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Blackouts Prompt False Claims About Renewable Energy

Failures in thermal energy sources have caused the most issues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 17, 2021 5:46 PM CST
Blackouts Prompt False Claims About Renewable Energy
More than 4 million people in Texas still had no power a full day after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

With millions of Texas residents still without power amid frigid temperatures, conservative commentators have falsely claimed that wind turbines and solar energy were primarily to blame, the AP reports. “This is a perfect example of the need for reliable energy sources like natural gas & coal,” Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican from Montana, said in a Tuesday tweet. In reality, failures in natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy systems were responsible for nearly twice as many outages as frozen wind turbines and solar panels, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid, said in a press conference Tuesday. Still a variety of misleading claims spread on social media around renewable energy, with wind turbines and the Green New Deal getting much of the attention.

A viral photo of a helicopter de-icing a wind turbine was shared with claims it showed a “chemical” solution being applied to one of the massive wind generators in Texas. The only problem? The photo was taken in Sweden years ago. The helicopter sprayed hot water onto the turbine, not chemicals. Other social media users puzzlingly labeled the Green New Deal as the culprit. But the Green New Deal is irrelevant, as no version of it exists in Texas or nationwide, said Mark Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University. “It’s really natural gas and coal and nuclear that are providing the bulk of the electricity and that’s the bulk of the cause of the blackouts,” he said. ERCOT said Tuesday that of the 45,000 total megawatts of power that were offline statewide, about 30,000 consisted of thermal sources—gas, coal, and nuclear plants—and 16,000 came from renewable sources.

(More texas stories.)

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