Thomas Gallatin / February 16, 2021

Texas Deep Freeze and Energy Supplies

Rolling blackouts leave millions without power as frozen wind farms cannot produce the power residents need.

A once-in-a-century winter storm has blanketed vast swaths of the nation in snow, including virtually the entire state of Texas. That has left millions in the Lone Star State without power, and rolling blackouts have many likening Texas to the environmental paradise of California. It’s important to note that this deep freeze is a highly unusual weather event for Texas, something that will likely not be experienced again anytime soon. However, it does serve to expose the inherent limitations of “green” renewable energy.

While Texas is rightly known for its oil industry, the state also happens to rely on wind energy for more of its power grid than any other state, having the largest wind fleet in the nation. It’s all well and good for the empty stretches of west Texas to be put to good use capturing the wind, but when a deep freeze hits, those turbines suddenly become a liability rather than an asset.

As Isaac Orr at the American Experiment explains, “The Lone Star state is currently short of electricity because half of the Texas wind fleet … is iced over and incapable of generating electricity. Additionally, the natural gas infrastructure Texas has become so reliant upon has also frozen up. Texas’s experience highlights the perils of becoming overly reliant upon wind, solar and natural gas because these energy sources are not as reliable as coal or nuclear power during extreme weather conditions.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board further observes that much of what has led to Texas’s current predicament can be laid on bad public policy. “Blame a perfect storm of bad government policies, timing and weather. Coal and nuclear are the most reliable sources of power. But competition from heavily subsidized wind power and inexpensive natural gas, combined with stricter emissions regulation, has caused coal’s share of Texas’s electricity to plunge by more than half in a decade to 18%.”

Meanwhile, the Journal notes, “Wind’s share has tripled to about 25% since 2010 and accounted for 42% of power last week before the freeze set in. About half of Texans rely on electric pumps for heating, which liberals want to mandate everywhere. But the pumps use a lot of power in frigid weather. So while wind turbines were freezing, demand for power was surging.”

The problem with dogmatically adhering to an ideology that steadfastly shuns real-world data is that eventually the harshness of reality hits — often devastatingly so — demonstrating the bankruptcy of the ideology. As we noted last week, energy produced by wind and solar simply cannot meet the power demands of the modern world, no matter how loudly ecofascists insist otherwise.

The great irony is that if this deep freeze had hit Texas just a decade ago, its residents wouldn’t be suffering through rolling blackouts because coal power would have backed up enough of the grid to keep the heat on. And that kind of reliability is what matters most in an extreme weather event like folks in Texas are experiencing today.

Update 2/18: An NBC News “fact check” says, “And while frozen wind turbines have contributed to the state’s energy crisis, that type of energy has only slightly underperformed against published expectations for winter output. Natural gas, the state’s dominant energy source, has provided drastically less energy than expected, according to experts and industry data.”

To NBC and other green-energy advocates, the fact that natural gas supplies also had hiccups somehow invalidates the point about wind and solar energy being unreliable. They’re more worried about perpetuating the narrative on climate change, which much of the rest of NBC’s article is dedicated to.

In short, it’s yet another way these weasels can purport to “debunk” something that doesn’t convey their opinion.

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