If you live anywhere in the Midwest, South, or East Coast of the United States, you’ve probably been hit with major winter weather this week. And you probably heard a little bit about the major power failures that struck “energy independent” Texas. But the problem was so much worse than you might have realized.
Texas has its own power grid. For years, its leader boasted about how much energy the state can produce all on its own. In reality, much of the wealth that has flowed into Texas is a result of its rich deposits of oil and natural gas. But when temperatures dropped into the single digits last weekend, the pride of the Lone Star State failed them utterly.
The state was not prepared and the power grid was close to collapsing. At the height of the crisis, nearly 4 million residents were out of power. But how could that be? Many experts have been pointing fingers at the ill-equipped system. But it seems one technology was largely to blame.
The historic power failures in Texas this week amid a major cold snap there appear to have been driven in no small part by the failure of the state’s wind turbines to keep up with a spike in demand, according to energy data from federal sources…
Data from the EIA show that at nearly the exact same time demand was surging and energy grids were buckling, wind energy experienced a catastrophic drop-off: In the evening of Feb. 14, wind in the state was producing just over 9,000 MWh of energy, while 24 hours later it was putting out less than 800 MWh, a roughly 91% decrease in output. [Source: Just the News]
The cold was so severe, many of the wind turbines literally froze. Helicopters were brought in to spray down the blades with chemical agents, in a desperate bid to get them back online. To be sure, every energy source suffered thanks to lack of preparation, but wind dropped the most.
According to reports, the oil-rich state has become more and more reliant on wind power. The use of wind has quadrupled since 2009 and makes up a healthy portion of the energy demands. You have to wonder why a state that prides itself on natural energy resources would so quickly rely on such an unreliable “green” source of energy?
During the storm, wind turbines froze and solar panels were useless (thanks to a lack of daylight and snow). Other generators were damaged thanks to the freezing temperatures, but these two environmentally friendly sources were as good as useless.
Oh, there will be plenty of investigations, perhaps even lawsuits, to get to the bottom of what happened. More than a few people will probably lose their jobs (and future elections), but what we can say for sure is that Texas’ energy leaders did not foresee winter weather. While it may be rare, it was still unacceptable.
It also teaches us that, when it’s cold outside, nothing beats having something to burn.