2/17/21 Power Five

1. No, Frozen Wind Turbines Aren’t the Main Culprit for Texas’ Power Outages – Despite what you’re hearing on Fox News this week, Texas’ grid primarily runs on fossil fuels (~70%). Coupled with an unregulated system, Texas was woefully unprepared for the severe weather. “While wind power skeptics claimed the week’s freeze means wind power can’t be relied upon, wind turbines — like natural gas plants — can be “winterized” or modified to operate during very low temperatures. Experts say that many of Texas’ power generators have not made those investments necessary to prevent disruptions to equipment since the state does not regularly experience extreme winter storms.It’s estimated that of the grid’s total winter capacity, about 80% of it, or 67 gigawatts, could be generated by natural gas, coal and some nuclear power. Only 7% of ERCOT’s forecasted winter capacity, or six gigawatts, was expected to come from various wind power sources across the state.

2. Why China’s Didi Can Survive Where Uber Has Struggled – “Uber lost some $2bn over two years in China. Its retreat paved the way for Didi to grow into China’s undisputed ride-hailing champion, which today processes over four-fifths of all domestic orders. The Chinese titan is widely expected to go public in the next few months, eight years after its launch. It could fetch a valuation of $60bn.

3. Australia is Still Doing Lockdowns the Right Way – “That success provided crucial educational and political benefits (assisted by an agreement between the main political parties to work together to fight the virus). The vast majority of Australians learned that if they just hunkered down and endured some strict controls, then they would eventually get the delicious treat of returning to pre-pandemic life safely. So when a second, much worse surge of cases struck Melbourne during the Australian winter, and test-trace-isolate systems failed to keep up with the spread, public buy-in was strong enough that people obeyed a lengthy strict lockdown. It was painful and grim, but after about four months the virus was no longer circulating, and most of the restrictions were lifted once again. Bars, restaurants, movie theaters, sports and music venues, and schools could all open back up (though some with limited capacity, out of an abundance of caution).

4. Charlotte May Have Cracked the Code on Affordable Housing – “But Ethridge had an unusual solution: he wanted to buy the property, fix it up, and keep the rents affordable through a 20-year deed restriction that places legal rules on how the property can be used and priced. Knowing the demand for this tier of housing and the small but steady returns they could provide, Ethridge saw apartment complexes like Lake Mist as long-term plays. They’d provide a slow and reliable return, with the added benefit of helping to combat the city’s affordable housing shortage.

5. Il Maestro – “As recently as fifteen years ago, the term “content” was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against “form.” Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should. “Content” became a business term for all moving images: a David Lean movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl commercial, a superhero sequel, a series episode. It was linked, of course, not to the theatrical experience but to home viewing, on the streaming platforms that have come to overtake the moviegoing experience, just as Amazon overtook physical stores. On the one hand, this has been good for filmmakers, myself included. On the other hand, it has created a situation in which everything is presented to the viewer on a level playing field, which sounds democratic but isn’t. If further viewing is “suggested” by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema.”