The dozens of places reliant on wind energy that are no strangers to cold and ice — from Sweden to Iowa — are proof that the freezing of turbines in Texas was not inevitable. The difference: Unlike in Texas, those turbines were weatherized to operate in the cold.
Midwestern utility company MidAmerican Energy Company has shown that wind energy is highly reliable, even in harsh Iowa conditions. In 2020, 80 percent of the utility’s electricity was generated by renewable energy — the majority of which comes from its 3,300 wind turbines, said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesperson for MidAmerican Energy.
“This year it’s been cold, but our wind fleet continues to generate clean energy for our customers,” he said. All that’s needed is a few extra measures in the turbine design to make sure the electronics don’t freeze up.
Texas has ignored previous guidance. In 2011, after a storm caused a severe blackout, ERCOT developed winterization guidelines, but they weren’t enforced. Now, facing the consequences, Gov. Abbott has called for these winterization measures to be required and for the state legislature to fund the necessary upgrades.