Narcissistic Energy Supply
The Canadian province of Alberta nearly lost their electrical grid this week being unable to handle several days of extreme cold weather. Alberta saw a large build up renewable energy in order to fulfill a policy goal of net-zero by 2035 but in 2022, a moratorium on new renewable projects. Being a hydrocarbon-rich province, Albertans have typically relied on coal but in the recent years have relied on natural gas to replace the coal and as backup for when the renewables aren’t available.
Most of the province’s renewable energy “investment” has been in the form of wind turbines and a smaller amount of solar. In 2022 alone, roughly two thirds of Canada’s renewables buildout (2,848 MW wind & 949 MW solar) occurred just in Alberta according to the Canadian Federal Government. Of the 55.5 TWh of electrical energy produced in Alberta, just shy of 11 percent of that was wind, tidal, and solar. Conveniently left out of all the flowery narrative from the pro-renewables crowd working under Dictator Trudeau is when that 11 percent kicked in. Being that Alberta lies at high latitude, and this is the middle of winter, the sun isn’t out much, and the province is landlocked leaving the tidal category at zero. That leaves the wind, except during cold spells, it tends to be (pun intended) under the weather.
This close call on the Albertan grid has led to some serious soul searching, and hopefully a greater draw to expand the country’s nuclear capacity.
In a recent Decouple podcast, host Dr. Chris Keefer interviews Albertan Chris Popoff to discuss the recent cold snap and the overall theme of energy in Alberta.
While the entire episode is worth a watch1, if there’s one part really worth seeing over the entire one hour video, it’s what Popoff has to say around the 34 minute mark in response to Dr. Keefer’s question.
Keefer: Is this weather event like a vindication of that policy given how the wind fleet, for instance, just has not shown up and then not been of any assistance investing more in this resource? You know, while it may have some benefits in aggregates or in shoulder seasons or, you know, in terms of sparing fossil fuels or lowering carbon intensity slightly, is this kind of why that decision was made in terms of how it was justified to the public? That is, that's a hot potato sort of question.
At 34 minutes, 8 seconds in the video, Popoff remarks after mentioning the political situation in the province and then goes in for the real kill, emphasis mine:
But leading up to the moratorium and that decision we were experiencing in many, many cycles of that absenteeism, like you said, the well, we weren't counting on it. That is a very strange attitude. If you're someone that designs these sorts of grids and has the concern for others and, you know, factors like uptime and and health factors in your heart, it's sort of why I consider I wind and solar narcissistic supply because it's like, “well, I'm going to show up when I feel like it and when I'm here, I'm amazing, I'm the best. I'm the lowest carbon, I'm the cheapest. And if you have criticisms of me, well, they're not true. That's up to you to fix. That's a you problem.” That's a classic narcissist if you deal with people like that. So I look at that presence of wind and solar on a on a grid or a society is as that sort of like an absentee dad or, you know, just a real dick, someone to deal with."
Popoff couldn’t have explained it any better.