Almost Back Home . . .

The power at the rig stayed on all night, so about 11 Jan and I drove over to get it ready for our return Friday morning. We didn’t move back today, because we had already paid for tonight here at the hotel, and we wanted to turn the heaters on and get the temperature up in the rig.

This was because the temp inside when we got there was 34°. So we wanted to run the heaters overnight to warm things up.

Right now we plan to move back home tomorrow morning.

Then it was on up to Clear Lake to check in at the office. According to my monitoring, the power had come back on there about the same time that it came back on down here. I checked that all the computers had come back up with no problems, as well as the network. And since it all looked OK, I’ll go back to work tomorrow after I get Jan moved back to the rig.

I got several comments yesterday about my blog post about the cold weather problems with Texas’ wind turbines, one essentially accusing the state of ‘cheapening out’ on the turbines because they didn’t have the cold weather kits installed. Which from what I’ve able to ascertain, must be either install during construction, or the turbine must be completely disassembled and the kit installed on the ground.

So why weren’t these kits installed to start with? Well, besides the 30% cost increase per turbine, it’s hard to justify the cost when they’ve never been needed before.

This was a once in a lifetime freeze event, so how do you prepare for that?

It would be like buying a car in Texas, and having to spring for all the extra options to prep you car for life in Fairbanks, Alaska where it can get to –70, just in case it might get that cold down here.

But wait, there’s more. The power to run the cold weather kit comes from the output of the wind turbine itself, reducing the effective output to the grid.

Even worse, if it’s very cold but the wind is not blowing, then power must fed back INTO the turbine to keep it warm. Otherwise, when the wind finally starts blowing, you’ve again got a frozen turbine.

Another reader said that wind doesn’t supply much overall power to the state and that natural gas is our main energy source. Well, I guess it depends on how you define it.

About 56 percent of Texas’ energy comes from natural gas, just under 24 percent comes from wind, 19 percent from coal, and almost 9 percent from nuclear energy.

So almost 25% of our power comes from the wind. And half of that went away with the freeze.

And there were also problems with our natural gas plants, due to the cold too. Once the temps get low enough, there are problems moving the gas around.

Natural gas wells and pipes ill-equipped for cold weather are a big reason why millions of Texans lost power during frigid temperatures this week. As temperatures dropped to record lows across some parts of the state, liquid inside wells, pipes, and valves froze solid.

Ice can block gas flow, clogging pipes. It’s a phenomenon called a “freeze-off” that disrupts gas production across the US every winter. But freeze-offs can have outsized effects in Texas, as we’ve seen this week. The state is a huge natural gas producer — and it doesn’t usually have to deal with such cold weather.

And the photo I posted the other day about defrosting the blades still holds.

Helicopter Spraying Turbine

This same defrosting is still necessary even in cold climes where the cold weather kits is installed.

Only recently has a way been found to efficiently deice the blades using a carbon fiber coating that can be heated to remove/prevent the ice buildup. It’s almost pretty pricey, uses power from the turbine output, must be powered externally if there’s no wind, and can only be retrofitted with the turbine and blades disassembled and on the ground.

Another expensive option.

But of course, solar power will save us.

Snowed In Solar Panels


Thought For The Day:

When one door closes, sometimes you just need to get a hammer and nails to make sure that SOB stays shut.

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