Houston, we have a problem

Houston, we have a problem… actually we have two problems

  1. Texas has massive power outages as an “unprecedented” polar vortex hits, and
  2. we just can’t agree on what to conclude from this event.

The current unfortunate (and I assume uncomfortable) situation in Texas where over 4 million people were without electricity earlier this week, is revealing about how people view the energy debate.

  • On one extreme I have seen multiple “sharings” of a (very) old photo of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine to “prove” how reliance on renewable energy has caused the problems.
  • On the other extreme, it is claimed that the polar vortex is yet more proof that climate change is here and now and we should demand more renewables and shut O&G (and nuclear).

Both of these are confirmation bias in action.

Unfortunately, reality is likely to be far more complex. Texas looks like a plane-crash in the sense that a lot of things have had to line up (badly) for the outages to happen.

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NATO association of Canada

The webinar focuses on what energy security means to different people and how this plays into policy. Participants will discuss the physical security and cyber-security of installations as well as the security of energy supply and the security of trade routes. Questions discussed include: how will the need for electricity infrastructure to be resilient, and for electricity itself to be affordable, affect the fate of unconventional energy, including the “oil sands”? Do Canada’s high latitude and long transmission distances exclude a good match between supply of renewable energy and demand for it? In light of the last question, what decisions will be made about nuclear power? While the webinar focuses on Canada, these issues will be addressed for other countries as well. The use of information and communication technologies, including artificial intelligence, in the energy sector will also be addressed.

The Cold Night of Forgetting*

Cold, dull, wind-less autumn days should make us think about the reality of energy security in a world celebrating high levels of renewable electricity supply

On a frigid autumn day let’s cast our minds back to the blissful dog-days of summer and the rampant headlines about how coal was now not needed and more than 50% of the UK’s power (meaning electricity) was provided by renewables. There has been a remarkable growth in renewable energy in the UK and whilst not blessed with much sun, wind is more abundant. Good news indeed.

Continue reading “The Cold Night of Forgetting*”