Friday, June 21, 2024

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Is Wind Energy to Blame For Texas Blackouts?

The Lone Star State is experiencing some extreme winter weather for the first time in decades in some areas. And as a side effect of these weather conditions, critics of renewable energy are quick to blame them for the Texas blackouts.

However, it’s not just the wind turbines that have frozen over.

Fossil fuel plants are also reliant on weather conditions to a certain extent. These plants need water to operate, and in these freezing conditions, they are not getting enough to maintain functionality.

Thus, they are no better than renewable sources.

The problem in Texas is that nothing in the state’s energy grid was built for below zero temperatures.

A 10,000% Electricity Price Increase

Price-Surge

In hopes of staying warm, families that did not lose power have been using their heaters to stave off the cold. And that is causing an unprecedented demand for power in the state.

In fact, the problem got so out of hand that a 10,000% price spike occurred.

And because much of the state’s energy generation is offline, fossil fuel and renewable alike, a major strain has been put on the grid. Unfortunately, the electric grid cannot support the current demand.

Was This Preventable?

The ultimate question on resident’s minds is if these Texas blackouts can be prevented in the future. And the good news is yes, absolutely! After all, it’s not like any other states are experiencing severe blackouts as a result of the cold.

And this raises the question, what went wrong?

Wind Turbines Froze

Let’s take a look at wind turbines first. In Texas, the wind turbines froze over, which obviously prevents them from turning. However, this is because Texas did not winterize them. In places like Denmark or Iowa, the turbines experience much colder weather.

And they do not freeze.

In the defense of Texas, the odds of a storm like this happening are quite low. Thus, it was a safe bet to not winterize the turbines and save money. After all, there should be more than enough power even if only the wind turbines failed.

However, I think most can agree, they must be winterized going forward.

A Nuclear Power Plant Shut Down

Another casualty of the unprecedented winter weather in Texas was the nuclear power plant. While nuclear plants do not rely on weather conditions, it does require huge sums of water to cool the reactors.

And unfortunately, the water they use froze. Thus, no cooling.

Luckily, only one unit of the plant was shut down. In total, the nuclear power plant accounts for 11% of the state’s energy. Hence, it was another piece of the puzzle.

However, once again, nuclear power plants in much colder environments are able to get water. This was the result of not being prepared.

Natural Gas

Natural gas makes up the lion’s share of energy at a whopping 40%, nearly double the amount that wind produces. Yet, as is a trend, when something can go wrong, it often does.

Natural gas saw the same problem as the nuclear power plants, the water facilities froze over.

And in an ironic turn of events, some of the water facilities that didn’t freeze lost the power to operate. Thus, the water could not be used by the plants to generate energy.

Quite the conundrum.

Texas Was Not Prepared For the Weather

In reality, the blame for the blackouts cannot be put on any induvial energy source. The true culprit is not being prepared. The state could have easily winterized the grid but felt it was unnecessary.

After all, it’s quite rare to see these temperatures in Texas.

Thus, the Texas blackouts are completely preventable if the state accounted for winter conditions.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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