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Don’t mess with Texas…a look at what went wrong with their energy sources

On the backend of a major energy crisis in Texas, many people have been left wondering what went wrong with the power grid.

In Texas, the major source of energy is natural gas followed by coal, gasoline, and several sources of renewable energy including wind power. In last weeks’ case, the bitter cold mixed with freezing precipitation combined to freeze the natural gas lines and wind turbines. By the middle of the week, 46,000 megawatts of energy were unusable; over half of which came from natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants which account for the leading sources of energy for Texas.

So what happened? Why did so many energy resources fail? To start, natural gas pipelines began to see issues with freezing parts causing them to be shut down. With natural gas being limited, the other methods of power were expected to pick up the slack. Wind power was able to produce energy until ice began to form on the wind turbine wings causing them to stop catching wind. Wind turbines can be outfitted to have insulation on the wings to combat freezing and allow them to run in even the arctic...Which would have been great for Texas who was dealing with arctic air. The problem is that many of these ways to combat winter weather’s effects on energy resources are not implemented as Texas normally doesn’t see harsh winter conditions like this. 

All forms of energy, renewable and non-renewable, have pitfalls that make them susceptible to different weather conditions. In this case, it was the perfect storm that caused such widespread power issues across the board.

If you want to know more about what went wrong/what could be improved to help a power grid failure be prevented, check out these links.

Sweden Shows Texas How to Keep Turbines Going in Icy Weather (msn.com)

Why Wind Turbines In Cold Climates Don’t Freeze: De-Icing And Carbon Fiber (forbes.com)

EXPLAINER: Why the power grid failed in Texas and beyond - ABC News (go.com)

Texas - State Energy Profile Overview - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Texas power outage: Why natural gas went down during the winter storm | The Texas Tribune

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Maddie Est

Maddie Est appears on ABC 17’s weekend evening broadcasts. She grew up in St. Louis, and her passion for weather originated from a young age thanks to all the different weather that St. Louis receives. She is currently studying Atmospheric Science at the University of Missouri.

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