According to the National Digital Forecast Database, over 70% of the lower 48 states are covered by snow. As of February 15, 2021, Texas was hit, not only with snow, wind, and ice, but half of their wind turbine generating stations were shut down, leaving 4 million Texans, perhaps more, without electrical power. Almost one-fourth of Texas’ electrical power is created by wind turbines. The elimination of coal-fired plants and the replacement of them with natural gas, solar, and wind turbines left the state vulnerable with so much power focused on wind energy.
Shortage of power forced government authorities to order rolling blackouts throughout the state, and at least 11 people so far have died because of the cold. One family died when they got into their car in the garage, ran the engine, and succumbed to the fumes.
Texas has been unable to assess the damage to the windmills, but if any of them are damaged, it might impact the reliability of power in Texas. The current estimated lead time for a new turbine windmill is about two months. Turbines have a difficult time in very cold weather generating electrical power.
Solar panels don't work when the sun doesn't shine, and wind turbines don't work if there's no wind. We also know that wind turbines have difficulty when cold-weather strikes because they're not set up to deal with severe cold weather unless they have expensive special protection.
Let me ask you a question. Did you know that wind turbine blades cannot be recycled? Do you know what happens to them when they're no longer useful? Did you know they go to a landfill in Casper, Wyoming, which currently holds 870 blades? According to Bloomberg, NEF 8,000 blades will have to be removed from windmills per year for the next four years in the United States alone. Bloomberg reported that it expects the volume of blades to increase.
Unlike your ceiling fan at your house, wind turbine blades are not that easy to replace and dispose of because many of them have a blade length equal to the length of the wing on a 747 airplane. When they're taken down, they have to be cut into at least three sections to be loaded on flatbed trailers to be taken to the landfills where scientists expect that they will never disintegrate, and they will be there for the rest of the time. Speaking of things that will continue to fill the landfills worldwide, the problem of solar panel waste will continue to grow as more panels reach their end of life. Four years ago, the International Renewable Energy Agency (1) estimated there were already about 250,000 metric tons of solar panel waste worldwide – and that total will explode to 78 million metric tons by 2050.
Let's get back to Texas as another storm is headed their way, and millions still don't have power. For some reason, Texas decided that they wanted to be isolated from the national power grid, and so when they needed the power to try and keep the lights and power on, they had no connection.
Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, ordered an investigation into the Texas energy company amid blackouts and freezing temperatures. He said, "Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures." He has ordered an investigation into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) amid statewide blackouts in freezing temperatures. (2)
Green energy in certain situations can be a great supplemental power source. By rushing to switch away from fossil fuels, it appears that no matter how much we think we can change the environment, mother nature will always be there to show us that we can't. With a second storm approaching, the hardship may well affect millions of Texans and perhaps other states.
It is also hard to convince people that we have global warming when people are freezing and dying in the cold.