POWER GRID FAILURES never have a single cause. Grids should be managed conservatively with multiple layers of protection and reserves. Even if there is a single proximate cause, such as a single generator outage, the grid will only fail if those multiple layers have eroded
IN TEXAS, the proximate cause of grid failure was likely the extreme cold temperatures across much of the state. But big freezes are not that infrequent in the state. ERCOT's system operating plan should have been able to cope with the cold. The question is why it failed.
IN TEXAS, the power crisis seems to have blown through multiple layers of system protection, including spinning reserves, peaking power reserves, and demand-response, all of which seem to have proved insufficient, leaving ERCOT no option but massive forced load-shedding.
ERCOT seems to have lost control of the power grid despite forecasts of extreme heating demand for days ahead, which implies something went seriously wrong with either system planning or system operation
ERCOT should have taken timely action to maintain power supplies and grid stability (including frequency control) well ahead of time, including scheduling extra firm generation or agreeing large load reductions. Instead, ERCOT seems to have been overwhelmed by a foreseeable event
Forcible load-shedding covering more than 18% of system-load suggests a catastrophic failure of the planning and/or operations process as events overtook the ability of the system to cope
Power grids should maintain enough of a reserve margin to ensure stable operation at all times including a reasonable worst-case scenario (e.g. the loss of a large generator or transmission line). ERCOT should have had enough generation on stand-by to cope with the cold weather
Either ERCOT was surprised by an unexpected event that was outside its planning system, or there simply wasn't enough generation capacity to cope under a reasonably foreseeable event. Both scenarios suggest the system was not being managed within conservative limits

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More from @JKempEnergy

15 Feb
TEXAS orders rotating power outages after generation fails to meet load during cold weather:
Forced load-shedding is a sign of a power system under extreme stress, with inadequate firm generation capacity, inadequate capacity to import power from neighbouring areas to support the network, and inadequate flexibility on the consumption side
Forced loading shedding is always a planning failure. Like California blackouts last summer, post-event study needs to identify why ERCOT had insufficient firm generation; whether grid managers acted in time to manage reserve margins; and whether there is enough load flexibility
Read 4 tweets
4 Dec 20
GLOBAL OIL MARKET - current situation and outlook for 2021 (When I joined Reuters, I told my boss @richardmably my ambition was to tell a story without words, only charts):
GLOBAL OIL MARKET - cyclical position:
GLOBAL OIL MARKET - prices, inventories and OPEC response:
Read 5 tweets
27 May 20
“ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS,” formula for Hong Kong is ending. Protestors reject China’s sovereignty; China rejects HKSAR legal autonomy; and United States no longer willing to treat HKSAR as a separate economic and financial territory: state.gov/prc-national-p…
OCTS was based on a deliberate ambiguity about the territory’s status following the transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China, one that obscured differences over culture, identity, economic functions and ultimate control. But ambiguity has come under increasing strain
OCTS required ambiguity at multiple levels: social, HKSAR, PRC, and international. But at every level the ambiguity has given way to pressure for clarity. And the compromises and contradictions are starting to unravel.
Read 10 tweets
27 Sep 19
ECONOMIC GROWTH and technological change has always destroyed huge numbers of jobs in old industries while creating employment in new industries:
* Peasant farmers (enclosure)
* Spinners (steam engines)
* Weavers (power looms)
* Canal workers (railways)
* Coal miners (automation)
* Stokers (oil/gas replace coal)
* Railway workers (automation)
* Secretaries and clerical workers (computers)
* Printers, typesetters (automation, computers)
* Telephone exchange, telegraph workers (automation)
* Switchboard operators (automation)
* Stevedores (containerisation)
Economic growth, productivity gains and technological change have eliminated occupations which employed tens of millions of people over the last 250 years, and the future is unlikely to be any different
Read 8 tweets
1 Aug 19
USTR LIGHTHIZER’s negotiating strategy can be summarised as lay out an uncompromising position and then engineer a deadline/crisis to push the negotiations over the line and secure a deal. Current White House has been an enthusiastic supporter of this approach giving 100% backing
LIGHTHIZER’s notable success was the USMCA deal in 2018, but it may have led observers to overestimate the usefulness of his strategy
USMCA only reached conclusion by splitting weaker partner (Mexico) from stronger one (Canada), doing deal with weaker partner and threatening to leave stronger partner isolated if it didn’t sign on
Read 7 tweets
22 Apr 19
SOME INFORMAL reflections on the U.S. decision to end all waivers for Iran sanctions:
UNITED STATES, SAUDI ARABIA and UAE have now gone “all-in” on their campaign of maximum financial pressure on Iran through oil sanctions. Few if any more rungs left on the diplomatic escalation ladder
PRESIDENT TRUMP has staked his personal credibility on Saudi Arabia making up barrels lost to sanctions AND avoiding a sustained increase in oil prices (White House can no longer complain that “OPEC” is driving prices higher)
Read 16 tweets

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