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The Outage at the Federal Reserve

The outage of the National Settlement Service and the Fedwire Securities Service, which provides issuance, settlement, and transfer services for Treasuries and other government securities, was down and this has caused some concern and then conspiracy theories mixed in. The Fed made progress reversing the shutdown within a couple of hours, however, this has illustrated that a long-term outage of the Fed’s online services could cause intense chaos across the world financial system, preventing banks and businesses from finalizing transactions and impeding basic banking functions.

The Federal Reserve said an outage of its key financial services on Wednesday was caused by a maintenance mistake and it is taking steps to prevent a recurrence. The official statement read:

“The incident was caused by an operational error involving an automated data center maintenance process that was inadvertently triggered during business hours,” a Fed spokeswoman said. Such tasks are normally performed after-hours, she said, adding, “This was human error.”

“Our technical teams have determined that the cause is a Federal Reserve operational error,” the Fed said on Wednesday on its website. “The Federal Reserve Banks have taken steps to help ensure the resilience of the Fedwire and NSS applications, including recovery to the point of failure.”

There was no power-outage so it does appear that the Federal Reserve was honestly calling it a disruption due to an ‘operational error’. This raises the issue of concern surrounding digital currency. Indeed, solar flares and other solarmass ejections that travel through space can overwhelm Earth’s atmosphere and generate powerful electric and magnetic fields. These magnetic storms can occasionally be intense enough to disrupt the operation of high-voltage electricity lines. A digital currency system could be brought to its knees with an EM attack.

(see report)

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“Energy Emergency” – Texas Power Provider Warns Of Rotating Outages As Cold Weather Tests Limits Of Grid

“Energy Emergency” – Texas Power Provider Warns Of Rotating Outages As Cold Weather Tests Limits Of Grid

With the situation in Texas doing from bad to worse:

Weather forecast models suggest the polar vortex will continue pouring Arctic air into much of the central US through Feb. 20. This means nat gas prices could rise even higher early next week as electricity demand continues to soar over the weekend as Americans crank up their thermostats and watch Netflix shows or mine Bitcoin.

Texas power grid operator ERCOT, has issued a statement warning of an “energy emergency” and threatening “rotating outages” just when residents need the power to heat their homes the most:

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as possible Sunday, Feb. 14 through Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness.

“At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.”

Here are some tips to reduce electricity use:

  • Turn down thermostats to 68-degrees.
  • Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
  • Avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
  • Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
  • Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.
  • Given the prolonged, below-freezing temperatures, conservation measures should be implemented safely and within reason.

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

Are EVs good for the environment? – Mostly Not!

Are EVs good for the environment? – Mostly Not!

EVs Still Charged By Electricity From Fossil Fuel

The idea Electric vehicles are less damaging to the environment has been broadly accepted by many people as fact. The notion EVs are good for the planet is a key factor for many of those deciding to buy an electric car. This debate has become rather political with a recent article in Barron’s pointing out that some of the research damning electric cars has been funded by Saudi oil interest. Part of the argument flowing out of this centers on the idea that policies incentivizing electric-car production will lead to the creation of more carbon emissions during coming years than if we were to instead encourage the use of efficient gasoline engines.

It is not surprising that people are going to try and shape conclusions and public opinion to serve their strategic interests. The direction society takes is a high-stakes game since the EU, Japan, Korea, and 110 other countries have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050. This is why countries such as China have extended $100 billion thus far in EV subsidies, the fact is China wants to make many of these vehicles. This is the main reason shares in Chinese EV manufacturers such as NIO and Xpeng have followed Tesla stock higher in recent months.

Adding to claims of agenda “propaganda” is the fact that a lengthy and detailed EV study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), published in the scientific journal “Nature Communications,” was paid for by oil giant Saudi Aramco, which counts China as its largest customer. This indicates how little transparency exists around private companies’ financial or other involvement in the U.S. Department of Energy’s research. Some analysts say that Aramco’s role in producing the research is a potential conflict of interest and that the relationship between Aramco and ORNL highlights a broader concern about how some companies fund scientific research only to directly support their business interests.  

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Electricity Has Been in a Slump for 14 Years, But All Heck Has Broken Loose in How it’s Generated

Electricity Has Been in a Slump for 14 Years, But All Heck Has Broken Loose in How it’s Generated

Electricity generating capacity additions & retirements in 2021, and the long-term change in the power mix.

In 2021, developers and power plant owners plan to bring 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity on line, and retire 9.1 GW in generating capacity, for a net increase in capacity of 30.6 GW, according to the EIA today. 70% of the capacity additions will be from wind and solar, 16% will be from natural gas, and 3% will be from a nuclear reactor. These are utility-scale power generators and exclude rooftop solar. Of the retirements, 86% will be coal and nuclear.

Electricity generation in the US has been a no-growth business since 2006, as efficiencies in electrical equipment (LED lights, appliances, air conditioning, etc.) and further offshoring of manufacturing have kept consumption roughly stable despite growth in the economy and population. But where all heck has broken loose is in how this power is being generated (data via the EIA).

Coal-fired power generation has collapsed by over 60% in 12 years, from around 169 GW hours per month on average in 2008 to 65 GW hours per month on average over the past 12 months, according to data from the EIA. It went from “King Coal” by a wide margin in 2008 (black line in the chart below) to #3, after surging natural gas-fired power generation (green line) blew by it in 2015 as the US has become the largest NG producer in world. And toward the end of 2020, coal fell even below nuclear power (brown line).

In a few years, wind and solar combined (red line) will blow by coal as well. With wind and solar, the big enticement for power generators is that the “fuel” is free and that there won’t be any “fuel” price increases in the future, no matter what inflation will do:

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wolfstreet, wolf richter, electricity generation, fossil fuels, renewable power, electricity

Britain’s National Grid forecasts tight electricity margins for Wednesday

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s National Grid, which is responsible for ensuring supply and demand are balanced in Britain’s energy systems, has issued a tight electricity margin notice for Wednesday afternoon and evening.

In a market message, National Grid said there is a reduced margin between the hours of 1600-1900 GMT on Wednesday, with a system shortfall of 584 megawatts.

“An electricity margin notice is used to send a signal to the electricity market. It highlights that, in the short-term, we would like a greater safety cushion (margin) between power demand and available supply,” National Grid said.

“It does not signal that blackouts are imminent or that there is not enough generation to meet current demand.”

A further update will be issued tomorrow.

Solar now ‘cheapest electricity in history’: How much will it matter?

Solar now ‘cheapest electricity in history’: How much will it matter?

The International Energy Agency (IEA), the Paris-based consortium of 30 countries, has told us in its flagship World Energy Outlook 2020 that solar-produced electricity is now the “cheapest electricity in history.”  That seems like very good news, that is, until the actual expected impact of that fact is examined more closely.

For those who are concerned about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation, it is certainly good news—but not quite good enough to make a dent in fossil fuel emissions.

Setting aside any concerns about critical materials needed to make the solar revolution reach completion, it may surprise many readers of the “cheapest electricity in history” headline that growth in solar energy will likely NOT lead to a reduction of fossil fuel burning anytime soon. In fact, the IEA’s main forecast has natural gas consumption growing by 30 percent through 2040 while oil consumption levels off but does not decline. Coal use does continue to decline as a share of total energy.

With solar energy and other renewables expected to grow so much by 2040, how can this be so? The answer is that what the IEA calls non-hydro renewables (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass) will provide 80 percent of the INCREASE in expected global electricity demand. That means that the fossil fuel electricity infrastructure will continue to grow and that existing plants will remain in place rather than be supplanted by renewables.

Of course, for the part of the economy that runs on liquid fuels including transportation and many industrial processes requiring high heat, more renewable electricity doesn’t make much of a dent in fossil fuel use. Even where transportation is being electrified, the growth in internal combustion engine vehicles continues to dwarf those running on electricity…

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China Restricts Electricity Use Amid Coal Shortage

China Restricts Electricity Use Amid Coal Shortage

Despite the swift industrial recovery from the pandemic, factories in areas in China are working only part-time, and residents in several provinces are asked to save electricity, while authorities are turning off street lights and billboards, warning of coal shortages this winter.

In at least three provinces in China, authorities have ordered limits on electricity use, saying there could be shortages of coal, The New York Times reports.

At the same time, Chinese authorities vehemently deny that the potential shortages have had anything to do with the diplomatic spat with Australia, which has turned into a true energy trade war, with China banning imports of coal from one of its major suppliers.

Still, China has admitted there is a problem with electricity supply in parts of the country, just ahead of the winter season when Chinese industrial activity has been recovering very well from the COVID-related economic slump earlier this year.

“At the moment, some provinces temporarily do not have enough electricity. This is an objective fact,” the NYT quoted the Chinese authority overseeing state-held firms as saying during the weekend.

As a result of the power shortages with a reduced supply of thermal coal, some factories are cutting working hours and are operational only two or three days a week, while office workers in some cities have had to climb 20 flights of stairs to reach their workplaces because elevators have been shut down to save electricity.

“We are not living a normal life when our factory can only work two days a week and the streets are dark at night,” Mike Li, who owns a plastic flower factory in the city of Yiwu, eastern China, told the Financial Times.

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

China Endures Worsening Electricity Shortages In Name Of Punishing Australia

China Endures Worsening Electricity Shortages In Name Of Punishing Australia

Coal is among the latest in a growing list of major Australian exports hit by severe restrictions in China, also including commodities like cotton, timber wine, lobster, and barley. While Chinese citizens might be able to forgo luxuries for a while like Aussie wine as well as lobster, coal is quite another thing especially given the country is currently facing a broad coal shortage.

Here’s how Chinese state media publication Sixth Tone described it:

Several cities in at least three provinces in central and southern China are experiencing a power crunch, with some local governments beginning to ration power use during peak timesaccording to multiple domestic media reports.

Entire provinces are taking the surprise step of limiting industrial power and even cutting heating in government offices, expected to take effect Dec.11, according to the publication. This also includes limits imposed on entertainment and shopping venues like malls and move theaters, which is impacting their hours of operation.

So ultimately this shows Beijing is so intent and devoted to punishing Australia that it will make its own citizens suffer in the downward spiraling spat that began last Spring when Canberra joined US calls for an independent probe into China’s handling of COVID-19 as the place of origin for the pandemic.

As it stands coal is Australia’s third-largest export to China and is the latest to face severe and opaque import regulations, as Reuters revealed early this week: “Chinese media outlets including The Global Times and Caixin on Monday reported China’s top economic planner had granted approval to power plants to import coal without clearance restrictions, except for Australia,” according to the report.

The restrictions have reportedly left dozens of coal-laden ships idling off China’s ports:

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Musk: Electric Cars Will Require a Lot More Electric Power Than We Currently Have

Musk: Electric Cars Will Require a Lot More Electric Power Than We Currently Have

AP Feed
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says we’ll need more electricity to power cars like his. A lot more.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified, increasing the need to expand nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind energy generating sources.

Increasing the availability of sustainable energy is a major challenge as cars move from combustion engines to battery-driven electric motors, a shift which will take two decades, Musk said in a talk hosted by Berlin-based publisher Axel Springer.

There’s no unicorn energy source or free lunch. Currently, electric cars are primarily powered by coal, natural gas, and nuclear. Those are the sources we use to generate electricity, after all, according to the Energy Information Agency. Renewables are growing but still account for less than 20% of U.S. electricity.

There’s no free lunch when it comes to renewable energy sources, which may not even be all that renewable. Wind and sun are free, but the means of generating power from them are not.

They require batteries, which requires extensive mining and the use of toxic chemicals.

Mining is a dirty business.

Weighing those trade-offs — between supporting mining in environmentally sensitive areas and sourcing metals needed to power renewables — is likely to become more common if countries continue generating more renewable energy. That’s according to a report out Wednesday from researchers at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. The report, commissioned by the environmental organization Earthworks, finds that demand for metals such as copper, lithium and cobalt would skyrocket if countries around the world try to get their electric grids and transportation systems fully powered by renewable energy by 2050. Consequently, a rush to meet that demand could lead to more mining in countries with lax environmental and safety regulations and weak protections for workers.

“If not managed responsibly, this has the potential for new adverse environmental and social impacts,” the report says.

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UK Grid Warns Of Electricity Shortage Due To Drop In Wind

The UK’s electricity grid operator has warned of a short supply over the next few days due to generator outages and a lull in autumn winds.

The National Grid said on Oct. 14 that it was exploring various measures to create a buffer to avoid potential outages, like the one last summer that left 1 million homes without power.

“We’re forecasting tight margins on the electricity system over the next few days owing to a number of factors including weather, import and export levels and availability of generators over periods of the day with higher demand,” the National Grid said in a statement.

“Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced.”

Power outages in the UK are rare. The last blackout was over a year ago and lasted for only one hour.

In an update on Oct. 15, the National Grid said that margins are currently “adequate” and it will continue to monitor the situation through the weekend.

According to the National Grid, last month one-fifth of the power supply came from wind, “in spite of unusually calm British weather during the middle of September.”

The latest announcement may fan concerns about over-reliance on wind power, which critics say is unreliable compared to gas or nuclear power.

Growth in Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has been a rapidly growing source of electricity in the UK. According to government data, 47 percent of UK electricity generation came from renewables in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 36 percent from the same time in the previous year.

A maintenance boat works next to the turbines of the new Burbo Bank offshore wind farm in the mouth of the River Mersey on May 12, 2008, in Liverpool, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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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.

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Isaias Aftermath: 2 Million Still Without Power Across Northeast; At Least 12 Tornados Confirmed

Isaias Aftermath: 2 Million Still Without Power Across Northeast; At Least 12 Tornados Confirmed

Tropical Storm Isaias is long gone, but there’s widespread damage along the East Coast and more than 2 million homes in the Northeast without power. 

According to PowerOutage.US, 2.2 million of the 6.4 million affected electric customers remain without power in the aftermath of Isaias. 

PowerOutage.US said utility workers from across the nation have responded to East Coast states to aid in the recovery effort to restore power. So far, 65% of affected customers have seen their lights turned back on. 

From the Carolinas to the Delmarva Peninsula to New Jersey to New York City, Isaias unleashed tropical storm conditions earlier this week. For those who are curious, here’s the full track map of the storm:

At one point, nearly 100 tornado warnings were issued across ten states as the storm raced up the East Coast. 

Isaias spawned at least a dozen confirmed twisters. 

Here’s some video of the damage:

The aftermath of a tornado in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. 

Buildings ripped apart in Dover, Deleware. 

Tornado touched down in Cape May, New Jersey. 

Homes damaged in Maryland.

“Damage from isaias in Courtland va  I worked down there today it was unreal first real tornado damage I’ve seen first hand,” said one Twitter user.

What Americans saw on the news this week… 

Stressful times.

False Solutions to Climate Change: Part 1, Electricity

False Solutions to Climate Change: Part 1, Electricity

It’s become increasingly clear that climate change is not only real but beginning to bite. Now that much of the population is finally feeling the urgency—and during a time when COVID19  has much of our frenetic commerce on hold, giving us a space for thinking and discussion–what can we do to protect the only planet we’ve got? Unfortunately a good many of the solutions on offer seem designed to quiet the increasing concern, the impetus to do something, without challenging the status quo.

Can we get real solutions and still maintain economic growth, population growth, and the growth of inequality? Are we entitled to an ever-rising standard of living? I believe the answer is no; we need some profound transformations if we are to leave our grandchildren a planet that resembles the one we grew up on, rather than a dystopian Hell world.  This is the basic theme of the controversial Michael Moore produced film Planet of the Humans. I see that film as seriously flawed, but agree with its basic message—that it’s time for humanity to grow up and accept limits, get over what I call human exceptionalism, or androtheism—the notion that man is God.

A veritable cornucopia of false solutions is being pushed these days, not only by corporations and think tanks but by the UN’s IPCC, the international body responsible for research and action on climate.  We could have made a gentle transition if we had begun when we first became aware of this problem decades ago, but for various reasons we did not. There is no time left for barking up one wrong tree after another; no time to waste in false solutions. Hence this series pointing out the fallacies behind such proposals as electrifying everything, carbon trading, geoengineering or switching to “gas—the clean energy fuel!”

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No Power, No Running Water, No Toilets: Millions of Americans Are Living in Third-World Conditions

No Power, No Running Water, No Toilets: Millions of Americans Are Living in Third-World Conditions

Scattered around the nation, there are parts of the country in which millions of Americans are living without the basic amenities that most of us take for granted.

I’m not talking about high-speed internet or frivolous things. I’m talking about electricity, flushing toilets, and clean running water.

But this isn’t a problem that only exists in one state or to one demographic. It’s happening across the nation more and more. Let’s take a look.

Millions are living without running water.

new report says that more than 2 million Americans in West Virginia, Alabama, Texas and the Navajo Nation Reservation in the Southwest are living without clean running water or indoor plumbing. They’re drinking from polluted streams. They’re carrying buckets of the same water home for washing. They’re urinating and defecating outside with no wastewater treatment.

Race and poverty are the strongest predictors of water and sanitation access, according to the study. Native American families are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing, while black and Latino homes are nearly twice as likely. Meanwhile, federal funding for water infrastructure is just a small percentage of what it used to be, the authors wrote.

“Access to clean, reliable running water and safe sanitation are baseline conditions for health, prosperity, and well-being,” DigDeep CEO George McGraw and US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox said in a statement. “However, they remain out of reach for some of the most vulnerable people in the United States.”

The 2 million figure includes 1.4 million people with homes who lack access to hot and cold running water, as well as a sink, shower, bath or flushing toilet. (source)

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The Country Using The Most Electricity May Surprise You

The Country Using The Most Electricity May Surprise You

In 2017, global electricity consumption increased 2.5 percent to reach 25,721 Twh.

When it comes to consumption, China uses the most of any country at 25.9 percent, followed by the United States with 17.5 percent; but, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy noteson a per capita basis, the situation is different.

According to the IEA Atlas of Energy, electricity consumption in Iceland was 54.4 megwatt hours per capita in 2017, the highest level of any country.

Infographic: Which Countries Use The Most Electricity?  | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

That’s primarily due to abundant natural resources that make electricity production affordable along with energy-intensive industries. The harsh and dark Icelandic climate also contributes to heavy demand for electricity.

The situation is similar in Norway which comes second with 23.7 megawatt hours per capita.

Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait follow due to considerable demand for air conditioning.

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