Could Solar Have Reduced the Impact of the 2021 Texas Freeze?
October 12, 2022
With massive strides in solar technology over the centuries, solar power has become a mainstream solution for many everyday energy needs. But homeowners and businesses can also use solar power in emergency situations, such as power outages.
Winter Storm Uri, also called the 2021 Texas Freeze, not only knocked out the state’s power grid but also led to 246 deaths. The victims of the Texas Freeze spanned 77 counties and ranged from infants to centenarians. If Texas had more widespread solar energy use, the death toll could have been significantly lower.
So, could solar energy have lessened the overall impact of the 2021 Texas freeze? What factors led to the disaster? We’ll outline the probable causes and note how solar could make a serious difference.
What Caused the Texas Power Outages?
Although many issues led to the power outages, three main factors caused them:
- High electricity demand and insufficient power supply
- The stand-alone electric grid
- A utility infrastructure unprepared to handle the cold
High Demand, Low Supply
As the polar vortex steadily worsened, more and more Texans started raising their thermostats to combat the cold. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees the Texas power grid, claimed it was prepared for increased demand. But power plants still weren’t producing enough energy to meet Texans’ power needs.
This high-demand, low-supply situation led to cascading outages in an attempt to reduce overload on the utility’s infrastructure.
Stand-Alone Electric Grid
Interconnected grids allow a state’s generated power to flow to another state when demand is high. This serves as a buffer to prevent scenarios like the 2021 Texas Freeze.
However, Texas has a stand-alone grid in an attempt to keep energy prices stable and low. This prevented the state from drawing power from neighboring states, and as a result, it led to widespread outages.
Infrastructure Unprepared for the Cold
The Texas electric infrastructure simply isn’t equipped to handle low temperatures. And because extreme wintry conditions are rare, utility companies have little incentive to outfit infrastructure for long freezes.
In short, power plants couldn’t generate enough energy during the freeze, and transmission lines couldn’t carry it. As a result, Texas utilities couldn’t distribute energy to communities.
And considering that 51% of the state’s electricity comes from gas, millions of Texans lost power when the gas lines froze.
Solar Energy Could Have Protected Texans
On a broad note, Texas has some eco-friendly power systems in place.
Wind turbines, for example, generate 25% of Texas’ electricity, which is a sizable percentage. But frozen turbines can’t generate energy, and frozen power lines can’t transmit it even if they could.
Ultimately, reliance on fossil fuels largely led to the devastating 2021 outages due to Texas power plants’ inability to generate power during the freeze. By investing in grid-scale solar, along with home solar installations, Texans can generate more power and ease demand on the grid.
Solar panel systems, home backup batteries and solar batteries are just a few options that can provide power during emergencies. Energy independence and less reliance on the grid could have taken some of the distress out of the 2021 freeze — and saved lives.
Takeaways From the 2021 Texas Freeze
The 2021 Texas freeze was a crushing blow to the state and, much more importantly, to Texans. The event highlighted a major problem in the Texas electrical infrastructure and led to hundreds of deaths.
But for now, Texans, Texas businesses and the Texas legislature can learn from the disaster and make better decisions when it comes to generating, transmitting and storing energy.
City and statewide solar rebates and incentives, as well as the federal solar investment tax credit (which recently increased to 30%), make it easier to go solar. More reliable energy solutions provide greater energy independence and allow the state to better protect Texans from future climate-related crises.
Contact Freedom Solar for Reliable Energy
At Freedom Solar Power, our staff members have decades of experience. And we want you to feel secure in the face of emergencies like power outages (we’re Texas natives, after all). That’s only one reason we’ll equip your home or business with solar, and you’ll be prepared for the worst.
Looking for solar repair? Our maintenance and repair service department can help you obtain maximum energy production and efficiency. Do you want more information about Texas solar rebates and incentives and your solar financing options? We’ve got you covered.
Call us at (800) 504-2337 or fill out our inquiry form — one of our energy consultants will be in touch!
Featured image via Pixabay