Friday, February 7, 2014

Shortage Of Natural Gas Caused Electricity Supply Problems In California

Critics of renewable energy often attack wind and solar for being intermittent, as though plants that burn fuel or split the atom run all the time and without interruption. The idea that fossil fuel an nuclear plant are not "intermittent" is a great myth.

Yesterday, California was reminded that gas plants have many vulnerabilities. They unexpectedly break down; must be out of service for maintenance; and sometimes don't have the gas they need to run.

The cold around the country led to curtailment of gas to some power plants in California, and that caused a significant reduction in power supply.  The reduction was big enough that the grid operator had to urge consumers to cut their electricity usage.

Yesterday reminds once again that all power plants are intermittent. All have strengths and weaknesses. A reliable power grid will have a diverse power portfolio that should include renewable energy sources.

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