Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘Polar Vortex’

Details On Texas’ Electrical Power Grid Production Problems

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Texas Interconnection, which covers 213 of Texas’ 254 counties, is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Counties NOT included: Bailey, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cochran, Dallam, El Paso, Gaines, Gregg, Hansford, Hardin, Harrison, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hudspeth, Hutchinson, Jasper, Jefferson, Lamb, Liberty, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Marion, Moore, Morris, Newton, Ochiltree, Orange, Panola, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Sherman, Terry, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur and Yoakum. (Total = 41)

By now, you’ve likely read or heard numerous stories of Texans’ suffering because of electrical power outages, that are now becoming rolling blackouts.

And, perhaps as well you’ve read that deregulation has been a significantly influential part of the problem.

And then, you may have also read or heard that failure to properly insulate and protect against wintry weather conditions has been the preliminary finding of a root cause analysis.

But you may also wonder why other states or nations which regularly experience much colder temperature extremes don’t have the same kinds of problems that Texas has.

Scandinavian countries, Minnesotans, Michiganders and Mainers all regularly have much cooler temperatures and wind power, but their windmills and electrical power grids don’t stop operating like the ones in Texas did. And Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, and other European nations also regularly have cold weather that doesn’t shut down their power grid. So, what gives?

The weather-related failures of Texas’ natural gas (NatGas) infrastructure that has resulted in this present and most unfortunate crisis, are because NatGas pipelines froze in the very time of year and season in which they are most heavily relied upon.

Again, states and nations with much colder climes don’t seem to have the kinds of problems that Texas is experiencing. And there remains at least 42 signatory nations with permanent, year-round research stations in the Antarctic, which also have electricity. So again, why exactly did natural gas pipelines freeze in Texas? Water is the primary thing that freezes, right?

With single-digit temperatures, Texas’ Natural Gas pipelines froze up because there was moisture in the gas. Like moisture on the exterior of an iced beverage glass, cold temperatures cause moisture to condensate, and once liquefied, then exposed to freezing temperatures, gas pipelines were literally blocked with ice, and in some cases, the compressors lost power. It’s common for Natural Gas to be stored underground, which is also where it originates. So in its “raw” state, or untreated condition, it is not uncommon for water – either as liquid, or vapor – to be present in the unrefined gas, which in turn, must be “dried out,” or dehumidified to certain levels in order to be salable and usable.

In response, pumps which were used to deliver Natural Gas then slowed down. The Diesel engines which were used to power the pumps refused to start. And from there, it was a cascade of failures – a “domino effect” – one power plant after another went offline. Even 1 of Texas’ 2 nuclear reactors went dark, hampered by inoperable equipment. And to be certain, the nuclear power plant wasn’t “crippled” in the sense that it was incapable of operations, but a decision – in the interest of safety – was made to shut down the plant because a critical component – a sensor – was not working because of the cold temperatures. Further complicating matters, the NatGas that was available was prioritized for heating residences and businesses, rather than for generating electricity.

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“The measurement of moisture in natural gas is an important parameter for the processing, storage and transportation of natural gas globally. Natural gas is dehydrated prior to introduction into the pipeline and distribution network. However, attempts to reduce dehydration result in a reduction in “gas quality” and an increase in maintenance costs and transportation as well as potential safety issues.. Consequently, to strike the right balance, it is important that the water component of natural gas is measured precisely and reliably. Moreover, in custody transfer of natural gas between existing and future owners maximum allowable levels are set by tariff, normally expressed in terms of absolute humidity (mg/m3 or lbs/mmscfh) or dew point temperature.

“Prior to transportation, water is separated from raw natural gas. However some water still remains present in the gaseous state as water vapor. If the gas cools or comes in contact with any surface that is colder that the prevailing dew point temperature of the gas, water will condense in the form of liquid or ice. Under pressure, water also has the unique property of being able to form a lattice structure around hydrocarbons such as methane to form solid hydrates. Ice or solid hydrates can cause blockage in pipelines. In addition, water combines with gases such as Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to form corrosive acids. Water in natural gas also increases the cost of transportation in pipelines by adding mass and as water vapor has no calorific or heating value it also adds to the expense of compression and transportation. When natural gas is sold, there are contractual requirements to limit the concentration of water vapor. In the United States the limit or tariff is expressed in absolute humidity in units of pounds per million standard cubic feet (lbs/mmscf). The maximum absolute humidity for interstate transfer is set at 7lbs/mmscf. In Europe, bodies such as EASEE-gas make recommendations on the maximum permissible amount of water vapor in the gas. EASEE-gas has approved a limit of -8°C Dew Point, referenced to a gas pressure of 70 Bar(a). This recommended limit is generally being adhered to in the gas industry across Europe.”

–– “Moisture Measurement Technologies for Natural Gas,” By Gerard McKeogh, Regional Product Manager, GE Measurement & Control

ASTM D4888 – 20; Standard Test Method for Water Vapor in Natural Gas Using Length-of-Stain Detector Tubes

Water content of high pressure natural gas: Data, prediction and experience from field,” by Kjersti Omdahl Christensen, Torbjørn Vegard Løkken, Even Solbraa, Cecilie Fjeld Nygaard, Anita Bersås;

Equinor, a Stavanger, Norway-based international energy company, engaged in exploration, development and production of oil and gas, including wind and solar power. They sell crude oil and are a major supplier of natural gas, with activities in processing, refining, and trading.

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Of course, politicians Read the rest of this entry »

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Deregulation Has Caused Texas’ Energy Problems

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Texas Electrical Energy Deregulation map
The Texas and Dallas deregulated energy service areas are divided into six Transmission and Delivery Utility (TDU) Companies. Those TDUs are:
• Texas New Mexico Power Company (TNMP)
• Sharyland Utilites
• AEP North (American Electric Power)
• AEP Central
• Oncor (most of DFW, Dallas-Fort Worth included)
• CenterPoint (Houston and surrounding areas)

While it’s cold – and yes, it’s a Polar Vortex (see the motion gif showing 2 months of daily changes at the bottom of this page) – it’s NOT like the Polar Vortex of February 2019.

But if you’ve been wondering WHY Texas is having problems delivering electricity right now with a relatively minor cold snap moving through much of the United States, and other states aren’t, wonder no more.

Texas has a DEREGULATED energy/electrical power grid.

Texas, which is the nation’s the largest energy producer and consumer, is the only state in the nation to have and use its own power grid.

There are three electrical power grids in the Lower 48 states:
1.) The Eastern Interconnection;
2.) The Western Interconnection, and;
3.) The Texas Interconnection.

For more information, see:
U.S. electric system is made up of interconnections and balancing authorities
https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=27152
;
See also:
Learn More About Interconnections
https://www.energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/transmission-planning/recovery-act-0
.

Texas’ electrical power grid is called ERCOT, which is Read the rest of this entry »

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Economic Infrastructure Strained By Severe Weather And Climate Change

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, February 10, 2019

Updated Saturday, 31 October 2020

Increasingly, there’s a political tie-in to almost every news story published these days. And frankly, I’d much rather write about other, more benign, or even pleasant topics. But, these matters affect us all, and our very lives and livelihoods are at stake. So, because these are pressing matters, I give heed to them, as I hope you do also.

Recently, NPR News published a story while our nation was in the throes of the “Polar Vortex,” which is the name now given to a severe “cold snap” which plunged much of the Midwest and East into literally Arctic temperatures. In fact, as we we’re told by numerous meteorologists and other weather / climate scientists and researchers, the Arctic was actually warmer than many places affected, most notably including Chicago, the Twin Cities (Minneapolis–Saint Paul), Iowa, Pennsylvania, and other states up through the area, with some locales suffering from temperatures which dipped down into the -23ºF range, or lower. Many Low Temperature records were surpassed, and when combined with Wind Chill Factors, temperatures feel like at least double that (-40ºF), and more.

A Minnesotan is extremely bundled up protecting every square inch of exposed skin while awaiting public transportation outdoors during extremely dangerous cold conditions which occurred during the 2019 Polar Vortex.

By all estimates, it was one of the most severe such events in recorded history, and was also the cause of numerous deaths of people of all ages and sexes (21 at last count, not all who were homeless), due of course, to cold temperature extremes. Homeless shelters throughout the affected areas were literally accepting anyone and everyone, and numerous other organizations and agencies created emergency shelters for others to avoid the deadly conditions. Area residents were severely warned to avoid going outdoors at all costs, simply because inadequate dressing, or any exposed skin would certainly suffer frostbite, or worse.

But there was another, largely overlooked problem which was only given cursory attention. And that was the effects and strains the severe climatic conditions placed upon infrastructure, which is often called economic infrastructure.

Essentially, infrastructure describes a nation’s internal facilities that enable business activity, which are fundamental requirements for economic development, which is vital to improvements in a country’s standard of living, and consists of facilities, activities and services that assist to increase overall economic productivity at a national level.

Infrastructure has two broad component parts: 1.) Social Infrastructure, consisting of basic services such as education, training, including health, sanitation, potable water supply, housing, sewerage, etc., while; 2.) Physical Infrastructure directly supports economic production, and consists primarily of supporting the production and distribution of products and services including agriculture, industry, and trade, supports, and directly increases productivity.

An example of Physical Infrastructure would be the production of hydroelectric dams by the Tennessee Valley Authority, creation of electrical power, communication, and natural gas delivery grids, roads, waterways, airports and railways for transportation, and potable water and waste treatment plants and their related delivery mechanisms and systems.

All those components must not only be created and developed, but they must be continually maintained, and improved as necessary, to continue to provide services vital to the economy. And it is maintenance which proves frequently to be the Read the rest of this entry »

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