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When The Lights Go Out

When The Lights Go Out

Dreaming of a power outage that lasts forever

Each winter, storms knock out the electricity to my home. I live in the country, over hills and past muddy pastures and brown meadows. Snow and ice grip the trees, pulling them past the breaking point, and the lights flicker and die.

The first thing I notice is the quiet. The hum of the refrigerator, the ticking of the hot water heater, the barely perceptible vibration of the electrical system itself. The sounds drop away. That is how I awoke this February morning; to silence, just the murmur of a million wet snowflakes settling onto the trees, the grass, the cabin roof.

As a child, I craved power outages. School canceled, all obligations swept aside — an excuse to bypass the siren song of television, jobs, routine, and to instead place candles on the table and sit together around the flickering light. All this, of course, after the obligatory snowball fight.

Luck and privilege underlie my experience; the luck of living in a temperate climate, where a small fire and sweatshirt keep us warm inside; the privilege of a family with just enough money to relax and enjoy power outages despite not being able to work.

Power outages are still magical times for me. Now, grown, I live far enough away from the city that outages can last many days. We sit around the wood stove after a day of chores, cooking dinner slowly on the stovetop, snow melting in a pot for tea. Nothing is fast. There is no rush, and nowhere to go, and nothing to be done beyond: talk, read, cook, wash dishes in a tub with fire-warmed water. It is a balm to a soul chafed by the demands of modernity — speed, productivity, constant connectivity.

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German energy use drops 7% in H1 amid high prices – Ageb

German energy use drops 7% in H1 amid high prices – Ageb

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Photo: Shutterstock.com

(Montel) Primary energy consumption in Germany fell 7% to 1,545 TWh in the first six months of the year, energy statistics group Ageb said on Wednesday, pointing to high energy prices and a weak economy.

“According to the assessment of Ageb, the high energy prices as well as the weak economic development are responsible for the considerable decline in consumption,” Ageb said in a statement.

In terms of electricity consumption, Ageb reported a decline of 6.2% to 251 TWh, with the share coming from renewable sources rising from 49.3% to 52%. Green power use, meanwhile, rose by 0.6% to 306.4 TWh.

Germany aims for a share of renewable energy of at least 80% of gross electricity consumption by 2030.

Fossil fuels plunge, emissions fall
According to the report, lignite saw the greatest decline in consumption, falling by 18% year on year to 130.3 TWh.

Among other fossil fuels, hard coal consumption fell by 10.8% to 138.9 TWh, with the use in power plants dropping by almost 19%.

Germany plans to phase out all coal in power generation by 2038 at the latest, while utility RWE last week reported a 40% year-on-year drop in lignite-fired output in the second quarter.

Natural gas consumption also fell, sliding 10.1% to 403.9 TWh, with Ageb citing flagging demand from the industrial sector as well as households. Accordingly, electricity generation from natural gas fell by 4%, district heating generation by 2%.

The declining consumption of fossil fuels saw energy-related carbon emissions fall by more than 8% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year, Ageb’s preliminary data showed, corresponding to a reduction of 28m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Meanwhile, Germany exported a net 3.1 TWh of electricity in H1 2023, down from 17.3 TWh in the same period last year.

Last year, primary energy consumption fell by 5.4% to 3,269 TWh – the lowest level since reunification.

MIT Study: Nuclear Power Shutdown Could Lead To Increased Deaths

MIT Study: Nuclear Power Shutdown Could Lead To Increased Deaths

  • A new MIT study indicates that retiring U.S. nuclear power plants could lead to an increase in burning fossil fuels to fill the energy gap, resulting in over 5,000 premature deaths due to increased air pollution.
  • Nearly 20 percent of current electricity in the U.S. comes from nuclear power, with a fleet of 92 reactors scattered around the country.
  • If more renewable energy sources become available to supply the grid by 2030, air pollution could be curtailed, but there may still be a slight increase in pollution-related deaths.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology new study shows that if U.S. nuclear power plants are retired, the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas to fill the energy gap could cause more than 5,000 premature deaths.

The MIT team took on the questions in the text following in a new study appearing in Nature Energy.

Nearly 20 percent of today’s electricity in the United States comes from nuclear power. The U.S. has the largest nuclear fleet in the world, with 92 reactors scattered around the country. Many of these power plants have run for more than half a century and are approaching the end of their expected lifetimes.

Policymakers are debating whether to retire the aging reactors or reinforce their structures to continue producing nuclear energy, which many consider a low-carbon alternative to climate-warming coal, oil, and natural gas.

Now, MIT researchers say there’s another factor to consider in weighing the future of nuclear power: air quality. In addition to being a low carbon-emitting source, nuclear power is relatively clean in terms of the air pollution it generates. Without nuclear power, how would the pattern of air pollution shift, and who would feel its effects?

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Can We 100% Get Rid of Fossil Fuel?

Can We 100% Get Rid of Fossil Fuel?

The Renewable Energy Problem That No One Talks About

The Renewable Energy Problem That No One Talks About

An obvious barrier to adopting wind and solar power for electricity supply is their intermittency—when the wind isn’t blowing, and the sun isn’t shining, substitute sources are required. This issue is given much attention by conservative media, as it should.

Yet one of the less well-known roadblocks for these renewable technologies is frequency control, even though it becomes a critical concern much sooner.

Since the 1890s, electricity networks and devices all around the globe have used alternating current (AC) systems, which means that the flow of electricity in the system is repeatedly changing direction.

In Australia, it alternates 50 times a second, that is, at a frequency of 50 Hertz (in the USA, it is 60 Hertz).

Supplying electricity at a consistent frequency is very important because appliances and electronics on the network are designed for a specific frequency/voltage input. Therefore, they can be damaged by the wrong electricity supply.

As a rule, networks would rather supply no electricity than bad electricity. Automated controls through the electricity system will disconnect the supply if the frequency or voltage is “off-spec.”

Epoch Times Photo
A technician monitors electricity levels in front of a giant screen showing the eastern German electricity transmission grid in the control centre at Neuenhagen bei Berlin, Germany, on Dec. 17, 2015. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

South Australians will not soon forget when this happened to the entire state network in 2016. The state-wide blackout started late in the afternoon during some poor weather conditions, and thousands of people had to drive out of the city without any streetlights or traffic signals.

There were a range of contributing causes, including gusty winds taking down some transmission lines and a lightning strike on a power station.

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Escobar: Electric Wars

Escobar: Electric Wars

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

Spare a thought to the Polish farmer snapping pics of a missile wreckage – later indicated to belong to a Ukrainian S-300. So a Polish farmer, his footfalls echoing in our collective memory, may have saved the world from WWIII – unleashed via a tawdry plot concocted by Anglo-American “intelligence”.

Such tawdriness was compounded by a ridiculous cover-up: the Ukrainians were firing on Russian missiles from a direction that they could not possibly be coming from. That is: Poland. And then the U.S. Secretary of Defense, weapons peddler Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin, sentenced Russia was to blame anyway, because his Kiev vassals were shooting at Russian missiles that should not have been in the air (and they were not).

Call it the Pentagon elevating bald lying into a rather shabby art.

The Anglo-American purpose of this racket was to generate a “world crisis” against Russia. It’s been exposed – this time. That does not mean the usual suspects won’t try it again. Soon.

The main reason is panic. Collective West intel sees how Moscow is finally mobilizing their army – ready to hit the ground next month – while knocking out Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure as a form of Chinese torture.

Those February days of sending only 100,000 troops – and having the DPR and LPR militias plus Wagner commandos and Kadyrov’s Chechens do most of the heavy lifting – are long gone. Overall, Russians and Russophones were facing hordes of Ukrainian military – perhaps as many as 1 million. The “miracle” of it all is that Russians did quite well.

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A quarter of America could experience LONG BLACKOUTS this winter due to energy supply problems

Image: A quarter of America could experience LONG BLACKOUTS this winter due to energy supply problems

(Natural News) Large parts of North America could face long blackouts and other energy emergencies this winter as supplies of natural gas and coal begin to tighten.

According to the latest seasonal assessment of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), a large portion of the North American [bulk-power system] is “at risk of insufficient electricity supplies during peak winter conditions.”

The regional grids with the largest risk of experiencing supply shortfalls this winter are in Texas, New England, the Carolinas and the central system stretching from the Great Lakes region down to Louisiana.

The NERC’s report noted that supply shortfalls, higher peak-demand projections, weaknesses in natural gas infrastructure and inadequate weatherization upgrades for generators are contributing to the heightened risk of power outages.

The risk would be further worsened by severe weather putting stress on these already weakened grids by causing demand for electricity to soar while supplies of energy coming from natural gas, coal and backup fuels like oil remain low. (Related: In the middle of a global energy crisis, Joe Biden promises to SHUT DOWN COAL PLANTS all across America.)

“The trend is we see more areas at risk, we see more retirements of critical generation, fuel challenges and we are doing everything we can,” said NERC Director of Reliability Assessment John Moura. “These challenges don’t kind of appear out of nowhere.”

Electricity bills to go up in winter

NERC’s warning for the coming winter notes that around a quarter of American households will also see their already high utility bills soar even higher this winter as demand for power shoots up.

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Electricity vs Oil

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

In light of the diesel crisis unfolding around the globe I thought it would be worthwhile to touch upon the topic of electrification. Will EV-s be our saving grace? Can we save the climate and our modern way of life by switching to electric vehicles? Has this transition begun in earnest at all? As someone with an engineering background and a direct involvement in the electrification of road transport, I long felt the need to dispel some of the myths around the topic, and to offer a bigger picture view than what is usually available from the media. So, without much further ado: here you go.

In what eerily resembles a PR campaign, we are under a constant bombardment of messages from the International Energy Agency, company CEOs, corporate media outlets and pundits how oil demand is peaking and how electric vehicles and ‘renewables’ are making oil less and less necessary. How all we need to do is to invest in smart grids, build more wind, more solar and how battery metals will serve as the basis of our clean green economic growth from this point on.

On the other hand, we see more and more news that a recession is looming, and as a result oil demand would fall as clear sign of economic turmoil. In order to prevent this, we see extorted efforts by our leadership class to lower prices at the pump. Begging the Saudis to pump more. Considering waiving sanctions. Maybe its just me, but the two simply doesn’t add up. Shouldn’t we be less dependent oil with all those electric cars zooming around in our cities? Why is everyone scrambling for cheap oil then?

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Get ready for blackouts from London to LA, as the global energy crisis overwhelms grids and sends energy prices skyrocketing

Get ready for blackouts from London to LA, as the global energy crisis overwhelms grids and sends energy prices skyrocketing

Illuminated Buildings By River Against Sky During Sunset
Part of Manhattan without power, seen from East River Houses. 
Jonathan Percy/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • Climate change and soaring energy prices could make widespread blackouts more common, even in wealthy nations.
  • Californians narrowly averted statewide blackouts, and Britons impacted by the war in Ukraine will soon pay nearly double for electricity.
  • As energy costs soar higher, a new age of rolling outages and grid instability looms large.

Stock up on batteries, candles, and non-perishable snacks. Blackouts are coming.

For the first time in decades, the western world is preparing for widespread and rolling energy shortages. The US, UK, and EU have all been squeezed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, soaring costs for electricity and fuel, and record-breaking heat waves. While fall is just around the corner, the worst of the energy strain is likely still to come.

Even wealthy nations won’t be spared, at least without broad broad policy change and private-sector overhauls. Add in the accompanying economic costs and extreme health risks, and you have a very difficult situation.

In California, it will materialize as outage warnings and restrictions on your air conditioning. Then in coming years, Texans, Illinoisans, and Missourians will join the suffering of their west coast peers amid sweltering heat and rolling blackouts.

And across Europe and the UK, residents not used to heat waves will either face skyrocketing energy bills or dangerously hot summers — a situation made worse by their reliance on Russian gas, the flow of which has been essentially cut off entirely.

In the US, climate change risks decades of ‘extreme danger’

Amid record-high temperatures on the west coast Tuesday afternoon, California’s grid operator ISO urged residents to limit their energy use and cautioned that rolling blackouts could arrive.

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Darker and Colder: Europeans Warned of ‘Unprecedented’ Power Failures This Winter

Darker and Colder: Europeans Warned of ‘Unprecedented’ Power Failures This Winter

“Production of electricity cannot keep up with demand.”

jonathanfilskov-photography via Getty Images

Europeans are being warned of ‘unprecedented’ power failures this winter as the energy crisis brings a foreseeable future that will be colder and darker.

“There is an increased risk of a lack of power this winter,” Klaus Winther, deputy director at Energinet, the Danish national transmission system operator for electricity and natural gas, told TV2.

Winther says the crisis will herald a new era of energy consumption predicated on rationing to prevent blackouts.

A “perfect storm” of soaring prices, a hot dry summer, and a collapse in the confidence of energy security means power grid failures are now a real possibility.

“The production of electricity cannot keep up with the demand, and this increases the probability of a power failure,” said Winther.

Although insisting that “power cuts are the absolutely last tool we have in the drawer,” Winther warned that individual distribution companies may be forced to shut off electricity supplies for hours at a time to avoid longer blackouts.

Meanwhile, Brian Vad Mathiesen, professor of energy planning at Aalborg University, said Danes may have to adopt a 1970’s oil crisis-style mentality and get used to living in colder and darker houses.

“We must create energy-saving campaigns on a scale we cannot imagine, and everyone must take responsibility,” he said.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Sweden, the prospect of sustained power outages has been increased from “low” to “real,” with the more populated areas most at risk.

“This winter, at its coldest, there is a real risk that we will have to interrupt electricity consumption in parts of southern Sweden,” strategic operations manager for Swedish power grid operator Svenska Kraftnät, Erik Ek, said in a press release.

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“How In The Name Of God”: Shocked Europeans Post Astronomical Energy Bills As ‘Terrifying Winter’ Approaches

“How In The Name Of God”: Shocked Europeans Post Astronomical Energy Bills As ‘Terrifying Winter’ Approaches

Over the past week, shocked Europeans – mostly in the UK and Ireland – have been posting viral photos of shockingly high energy bills amid the ongoing (and worsening) energy crisis.

Several of the posts were from small business owners who getting absolutely crushed right now, and won’t be able to remain operational much longer.

One such owner is Geraldine Dolan, who owns the Poppyfields cafe in Athlone, Ireland – and was charged nearly €10,000 (US$10,021) for just over two months of energy usage.

Geraldine Dolan, of Poppy Fields Cafe, Athlone, with an electricity bill for just under ten thousand euro for two months. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

As the Irish Times reports, “The cost of electricity to the Poppyfields cafe for 73 days from early June until the end of August came in at €9,024.70 an increase of 250 per cent in just 12 months. There doesn’t include the €812.22 in VAT, which brought her total bill to €9,836.92.”

How in the name of God is this possible,” tweeted Dolan.

UK pensioners are also facing a “terrifying” winter, as elderly Britons are about to get hit with an 80% rise in energy bills in October.

Elderly Britons are set to welcome a boost of around £1,000 to their state pension payments next year thanks to the return of the triple lock, however the cost of living crisis will still leave them significantly poorer.

However, the price cap for energy bills will rise by 80 per cent to £3,549 in October, and it is predicted to rise over £6,600 next year according to Cornwall Insight.

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


Finland Braces For Rolling Blackouts This Winter

Finland Braces For Rolling Blackouts This Winter

  • Finnish grid operator warns of rolling blackouts this winter.
  • Gazprom stopped in May all gas deliveries to Finland.
  • Norway is considering limiting its electricity exports.

Finland should be prepared for possible power outages this winter in case of shortfalls in electricity supply, the Finnish grid operator said on Tuesday, in yet another warning of an energy crunch in Europe after gas supply from Russia was severely reduced.

In Finland’s case, Gazprom stopped in May all gas deliveries to Russia’s neighbor to the West, making Finland the third EU member state with Russian pipeline supply cut off after Poland and Bulgaria. The halt of Russian supply to Finland took place days after Finland—together with its Scandinavian neighbor Sweden—formally applied to join NATO in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia has warned both countries against applying to become NATO members.

Finland gets up to 70 percent of the gas it uses from Russia, but gas doesn’t have a large share in the overall energy mix and accounts for 5 percent of total energy consumption.

“The war in Europe and the exceptional situation on the energy market have increased uncertainties related to the availability of electricity. As a result of the great uncertainties, Finns should be prepared for power outages caused by possible electricity shortages this coming winter,” Finnish grid operator Fingrid said today.

According to Fingrid, the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant would compensate for the missing Russian imports.

“In practice, in the event of an electricity shortage, Fingrid will inform the local distribution network companies of the total amount of power to be disconnected from each distribution network company’s area, and after this, power outages will be recycled as two-hour outages until the electricity shortage has ended,” said Tuomas Rauhala, Senior Vice President, Power System Operation, at Fingrid.

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

Norway Considers Limiting Electricity Exports To Prevent Domestic Crunch

Norway Considers Limiting Electricity Exports To Prevent Domestic Crunch

Norway may soon introduce a rule to reduce its vast electricity exports if levels at reservoirs for hydropower generation drop to critically low levels in a bid to prevent power shortages and further rises in energy bills domestically.

Norway’s Energy Minister Terje Aasland told Norwegian media, as quoted by Bloomberg, that the government could introduce limits on electricity exports if the water in reservoirs drops to “very low” levels.

A cut in Norwegian power exports would be felt in Northwest Europe, which itself is grappling with issues at coal and nuclear power generating plants due to the low water level in rivers limiting coal supply via barges and warm river water unsuitable for cooling nuclear reactors.

As a result of these issues and the uncertainty over natural gas supply from Russia, power prices in Germany for the year ahead jumped to a record on Friday.

This summer’s dry weather across Europe has affected Norwegian hydropower, which accounts for 90% of Norwegian power generation. The remaining around 10% of the electricity supply in Norway comes from wind power.

While Europe scrambles to procure natural gas for winter power generation and heating, Western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer, Norway, has a whole different power problem this summer—dry weather, which depletes water reservoirs for hydropower.

Although Norway doesn’t use gas for power generation, Europe’s gas and energy crisis is felt there, too. In recent weeks, hydropower producers have been discouraged from tapping more water for hydropower generation to save water for the winter. Operators were also asked not to export too much electricity to the rest of Europe as reservoirs are not as full as in previous years, and not to rely on imports from Europe, which is struggling with energy supply. Some Norwegian utilities, including top electricity producer Statkraft, have followed the plea from transmission system operator Statnet not to produce too much electricity now.


A potential ‘black swan’ for US oil prices is being overlooked: unreliable electricity grids

A potential ‘black swan’ for US oil prices is being overlooked: unreliable electricity grids

Power grids
Failing power grids and electricity shortages across the US could throw the oil market into chaos. 
Photo by: Planet One Images/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
  • Failing US power grids could be the next vulnerability in the supply chain for oil, energy trader Brynne Kelly says.
  • Most of western and central US is at high risk of electricity shortfalls or disruption this summer, research has found.
  • Problems with power grids are a potential catalyst for chaos in energy markets that are underappreciated, Kelly says.

Electricity grid problems in the US are a potential “black swan” that could wreak havoc in energy markets, according to Cornerstone Futures research director Brynne Kelly.

In an analyst note, the energy trader argues that failing power grids and electricity shortages could be the next vulnerability in the supply chain for oil and its products, such as gasoline.

Those under-the-surface risks are being overlooked, and that makes them a possible “black swan” — an unpredicted event with a severe impact. While crude oil isn’t much used to generate electricity, power itself is needed to make oil, Kelly noted.

“Said another way, a failing power grid COULD BE the next oil chain supply problem,” she said.

“Problems with power grids across the US and other countries are a potential catalyst for chaos in energy markets that are underappreciated.”

The reliability of the US electricity grid is being taken for granted, Kelly said. But it’s under pressure as the industry goes through a mandated shift from fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and with the peak summer demand ahead.

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

On Magical Thinking

Image credit: Patrick Hendry via Unsplash

My last article on the future of electricity has received quite a few critical comments both from proponents of nuclear as well as solar energy, accusing me with ‘denigrating’ their favored solution. The aim of this is project, the Honest Sorcerer however, was not — and never will be — to focus on a narrow set of magic bullet ‘solutions’, intended to solve a specific issue, while presuming that the rest will be taken care of automatically.

There are a few things, however, which must be understood before we can move on. If you are not on board with the following, no problem, give yourself a break and let them sink in, in their own pace.

  1. This civilization is just as unsustainable as the hundreds of others it now follows into the dustbin of history. High tech modernity exemplified by, but certainly not limited to, the Western states is way past redemption: there are way too many trends working against it. The end of a civilization is a classic example of a predicament becoming fulfilled: it happens no matter what you do and there are no ways to stop it. People can still do a lot to adapt to the situation as it evolves and ease the passing of an old system though; making its death less painful then it otherwise would be, and saving at least some of the cultural achievements from perishing.
  2. It follows that there is no such thing as individuals redeeming their own civilization, especially this one. Unlike its predecessors, this civilization has went global…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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