No, frozen wind turbines are NOT the reason for the Texas blackouts

No, frozen wind turbines did NOT cause the blackouts in Texas. 

  • Frozen wind turbines are said to be the main reason for the Texas blackouts during the deep freeze.
  • People are pointing out the 4GW of renewable energy that was out of action, but ERCOT stated that 30GW of gas and coal were offline at the same time. 
  • Experts say accusing renewable energy to be the cause of the state’s blackouts is “disgraceful.”

The United States is severely affected by the below-freezing temperatures, especially in the Texas region. The South Central state is currently reaching its breaking point after days of power outages caused by the harsh weather.

Danielle Banks, a meteorologist, warns there might be more power outages in the coming days:

“Officials say residents could see more power outages as winter storm Viola brings more snow and freezing rain to Texas.” 

According to IFLScience, people trying to “smear” renewable energy use wind power as a “scapegoat,” claiming that it is the main reason for the current crisis.

The present situation is similar to the heat-wave-driven blackouts in California in August 2020. At the time, conservative politicians blamed democrat administrations and renewable energy for the temporary outages. The rivalry between California and Texas was also on the line.

Now, the story repeats, as the same people are accusing wind power of being the main reason for the Texas blackouts.

The allegations that wind turbines are causing the blackouts began when about 4 GW of renewable energy generators were out of action.

Not long after, they reached 16 GW. However, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) stated that at the same point, 30GW of gas and coal were offline as well. While the loss of these traditional resources severely affected the region, wind production was within expectations.

Additionally, Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas, told the Texas Tribune:

“Texas is a gas state. Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now.”

 

Furthermore, statements across social media claimed that the blackouts are caused by iced-over wind turbines. 

As per Vice, the speculations continued when publicist Luke Legate tweeted a photo of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine blade.

Credits: Alpine Helicopter via Nyteknik

In the tweet, he wrote:

“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.”

However, the photograph in the publication turned out to be a recycled image from 2014, from the Uljabuouda mountains in Arjeplog in Sweden.

Indeed, the de-icing process is needed in the Scandinavian region, but only a few times a winter. The wind turbines today “produce so much power they prevent the burning of enough coal or gas to pay back helicopter fuel within hours.”

What’s more, people living in much colder places than Texas share images and videos of their local wind turbines perfectly operating despite the freezing temperatures.

Opponents of renewable energy are often attempting to distract the public from the failures elsewhere in the system, as Heather Zichal, CEO of the industry group the American Clean Power Association, claims. She explains:

“It is disgraceful to see the longtime antagonists of clean power — who attack it whether it is raining, snowing or the sun is shining — engaging in a politically opportunistic charade, misleading Americans to promote an agenda that has nothing to do with restoring power to Texas communities.”

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