McClaughry: ISO-NE electricity reliability forecast

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Wind and sun can’t be relied upon, and battery storage is extremely expensive and uncertain.

By John McClaughry

The Independent System Operator — ISO — manages the New England power grid. One of its greatest concerns is maintaining the reliability of the power grid.

We all tend to think that there’s a 24/7 assurance of there being electricity behind the wall outlet throughout the year. That was a good bet when our power came from coal, oil, hydro and nuclear. Nuclear is the most reliable, with a vast amount of fuel powering the reactor for 18 months at a stretch, with over 90% reliability. Most of the remaining 10% comes from refueling outages planned long in advance.

In July, ISO announced that the reserve margin on the New England system may need to increase from about 15% to 300% by 2040 in some scenarios, as more renewables are added and dispatchable generation is retired to meet state clean energy goals, according to a report from the grid operator. That’s because of the increased amount of non-dispatchable power expected from subsidized wind and solar. Their fuel — wind and sun — can’t be relied upon, and battery storage is extremely expensive and uncertain.

ISO’s Future Grid Reliability Study modeled a variety of decarbonization scenarios in 2040 and concluded they “may require a significant amount of gas or stored fuels to support variable resources.” That means gas backup or some kind of storage not presently economical.

Customers should pray for a string of warm winters and more nuclear power, starting now.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

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One thought on “McClaughry: ISO-NE electricity reliability forecast

  1. Unfortunately praying for warm winters will not change the precession (axial wobble) of the planet or obliquity (axial tilt) of it’s orbit. Precession follows a 41000 year cycle and obliquity a 23000 year cycle.
    They both affect the amount of solar radiation which reaches the northern hemisphere. Another factor is the complete sunspot cycle of 22 years. All three of these factors are aligning in a Grand Solar Minimum which will greatly reduce the amount of solar energy in the Northern Hemisphere.

    The bottom line is that it’s going to get colder and stay that way for several decades.
    The best thing people can do is get rid of the delusion that Net Zero could ever work and start building more nuke plants in the meantime.

    If that isn’t done, the alternative is to head South, so start going now while the getting is good.

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