What Went Wrong with Texas Turbines?


2021 Texas Winter Storm

More than 4 Million homes on the Texas power grid were without power in February 2021. A record-breaking winter storm brought a rise in demand of energy to heat homes that are better-designed to keep heat out during hot summer months.

Texas Monthly did an interview with “energy guru,” Joshua Rhoades. He said, “I’ve never seen all 254 counties of Texas under a winter storm warning at the same time. It happens here and there, but just the scale and magnitude of this is so far beyond anything we’ve seen or planned for.”

There were many reasons for the variables that created the lack of power to Texas homes. We are just going to discuss what the wind industry could do to prevent turbines from being unusable next time. Although having wind energy available would have helped, it still would not have come close to preventing the black outs in this situation.

Texas wind turbines are not the state’s main source of energy. It actually only accounts for 10% of the winter power plan, but it failed to be available during the winter storm emergency. It is always important to ask “Why?” and the age-old saying “Follow The Money” usually provides a good lead.

Winterized Wind Turbines

There is really only one question that is highly debated back and forth. Should the wind turbines have been winterized? Before the storm, the cost/benefit analysis didn’t weigh heavily in favor of winterizing turbines. On the one hand, that’s understandable. We can all agree that selling winter coats, gloves and hats to Texans isn’t easy either.

Consumers, in general would rather use their money for something they are more likely to use and enjoy. But there is no doubt they were wishing they had those items when there was no power to warm the house last month. And to the same effect, no doubt companies wish they would have winterized the power grid.

Forbes recently did an article estimating 90 billion dollars in damages from the disaster. The article included an interview with Brian Huskinson, CEO of Elemental Coatings, who is testing a material that could be applied to turbine blades and possibly prevent the build up of ice.

He said, “There’s no question that the math is iffy. If it was clear, then it would be done from a purely economic point of view. Otherwise we would have to believe that many dozens of independent operators are making incorrect, uneconomic decisions, which I find hard to believe.”

The article also presented the idea that it would have been worth it to winterize the bigger/newer turbines and skip the smaller/older turbines.

It seems for now that many companies in Texas have ordered winterization kits. Turbine technicians will be busy making sure they are back up to working condition, repaired, and winterized. Now we just need someone to invent a way to store extra wind energy for emergencies like this despite the United States’ lack of grid-scale storage.

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