2022 Christmas Freeze

Charts for the holidays

2022 Christmas Freeze
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski / Unsplash
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Winter Storm Elliot has come and gone after covering most of the U.S. in freezing temperatures for days

Extreme temperatures, wind, snow and blizzard like conditions stressed the U.S. power grid, with demand reaching winter highs never seen before

Besides the snow and ice, the Christmas storm of 2022 left us with reams of energy generation data to analyze and understand

If you like charts, you are in luck

We appreciate your support. Happy New Year!

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Santa Comes Bringing Charts

HO-HO-HOLY DEMAND

Electrification.  Thousand year storm.  Demand growth.  Whatever the cause, the recent winter demand surge warrants capacity and reliability concerns.  Although winter peaks are below summer peaks, fuel source availability, transmission, interchange, capacity and capacity factors change with the seasons.

Lessons will be learned from Storm Elliot.

Some of the largest U.S. power markets saw some of the largest deviations from forecasted demand during the worst of the storms.

MISO demand was largely lower than forecasts.

SPP demand was also below forecasts.

U.S. Daily Demand

As can be seen by the shaded winter seasons, the recent demand spike hit a winter season daily high on Christmas Eve at 13.7 TWhrs, barely exceeding the record set the day prior.

Nothing stands out on the wind daily chart, other than the 6-month generation average plateauing.

Deespite large capacity additions versus last year, the recent nadir in solar generation approached last year.  The seasonality of solar is obvious and a challenge the grid will need to deal with.

The recent draw on natural gas demand was the highest on record for winter months.

Despite the intensity of Storm Elliot, recent daily coal generation peaked at levels similar to the last two winters.  Coal generation declines have moderated.

 Nuclear power generation picked up marginally into the storm.

Hydro is generally steady-as-she-goes, but weather and rain dependent.  Hydro power has had a nice run off the fall lows.

This chart is wild.  If a picture speaks a thousand words, this one is saying 'dumb' a thousand times.  Burning fuel oil in 2022 makes little sense.

U.S. Hourly Demand by RTO

December 16th - December 28th

Demand is compared with generation by fuel type.  Images are annotated with any thoughts or items that stand out.

The U.S. has seven Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs), where power assets are pooled for greater efficiency and reliability.  

RTOs and ISOs; source: FERC

One takeaway from these charts should be how different the power grids are across the U.S. in size and composition.

U.S. Hourly Generation by Fuel and RTO

December 16th - December 28th

All the timeframes are set to East Coast time.  Wind varies around the country.  It performed well in MISO during peak demand and poorly in ERCOT and SPP.

Solar appear to have underperformed but on December 22nd, a day before peak demand.

Natural gas generation surged in only three RTOs at peak demand.

Coal generation was generally stable across RTOs.

The fuel oil clown show is isolated to 1-2 RTOs.

Over or Underperformance

We looked at the daily generation average from Dec 21st to -December 26th (six days of the storm) and compared versus the prior week daily averages to see what generation fuels over-performed or under-performed.  

The answer.  It depends.

But generally, data from the U.S. overall and these seven RTOs would suggest generation generally performed as expected.  Demand surged.  Forecasts were materially exceeded.

Fossil fuel generation spiked when needed - natural gas, coal and fuel oil.

The most consistent outperforming fuel across the country?  

Coal.  

Hopefully Santa left plenty in your stockings.

Happy New Year!