Texas is in the midst of a historic winter storm, which has created an energy crisis because many of their wind turbines are completely frozen:
320AM: There are now over 1.3 million electric customers in Texas without power. Rolling blackouts continue this morning due to extreme energy demand. pic.twitter.com/mBEFTQ2Ibu
— Texas Storm Chasers (@TxStormChasers) February 15, 2021
Here’s more via Statesman:
Nearly half of Texas’ installed wind power generation capacity has been offline because of frozen wind turbines in West Texas, according to Texas grid operators.
Wind farms across the state generate up to a combined 25,100 megawatts of energy. But unusually moist winter conditions in West Texas brought on by the weekend’s freezing rain and historically low temperatures have iced many of those wind turbines to a halt.
As of Sunday morning, those iced turbines comprise 12,000 megawatts of Texas’ installed wind generation capacity, although those West Texas turbines don’t typically spin to their full generation capacity this time of year.
“This is a unique winter storm that’s more widespread with lots of moisture in West Texas, where there’s a lot of times not a lot of moisture,” said Dan Woodfin, Senior Director of System Operations for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. “It’s certainly more than what we would typically assume.”
Wind power has been the fastest-growing source of energy in Texas’ power grid. In 2015 winder power generation supplied 11% of Texas’ energy grid. Last year it supplied 23% and overtook coal as the system’s second-largest source of energy after natural gas.
In Austin, wind power supplies roughly 19% of the city’s energy demands, all of which is passed from producers to consumers across the state grid. The city began adding several megawatts of wind energy capacity to its renewable energy portfolio in the 1990s from both West Texas and Gulf Coast wind farms.
The frozen turbines come as low temperatures strain the state’s power grid and force operators to call for immediate statewide conservation efforts, like unplugging non-essential appliances, turning down residential heaters and minimize use of electric lighting.
Apparently helicopters are spraying chemicals on the turbine blades in order to unfreeze them:
A helicopter running on fossil fuel spraying a chemical made from fossil fuels onto a wind turbine made with fossils fuels during an ice storm is awesome. pic.twitter.com/3HInc2qKb9
— Luke Legate (@lukelegate) February 15, 2021
I’ve heard of power lines going down but never an energy source going down. Welp, fossil fuels to the rescue again!
I’m sure wind turbines are great during warm times of year, but this shows an inherent flaw in wind energy. I know Texas doesn’t get a lot of bad winter storms like this, but I bet many are hating wind turbines right now.
Well look on the bright side. Global warming is over in Texas!