Friday, February 01, 2019

Fragile Systems Are, By Definition, Fragile

During the height of the cold yesterday there was an emergency gas shortage caused by a fire at a Consumers Gas processing plant.

With just one facility knocked out of service, Consumers lost access to about 64% of their supply of gas available for heating and power generation. This caused emergency alerts throughout the state, complete with appeals for people to turn their thermostats down to use less gas, and the closure of factories to also conserve gas.

When a problem at a single facility can imperil 64% of your product at a time its most needed, that suggests you've got a less than reliable system with insufficient resiliency and emergency capacity in place for then the unexpected happens.

Combine this with Michigan Enviro's desire to get rid of coal and nuclear and use natural gas more heavily for power generation in the state as reported in detail by Right Michigan, and expect more of these unnecessary crises in the future.


Old NFO said...

That's NOT going to be pretty...

Nuke Road Warrior said...

When you rely on technology for maters of life and death, particularly when those at risk don't volunteer to accept that risk, redundancy and diversity is always a good thing. With coal fired electrical power being increasingly priced out of the market due to federal and state regulations, and nuclear power suffering both from regulatory overload, and self inflicted wounds, for the foreseeable future, natural gas fired power plants will be the norm for both baseline and peak load. Solar and wind are too small percentage to make a difference, and too unreliable for baseline loads in modern society. Aside from issues with the grid, which does need serious upgrading, what is needed is some standby reserves. Not co-gen plants, they take too long to bring the steam side up to load. Regular gas turbine plants can be lit off and synced to the grid in a matter of minutes. Yes, it's is expensive to have a perfectly good power plant sitting idle until needed. It's also expensive if people die in a midwest winter because a single plant fails.