Port: it is not the wind or the sun that is running your air conditioner at the moment
This week, in particular, has been a hot one. We’ve all relied on our power grid to keep these air conditioners running and our homes and offices to stay bearable.
And guess what power source made these air conditioners run? it was not wind or solar but the much maligned coal-fired power stations. The ones that the various green energy activists and lobbyists have told us are irrelevant.
Not very profitable.
Anachronisms of the past.
This early afternoon, as temperatures peak and electricity demand peaks, I took a look at the real-time energy mix figures for the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) network, which serves North Dakota and much of our region to the south and east.
Coal, at that time, provided over 45% of the grid’s energy. Natural gas 35%, and nuclear nearly 12%. Wind and solar combined for just over 4%.
This screenshot from the Midwest Independent System Operator website shows the grid power mix on July 20, 2021 at 1:35 p.m. EST.
I also looked at the figures of the South West Power Pool (SPP) grid, which serves parts of North Dakota not covered by MISO and points south and west. Once again, the coal carried the load.
Coal was 48.2%, natural gas increased 33.8% and nuclear nearly 5%. Wind and solar combined provided less than 8%.
This screenshot from the Southwest Power Pool website shows the power generation mix for the power grid on July 20, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. Central time.
At this point, some of the blinkered charcoal shakers will point out that these numbers prove a point. This is natural gas it eats away at the market share of coal, not wind and solar.
Natural gas has been promoted as a way to support intermittent energy sources like wind and solar – gas-fired “peak plants” can be raised and lowered much faster than coal or nuclear power plants – and there are problems with leaning so heavily on it.
Price volatility is one of them. Those of us who pay electricity bills in our area are currently paying the bill for soaring natural gas prices over the winter. Americans entered the summer cooling season with natural gas prices that were 96% higher in June than the year before. It should be remembered that the production of natural gas is closely linked to the production of oil.
We all know how volatile oil markets can be. Why would it surprise us that gas markets are also a figurative roller coaster? And remember, the politics around natural gas – which, again, is still part of the fossil fuel industry – is as volatile as its prices.
The same kind of fossil fuel activism that targets coal and oil also targets natural gas, although we are becoming more dependent on it as a source of electricity.
Is this what we want for electricity prices? Constant, unpredictable peaks and troughs of the same variety we see with gasoline prices?
Coal prices, meanwhile, are stable. The performance of coal-fired power plants is reliable and predictable. And, with some investment in human ingenuity, we’re getting so close to cracking the code on carbon emissions with capture technology, among other initiatives, that anti-charcoal activists are in fusion mode.
Activists, lobbyists and political experts want you to believe that coal is dead, even though we rely on coal to keep our homes comfortable and our businesses open.
Maybe it’s time to get out of the bubble of their fabulism, driven as it is by crony ideology and capitalism, and live in the real world?
To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com
Rob Port, Founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Contact him on Twitter at @robport or by email at [email protected]