Darwin's Theories Blog

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Don't blame Wind Power for Texas' Big Power Frackup

Wind Turbines don't freeze up here; nat gas failures caused most of it
The power grid shutdowns in Texas are easy to blame on Wind Power. After all, they put up some wind turbines, and, the power grid ran out of power. A simple example of the child's fallacy known as post hoc, ergo propter hoc or, in English, correlation does not prove causation.

First, some wind turbines did indeed freeze up. I don't know the technical details, but note that wind turbines in Ontario run fine in winter. Did they just use too thick a grease coating on the bearings? Lubricants behave like most fluids: their viscosity or thickness varies in proportion to the absolute temperature. Almost any fluid will freeze at a low enough temperature. Texas turbines do have the problem of needing a lubricant so thick won't get so thin it drips off the bearings in summer heat but also so thin it won't congeal at the new range of man-made climate-change low temperatures caused by disruptions in air circulation patterns.  But, this must be a solved problem, as the same lubricants are used in wheel bearings on cars, and I didn't hear about any of them freezing up.

At any rate, wind so far provides only a small percentage (15%?) of Texas' electrical power. Much more of it still comes from fossil fuels, and it's that which froze up to make the bigger dent in the supply. Natural gas (which is basically methane) is a fluid, so it behaves as I described above. If it gets too cold, it slows down and eventually freezes. Since Texas "never expected" such cold, they didn't insulate their nat gas pipelines, so these froze up, making a bigger dent in the electrical supply.

You may think I'm dreaming, or just an anti-fossil-fuel fanboi, but here are some reports that have more detail: