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Bitter Cold Shows Reliable Energy Sources Are Critical

The Star Tribune has published an opinion piece I wrote on how Minnesota's bitter cold should be a wake-up call for energy policy in our state. Instead of mandating the use of wind and solar, which generated just 24 percent of its installed capacity, and provided just four percent of MISO's electricity, we must maintain and keep reliable electricity sources like coal, nuclear, and natural gas plants running. You can read the article by clicking here....

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Wind Power Engineering and Development: Why Wind-Turbine Gearboxes Fail to Hit the 20-year Mark

The short, 20-year lifespan of wind turbines is one of the most important, but least talked about facets, aspects of energy policy. American Experiment has written about this topic several times, but as I was researching further I found this interesting article from Wind Power Engineering and Development which states wind turbine gearboxes fail to reach even this milestone. As utility-scale wind turbines have developed from the kilowatt-class to the multi-megawatt machines installed today, the components inside a nacelle have also evolved to keep up with new power demands. Drivetrains, in particular, have had to change significantly to meet stronger, more variable wind loads...

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Why We Need Coal: Xcel Urges Minnesota Residents to Lower Their Thermostats to 60 Because of “Significant Strain” on Xcel’s Natural Gas System

Customers in central Minnesota were asked to turn heat down to 60 or lower to prevent widespread natural gas outages due to extreme cold. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: Xcel Energy to dial down their thermostats to 60 degrees until further notice because the utility is "experiencing a significant strain" on its natural gas system due to the extreme cold, a statement from the service provider read. The request covers Xcel customers in Becker, Big Lake, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Princeton and Isanti. People in those communities are also being urged to idle other natural gas appliances and skip using hot water. "Your cooperation...

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It’s Negative 24 Degrees and the Wind Isn’t Blowing. This is Why We Need Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power, Not Renewables

Good morning, everyone! I hope you're staying warm. If you are, it's because of natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear power, or even wood, because the wind isn't blowing right now. The screenshot below is from Electricity Map. It's a fun app that tells you how your electricity is being generated at any given moment in time.  Turns out wind is  producing only four percent of electricity in the MISO region, of which Minnesota is a part. While that's not good, what's worse is wind is only utilizing 24 percent of it's installed capacity, and who knows how this will fluctuate throughout the course of the...

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Germany is Largest Buyer of Russian Natural Gas

Yesterday I wrote about how Germany gets about 37 percent of its electricity from beautiful, clean coal, but it also generates a significant portion of its electricity with natural gas. Whereas the United States has used hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking,"  to turn the U.S. into the largest producer of natural gas in the world, Germany has banned fracking within its borders, and as a result, it instead purchases its natural gas from friendly Uncle Vlad. In fact, Germany is the single-largest consumer of Russian gas, Russia’s natural gas exports to Germany increased 12.2 percent in the first half of 2018, compared...

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EIA Data: Wind Replaced Natural Gas, Not Coal in 2017

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released its electricity data for Minnesota in 2017, and boy, were there some interesting findings. One of those interesting findings is that contrary to the popular narrative that by building wind turbines, we will make Minnesota less dependent upon coal-burning power plants. The graph below shows the annualized capacity factor for each generation source in 2017. I've used this graph in recent blog posts but this merits its own 15 minutes of fame in this post. The capacity factor for coal was 61 percent, much larger than the capacity factor for wind at 35.9 percent,...

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Throwing Shade at the Solar Pathways Analysis: 70 Percent Solar and Wind Would Require We Build 6 to 11 More Capacity Than Nuclear Would Require: At a Massive Cost

Renewable energy advocates have been trumpeting the findings of the Solar Pathways Analysis (SPA) that claims solar power can not only meet 70 percent of Minnesota's energy demand, but it can also do it affordably. However, this type of thinking requires a gold medal in metal mental gymnastics. It's time to throw some serious shade at the SPA for being a shoddy work of scholarship. For the purposes of this article, it's helpful to understand that a gigawatt (GW) is the equivalent of 1,000 megawatts (MW) and 1,000,000 kilowatts (kw). First off, the SPA says we can achieve a grid powered by 70...

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Minnesota Utilities Spur Wind Turbine Building Boom…In North and South Dakota

Renewable energy advocates in Minnesota claimed that mandating the use of wind for electricity generation would produce a boom in jobs and generate local tax revenue for rural Minnesota, but many of the large industrial wind facilities planned by the state's major utility companies are in North and South Dakota, sending these jobs and revenues out of state....

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