In the aftermath of one of the coldest winter storms to hit Texas, millions were left without power or heat. Texas is typically not one for cold weather snafus, and this contributed to the statewide shutdown of schools, businesses, and homes. The power crisis was unprecedented, with home going as long as 5+ days without electricity. Warming shelters had to be opened in populated areas to allow Texas residents the chance to warm up. Restaurants seized the opportunity to advertise and encourage residents to brave the roads for a hot meal and a temperature controlled environment.
All around, it just was not a good time for the Lone Star state. Many are wondering how this situation could have been avoided. What does the rest of the country need to take away in order to avoid the same plight that Texans faced last week?
Renewable energy sources are being snubbed as photos circulate of iced-over wind turbines, Texas’ biggest source of green energy production. Last year, Texas produced almost 47% of its energy from wind turbines. This is definitely a step in the right direction for the race to reduce fossil fuels, yet the big freeze left these wind turbines virtually unusable — effectively depriving the state of 47% of its power until the thaw.
This situation has added heat to the argument that renewable energy sources are not as sustainable as we think, and more emphasis should be given to nuclear power options. However, this is not the most effective long-term solution.
What would have saved Texas? The answer is still more renewable energy. The actionable lesson to be learned from the extreme situation in Texas is for states to continue to expand renewable energy output, and to vary their sources. Putting all of our eggs into one green energy basket (as Texas has largely done with wind energy) limits the output and can cause catastrophic tragedy should that one source be hampered.
A combination of solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other sources will always be the most sustainable solution, because more options means more fail-safes in the event of unpredictable circumstances, such as extreme weather.
The answer is not to step back from green, it is to diversify green.