Prominent conservative lawmakers and media figures started to blame renewable energy almost instantly after winter storms. Severe cold temperatures first passed through Texas last Thursday and left millions of people without electricity.
And while frozen wind turbines have added to the state’s energy crisis, they have only marginally underperformed the type of energy against the published winter production estimates.
Natural gas shortage
According to analysts and industry data, natural gas, the state’s main energy source, has produced significantly less energy than expected.
“Wind was operating almost as well as expected,” said Sam Newell, head of the Brattle Company’s electricity group, an energy consultancy firm that has consulted Texas on its power grid.
It’s an order of magnitude less than natural gas, coal, and nuclear power issues, he added.
Efforts to alleviate the current green energy crisis have gathered traction in recent days. Tucker Carlson, the host of Fox News, dedicated a whole section to the assertion Monday night, which did not address gas failures nor blamed Texas’ extension into wind energy for state deaths.
In an interview with the local Dallas station WFAA on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott identified the challenges of refining and distributing natural gas in such intense cold. But as Abbott went to speak about the tragedy on Fox News, he zeroed in on the Green New Deal, a radical initiative that proposes major clean energy expenditure.
Without mentioning any troubles with natural gas, he said that “our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collected more than 10 percent of our power grid,” and “that thrust Texas into a situation where it lacked power.”
Related Article: “Freeze-off”: Texas Intense Snowstorm Froze Power Supplies
The politicization of the Texas crisis highlights the current fight between Republicans and Democrats over how to handle climate change, as well as past oil business wars. When California experienced energy problems due to a heat wave in August, it was referred to by many Republicans, including Texas leaders, as an indication of Political mismanagement.
Texas is currently under the microscope, with experts pointing to the state’s deregulated electricity system (and its lack of readiness for cold weather) as the culprits.
Texas data made it clear that green energies’ shortcomings have played only a minor role in the crisis.
The Texas Electric Reliability Council, which plays the role of traffic cop for electricity supplies in Texas, guiding energy from producers to distributors, estimated that the wind will generate around 7,070 megawatts this winter at peak load periods. According to the council’s own daily data, wind power in Texas has generated between 4,415 and 8,087 megawatts at peak times since the storm started.
The Texas Electric Reliability Council, which plays the role of Texas power traffic officer directing energy from producers to distributors, predicted that the wind will generate about 7,070 megawatts at peak load times this winter. According to the council’s own daily statistics, Texas’s wind power has produced between 4,415 and 8,087 megawatts at peak times since the storm began.
Approximately 56% of Texas’ energy comes from natural gas, just under 24% from wind, 19% from coal, and nearly 9% from nuclear power.
“About a third of our thermal fleet is offline,” said Joshua Rhodes, a research associate specializing in the power grid at the University of Texas in Austin. “We typically count on about 90 percent of it being available during a peak event.”
“We just don’t have enough fuel, from freezing gas wells and gas lines to depressurizing our natural gas infrastructure, because so many homes and businesses are calling for gas at the same time,” he said.
Many Republican politicians have not been prevented from pointing to the crisis as a reason for opposing broader climate efforts.
As the primary or sole source of energy in the country, renewable energy is challenged, but experts say advances in batteries and other technologies are making it more feasible.
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