In Texas, gas wells are freezing, and the cost of electricity has increased almost 35-fold
The American state of Texas was considered the birthplace of two revolutions: the shale one and the so-called green one. As of December 2020, there were 150 wind farms operating there with a total installed capacity of more than 30,000 MW.
The Alternative Energy Institute (AEI) liked to trumpet that as soon as the share of wind generation in Texas in 2016 exceeded the threshold of 13%, the wholesale price of electricity there fell to a historic low of $25 per megawatt-hour. Thus, even causing the bankruptcy of some thermal power plants, which served as proof of the correctness of the "green choice".
And then there was February 2021, when frost came to Texas, snow piled up and a strong wind blew, forcing 41% of all wind turbines installed in the state to stop working. Moreover, so that they do not freeze, the blades have to be heated, which turned wind turbines from generators into energy consumers. However, as it turned out, shale wells also need heating. And also very substantially.
As a result, the wholesale price of electricity in Texas on February 15th jumped to $9,000 per megawatt-hour, which is 3466% higher than prices last Friday. And even for this money, there is not enough electricity. Demand for it has reached almost 70 GW, which is an absolute record not only for the state, but also for the country.
In order to somehow combat the continued rise in electricity prices, the local regulator and operator ERCOT has introduced strict limits on consumption "in one hand". Electricity has already gone up 35-fold (!) in 48 hours. $9,000 per megawatt-hour at the western hub of Houston is almost 660 rubles per kilowatt-hour. Wholesale! At retail, the consumer pays at least a third more.
What does this mean in practice? In practice, this means that in order to heat a house, spending 100 kW/h on it, one will need to pay about $630-750. Or, if one has a prestigious Tesla, then to drive the next 400 km tomorrow, one will also have to pay about $720.
And it would be ok if it was about Texas, which is not very familiar with the concept of frost, but exactly the same picture is observed in neighbouring Oklahoma. It was fashionable to scold it for its lack of "greenness", since over 80% of the local generation was from gas. Because of this, the same Texas used these capacities to compensate for the "generational saw" of its renewable energy.
Now, when all the neighbours came running in a panic- give energy, give, give, give! - Oklahoma's thermal power plants have been upgraded to maximum load. Due to the growth of their demand for gas, prices for it have also risen over the past two days – 40-fold (!), from $9 to $377 per million British thermal units.
This raises two questions. The first: is it possible to completely entrust such an industry as energy completely and only to one market and commercial companies? The answer, in our opinion, is obvious. They are, of course ready and happy to raise the price for electricity for the population 35-40-fold and higher. In a week, like in Texas. But will the population be ready and able to pay such money? This is the big question. And what will this result in for the authorities?
The second: is it possible to write off what is happening as an unforeseen event? It depends where. For example, in Russia, the energy infrastructure is planned based on the level of demand in the coldest day and the coldest five-day period, from the climate observations recorded in a particular territory for the entire time.
This level is mandatory for everyone, including builders and housing and communal services. If the infrastructure is not ready for such a five-day period, and a block of houses or a part of the region freezes, not only journalists, but also gloomy guys from the Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Committee will come to deal with an obvious management error.
However, it's in this way that the system works in Russia. According to liberals and freaks from green energy - it is bad. In the US, as we can easily see, everything turned out differently: it is "good". Where it is more correct, especially during a good Russian frost, when not only birds freeze while flying, but also hot water, everyone can evaluate things by themselves, as well as the incontestability of the advantages of renewable energy too.