Don’t blame wind turbines for historic Texas power outages


Officials say situation in Texas it’s terrible, as some 3 million homes and businesses are still without power after a death record storm. As some of the coldest temperatures in decades hit the Lone Star state, many have pointed the blame to an unusual source: wind turbines.

While the state power grid can handle your blazingly hot summers, not quite as prepared for severe winter weather – extremes that are only expected to get worse as the climate crisis intensifies. Frozen wind turbines across the state led some conservative politicians to declare that renewable energy it is responsible for catastrophic power failures and ongoing blackouts.

“This is what happens when the grid is forced to rely in part on the wind for its power source,” said Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw. tweeted Tuesday. “When the weather conditions get worse like this week, intermittent renewable energy like the wind is not available when you need it.”

“We should never build another wind turbine in Texas,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wrote on Facebook. “The experiment failed in a big way.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott echoed the sentiment and took the opportunity to criticize the Green New Deal.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott said. saying to Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday. “Our wind and solar power went out, and collectively they were more than 10% of our electrical grid, and that pushed Texas into a state where it lacked power.”

But the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which supplies power to about 90% of the state, said Tuesday that wind power is responsible for only a fraction of the loss. Of the 45,000 megawatts of power disconnected during the peak, 30,000 megawatts came from natural gas, while 16,000 megawatts were from wind turbines.

“Of the energy deficit that affected Texas, more than 80% was due to problems at coal and gas plants,” reported PolitiFact.

Experts say that traditional energy sources, including coal and natural gas, performed below expectations, while wind power actually performed above expectations.

“The main story remains the failure of the thermal power plants (natural gas, coal and nuclear plants) that ERCOT expects to be there when needed. They have failed,” said Princeton engineering professor Jesse Jenkins. tweeted Tuesday. “Those of you who have heard that frozen wind turbines are to blame for this, think again. Extreme demand and thermal power outages are the main cause.”


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Defenders of renewable energy he criticized state officials for blaming the problem solely on the turbines.

“It’s a shame to see the former antagonists of clean energy – those who attack you whether it’s raining, snowing or shining sun – participating in a politically opportunistic charade that misleads Americans into promoting an agenda that has nothing to do with restoring power to Texas communities, “said Heather Zichal, executive director of the American Clean Power Association, said in a statement Tuesday, “It’s an extreme weather problem, not a clean energy problem.” If anything, it shows why we need to invest in building more sources of energy. renewable energy with better transmission and storage to replace outdated systems. ”

Both ERCOT and energy analysts say that natural gas, which provides just over a third of Texas’s energy and heats about 40% of its homes, bears most of the blame for the outages.

“By far the biggest outages come from our natural gas plants,” Daniel Cohan, associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University, told CBS MoneyWatch reporter Irina Ivanova. “A part was reduced by scheduled maintenance. Others were not designed to function reliably in extremely cold climates and others have not been able to obtain a sufficient supply of natural gas.”

“It appears that much of the generation that has been disconnected today has been mainly due to problems in the natural gas system,” Dan Woodfin, ERCOT’s senior director, told reporters.

Abbott acknowledged it too, in contrast to his comments on Fox News. “The capacity of some companies that generate energy has been frozen. This includes natural gas and coal generators,” he said. tweeted Monday.


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Additionally, there are anti-icing methods available to keep wind turbines running in cold temperatures, but Texas has not invested in them due to the rarity of severe cold weather there.

“Iowa and Denmark get a higher percentage of their energy from wind than we do. There are ways to winterize many of these energy providers, but it costs money and requires energy and maintenance,” Cohan said. “In Texas and the South we have focused more on keeping the lights on during the summer.”

ERCOT said it braced for winter storms, but even its most extreme predictions were outweighed by severe weather this week and energy demand soared. Almost all power sources have failed during the storm, according to the US Department of Energy.

Texas is the only state in the Continental US that has its own separate electrical grid; It is not regulated by the federal government and is disconnected from neighboring states. On Tuesday, Abbott ordered an investigation into ERCOT.

“The Texas Electric Reliability Council has been anything but reliable for the past 48 hours. Too many Texans have no electricity or heat for their homes,” he said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.”

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