Amid a Polar Vortex slamming the central United States, Texas (and Texans) are facing an energy crisis — with greatly increased power (electricity demand) with lowered supplies (about 30 gigawatts of electricity production offline), massively peaking prices, and customers (users, homes … some four million or so) without power amid seriously cold weather (and thus potentially risking freezing due to lack of electricity heat).
Almost exactly the same thing occurred a decade ago.
The key points from a decade ago are true today:
1. The blackouts occurred due to cold-weather causing traditional power plants to go offline, starting with two of Texas’ largest coal power plants. Water intakes froze, requiring the plants to shut down. Natural gas lines faced risks due to moisture in pipelines, leading them to shut off. …
2. Wind power production has met (and, it seems, actually exceed) its commitments to the Texas power grid — wind-power has been producing its promised electricity service, unlike coal and natural gas systems. …
2. In line with Governor Perry’s dreams of secession, Texas’ electrical grid remains the most independent of the regional grids in the United States from the overall electrical system. Other states’ power production [cannot] feed in to compensate for Texas’ inability to meet its own requirements and help keep Texans warm and out of the dark.
Today, just like a decade ago, fossil fools do want people to understand what is really going on and are falsely blaming renewable energy and clean energy efforts for the outages. In Texas, today, natural gas power generation has gone down because of frozen pipes and other problems. There also gigawatts of coal and diesel generation that are offline. In addition, there are many wind turbines that are not producing power because of freezing frozen (perhaps 10-20 percent of the fleet) but the remaining turbines are outproducing the expected production and thus renewables are contributing more electricity than ERCOT had expected. The real story: fossil fuel systems are failing while renewables are delivering. Regrettably, that is unlikely to be the tweet you see or headline you read.
While much of this deception is due to fossil fuel propaganda and propagandists, there is an element of ‘click bait’ media culture at play. As Ketan Joshi makes clear in this twitter thread.
A decade later, the same conclusion
Now, the key takeaway from Polar Vortex Texas 2021 is exactly the same one from Texas Polar Vortex Texas 2011:
While it will take awhile to track exactly what happened in Texas and why, the early honest lesson to identify is not a need to reject 21st century technology and double-down bets on an inadequate system but the importance of increased investment in American infrastructure, the need for intelligent interlinking of the national grid, and the value of a Smart Grid to help manage disasters — whether natural, man-made, or both.
Painfully, those dealing with fossil fuel propaganda have it easy in one way: the same falsehoods and misdirections are used time after time. Thus, debunkings don’t have to take a lot of energy to be modified to be accurate.