Green Energy Versus the Polar Vortex – Guess Who’s Winning?

Unleash Prosperity Hotline
Issue #222

(Yes we at CTUP still pay tribute to Washington and Lincoln)
1) Green Energy Versus the Polar Vortex – Guess Who’s Winning?

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Much of the Midwest and mountain states are seeing subzero temperatures and blizzard conditions as the polar vortex sweeps through. As far south as Dallas, the temperatures dipped into the 20s. In parts of Minnesota, temperatures dipped to near their lowest levels in a century. In Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is warning of “rolling blackouts” due to extreme cold.

Green energy to the rescue, right?

Hardly. As our friends at the Center for the American Experiment, a Minnesota-based think tank have reported:

“Wind turbines are shut down when temperatures are below -22° F because it is too cold to operate them safely (see the figure below). This means it will be too cold for the wind turbines built by the power companies to generate any electricity.”

They note that during the last Polar Vortex in 2019, wind and solar provided almost no power.

Ergo: when you really need power and heating, wind and solar are out of commission.

It’s worse than that. The Minnesota think tank reports: “Wind turbines will actually consume electricity at these temperatures because the turbines use electric heaters in their gearboxes to keep the oil in the housing from freezing, which would cause damage to the turbine. During the 2019 Polar Vortex, wind turbines were consuming 2 MW of electricity. Wind turbines are a liability on the grid when the power is needed most.”

Solar power is even less reliable in severe weather conditions. Frigid temperatures are often associated with bright sunny skies, but the temperatures drop way down at night – you know, when there is no sunlight. Also, snow and ice often disable the panels.  

What this means is that if – God forbid – Joe Biden realizes his maniacal dream of zero fossil fuels, the people in North Dakota, Minnesota, Chicago, and Boston will be in big trouble. Maybe they can go back to the middle-ages and build fires.
2) Coal to the Rescue

We are big fans of natural gas, but there is a severe supply strain in the Midwest in part because pipelines are freezing bringing the flow to a dribble. This has caused an unprecedented, gravity-defying, spike in natural gas prices in the last few days – especially in the plain states. According to an analysis by ZeroHedge:

“The nat gas spot price [midcontinent] exploded from $3.46 one week ago, to $9 on Wednesday, $60.28 on Thursday, and an insane $377.13 on Friday, up 32,000% in a few days. [This makes the rise in Gamestop stock look like child’s play.] There simply is nowhere near enough product to satisfy demand at any price hence the explosive move.”

What is keeping the lights and the heat on?

That four-letter word: COAL!  

Here is an analysis by longtime energy expert Terry Jarrett, who has served on the board of the national utility commissioners. It is worth reading if you want to understand where our electric power comes from in times of trouble:

“The current Arctic conditions provide a stress test of America’s power grid. We’re seeing in real-time exactly how the U.S. electric grid fares when it’s being pushed to the limit.

“The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO)— which oversees power transmission in 15 states.  MISO is reporting that coal is currently generating more than half of its overall electricity. In fact, a February 10 snapshot of MISO’s grid showed coal producing roughly 41,000 megawatts of electricity, with natural gas coming in second at 22,000 megawatts. Solar panels delivered roughly 231 megawatts at the time. And wind turbine output fluctuated widely, topping out at around 3,200 megawatts. That means these much-vaunted renewable systems produced only about 4 percent of the electricity needed across 15 states.

“This isn’t exactly what we’re told about America’s power grid. We often hear that advances in solar power and wind turbines have allowed more and more renewable energy to come online. But when push comes to shove — as it has during the current Arctic blast — coal is proving to be the sturdy fuel that can step in and carry the load.”
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