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Energy Entropy Means Energy Poverty

What Nigerian blackouts tell us about America's renewable energy commitment

Happy Friday. Here's what we're looking at today: Amazon warehouse workers strike in US, DOE grants more LNG exports, renewables meet global resistance, nuclear used for district heat in China, Nigeria's grid fails twice in two days. 


  • OECD: Russia's invasion of Ukraine will stifle global economic growth. (OP)

  • Uzbekistan breaks ranks in central Asia, calls for an end to Ukraine war. (OP)

  • Amazon warehouse workers stage coordinated strikes demanding $3 raises. (Vice)

  • Drought set to sear California, US west again, forecasters say. (BBG)

  • US pours cold water on hopes of diplomatic solution in Ukraine. (FT)


  • DOE greenlights more LNG exports. (OP)

  • Oil prices settle more than 8% higher after IEA warns of "supply crisis." (FT)

  • US coal production falls 5.5% on week: EIA. (SPG)

  • US oil, gas rig count continues to climb as prices remain high: Enverus. (SPG)

  • Iran revives natural export plan as world scrambles for natural gas. (BBG)


  • Wind farms grapple with red tape in the UK. (OP)

  • Renewable energy projects are facing resistance around the world. (OP)

  • EVA the next supply chain pinch point for solar. (PVM)

  • Orsted's offshore wind and BP's CCUS plans clash in UK water. (OWB)

  • Crane incident delays delivery of Seaway Alfa Lift. (OWB)


  • Replacing Russian uranium in case of ban might cost $1 billion: DOE. (SPG)

  • Earthquake hits off coast of Japan near Fukushima. (ANS)

  • Tender launched for new nuclear plant at Dukovany. (WNN)

  • "No safety concern" as Zaprozhe loses third power line. (WNN)

  • District heating project launched at Hongyanhe. (WNN)


  • Michigan will need 4,000MW of energy storage by 2040: report. (UD)

  • Virginia approves 1GW renewable energy expansion by Dominion. (UD)

  • Africa's electrification needs $350 billion investment by 2050. (OP)

  • Nigeria's electric grid collapses second time in 48 hours. (TGN)

  • Puerto Rico emerges from bankruptcy, but its electric utility is still struggling with $9 billion in debt. (UD)

Energy Entropy Means Energy Poverty

Earlier this week, Nigeria's grid failed twice in 48 hours. The African nation hosts a population of 206 million people. Texas has about 29 million people in it. Imagining the scale of what happened in Nigeria boggles my mind. The economic and social damage from an event like this lingers and shocks, as it did in the Lone Star state after Uri. Sadly, Nigerians are likely used to this. Since 2013, when their electricity sector was privatized, they've experienced 130 grid failures--that kind of entropy in their energy sector bespeaks energy poverty.

Industrial development requires consistent energy patterns. You have to be able to count on energy from the grid and various other places to build giant infrastructure projects, keep businesses humming, and promote society's general welfare. That means you want reliability. And you want dispatchability. To put it even more simply: you need power when you can predict it and when you want it. So, development is all about reducing energy entropy. The lesser the chaos, the more the wealth. 

So, I worry for the people of Nigeria. Poverty is the biggest issue facing the world. It cannot be divorced from energy access, especially electricity.  But I also worry for the US. And here's why: we're adding entropy into our energy system all the time. That's the major problem with variable renewables like wind and solar: they're both unreliable and non-dispatchable. You can't count on them to perform and you can't make them perform when you need them to. 

Taking it back to Texas, here's this from Robert Bryce:

When the ERCOT grid was on the verge of collapse a year ago, wind and solar were almost completely unavailable. Furthermore, a new report by the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers has determined that the grid’s market design coupled with excessive subsidies for wind and solar were central to the near-meltdown of the state’s electric grid. An analysis by energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie found that the worst of the Texas blackouts coincided with a days-long wind drought across much of North America.

In other words, we increased the amount of entropy on the Texas grid and it resulted in disaster. And we're still doing it. That's what's dangerous about an overabundance of wind and solar: it creates large amounts of entropy and thus inspires energy poverty. No wonder they're meeting resistance around the world

Crom's Blessing