to Reuters:

California will have its first test of plans to keep the lights on this summer…

With record-setting heat and air conditioning demand expected in Southern California, the state’s power grid operator issued a so-called “flex alert,” urging consumers to conserve energy to help prevent rotating power outages – which could occur regardless.

Electricity demand is expected to rise during the unseasonable heatwave on Monday and Tuesday, with forecast system-wide use expected to top 45,000 megawatts, said the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages electricity flow through the state. That compares with a peak demand of 47,358 MW last year and the all-time high of 50,270 MW set in July 2006.

That could put stress on the power grid, particularly with the shut-in of Aliso Canyon, following a massive leak at the underground storage facility in October [Editor’s Note: which was not stopped fully until mid-February 2016].

The large-scale natural gas disaster – which curiously escaped media frenzy and widespread environmental concern – has resulted in the shutdown of key storage facilities that supply most of the power for the southern portion of the state.

As summer demand for electricity to cool homes and businesses kicks into high gear, power plants are planning to shut down, with supply shortages triggering controlled blackouts and brownouts.

Reports say that “all customers” should expect to be without power a total 14 days – 2 weeks time – out of this summer. Some 21 million Californians stand to be directly affected:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Drought, El Niño, Blackouts and Venezuela

Drought, El Niño, Blackouts and Venezuela

It’s fashionable these days to blame everything that goes wrong with anything on human interference with the climate, and we had yet another example last week when President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela fingered drought, El Niño and global warming as the reasons Venezuela’s lights keep going out. In this post I show that his Excellency has not a leg to stand on when he makes these claims, but that because no one ever looks at the data everyone believes him.


International Business Times:  Venezuelan Leader Blames El Niño And Global Warming For Nation’s Energy Crisis

The fierce El Niño event under way in the Pacific Ocean and warming global temperatures have helped create the brutal drought now racking Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro said Wednesday night. Venezuela is facing its worst drought in almost half a century. The nation depends on hydropower for nearly two-thirds of its electricity, but the reservoirs that fuel its facilities are evaporating. Power outages in recent weeks have forced factories to send workers home early, slowing production, and many residents are now scrambling to secure enough drinking water supplies.

The fierce El Niño created the brutal drought now racking Venezuela, the worst in almost half a century. No pulling of punches. Boiled down to essentials, however, there are three issues here – a) is there really a “brutal” drought in Venezuela, b) if so, did the “fierce” El Niño cause it and c) has global warming made it worse? We’ll take a look at these issues shortly, but first it’s important to note that about 70% of Venezuela’s electricity comes from one massive installation, the Guri dam on the Caroni River (officially the Simon Bolívar Hydroelectric Plant) which holds back a 4,000 square kilometer lake, about the same size as Rhode Island or Somerset.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

One Step Closer to Blackouts

One Step Closer to Blackouts

On Thursday 24th March, Longannet Power Station closed down. This 2.4 GW, coal fired giant, was the beating heart of Scottish Electricity supply. The station opened in 1970 and was arguably past its sell by date. The Scottish supply is now based on nuclear, wind and imports with a little hydro and gas on the side. I think nuclear and wind is likely the worst combination for any grid that no sane power engineer would design. Variable and intermittent wind does not sit well with constant, base load  nuclear power. We have reached this point in pursuit of Green dogma.

In this post I examine the policy and politics that led to this event and go on to consider the social and economic consequences of a nation-wide blackout that power engineers now believe is far more likely than before.

What causes blackouts?

A blackout normally occurs as a result of an electrical fault at a power station or transmission line that causes the generator or power line to trip. Sensors on the equipment react to abnormal behaviour and automatically shut down the generator or power line. This can cause a power surge or dip on neighbouring lines causing them to trip and the fault can cascade through the system like falling dominoes.

The alternative variety of blackout is one where there is insufficient supply to meet demand and part of the transmission system needs to be shut down in order to maintain the essential and ubiquitous balance between supply and demand. This type of blackout will euphemistically become known as demand management.

Blackouts are common throughout the developing world but are relatively rare in the OECD. When they occur in the OECD chaos ensues.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Germany Struggles With Too Much Renewable Energy

Germany Struggles With Too Much Renewable Energy

Since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany has been one of the few countries that have successfully moved away from nuclear energy. Germany has so far successfully shut down its nine units that had the capacity of generating enough power for at least 20 million homes in Europe. In fact, the contribution of nuclear power in Germany’s electricity generation has now fallen to just 16 percent and renewables are now the preferred source of electricity generation in the country.

Image Source: GreenTechMedia

However, Germany and its neighbors are now facing an unusual problem. With the dramatic increase in green energy usage, Germany is generating so much electricity from renewables that it is finding it hard to handle it. The excess electricity that is generated is being spilled over to its neighboring countries, thereby increasing the threat of a power blackout should there be a sudden supply disruption.

How much should Germany invest to solve this problem?

Although Germany has increased its renewable energy generation by almost five times in the last decade, it has failed to invest in building the necessary infrastructure to carry this energy. The excess electricity that is being generated by Germany is spilling over to Poland and Czech Republic, two countries that are investing close to $180 million to shore up their grids from Germany’s power spillage.

“A huge accumulation of overflow increases the threat of a blackout. The root of the situation is allowing a huge amount of electricity to be generated regardless of the capacity of the grid,” said Zbynek Boldis of Czech grid CEPS AS. It is quite obvious that Germany needs to upgrade its network to accommodate the excess power. In fact, grid companies in Germany are set to invest close to $24 billion for upgrading their network and modify its existing high voltage power lines.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Beginners Guide to Blackouts

A Beginners Guide to Blackouts.

Anticipating blackouts has become a new national sport in the UK. I can recall blackouts as a child. I’m guessing this was during the first 1974 oil shock when OPEC first flexed its muscles and Britain had a lot more oil fired power generation then than it does now. But a quick check shows that Britain was also in disarray because of strikes, especially striking coal miners. Blackouts were a time of excitement where whole towns went black, citizens reached for their candles and crooks reached for their crowbars.

Things have moved on in the intervening 40 years with a much more complex society today dependent upon electronic communications, a myriad electronic devices and economic growth that is founded on reliable supplies of electricity.

Blackout

Figure 1 “100 crowbars were nicked during the last blackout”

So why does the UK find itself on the threshold of blackouts? Or does it?

The difference between power cuts and blackouts

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Kyrgyzstan Looks to Alternative Fuels Ahead of Looming Winter Shortages

Kyrgyzstan Looks to Alternative Fuels Ahead of Looming Winter Shortages.

Each winter in Kyrgyzstan the energy situation seems to worsen; blackouts last longer, and officials seem less able to do anything to improve conditions. This year is expected to be particularly difficult.

The winter heating season has not even begun and already lots of people are bracing for months of hardship. A video, posted October 12 on YouTube, depicting Kyrgyz doctors having to perform open-heart surgery amid a sudden blackout, is helping to heighten anxiety about the coming winter. In another alarming signal, Bishkek’s local energy-distribution company, Severelectro, sent out advisories with recent utility bills, describing the situation as “critical” and begging customers to conserve electricity and use alternatives to heat their homes.

Southern Kyrgyzstan has been without gas since April, when Russia’s Gazprom took over the country’s gas network, and neighboring Uzbekistan said it would not work with the Russians. That has forced residents in the south to use precious and expensive electricity to cook, or resort to burning dung and sometimes even furniture. On top of that, a drought has hampered operations at Kyrgyzstan’s main hydroelectric plant at the aging Toktogul Dam.

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase