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EIA: Extreme Cold in the Midwest Led to High Power Demand and Record Natural Gas Demand

Well, folks.  The results of the Energy Information Administration's autopsy of the January 2019 polar vortex are in and wind fared very poorly, mainly because wind plants were turned off because it was too cold for them to operate safely. The article below is from EIA's Today in Energy series. Extreme cold weather in the Midwest at the end of January led to high—but not record-setting—electricity load on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, the coldest day of the period, on the Midcontinent Independent System Operator(MISO) grid. However, consumption of natural gas, the main fuel used for heating in the region, reached estimated record levels on...

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Helping the U of M Energy Transition Lab Understand Energy

A few weeks ago, I wrote an opinion editorial to the Star Tribune about how the Polar Vortex reemphasized the need for reliable forms of electricity in our state. My article was the most widely read opinion piece on the Strib’s website for two days, which prompted three employees of the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab (ETL) to write a reply. Their reply claimed I used confusing statistics to misrepresent the role renewables play in our system, but I contest that the statistics I used should not be confusing, especially for members the university's Energy Transition Lab. So, to clear...

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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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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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Peter Foster: Another Report Reluctantly Admits that ‘Green’ Energy is a Disastrous Flop

Despite being the beneficiaries of billions of dollars in subsidies, wind and solar compose just a tiny fraction of overall energy use in the United States. The pie chart below is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and it shows that oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power provide far more of our energy than wind and solar, which together account for about 3 percent of our total energy consumption....

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Our Take: Complicated Economics of Community Solar Gardens Subject of Debate

The Star Tribune recently ran an article called "Complicated economics of community solar gardens subject of debate." Seeing how the Strib did not seek our opinion on the topic for their article, I'm providing it below. First and foremost, Minnesota's Community Solar installations are a mess. These solar installations are small, inefficient, and expensive. According to the article in the Star Tribune, Xcel Energy currently purchases power from the solar gardens at a price of 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is 4.3 times more expensive than the electricity generated at the Sherburne County (Sherco) coal-fired power plant in 2016. Cost data for...

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