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Feb 20, 2021
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Texas deep freeze

How could the American energy capital be left without electricity, heat and water?

On February 14, US President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas, where heavy snowfall (some write about an ice storm) and a sharp cooling from -2 to -22 ° C caused, they wrote, power outages. More than four million people are left without electricity. Grocery stores, schools were closed, air traffic was stopped.

Record freezing temperatures spike electricity demand and forced the Texas power grid operator to ERCOT (Texas Electricity Reliability Council) cut off electricity in more than two million homes.

Texas deep freeze

Leading Fox News Tucker Carlson noted that after “The windmills are frozen and the power grid is out of order”, in ERCOT, “Who kind of controls the power system, there were no tools to solve the problems that arose”

“None of the utility models anticipated that all 254 counties in Texas would be affected by a snowstorm at the same time. – said Joshua Rhodes, a power supply expert at the University of Texas at Austin.

Texas deep freeze

Due to extreme frosts for Texas, the work of gas pipelines was disrupted, which caused interruptions in the operation of gas thermal power plants, and wind turbines simply froze. In Canada, the blades of wind turbines are heated to operate in cold weather and covered with a material that prevents icing. They did not do this in Texas, because then wind power would have cost more. Since such frosts and snowfalls in Texas happen once every 100 years, they saved on heating the blades.

Texas deep freeze

The work of the oil and gas producing companies was suspended. The largest refineries closed.

The picture of the humanitarian disaster in Texas has been seen around the world thanks to hundreds of videos posted on TikTok by residents of the state under hashtags #TexasStorm, #frozentexas (“Frozen Texas”) #frozenpipes (“Frozen pipes”) #lostpower (“Power outage”) #So cold (“very cold”).

Texas deep freeze

Chester Jones of Dallas posted a video of his sleeping children by the fireplace under a pile of blankets: “We would need help,” He mutters, shivering from the cold by the fireplace in which one small log is burning. A young Texas woman showed how water spilled from the burst pipes of the washstand all over the house, which was also frozen. In many videos, people cry in despair. In Houston, a ceiling collapsed due to bursting pipes.

Texas deep freeze

Chuck Hairston, who lives in the suburbs of Fort Worth, has been without electricity for more than 30 hours. He said that his family slept by the fireplace, covered “All the blankets and pillows one could find in the house.”

Texas deep freeze

Unprecedented snowfall in the area and a complete disaster of utilities have forced Texas residents to adapt to life without electricity and water. Texans began to cook in courtyards, lighting up street stoves.

Texas deep freeze

Lauren Richardson shared her experience on how to collect snow for drinking water. I ‘m not ok, she smiles sadly at the end of her instructional video, explaining that the water pipes burst from the extreme cold.

Texas deep freeze

The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, did not approve of her initiative. He urged everyone who does not have electricity and the ability to boil tap water to buy bottled water in stores. More than 13 million people – nearly half of the state’s population – have experienced water disruptions.

Texas deep freeze

Houston police and disaster response teams will deliver bottled water to people with disabilities who do not have access to transportation, the mayor said on February 18.

Texas deep freeze

A Ukrainian who came to Austin to work writes that the reason for the loss of electricity has become known: “Knowing in a week that there will be snow, that the front is going across all states, it was necessary to warm up the generators, this is spelled out in the instructions since 2011, but the instructions were scored. All inspections since 2011 have failed, but since there is no regulator in Texas, the findings of the inspection are advisory. I’m just in shock “

Texas deep freeze

Since electricity consumption in Texas usually peaks in the summer, when everyone is turning on the air conditioning, coal or natural gas power plants often stop for routine maintenance during the winter months. This winter was no exception. By the time of the sudden cold snap, many of the “fossil” power plants were shut down and could not start work instantly. They had to be turned on in advance, when the forecast and future cold weather came, but no one did it.

“Texas froze, and people were left without electricity and heat, – wrote Republican Senator Steve Danes. “This is a perfect illustration of the need for reliable energy sources such as gas and oil.”

American power grids “Are becoming less reliable due to the growing dependence on wind and sun, which cannot provide electricity production 24 hours a day, seven days a week, – writes Wall Street Magazine in editorial Deep green freeze (Deep green freeze). – Coal and nuclear power are still the most reliable sources of energy. However, competition from government-subsidized wind power and low-cost natural gas, combined with stricter emission regulations, has resulted in the share of coal-fired generation in Texas falling by more than half over the past decade to 18%. “

But the share of wind generation in Texas has tripled in ten years and is now the second largest source of energy in the state. In 2020, wind power in Texas accounted for up to 25% of electricity consumption, and just before the start of the cold snap, this figure rose to 42%. When the frost struck, half of the wind power in the Texas power grid was turned off.

According to Wall Street Magazine, “It is reckless to refuse to use natural gas and coal to generate electricity.” According to the plan of US President Joe Biden, the full transition of the United States to clean sources of electricity should be completed by 2035. A leading US business publication believes the Biden administration’s plan to phase out conventional power sources “Poses a greater threat to Americans than climate change”

Meanwhile, in America, three more causes of the energy catastrophe in Texas are overlooked.

Undoubtedly, coal-fired power plants are the most reliable. However, gas-fired power plants went down in Texas due to gas pipeline accidents that were not properly prepared for the sudden cold weather. Congressman Dan Crenshaw writes: “ERCOT planned to get 67 GW from natural gas / coal, but was able to get only 43 GW. We have not run out of natural gas, we have simply lost the opportunity to receive it. The pipelines in Texas are not isolated from the cold – they are all frozen. “

One of the reactors at the nuclear power plant near Houston also stopped due to the fact that frozen safety sensor.

The Texas power grid did not have and does not have the necessary capacity in case of unforeseen peak loads.

Most importantly, the Texas Electricity Grid, run by the Electricity Reliability Board (ERCOT), is a completely independent power grid that cannot borrow electricity from other states. This became a problem in bad weather.

Surprisingly, the most advanced country of the capitalist world does not have a unified energy system, which is even in the former Central Asian republics of the USSR! If Texas could be helped by the transfer of electricity to other states, a tragedy of this magnitude would not have happened.

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