Environmental Justice campaign to replace New York City peaking power plants

by Roger Caiazza

Environmental justice organizations are currently a major driver of environmental regulation in New York. A new report “The Fossil Fuel End Game, A frontline vision to retire New York City’s peaker plants by 2030” illustrates the campaign strategy they are using to shut down peaking power plants in New York City.  Unfortunately their claims are based more on emotion than fact.

Background

In the spring of 2020 Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers (PSE) for Healthy Energy released a report Opportunities for Replacing Peaker Plants with Energy Storage in New York State.  The text for the New York specific report describes the alleged problem:

Across New York, 49 oil- and gas-fired peaker power plants and peaking units at larger plants help meet statewide peak electric demand.  These include both combustion turbines designed to ramp quickly to meet peak demand, and aging steam turbines now used infrequently to meet peak needs. More than a third of New York’s peaker plants burn primarily oil, and three-quarters are over 30 years old resulting in numerous inefficient plants with high rates of greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions for every unit of electricity generated. Some of these plants are in very urban areas: ten plants have more than a million people living within three miles. One-third of the plants are located in areas the state considers to be environmental justice communities, where vulnerable populations typically already experience high levels of health and environmental burdens. New York has set energy storage targets and recently designed peaker plant emission reduction targets, providing an opportunity to replace inefficient, high-emitting peaker plants in vulnerable communities throughout the state with energy storage and solar.

These findings were picked up on by the New York City PEAK Coalition.  They released a report in June 2020 entitled: “Dirty Energy, Big Money”.  Most recently they followed up with The Fossil Fuel End Game, a frontline vision to retire New York City’s peaking power plants by 2030.  The campaign is succeeding because the New York Senate passed the Pollution Justice Act of 2021 on March 3, 2021 that mandates that the peaking power plants have to be retired consistent with these reports.

This campaign is deeply flawed from the get go.  The premise is wrong because peaking power plants are not inherently bad because they provide critical support to the electric system when needed most and that will be the focus of this post. The rationale is incorrect that these peaking power plants are directly affecting air quality in adjacent environmental justice neighborhoods because the health impacts are claimed from secondary pollutants that do not form before they are transported away from the neighborhood.  Replacing all the peaking plants in the time frame as suggested is extremely risky because the technology available today is not up to the task.

In this post I am going to concentrate on the reason for peaking power plants rather than the holes in the environmental arguments against them.  For more information on those aspects, I refer readers to posts on my blog.   The first post on the Peak Coalition report provided information on the primary air quality problem associated with these facilities, the organizations behind the report, the State’s response to date, the underlying issue of environmental justice and addressed the motivation for the analysis.  The second post addressed the rationale and feasibility of the proposed plan relative to environmental effects, affordability, and reliability.  I also discussed the original report Opportunities for Replacing Peaker Plants with Energy Storage in New York State document that provided technical information used by the PEAK Coalition.  I  summarized all three of these technical posts in simpler fashion.  I looked at the trends of inhalable particulates in New York City relative to the claims of a dire health threat.  Finally, I recently wrote a post on the Pollution Justice Act.

New York has implemented rules to replace the old, inefficient and dirty combustion turbines that are a real problem.  I believe it is more appropriate to allow the load-serving entities, generators, and system operators to consider alternatives and implement proven solutions that are cost-effective and enhance rather than risk reliability with new alternatives until those alternatives have been fully vetted.

Blackouts and Peaking Power Plants

There is a long history of blackouts in New York City (NYC).  After a blackout in July 2019 AMNY published a brief history of blackouts in New York City.  In 1959 and 1961 surges in electrical use caused blackouts and “The outage spurred changes to better protect the city’s power grid from future blackouts”.  The 1965 blackout was the first regional blackout and was caused by a transmission problem in Ontario causing a wave of disruptions in the transmission system.  Over 30 million people and 80,000 square miles in Ontario, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont were left without power for up to 13 hours. As part of the response to that event New York set up a power pool to manage electricity generation and transmission. 

The over-arching issue for electricity reliability in New York City is geography.  Most of New York City is on islands so there is a natural load pocket.  There was another blackout in 1977 that was limited to NYC directly related to the load pocket.  It was caused by storms cutting off transmission into the City and in-City generation being unable to replace the load.  Without sufficient local power, protective devices turn off overloaded lines and transformers to prevent physical damage to the equipment and this led to the outages.  As a result of this blackout, reliability constraints were implemented to ensure that when storms threaten transmission into the City that sufficient in-City generation is available to prevent a re-occurrence.  In 2003 there was another regional blackout caused by a computer software problem.  Grid operators identified the cause and then developed procedures to prevent it from happening again.  In 2012 tropical storm Sandy caused massive blackouts exacerbated by flood protection weaknesses.  Since then, there have been massive investments to strengthen the infrastructure to prevent a reoccurrence. Note that after every blackout the electric system owners and operators have developed strategies to prevent a reoccurrence.

The New York State Reliability Council is an independent entity “whose mission is to promote and preserve the reliability of electric service on the New York State Power System by developing, maintaining, and, from time-to-time, updating the Reliability Rules which shall be complied with by the New York Independent System Operator (“NYISO”) and all entities engaging in electric transmission, ancillary services, energy and power transactions on the New York State Power System”.   Among their rules that govern reliability are those that address the strategies developed after these blackouts. It turns out that that New York City’s peaking power plants are part of those strategies and are needed to provide additional in-City generation within short periods of time. 

Releasing the report less than a month since the Texas energy debacle should give pause to the organizers of this campaign to consider the ramifications of what happened there to New York reliability requirements.  While there have been reports that dozens of deaths are tied to the storm in Texas, experts say the death toll is likely far larger. Just how many won’t be known for weeks or months.  The blackouts cost the state economy upward of $130 billion in damages and losses, and some people who did have power saw their bills spike by thousands of dollars. Grid operators say that the situation could actually have been a lot worse, with the system minutes away from a months long blackout

Clearly the history of blackouts shows that they pose an enormous risk that should be avoided if possible.

Fossil Fuel End Game Report

The report claims to be the “first detailed strategic and policy road map to retire and replace an entire city’s fossil-fuel peaker power plants”. It lays out a community-led strategy to replace about half of New York City’s existing fleet of polluting peaker plants with a combination of offshore wind, distributed solar, energy efficiency, and battery storage by 2025. They claim that the remaining peaker plants could be reliably and cost-effectively replaced with this mix of resources by 2030.

In order to evaluate their alternatives, we need to understand how they think peaking plants are used. The report points out that:

“Electricity from peaker plants is the most expensive energy resource in the system as it comes from centrally-located assets that are used infrequently but must be paid for and maintained to allow availability at times of peak demand. Central location, low utilization and the need for technologies that provide flexibility drive the costs of generation way above those from other energy assets.  For this reason, peaker owners charge for the electricity they produce, and more importantly, also charge for the availability of their resources during system peaks. Such availability is paid through the capacity market, designed to ensure that the system has enough capacity to provide energy during the times of highest energy demand. While NYC is not the only region with a capacity market, it has some of the highest capacity prices in the country. When capacity costs are averaged over the hours of operation, peaker electricity in New York City is up to 1,300% more expensive than the average cost of electricity in the rest of the state.”

It is frustrating to me that the authors don’t recognize the value of assets that provide power when it is needed most.  It is also telling that Texas does not have a capacity market.  In order to ensure power is available whenever it is needed ratepayers have to cover the costs for that availability.  In that light the relatively low costs of Texas electricity do not appear to be such a good deal now.

The report goes on:

Another factor that makes peaker energy more expensive than average is operational inefficiency caused by technological limitations and distribution constraints. For example, there are costs associated with turning on and off certain generating assets that lead plant managers to run them at uneconomic times, driving up consumer costs and increasing local emissions. From a market perspective, peakers are also called to run uneconomically to ensure local reliability. According to the state’s Market Monitor, Potomac Economics, supplemental commitment of NYC’s peakers occurs frequently to increase the amount of supply available in real-time for local load pocket reliability.  Those requirements ensure that there are enough resources to meet load in case of a problem such as the loss of the two largest Bulk Power System elements supporting a particular load pocket, for example, the loss of multiple central generators due to contingencies in the natural gas system. This supplemental commitment tends to undermine market incentives for efficiently meeting reliability requirements and often uplifts market prices, which are eventually passed on to customers. Some of these costs could be alleviated through market reforms or through deployment of modern inverter-based resources like locally-sited battery storage which could provide valuable operating reserves in these load pockets. In 2019, NYC accounted for 87 percent of the State’s total reliability commitment.

These factors are outside my area of expertise but it is my understanding that many of these issues are legacies from the switch from a regulated, vertically integrated utility to New York’s de-regulated market.  Consolidated Edison designed the generation, transmission, and distribution system when they were responsible for all three aspects of the system.  When the market was de-regulated ownership of these assets was not necessarily chosen to ensure operational efficiency.  Anecdotally I have heard from colleagues that it is not clear how these units are dispatched so I suspect at least some of these criticisms have merit.

The report acknowledges that “peakers play an important role in supporting reliable electric service for New Yorkers” and points out that some of them also “produce steam that feeds the city’s “district heating” system, providing heat and cooling to many buildings in Manhattan”.  However, the report offers no recommendations how the steam system would be replaced with their recommended technology.

The analysis evaluates historical data to develop a replacement plan: “More specifically, the peaker fleet was analyzed on a unit-by-unit, hourly basis using historic generation profiles as reported to the EPA for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019”.  Therein lies the a problem.  They argue that over those three years the full capacity of the fleet of peakers in New York City has not been required to meet peaking needs in NYC but because New York’s reliability rules are based on loss of load expectation over ten years their time frame is too short.

They also argue that “In 2018, the year with the most challenging peak, only 4,790 MW out of 6,200 MW (or about 77% of total peaking capacity) was ever used simultaneously. Moreover, more than half of the peaker fleet is rarely used simultaneously, in fact, this only happened during 44 hours of the year (0.5% of the time) and in very short event durations.”  They also analyze operating characteristics. “An analysis of the peaker starts and run duration showed that many of the peakers run for relatively short durations that could be served by energy storage at competitive costs”.  As mentioned before, the short duration of their evaluation period makes these findings weak.  The short-comings of the NYC transmission and distribution system also affect peaker operations and further reduce the credibility of these findings.

The consultant who did the work, Strategen, “used a 90th percentile approach on duration to determine the replacement needs of NYC fossil assets while taking in consideration five factors that would otherwise overestimate the reliability value of peakers in a traditional “longest peaker runtime” approach. These include 1) peaker unit dispatch versus available zone level capacity, 2) peaker unit dispatch versus plant level capacity, 3) peaker unit dispatch for localized non-peaking needs, 3) inconsistent levels of peaker output during longer-runtimes, and 5) unit operational constraints.” There is no question in my mind that this approach under estimates the worst case.  For heaven’s sakes they are saying don’t worry about what happens ten percent of the time at the same time they are addressing peaking units that run less than 5% of the time.

“Assuming a 90-percentile approach on unit duration to account for system characteristics and its reliability needs”, Stategen determined that “28 units with 765 MW of installed capacity have maximum durations of four hours or less, making them attractive candidates for replacement with storage even in a 1-to-1 basis”.  The proposed solution is replacement with energy storage that has a cap on how long power can be provided so it is less flexible, does not consider that energy storage discharge capacities are not 100%, and overlooks life expectancy of batteries two or three times less compared to a fossil generator.  There are 52 other peaking turbines that ran for longer durations which only exacerbates the limitations.  Finally, they propose to replace nine large steam units, accounting for 3,882 MW or 64% of the total fleet capacity. These units “have maximum dispatch durations that go from 80 to 1,500 hours but are also the perfect example of over-dispatch driven by technology constraints”.  Those facilities certainly would not be purpose-built for their present role but they provide dispatchable, in-city power from small foot print facilities and can produce firm dispatchable power for very long periods. 

Clean Energy Vision

According to the report’s overview: “The report lays out a plan for New York City focused on local, distributed solutions. This decentralized approach creates a more resilient power system than the current grid, which depends on centralized fossil-fuel power plants.”  The “Clean Energy Vision for New York City” depends on four resources: offshore wind, community and residential solar, energy efficiency and energy storage.  I will address each below.

Despite the fact that there hasn’t been any offshore wind development so far, the vision counts on this resource and expects that it can be developed faster than proposed.  New York State has a goal to develop 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035.  I have not seen whether this resource will be considered “in-city”.  If not and I would argue that it isn’t, then this is a non-starter.  Because the State has only approved four projects and needs to develop infrastructure to support building those projects, I suspect that development will take longer than proposed.

The report recognizes that there are inherent difficulties siting solar in NYC: “New York City is afflicted with many of the canonical challenges that inhibit rooftop solar development including challenging local regulation, shared rooftop space, a significant population that rents, and aging buildings and electrical infrastructure”.   Because they claim there is a lot of value in having it, they blithely assume that the obstacles can be overcome and assume that 5.4 GW of solar can be developed in NYC.

The analysis relies on energy efficiency to markedly reduce energy use in order to reduce the energy needed during peak periods.  There is a complicating factor that I don’t think they address.  New York’s climate legislation mandates electrification of everything to meet its 2050 zero-emissions goal.  As a result, heating and transportation will have to be electrified and all analysts agree that means that the annual peak load will shift from the summer when solar can provide meaningful power to winter when it cannot. 

The biggest problem I have is with their analysis of energy storage.  They used a linear energy dispatch model to determine how much storage is needed to replace peaker plant generation for their plan.  In their methodology “Energy storage was modeled to provide energy arbitrage services, that is, storing clean energy when it is produced but not used, and discharging it into the grid at times of need.”   Aside from the practical matter that the quantity of energy storage requires significant space which could be an issue in the crowded city there are other concerns.  They only used a single year for the analysis and there is no suggestion that discharge capacity limits were considered.  The analysis does not recognize that in order to replace fossil peakers two types of energy storage are needed.  Longer-duration storage needs to cover, for example, night time for solar resources.  That appears to be the storage addressed.  However, fossil-fired combustion turbines used for peaking operate at fixed loads but solar resources, for example vary if it is a partly cloudy day.  Therefore, energy resources are needed for this short-term variation.  But that’s not all.  Fossil units also provide ancillary services such as frequency control.  The point is that they did not calculate how much energy storage has to be allocated for these other services.

There is another flaw in this approach.  They looked at the characteristics of energy load and how peaking units provided that energy and proposed a solution based on off-shore wind and solar resources assuming that those resources would be available.  I have argued that one of the biggest shortcomings in New York’s implementation process is that have not yet done an evaluation of the availability of wind and solar at the same time over a long period.  To date the primary planning problem has always been the peak load but it is conceivable that the bigger problem for a future grid reliant upon wind and solar will be low coincidental resource availability.  However, because the peak loads are associated with the coldest and hottest weather and those periods are associated with high pressure system with light winds, it is likely that low renewable resource availability will be worst when it is needed most.  In any event, the Strategen analysis did not consider resource availability at all.

Conclusion

Even though there are other shortcomings in the analysis, this post is too long so I will wrap it up.  At this time, environmental justice organization are conducting a well-orchestrated effort to replace peaking power plants in New York City.  New York energy and environmental policy initiatives are catering to these organizations and the New York Senate has even passed a law codifying the approach proposed.   I suspect that this approach will become evident on the national level soon.

There are many inherent advantages to fossil-fired power plants.   In the New York City context, they provide reliable power when needed from relatively small footprints and are a key component to the reliability standards developed from hard experience.  Unfortunately, the arguments to replace them are based more on emotion than fact and seem to be driven by the urge to eliminate one over hyped risk while ignoring the unintended consequences of their solutions which may create other risks that could cause bigger problems.  

In my opinion, it is particularly troubling that the problem of peaking power plants has already being addressed.  Last summer New York promulgated rules to replace the old, inefficient and dirty combustion turbines that are a real problem.  This study and others expand the definition of peaking power plants to other units that cannot be replaced easily.  I think that the organizations behind this report are unwilling to accept any perceived risks from new efficient and clean fossil generating plants partially based on the naïve belief that renewable solutions are only a matter of political will.  Given that political policy decisions played a hand in the recent Texas energy debacle, I think that is a dangerous path to take.

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Roger Caiazza blogs on New York energy and environmental issues at Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York.  This represents his opinion and not the opinion of any of his previous employers or any other company with which he has been associated.

111 responses to “Environmental Justice campaign to replace New York City peaking power plants

  1. I think it would be good if New York does this so that the general public will start to see the consequences of allowing ideologues to make real world public policy. Maybe having New York go into repeated blackouts will make people understand that renewables are not an answer to industrial power at this time.

    Another example would be if Line 5 from Michigan to Ontario was shut down as is being threatened by Michigan. Quebec and Ontario voted in Canada’s global warming obsessed Federal government. It would be good to see those Provinces deal with oil and gas shortages. If so then maybe they won’t be so quick to want to destroy the Canadian oil industry in the future.

    The only thing that is going to make the general public see sense on this issue after all the media brainwashing they’ve received is the laws of physics.

    • The general consensus of the energy professionals in NY is that a catastrophe is probably the only thing that will smack some sense into NY’s energy policy.

      • Which makes sense until you realize that, when the catastrophe happened in Texas, they blamed the energy professionals (in particular, the ones who told them not to create the catastrophe).
        Never underestimate the fact that owning the media means never, ever being held accountable for your mistakes.

      • @jeffnsails850

        Yep. Same experience in Australia – the entire of South Australia went black after destroying a coal-fired plant because of “adequate supply” from all the new windmills (which gave up in a heavy wind storm), so the bleat, amplified ad nauseum by the MSM, became: “the fossil fuel generator failed”.

      • joe the non climate scientists -

        Jeff & Ian –
        Concur – on your comment
        My favorite “anti-science ” activist website Skeptical science ran several articles on the Texas disaster.

        each of the articles claimed that Wind & Solar wasnt the problem since wind and solar performed “better than expected”, Yet failing to note that ERCOT expected wind and solar to lose up to 95% of their electric generation capacity. Since wind and solar only lost 90%, hence, Wind and solar performed better than expected.

        As I previously mentioned, ERCOT lost approx 30-35% of electric generation from fossil fuels for approx 48 hours, but only in Texas. Whereas electric generation from Wind and Solar lost 70%-95% over an entire 9 day period across the entire north american continent. 2021.2.12 through 2021.2.19.

  2. My gut tells me that Accuweather’s estimate of $150 billion in losses from the Texas storm is a bit off. We’ve got large states whose annual state government budget is only $5 to $10 billion, so $150 billion for a two week period in one state seems a bit much.

    Tree losses have yet to be calculated, Murden said, but he added that early vegetable losses add another $150 million of devastation.

    The crop losses should be the major damage, so going from $150 million to $150 billion just seems a bit unlikely to me.

    • Joe - the non climate scientist

      FWIW – I think the $150b loss estimate in Texas included damage to homes, busted water pipes, etc.

  3. Off topic, but how would Texas’ outage have been able to cause a months long outage? That implies damage to equipment, and presumably the equipment is well protected from damage due to too much demand, too low frequency, etc.

    • If the grid had gone totally offline, the physical damage to power infrastructure from overwhelming the grid could have taken months to repair, said Bernadette Johnson, senior vice president of power and renewables at Enverus, an oil and gas software and information company headquartered in Austin.
      https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/18/texas-power-outages-ercot/?utm_campaign=trib-social&utm_content=1613676421&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitterurce=twitter

      • mesocyclone

        Thanks – it repeats the claim, but doesn’t specify the mechanism. Sure, if plants had literally been run while overloaded, or in other fault conditions, fires could have erupted. But that’s not a consequence of the grid going offline, it’s a consequence of not taking parts of it offline soon enough.

        So I’m still baffled.

      • I’m baffled too. All the equipment has breakers to keep things from getting all melty. The North East has had plenty of vast black outs, and it never took them months to repair damaged equipment and get power back up.

        Given that natural gas plants cost an average of $812 per kW of capacity, and that Texas has about 80,000 MW, peak, it should only cost $65 billion to dump all existing Texas powerplants in a landfill and replace them with brand new ones. So I’m still not seeing where on Earth they’re coming up with an estimate of $150 billion in damages, since they didn’t destroy a single power plant, much less all of them.

      • Chris Morris

        Meso and George – the damage is done to the equipment like transformers and protection equipment as it goes down. As the frequency drops, the voltage drops so the current rises. They have overcurrent protection but this can be relatively slow to operate (the fastest takes about three cycles but many take ten to twenty cycles.) That high current causes rapid overheating. This destroys the insulation. Then you get turn to turn or worse, earth faults. With the high voltage, even a small current flow puts a lot of energy into a very small place. These can cause fires and a transformer fire, or even worse, an explosion does a lot of secondary damage, Even if you don’t get fire, that shorts mean equipment has to be dismantled and overhauled before one can return to service. You can’t buy off the shelf grid transformers and they take at least six months to manufacture, even if you shower them with money.

      • mesocyclone

        “As the frequency drops, the voltage drops so the current rises. They have overcurrent protection but this can be relatively slow to operate (the fastest takes about three cycles but many take ten to twenty cycles.) ”

        Over a few cycles, the term frequency doesn’t have good meaning (the frequency uncertainty is inversely proportional to the number of cycles measured).

        So what it sounds like you’re saying is that the phase shifts very rapidly, which would imply very sudden changes in generation or load – probably generation dropping off in huge amounts all within the same very small fraction of a second (1/6th second or less). But even that would cause a voltage, not a phase or frequency change, in the short run.

        Is that realistic? Has this happened?

        I’m familiar with this sort of damage from hypothesized H-EMP or solar EMP events, but in this context it is surprising to me. For that matter, even the breaker time seems long. For the current to heat the wire to the point of insulation breakdown within a few cycles implies a very large amount of overcurrent.

        Also, I thought most big power breakers cut the circuit right as the current passed through zero – to minimize arcing. That implies an operation time on the order of a very small number of milliseconds.

        ” As the frequency drops, the voltage drops so the current rises” seems incorrect, at least in very short time scales. Lower voltage means less current, unless you are talking about in increased delta-V between, say, the transmission line and whatever it is connected to (such as a generator).

        I’m an EE but no in depth knowledge of big power systems. What am I missing?

      • Chris Morris

        Meso when the grid is unstable, you can get large phase angle swings – the interaction between capacitive lines and inductive transformers, plus generator AVRs and switchyard equipment trying to correct the inbalance. And even the same circuit can have a big difference end to end. That phase shift is why the current goes up .MVA>MW.
        The circuitbreakers, even those with SF6 as the arc quenching media, take real time to operate. .On a 60Hz grid, it is peak voltage about every 8 milliseconds. How far can things move in that time when you draw an arc 4m long in air at those voltages? The time is generally from when the fault reaches the set limits to the CB opening.

      • I’m reading that SF6 breakers typically take 2 – 2.5 cycles to interrupt the flow – so, 30-40 msec roughly. Can you get enough heating in that time to do serious damage?

        Also, how do the conditions from grid issues caused by supply/demand sudden changes compare to those from lightning or physical short circuits.

        And… are newer, faster breaker technologies anticipated for H-EMP, which has rise time of the E-1 pulse in the 100 nSec range or so (but an total pulse width of a microsecond or so IIRC)? The E-3 pulse is much slower but involves DC currents which are a different sort of hazard.

      • Chris Morris

        meso – To that CB time, you also have to add the time for the sensors to operate and send the trip signal to the CB. It may go through cascading protection – all of which adds time.
        The grid failures that have happened have not been instantaneous events but generally cascades down to blackness as equipment is overloaded, then goes out on some form of thermal protection, loading up the remaining parts which they then overload. In NZ’s Whakamaru incident in the 90s, it took half an hour to go black from the initiator. I think Texas was about 5 minutes.
        The heating would be in your transformers, not the CBs. It would be at points of insulation weakness, not the transformer as a whole which has a lot of thermal inertia. I believe that transformers often trip because internal arcing has triggered the gases in the insulation oil the Buchholz relay detects, rather than overcurrent protection but there is a dearth of literature on the subject. In general terms, the equipment is degraded from use and might not pass acceptance stress tests – it might have even have had an “uprating” to carry more load than original design. Most grid transformers are well past their use by date because no-one replaces infrastructure. They are failures waiting to happen.
        I am not aware of those faster circuitbreakers, but do they work at UH voltages that would be needed for the grid? It takes a lot to quench an arc..

      • To all:
        There will be a panel discussion of the Texas winter grid crisis on Tuesday, April 6 from 12:30-1:30 PM CDT via a free zoom video conference.
        https://www.pecanstreet.org/gridcrisis/
        “Late February was a trying time to be a Texan. The winter storm and ensuing grid crisis left millions of homes and businesses without power and exposed to extreme winter temperatures. In the aftermath, those in the energy sector and beyond have been rushing to understand the Texas grid crisis and how we can prepare for similar extreme events in the future.

        We’ve reassembled our expert panel of Texas grid veterans to breakdown why the crisis happened, what they hope we’ve learned, and the opportunities they see for fixing a broken system.”
        Featured Speakers:
        Kirk Watson, Former State Senator and dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs
        Pat Wood, CEO of Hunt Energy Network and former chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
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        Registration is free.

    • Found a you tube video that talks about the problems when the frequency gets too far out of whack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08mwXICY4JM

      • But it doesn’t explain the claims of long term outage, or damage. The issue of frequency control is well understood, and there are breakers to protect equipment from frequency errors.

        In a classical electrical grid, all the generators are kept in phase (not only same frequency, but same time for the peaks and valleys) by the natural synchronous motor nature of the generators. If they did not, you would have generators getting way out of phase, which translates into very high currents between the generators – it’s the equivalent of a giant short circuit.

        DC sources are different, and that’s what you get from solar and wind (and the few DC transmission lines). Those sources have to use electronics to convert their power to the right voltage and frequency, and to match the frequency and phase with the rest of the system. Again, there’s protection to keep equipment from being damaged by any mismatch.

        There’s more complexity, but what I’ve explained here pretty well captures the issue.

        So, I still don’t understand where the claims of long outages come from. There are a couple of reasons (at least) that outages are longer than you’d think.

        One is that you can’t just turn all the power back on, because there is pent-up demand (such as motors that use twice as much current when starting), so the grid wouldn’t be able to handle it. That means the load has to be added one area at a time, and that slows things way down.

        The other, less obvious factor, is that many of the sources of energy require electricity to start them. And, in Texas, even the natural gas wells had electric heaters, and froze up without them.

        But a month long outage? I’d like to see a detailed explanation. We have occasional readers and posters here qualified to answer that, I suspect. Hopefully one will chime in.

      • Chris Morris

        Meso assuming the equipment isn’t damaged (and that is a big assumption)), it normally takes about a day or so to blackstart a grid. First, you have to establish what is undamaged. You need to man all the switchyards and substations as well as establishing secure comms links before you start. That is a lot harder than people think as there are bound to be bits that are reliant on grid power. Everyone has to then know the plan and their part in it.
        A lot of the process depends on how much generation there is within the blacked out area. If it is just a transmission failure, then it it is a relatively simple matter to reliven the lines with everything switched off, then bring it back a distribution feeder at a time. The transmission operators need to balance the demand and generation as they come back, but they have simple processes in place for that.
        If there is a lot of generation, or even worse, an island grid; then the process is a lot more complex. It needs a black start generator at the nucleus on a big grid node that can put out a stable 50Hz signal. This could be a diesel engine or a small hydro generator at a dam. This feeds into a stable load like pumps. Once it is established, then it is a matter of slowly starting power stations and increasing their generation as each feeder is livened. Just energising a big grid transformer, even if the LV circuitbreaker is open, causes a large current inrush and plays havoc with the voltage and phase angle. Have to take things very slowly and allow it to stabilise before proceeding further. The grid controllers watch the voltage and frequency signals like hawks as it is still very much hands on by the old experienced operators. Hydro units are the preferred generators for initial loading as they have very rapid generation response and a lot more tolerant of frequency excursions. The worst bits of the start are when the grid is still small with just a couple of units on, and when you have to start large units with the need to match load up to their ramp rates. If you get it even a bit wrong, then it is likely the grid will trip and you need to start again.
        Once you have established a core grid and it is stable, then you can synchronise with the unaffected part of the grid. That makes the rest of the load up a lot easier. Of course, the asynchronous generators like wind, solar and batteries are useless until the grid is stable, though batteries on charge would be a very useful load absorber.
        I have never been in a control room for a black start but I know guys who have. Almost universally, it is something they never wish to repeat.. They expend a lot of nervous energy and really earn their relatively low pay. And they are very aware that no matter what happens, they will be blamed, especially by politicians who are invariably no-nothing blowhards.

      • That was interesting, Chris. It also makes me wonder about the ERCOT higher ups who were saying it could’ve taken months to get the grid back up. It gives me the feeling that one of the reasons that the Texas grid failed was that critical decisions were being made by people who think it would take months to get it back up.

  4. What on earth are Environmental justice communities?

    Tonyb

    • The concept is vague, possibly even incoherent, as many political movement concepts are. But the basic idea is communities of either racial or social minorities (Hispanics for example), or relative poverty, that experience above average levels of pollution.

      It sounds like they may be being mapped as we speak, or soon will be, because laws are being written that use the concept. I know of one federal program that only applies to “low income communities” where these are defined by census unit, which is extremely arbitrary.

      • There is a NY draft map. I will try to find it.

      • https://www.dec.ny.gov/public/911.html
        Potential environmental justice areas, based on DEC Commissioner Policy 29 on Environmental Justice and Permitting (CP-29), are U.S. Census block groups of 250 to 500 households each that, in the Census, had populations that met or exceeded at least one of the following statistical thresholds:
        1. At least 51.1% of the population in an urban area reported themselves to be members of minority groups; or
        2. At least 33.8% of the population in a rural area reported themselves to be members of minority groups; or
        3. At least 23.59% of the population in an urban or rural area had household incomes below the federal poverty level.

      • David Wojick

        Right, then the question becomes what are “minority groups”? Amish, or Mets fans, probably not. And of course it then all depends on how those census blocks were drawn. Out in the mountains of WV were I live they are strangely shaped.

      • Baotou must be the world’s worst Environmental justice community:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baogang_Tailings_Dam

      • University of San Diego Law Prof Gail Herriot is on the US Commission on Civil Rights. She explained the following, posting at Instapundit.com.

        Evidence assembled and presented by the Commission contradicted the claims of victimisation of designated minority groups alleged to be afflicted by excessive threats by pollution. But the minority was overruled by the majority, despite the available evidence. The narrative MUST obey! That’s how crazed these cause-heads in power are — they are always morally superior, and are not to be question or sabotaged by inconvenient facts like “evidence.”

    • Whenever the left use the term justice you can be sure they are referring to their various victim groups. Black and brown people usually followed by some black trannies, NY has a lot apparently.
      I’m wondering if the left have figured out if their new victim group, the pliable Asians, are going to get a new colour.

    • The New York Pollution Justice Act (https://wp.me/p8hgeb-Gy) lists the following definitions:

      “Environmental justice community” means an economically distressed area or minority community and includes, but is not limited to, environmental justice areas identified by the department.

      “Economically distressed area” shall mean an area characterized by a poverty rate of at least twenty percent or an unemployment rate of at least one hundred twenty-five percent of the statewide unemployment rate.

      “Minority community” shall mean any census tract, census block or census block group that includes twenty-five percent or more of any ethnic group.

      “Ethnic group” shall mean those groups identified in the definition of minority group member in subdivision eight of section three hundred ten of the executive law.

      Subdivision 8 of Section 310 of the Executive Law
      8. “Minority group member” shall mean a United States citizen or permanent resident alien who is and can demonstrate membership in one of the following groups:
      (a) Black persons having origins in any of the Black African racial groups;
      (b) Hispanic persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Central or South American of either Indian or Hispanic origin, regardless of race;
      (c) Native American or Alaskan native persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America.
      (d) Asian and Pacific Islander persons having origins in any of the Far East countries, South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent or the Pacific Islands.

      • Wow! That definition is, well, racist and thoroughly disgusting and anti-American. I wonder if our nation will ever get over this identity-group madness and get to just living out lives and humans, not labeled or judged by our skin color or ethnicity.

    • Designated Victim groups for Neo-Marxists to exploit by inducing moral bullying against the rest of us. In other words, to expand the egalitarian Utopian power centers.

  5. I realize that these are special interest groups pursuing their special interest but viewed more broadly their reasoning is irrelevant. That is they seem to be analyzing peaking in the context of the present baseload system. But that system is being dismantled as rapidly as possible, to be replaced by God-knows-what combination of wind and solar generation. As that happens the pressing question becomes, not where we get peak power, but where do we get baseload on low wind nights?

    I recently discussed this looming question here: https://www.cfact.org/2021/03/21/it-takes-big-energy-to-back-up-wind-and-solar/

    On the peaking side, the only reliable power source is batteries, which are very expensive. Do they have a need and cost analysis?

    Then too there is the looming wave of electrification. NYC currently peaks around 13,000 MW but EVs and electric heating could quickly push that to 20,000 MW. I don’t supposed these proposed new peaking plans include such huge increases, or do they? EVs could even change the profile of peaking.

    But to me the really interesting question is how bad does the green energy transition have to get before people accept that it is not working? Clearly we are not there yet.

    • joe - the non climate scientist

      DaveW’s two comments – NYC currently peaks around 13,000 MW but EVs and electric heating could quickly push that to 20,000 MW. I don’t supposed these proposed new peaking plans include such huge increases, or do they?.
      “the pressing question becomes, not where we get peak power, but where do we get baseload on low wind nights?”

      Your two comments raise the obvious engineering hurdles which make the conversion to 100% or near 100% renewables complete nonsense.

      Jacboson, Williams, along with all the other studies showing that the US can get 100% renewables are so devoid from reality. First they propose to convert to all electric power including all winter heating from fossil fuels to electric heat – including conversion to heat pumps (which are more efficient at temps above 30f but dont work at temps below 10f). The conversion to all electric will increase electric demand by 2-3x.

      The 100% studies propose using both stored electricity plus “stored electromethane” which can then generate electricity on the windless winter nights. Which of course requires both maintenance and building new back power plants.

      By now everyone knows that Texas / ERCOT lost 30-40% of electric generation from natural gas for approx 48 hours. What is overlooked is that electric generation from Wind & solar dropped between 70%-95 % over a 9 day period. What is even less well publisized is that 70-95% drop occurred over the entire united states. 2-4 day loss of power from electric generation from Wind/solar typically happens 1-2 times per month during the winter.

      Loss in power generation for 1-3 hours from wind happens every couple of days. This fluctuation therefore requires the fossil fuel generating plants to be operating on stand-by nearly 24/7.

      In sum, the 100% remains a fantasy
      Further – If the climate scientists cant grasp the obvious , how can they possibly have the superior intellectual capacity to understand the complexities of climate science

    • Batteries are not the only option, and all the current battery technology does is export environmental problems elsewhere. So long as its elsewhere its out of sight, therefore does not exist.
      I think fly-wheel technology will smooth out transient power fluctuations.
      Also stop looking for a magic silver bullet, i.e. just select one technology to solve all the problems. Look at energy saving policies, and I don’t mean electric vehicles, that’s another example of exporting problems elsewhere.
      Rivers contain large amounts of energy, extract it and use it to heat public buildings if river is near.
      Similarly medium to deep boreholes extract heat from those, wont boil water but can heat buildings in winter and cool them in summer.
      There are a lot of things that can be done to use energy better, before going nuclear, if going nuclear use slow reactors pioneered at Oakridge, before fast breeders.

    • The only error I see in your comment is that batteries are not an energy source – they are a storage device that must first be charged from an actual energy source. My understanding of how grid scale batteries are actually used is to maintain grid frequency since the introduction of intermittent and unreliable energy sources can cause frequency fluctuations that can cause breakers to trip and take power stations off-line.

      As to how bad does it have to get? Given how dishonest the media is and the willful ignorance of greens in general, I am not sure that any level of catastrophe will convince them as long as there is any fossil fuel generation still on the grid that they can blame regardless of how obvious it is that the problem was due to unreliables or unreliables polices.

  6. How about a simulation (game?) of the NYC Power Grid that could be run with NYC politicians and regulators at the controls. When the lights are flashing and horns are blasting and phones are ringing while the players are in charge and can’t get the power on some lessons will be learned.

    Pilots learn valuable lessons in simulators. Ship captains learn valuable lessons in simulators. Law enforcement learns valuable lessons in simulators. Mayors, council members, regulators and climate “experts” can learn using simulations as well.

    Best to learn before bonds are sold, ground is broken and the power goes out on a 95 degree night.

      • Agreed – brilliant.

        Not only politicians but senior bureaucrats have to play. All their sessions to be fully videoed and available publicly without edit.

    • “How about a simulation (game?) of the NYC Power Grid that could be run with NYC politicians and regulators at the controls.” Excellent idea…not just politicians, but also members of the voting public should play.

      Waertsila has a power dispatch simulator that was available on-line…it has been pulled from public access for some reason.. The documentation is still on-line, and it looks pretty interesting. I believe they use it as a sales aid to demonstrate the usefulness of their quick-start engines in managing a power grid.

    • joe - the non climate scientist

      “Best to learn before bonds are sold, ground is broken and the power goes out on a 95 degree night.”

      vastly more important to learn before power goes out on a 0f or -10f degree night. As I noted above, When Texas had the Feb 15/16/17 fiasco that last 48 hours, The entire United states had a 75%-90% loss of electric generation from wind and solar for a 9 day period 2021.2.11 to 2021.2.19 – That was the entire north america continent, not just Texas

    • Replying to myself … a friend was a simulator instructor and check pilot for a major US airline. There was one aircraft configuration that when combined with an engine failure would often result in a loss of control and “crash.” He said that it was important for experienced and skilled pilots to learn what it felt like to be, through their own errors, completely out of control and waiting for the “impact” that would kill them and everyone on board.

      Imagine the mayor and city council member learning what it is like for large swaths of their city to be out of power because of their decisions about the design of the city’s electrical generation and distribution system.

  7. According to the report’s overview: “The report lays out a plan for New York City focused on local, distributed solutions. This decentralized approach creates a more resilient power system than the current grid, which depends on centralized fossil-fuel power plants.”

    Is there any evidence or example? When something centralized and hence concentrated in one place you get economy of scale. Utility solar PV is cheaper than rooftop PV.

  8. Peaking units are always expensive per MW. But they are cheaper than a blackout. That’s why peaking units exist. The fuel cost for a kW is about 5 cents. To store that kW in a battery is about $130, and to integrate that battery into the grid is about $250/kW in inverter and control/switchgear costs.
    Batteries cannot be discharged more than about 70% or it kills the battery. There are charge/discharge cycle limits to the battery as well.
    Wind/Solar are not dispatchable. You have to balance reliability with cost. The diesel units already exist and even though expensive, they provide reliable power, on demand, at MW levels, at the cost of fuel and maintenance. The investment cost is sunk. The price tag for alternative measures is the cost to decommission and remove existing, install new, and maintain the new ones, and hope it was done properly.

    Whatever air emission issues exist, have no bearing on units that operate a few hundred hours per year. That’s not a viable reason to replace them.

    The “alternatives” must meet generation quantity (MW), duration (hrs), and dispatchability (Capacity Factor > 90%) and power factor ( 0.85 + ) consistent with what they are replacing. And they must do so under a guaranteed performance obligation. When NY needs the power, “oops” isn’t an excuse, neither are low windspeeds, night time darkness, failing batteries, etc. Otherwise, a cascading voltage or frequency failure happens, followed by area wide blackouts. Then you get to see the real costs.

  9. Germany is a sick canary in a coal mine, but the justice warriors are not interested.

    “A new German government audit report warns that the Energiewende is exploding costwise, and that there is a real danger of electricity shortfalls…”a danger for all of Germany”

    “Daniel Wetzel at German national daily Die Welt reports on the latest German Federal Court of Auditors’ warning: “If things continue like this, Germany as a business location is in danger. The costs are out of control – and there is a growing threat of an electricity shortfall.”

    “The “Energiewende” (transition to green energies) has seen Germany recklessly rush into wildly fluctuating wind and solar energy without properly planning the grave impacts they would have on the power supply grid and prices.

    “So explosive is the German Government Audit report that Die Welt and the government auditors see the Energiewende as a “danger for all of Germany”.”

    https://notrickszone.com/2021/03/31/explosive-german-government-audit-report-energiewende-has-become-a-danger-for-all-of-germany/

  10. Pingback: Environmental Justice campaign to replace New York City peaking power plants

  11. Eliminate fossil fuel peaking power plants?

    What could possibly go wrong 😑 ?

    • Just when you think New York State cannot possibly get worse this comes out:
      S.5939/A.6761 – Introduced by Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) and Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani (D-Queens), the bill would amend the Public Service law and Environmental Conservation law to prohibit the development of any new major electric generating facilities in New York State that would be powered in whole or in part by any fossil fuel, unless the developer of such electric generating facility can demonstrate a need.

      The bill lays out the following parameters for demonstrating said need:

      A written attestation to the Board, Commission, and the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, signed by both the New York Independent System Operator and the appropriate New York transmission owner or public authority, demonstrating:
      § the existence of a reliability need;

      § the unavailability of either local or bulk transmission system upgrades that would address such reliability need;

      § such major electric generating facility would resolve such reliability need; and

      o the developer of such major electric generating facility shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Board, Commission, and the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation that the existing reliability need cannot be addressed within an appropriate time frame by any combination of transmission, energy storage, zero carbon electric generation, demand response, and/or energy efficiency.

      Referred to the Senate Energy and Telecommunication Committee on 03/23/2021 and the Assembly Energy Committee on 03/29/2021.

      S.1818/A.6499 – Introduced by Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther (D-Sullivan County), the bill would amend the Environmental Conservation law in relation to the operating permit program from sources subject to the federal Clean Air Act, and power plant emissions and performance standards. The bill would prohibit gas and electricity corporations from authorizing the start-up of a facility with any alternative fuels, other than the primary fuel, with the exception of an emergency or under federal regulations. Referred to the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee on 03/19/2021.

  12. All of the ‘renewable’ systems are capital-intensive. According to an analysis done by Sargent & Lundy for the EIA, a modern gas-fired plant will run you about $958 per kilowatt capacity. Onshore wind is about $1265 per nameplate kilowatt…and, you don’t have to buy any fuel, so, superficially, seems pretty good.

    BUT the wind plant will, on the average, only generate 35% of its nameplate capacity, compared with 57% for the gas plant. That puts the comparable cost at $3614, versus $1681 for the gas plant.

    It gets worse. Not only does the wind plant not generate power for as high a % of time as does the gas plant, it also doesn’t necessarily generate the power when you want it. To be a good grid citizen and avoid too much harm to reliability, I’ll assume that the wind plant needs 4 hours of energy storage, in the form of batteries.

    That puts the wind capital cost at $7043/normalized capacity, versus the gas plant’s $1681.

    Nuclear, too, is capital-intensive; the analysis puts it at $6041/kw…but offers high capacity factors at 93%. This puts the comparable capacity-adjusted number at $6496…but, unlike wind & solar, you can get the power when you want it. And much of the capital cost, I’d suspect, could be reduced with more standardization and a less-panicky regulatory environment.

    The economics of all this are highly dependent on two numbers that pull in opposite directions: fuel costs and interest rates.

    The S&L analysis is very interesting:

    Click to access capital_cost_AEO2020.pdf

    Seems to me likely that a massive move in the wind/solar direction…even in the nuclear direction…would require so much capex as to itself have a material upward influence on interest rates.

    • It is widely recognized inside the nuclear industry that the future of new-build nuclear power in the US depends entirely upon the reductions in capital costs which are expected to come from adopting the small modular reactors (SMR’s) as the basis technology for new nuclear construction.

      NuScale and its partners Fluor and Energy Northwest are now working hard to find ways of reducing the capital cost of a NuScale 12-unit SMR plant of 924 MWe total capacity from its current estimate of roughly $5000 per Kw to $3500 per Kw.

      The first NuScale plant is slated to go online in eastern Idaho in 2030. It is likely to be the very first SMR plant which reaches commercial operation. So it will be another nine years before we know with certainty how successful NuScale and its partners will be in keeping nuclear’s capital costs under control — and therefore whether or not new-build nuclear power will have a future in the US.

      • The NUSCALE reactor was developed to be passively fail-safe, with the cost of electricity more of a secondary consideration. The SMR is not capable of competing with advanced gas turbine technologies and likely green energy as well.

        From an economics standpoint, making a machine bigger and more efficient leads to lower production costs. The NUSCALE reactor is constrained in terms of both output and efficiency. Building more small and inefficient reactors is not the road to success in a competitive marketplace. While Government subsidies could help, such efforts are not helpful to consumers and taxpayers. However, that certainly has not stopped the green energy cabal from lining their own pockets with cash.

        I seriously doubt the NUSCALE company can survive nine years without producing a profit, particularly after nearly a billion dollars have already been sunk into the adventure. I suppose it might continue on life-support using government handouts. However fundamentally the technology is simply not good enough to compete.

      • mesocyclone

        “From an economics standpoint, making a machine bigger and more efficient leads to lower production costs. The NUSCALE reactor is constrained in terms of both output and efficiency. Building more small and inefficient reactors is not the road to success in a competitive marketplace. ”

        A speculation:

        Nuclear, at least in the US, exists in a weird situation where normal economics rules may not apply. Specifically, the regulatory frameworks are so burdensome that an approach that reduces that burden might justify otherwise less economic approaches.

        So if you make modular reactors, and can stamp them out from factories, the regulatory hurdles should diminish rapidly over time. Smaller reactors are more amenable to this.

        And, you can combine them in plants into larger generating units. You may even (depending on regulatory and engineering issues) think of them as steam generating units, separate from combined, large steam-driven electrical generators.

        Putting multiple into one plant gets back some of the economies of scale – at least operational costs. One site, one staff, one set of associated infrastructure (spare parts, machine shops, etc – whatever you need to keep the reactors happy),

        And, energy efficiency shouldn’t be the primary goal – what you want is overall lowest cost for dispatchable energy. The energy (fuel) costs of reactors is dwarfed by the capital costs. So, if a less efficient system results in lower capital costs, the economic loss from lower energy efficiency might be more than made up for in capital costs.

  13. Albert N. Hopfer III

    I am retired after 47 years of Engineering. I hold a degrees in Power and Power Distribution and Electrical Engineering. Bottom line. What we now know from experiences versus theory is that Wind and Solar are variable and their scale of variability is beyond real-world calculations of availability. What this tells us today, is we have no idea of how bad (or good) Wind and Solar energy is. Wind is many times more producible than is Solar and that adding Solar to Wind is adding very little in comparison. The assumption given that Wind will generate 9.0 GW and Solar 4.5 GW in the New York area has never ever been demonstrated anywhere. Enhanced by the fact that the mentioned Wind is Off-Shore Wind (the best kind) and Solar in NYC and in the North East area will be the more weaker Solar output compared to Sunshine states (deserts) areas – this is a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ analysis being handed to a group of politicians as a workable solution. It is not. Certainly not a known. Considering how many lives that could be at risk if the system fails allowing such political foolery to continue is not sound engineering nor is it socially nor morally responsible. Somewhere along this line we must stop trying to establish a perfect world (energy justice) when nowhere else is as close to perfection as is the United States. The US is nowhere near perfect but it has been proven we have advanced the most of any Nation considering our diversity and being the 3rd largest populous Nation only to China and India. The US did this from our Wealth of a Nation through innovation not wishful thinking – schemed by politicians.

  14. The report appears to be primarily driven by politics, as opposed to logic and sound reasoning.
    A better approach:
    (1) Use more cogeneration combined-cycle plants that produce electricity as well as steam for winter heating and chilled water for summer cooling. Such heat/cooling applications are fairly widespread in New York City, but the combined-cycle plant drastically reduces emissions relative to earlier technologies. There are already a number of these cogeneration units in New York City.
    (2) Replace older peakers with modern aeroderivitive gas turbines – these machines are exceptionally efficient with very low emissions. Further, spinning reserves are easily accommodated by disconnecting the gas turbine from the generator which is then run as a very large motor. The reactive load significantly enhances grid reliability in the presence of unreliable green energy.
    Natural gas augmented by diesel/jet fuel is needed for this approach to work. However, the the environmental and energy costs are drastically reduced, relative to the older technologies.

    In passing, any type of peaking power supply is adversely impacted by low operating hours which causes debt repayment and profit to be spread out over relatively few operating hours. That means the capital cost of the asset needs to be low. “Fuel” costs are also a factor (natural gas/jet fuel for gas turbines and electricity for batteries). In the case of New York City, the space occupied by peakers is also a consideration. Gas turbines have minor footprint requirements.

    This strategy would dramatically reduce New York City emissions while improving energy costs. However, the solution does not kowtow to the green energy mafia. Alas, New York City is doomed because the politicians are members of the green energy mafia.

  15. As a follow-up to my earlier remarks, gas turbines can quickly provide (as in minutes) a lot of power (dozens of megawatts) and keep providing that power for hours on end. In order for batteries to meet that requirement, you need a lot of batteries and that requires lot of space. Then there is the matter of battery fires which burn until all the batteries are consumed (impossible to extinguish battery fires). These two items are less than helpful in a densely populated city.

    • And, you first need to charge the batteries. So, with an all unreliables grid, you would have to overbuild the grid by some large multiplier so that the batteries could be charged and maintain a charge given that they will also be needed to maintain grid frequency within a plus/minus 0.5 hz, if I understand correctly. So, batteries will be in constant use and will need constant recharging so will likely end up being a net consumer of electricity given the losses involved with the charge/discharge cycle.

  16. Another, observation. There are 3 major airports in New York City. There are a lot of jets and turboprop planes using the airports and the machines use gas turbines running on jet fuel. The emissions are quite large and get dumped over large areas of New York City, including the economically depressed areas located adjacent to the airports.

    I strongly suspect that emissions from the jets vastly dwarf the emissions from the peaker units. Yet, the politicians are going after the power plants. The reason is obvious, an easy target. the green energy mafia is shaking down the citizens to further fill the pockets of the politicians and renewable energy industry. The public would turn on the green energy mafia if they shutdown the airports.

  17. Then there is the matter of natural gas. New York actually has vast quantities of natural gas, but the politicians will not let the resource be tapped. Why? Because the cost of energy would plummet, rendering green energy even more utterly uncompetitive than it already is. Once again, the elite are lining their pockets at the expense of the poor and middle class.

  18. Environmental justice for climate migrants

    https://wp.me/pTN8Y-6KW

  19. Pingback: Environmental Justice campaign to replace New York City peaking power plants – Watts Up With That?

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  21. Pingback: Environmental Justice campaign to replace New York City peaking power plants – Climate- Science.press

  22. The left are fond of serving up “solutions” that have no basis in reality. Often, they serve up problems that have no basis in reality, such as Math is a vehicle for “white power.” These particular lefties are total id-eee-ots.

  23. What I propose is when considering replacing the air polluting coal-burning steam generators with natural gas turbines, to have a second-thought by considering the possible use of natural gas-burning steam generators. It is much cheaper to adjust the already existing coal-burning steam generators converting them into natural gas burning units.

    https://www.cristos-vournas.com

  24. Saw this yesterday while reviewing a losing position in Freeport-McMoRan – a global leader in copper production with exceptional global assets.

    “This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.” Motley Fool

    The problem with opinions is when there is literally a groupthink that excludes doubt. Doubt is a critical cognitive skill.

    NYC appears to have an electricity infrastructure problem – not at all caused by wind and solar generation. It appears to have negligible amounts of either in a network with relatively large proportions of biomass and hydro energy. Balanced with state-of the art-electronics one hopes.

    If I remember right they NYC have 6 GW of peaking capacity. Much of which – according to the report – is antiquated, horribly expensive and polluting technology.

    The costs of energy are these days exhaustively collated. The most pertinent fact about wind and solar is not intermittency. That must have been obvious from the start. It is of course $/MWhr as the technology matures. On this basis – wind and solar have grown up and it is time to leave the nest. If electricity can be produced cheaply some use can be made of it even if intermittent. Make it more useful by mixing it up with biomass and existing hydro. Cheap batteries would close the loop. Bingo.

    As Professor Sadoway of MIT says – ‘if you want to build something dirt cheap – build it out of dirt. Objecting to that based on assumptions, memes, superficial analysis and ingrained antipathy is a groupthink madness.


    https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-and-levelized-cost-of-storage-2020/

    NYC would need about 3000 of Don Sadoway’s 40ft shipping containers to provide a single day of peaking power. That is of course the other pertinent fact of wind and solar being power density. The answer there is to subsidise the hell out of SMR, hydrogen, biomass, geothermal… With SMR alone having the capacity to meet the bulk of future energy demand – including producing hydrogen for liquid fuels or fertilizer.

    My other losing position in a fundamentally sound and diversified portfolio is Chinese EV maker NIO. NIO is listed on the NYSE where it is valued as the global 4th ranking car maker. (Without having anywhere near the assets or sales to justify it. It does have the huge Chinese market, tremendous year on year sales growth, fantastic rented production facilities and great service and products.) EV’s and the ‘energy transition’ more generally are expected to drive copper demand and prices higher over the next few decades. Economic productivity and growth is built on technological innovation. That’s not a ship one should abandon. Innovation steers economies to lower costs and richer and happier communities.

  25. Pingback: Weekly Climate And Energy News Roundup #449 – Climate- Science.press

  26. The obvious solution is relocating an addition million new immigrants to New York…

  27. All this is based on the irrational comparison of the ozone issue with the climate issue and the irrational expectation of a Montreal Protocol for the Climate.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/01/04/a-montreal-protocol-for-the-climate/

  28. That they are planning a COP 26 in Scotland is itself the proof that there is no Paris Agreement and that the assumption that since we did the ozone with the Montreal Protocol we can do the climate with something like that.

    https://wp.me/pTN8Y-600

  29. More uncommon sense from Don Sadoway. “They didn’t know it was impossible and so they achieved miracles.” The difference between Sadoway’s students and contrarians is that contrarians are impossibly certain it is impossible.

    • It’s not impossible to build wind mills and solar farms, it’s just stupid to believe those comprise a reliable power source. Also, it’s more expensive than fossil fuel plants. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

      • Blah blah blah. Wind and solar are now cheap sources of electrons at low penetrations.

        Wind and solar are the bête noire of contrarians but not remotely the big picture.

  30. A quick reminder: the phrase “environmental justice” was first coined to deal with the fact that the “climate concerned” have a distinctly anti-science position. They claim that CO2 emitted by China, India and Brazil doesn’t count. Given that argument is nonsense, they came up with the idea to wave it all off by claiming it was “their turn” for the third world to emit C02. The official COP position is now that the west must suffer to achieve zero emissions, but global emissions will rise and the earth will be destroyed in a racially and economically equitable fashion.
    Which is so ridiculous that it actually makes some sense to call the whole thing a “hoax.”

  31. If we were properly focused on energy security, greenhouse gas emissions would be a moot point.
    #AntiFragileEnergy
    #GreenNUCLEARDeal
    #HighlyFlexibleNaturalGas
    #IncineratePlasticPollution
    #WasteToEnergy

    http://www.ooshirts.com/d/8719446390
    https://mobile.twitter.com/aaronshem/status/1379233119816015875

    • Bill Fabrizio

      That about sums it up, Aaron. And note how the last two aren’t given any play by environmentalists regardless how recycling peaked long ago. Their standard answer is we’ll just have to stop using plastic, paper, etc. How, when and what about the meantime (of course they ignore exporting of waste)? It’s beyond exasperating.

  32. It is an undisputable fact that fossil fuels burning emission gasses are very dangerous for health.
    In dense urban areas what people forced to breathe is a very dirty air. It is a very important task to free cities from the fossil fuels burning air pollution.
    After all, cities should be a healthy place with plenty clean air to breathe.

    https://www.cristos-vournas.com

    • Nothing is indisputable but in this case you are just wrong. First, you are talking about cars and trucks, not power plants, which this thread is about. But we have powerful emission control devices on our (US) cars and trucks. There may be some adverse health effects, which is to be expected when you pack together millions of people. Overall the air is neither very dirty or very dangerous.

      • NYC peaking power plants are antiquated technologies that emit dangerous pollutants. These plants are near the end of their use by date – hence the discussion I assume.

      • The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation implemented a regulation to force the retirement or installation of new controls for the antiquated peaking power plants. The EJ activists want to shut down all the power plants in NYC including ones that are not just for peaking and the modern clean peaking plants. The health risks caused by ozone and inhalable particulates produced by neighborhood power plants are vanishingly small because they are secondary pollutants. By the time the chemical reactions convert NOx and VOC they have been transported away from the neighborhood. The City’s ozone impact is most notable at Fairfield, CT 40 to 50 miles downwind.

      • joe - the non climate scientist

        RogerCaizza- Since you mentioned Ozone – Several studies where done showing the premature mortality from resipatory illness associated with increases in ground level ozone. The Bell McDermott study was one of the most prominent.
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546819/

        This study is rife with glaring errors, lack of control, negative correlation of ozone increase in relation to other factors, bias in data collection, yet it is considered the gold standard for this type of study. Fwiw, it is this study that exemplifies many of the problems inherent in the paleo temp reconstructions.

      • Obviously after millions of dollars of engineering analysis and design – upgrading the system starts with the 50 year old diesel or kerosene fired generators.

      • Up to 50% of the airborne toxicity of transport is vanadium dust from brakes. This of course will be unaffected by any change to electric powered transport.

        https://theconversation.com/air-pollution-from-brake-dust-may-be-as-harmful-as-diesel-exhaust-on-immune-cells-new-study-129594

      • Democracies are very bad at maintaining infrastructure on multidecadal timescales. It’s too easy to steal the money for buying votes instead.

    • This is 2021, not 1971. NEPA has made major progress in a lot of areas in the last 50 years, not the least of which has been in reducing air pollution. From EPA’s celebratory 50 year anniversary, pat on the back, document.

      “Between 1970 and 2019, the combined emissions of the six common pollutants (PM2.5 and PM10, SO2, NOx, VOCs, CO and Pb) dropped by 77 percent. This progress occurred while the U.S. economy continued to grow, Americans drove more miles, and population and energy use increased.”

      It’s bad enough to listen ad nauseam about our needing a voting rights act, as if we are in the 1950s. Now we are back to the future with air pollution too? Pittsburgh and Gary and all the other urban areas are doing just fine.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Re reduction of emissions,
        The questions I would like to see answered are – If there had been no EPA, would this reduction have been faster or slower? More deep or more shallow? More costly or less without the bureaucratic overburden? Better targeted to actual harm rather than perceived harm?
        A big use of these EPA figures is for harmful comment about free enterprise, which dislikes pollution as much as the next person, without going into the realm of the fantastic fairy tales of virtues that shallow thinking feeds.
        I do not think there is a case that free enterprise would have done nothing. In my imperfect view, the EPA did not direct the spending of scarce dollars any better than industry would have done, if left alone. After all, the required correctional devices like scrubbers and filters were from industry, not from government. The EPA probably forced a pace that led to a too much, too soon overspend – that is their way. Industry is better at allocation of anti-pollution dollars because they created them and like to see where they go.
        Similar arguments apply to the post here about NY electricity. The better knowledge of how to engineer the future resides in free enterprise, not with poets and students and inexperienced activists who seem to be dictating progress (or its lack).
        Geoff S

  33. Batteries are ideal additions to any electricity generating system. Even 15 minutes of Li-ion storage provides the means for instant and precise frequency management. Grid scale storage would provide both a source and a load to balance supply and demand. It requires that cost competitive electrochemistry be developed.

    All generating technologies require excess capacity and multiple redundancies. Modern electronic mixing and matching provides seamless integration of various sources beginning – after considerable engineering analysis and modelling – with the cheapest source of electrons.

    • It requires that cost competitive electrochemistry be developed.

      Likewise the professions of law and criminal justice require that the technology of time travel be developed.

    • Geoff Sherrington

      RIE, “Batteries are ideal additions to any electricity generating system.”
      Do, please, make a case that batteries are better than elimination of the need for them, that is, a return to proven generation methods of nuclear, fossil fuel, hydro,
      Blind Freddie know that wind and solar at large scale will lead to a very costly national-scale problem as shown unfolding day by day for the German Energiewende. What a mess! Fix that with batteries??? Geoff S.

      • Frequency fluctuations can be addressed very effectively with minimal battery storage.

        Hydro – btw – has a capacity factor of some 12% in Australia. Perfect for balancing supply and demand. New York has quite a lot – comparatively – of biomass and hydro. California has geothermal. I’m not picking winners. That is after unbelievably foolish. All that matters is the price of electrons.

  34. Part of me hopes this will succeed.
    It will take a few costly fiascos to get most people to start questioning their belief in climate eschatology.

  35. It must have been 1991 when I skimmed the first IPCC assessment. I accepted at face value the radiative physics of the atmosphere. Nothing has emerged since to refute that science. I decided that the solutions were technological and went back to a decades long investigation of decadal hydrological variability. That ultimately led to a connection with surface temperature.

    Anthropogenic change is superimposed on natural variability in a system exhibiting regimes and tipping points at decadal and longer scales. It is the dominant scientific paradigm de jour that even Judith Curry in her alternative energy house agrees with.

    This is the fossil fuel end game – and you may ineffectively fulminate against it as vociferously as you like. Technological innovation is still the answer and it will lead to a future of cheaper energy and a richer world.

    • Geoff Sherrington

      RIE, ” I accepted at face value the radiative physics of the atmosphere.”
      Then have you at last found a valid number for the basis of the whole shebang, the climate sensitivity?
      When I read through AR1 my main thought was “But they have failed to link CO2 with temperature. What is going on? The next thought was “Where are the estimates of uncertainty for all these numbers they quote?”
      Geoff S

      • So here he goes yet again with what I can only describe as confusion and ignorance of natural sciences in general and climate specifically. It is – moreover – not germane to rational climate or environmental policy.

        Climate change is the result of anthropogenic forcing superimposed on natural variability in a system characterised by regimes and tipping points. Linear sensitivity and attribution are impossible numbers. Sensitivity is nonlinear and unpredictable. Attribution cannot be reliably estimated unless we understand natural variability. We don’t. That would seem an obvious proposition. Some scientists – including Judith Curry – guess that anthropogenic warming – science is some 50% of warming in the past 40 years.

        What remains is Judith’s decision making under uncertainty. This suggests that instead of going balls deep in expensive, half arsed solutions we do those things that make sense even if it weren’t a problem. Central to that is energy innovation. Including on advanced nuclear designs that promise cheaper and safer nuclear power.

        Yes – we understand – he wants to keep burning coal. I have no problem with high efficiency/low emission coal. With more than 1000 planned for the ASEAN region. We could use one or two in Australia. But getting lower gas prices is another way to skin a cat. People – Lomborg notably – have been saying for a decade or more that accelerated energy research and development is the rational way forward. How people in the 21st century don’t understand that innovation is the powerhouse of capitalism is beyond me.

        If you had any aspiration to political effectiveness you would be charting a course to the future and not just naysaying with superficial contrarian memes in which you are heroes in your own lunchtime and in common disparage the outsider. It’s a groupthink madness.

      • Curious George

        Repeat 999 times, rinse, …

      • Geoff S: ““But they have failed to link CO2 with temperature…”

        Of course they failed. CO2 is a trace gas in Earth’s atmosphere. CO2 content is 0,04 % or 1 to 2500. No one is capable to link the temperature of 2500 by measuring 1.

        https://www.cristos-vournas.com

      • The ‘greenhouse effect’ has been investigated for going on 200 years. It is about half recent warming.

      • There is also another thing in the Greenhouse warming theory which is not proper referenced – it is the assumption planet emitting as a blackbody. Where does it come from? Who said that first? The entire greenhouse warming theory is a not valid theory. It doesn’t withstand the scientific method requirements.

        Here is an illustrative example on how wrongly the Earth’s IR emission is estimated.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

      • Everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits energy. Real scientists focus on observations.

      • Planet has not a uniform surface temperature.

        Nevertheless, in the Greenhouse warming IR emission theory planet is considered as a perfect blackbody uniform temperature emission surface – so it is concluded planet surface IR emission frequency bands should fit to the Stefan-Boltzmann emission curve.

        The frequencies not detected (measured) in the planet IR emission pattern are considered being absorbed by the atmosphere…

        It is a common knowledge though, no planet has a uniform surface temperature.

        How it is possible, how can anyone expect from a planet surface to emit in a perfect blackbody curve pattern? Since planet has not even the most basic requirement for the perfect blackbody curve – planet has not a uniform surface temperature!

        https://www.cristos-vournas

      • The planet is not a blackbody – and no one imagines it is.

  36. UK-Weather Lass

    If we were to forget the problems of human influenced climate change what should be our ultimate goal for electricity production? Would it be cheap, clean, safe and reliable electricity? And was that not where we started from back in the pioneering days? Have we not already cycled through the many magic solutions of free power, perpetual motion and everlasting batteries many times before only to return to the miracle promises of nuclear developments of both scale and method?

    Nothing has stopped us from looking for better and more efficient ways of powering our societies and our vehicles, organising and improving our housing and public transport infrastructures to the extent that we can all live in comfort with options that do not always necessitate ownership.

    What bothers me about the climate change debate is that it has markedly removed common sense and intelligent research from our activities and seemingly aggravated the very problem we seek to solve and, in practise, has made it much, much worse. We have not found viable alternatives; we have simply found worthless virtue signals that do not stand up to close scrutiny.

  37. If we were properly focused on energy security, greenhouse gas emissions would be a moot point.
    #AntiFragileEnergy
    #GreenNUCLEARDeal
    #HighlyFlexibleNaturalGas
    #IncineratePlasticPollution
    #WasteToEnergy

    http://www.ooshirts.com/designapp/sharing/1381599502

    http://www.ooshirts.com/d/8719446390

  38. This climate game is about to lead to war.
    This BBC article shows that the “west” is now arrogantly barking orders at China, for instance, to close down all 1000 of its coal power stations which the ranting louts imbecilically claim is cheaper than coal. Yes in a rigged autocratic command economy like the USA or U.K. but not in a free market like China.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-56761344

    The time has come for countries like China and Russia to respond to the west with its imperialistic climate demands by telling them to put the climate agenda where solar panels do not work. To abandon completely the whole idiotic circus of feeble minded catastrophist nonsense.

    Then the gloves will come off and the herd muttering and jowl-flapping will turn in the direction of “climate terrorism” and “holding the world hostage” and “the children”. Climate as “causus belli”.

    Then will come world war 3. Every environmentalists’ dream come true. Finally a role for the nuclear ☢️ industry who won’t be left out any more. Good times!

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