Texas Power Crisis Moves Into Fourth Day With Millions in Dark

At-a-Glance:

Economic fallout from the extreme winter weather that caused widespread blackouts is continuing to have a ripple effect even as power is restored. “The current energy crisis is much bigger than most people realize. This is a global crisis,” Paul Sankey, an oil analyst at Sankey Research, wrote in a note. “The largest energy outage in U.S. history.” To learn more, read Texas Power Crisis Moves Into Fourth Day With Millions in Dark.” Reading this article may require a subscription.

Key Takeaways:

  • While Texas’s grid operator was able to restore power to 1.8 million homes by Wednesday February 17, 1.2 million homes remained without electricity.
  • Generation capacity on the grid reached 52 gigawatts Wednesday evening, the highest level since Monday morning. Electricity load climbed to 49 gigawatts, indicating that power had been restored to some customers.
  • As of February 17, 43 gigawatts of the state’s generation capacity remained offline, including 26.5 gigawatts of thermal generation that shut due to frozen instruments, limited gas supplies, and low gas pressure.
  • Frozen turbines and icy solar panels shut down nearly 17 gigawatts of renewable energy.
  • Gas production has plummeted to the lowest level since 2017.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The recent Texas power crisis impacted millions of people in Texas and neighboring states. One reason these blackouts occurred is that many power plants are not designed to handle extreme ambient temperatures. Limited natural gas supply and low gas pressure also posed a challenge for power plants across the state. Winterizing gas supply and power plants is a must to avoid similar situations in the future. Although it is more expensive to winterize the gas supply and power plants, this is required to ensure reliability when extreme weather occurs.

 

 

Photo by Nishanth K on Unsplash

Texas Storms, California Heat Waves and ‘Vulnerable’ Utilities

At-a-Glance:

In California, wildfires and heat waves in recent years forced utilities to shut off power to millions of homes and businesses. Now, Texas is learning that deadly winter storms and intense cold can do the same. To learn more, read Texas Storms, California Heat Waves and ‘Vulnerable’ Utilities.” Reading this article may require a subscription.

Key Takeaways:

  • Blackouts in Texas and California have revealed that power plants can be strained and knocked offline by the kind of extreme cold and hot weather that climate scientists have said will become more common as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.
  • The electricity industry typically looks at average annual temperatures rather than seasonal ones. Changing the distribution of power sources based on the seasonal temperatures could help avoid electricity shortages.
  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas could take a cue from states in colder climates and winterize its power plants and other equipment to prevent future weather-related power failures.
  • That Texas and California have been hardest hit makes clear that simplistic ideological explanations are often wrong. Texas, for example, has relied on market forces to balance its electric grid.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The impacts of climate change and extreme weather are not limited to Texas and California. All states can take steps to ensure their power and natural gas systems can handle the full range of temperatures that climate analysts forecast; winterization is just one example. States should also explore long-term energy storage solutions, such as thermal generation.

 

Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash