No, frozen wind turbines aren’t the main culprit for Texas’ power outages

State News

Lost wind power makes up only a fraction of the reduction in power-generating capacity that has brought outages to millions of Texans across the state during a major winter storm.

Wind Turbines

FILE – This May 6, 2013 file photo shows a wind turbine farm owned by PacifiCorp near Glenrock, Wyo. Bigger, more efficient equipment will allow a western U.S. electric utility to redevelop an aging Wyoming wind farm with far fewer turbines while generating the same amount of power. Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp plans to replace 68 wind turbines at the Foote Creek I wind farm with 13 turbines over the next year. (AP Photo/Matt Young)

Frozen wind turbines in Texas caused some conservative state politicians to declare Tuesday that the state was relying too much on renewable energy. But in reality, the lost wind power makes up only a fraction of the reduction in power-generating capacity that has brought outages to millions of Texans across the state during a major winter storm.

An official with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said Tuesday afternoon that 16 gigawatts of renewable energy generation, mostly wind generation, were offline. Nearly double that, 30 gigawatts, had been lost from thermal sources, which includes gas, coal and nuclear energy.

ERCOT implemented blackouts on Monday as power plants went offline

Demand for electricity during the weekend cold front far exceeded what the Electric Reliability Council of Texas predicted for a winter storm. ERCOT implemented blackouts early Monday morning to reduce demand as low temperatures forced more power sources offline than expected.

Note: Energy capacity excludes offline power sources that could be brought online.
Source: Electric Reliability Council of Texas
Credit: Mandi Cai

“Texas is a gas state,” said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

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