Commentary: During bitter cold, ‘green energy’ is futile

It seems "green energy" fails when times get tough. You know what doesn’t have that issue? Coal and nuclear power. 

Gary Denham/Flickr. Image resized.

In case you weren’t counting, here in Minnesota we’re approaching two full weeks of sub-zero temps. In some parts of the state, thermometer readings are the lowest in over a century for this or any time of year. And to think, springtime is allegedly just four weeks away.

Not only are the Great Lakes and Northern Plains frigid, but all the way down the “heartland corridor” to Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, they saw snow, ice or single digit readings — some 30-60 degrees below normal for mid-February. Nearly three-quarters of the contiguous United Sates currently is covered in snow.

There were temperatures around zero in San Antonio; in Galveston, they saw snow on their famous boardwalk pier; and Houston was perhaps hit the hardest. A friend there said he can’t recall weather this cold since he moved to Space City in 1975. About 25 people have died from the Arctic blast, and he’s one of more than 3 million Texans without power since Monday morning.

Rolling blackouts occurred across Texas due to extreme cold. Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for all 254 Lone Star State counties, and the president approved the disaster declaration.

It seems “green energy” fails when times get tough. You know what doesn’t have that issue? Coal and nuclear power.

As the Minnesota-based Center of the American Experiment (CAE) reported this month, “Wind turbines are shut down when temperatures are below -22° F because it is too cold to operate them safely. This means it will be too cold for the wind turbines built by the power companies to generate any electricity.”

And when the last Polar Vortex hit two years ago, wind and solar provided almost no power to heat homes.

CAE also noted:

“Wind turbines will actually consume electricity at these temperatures because the turbines use electric heaters in their gearboxes to keep the oil in the housing from freezing, which would cause damage to the turbine. Wind turbines are a liability on the grid when the power is needed most.”

Nearly half of Texas’ installed wind-power generation capacity went offline earlier this week due to frozen wind turbines.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation notes this “never would have been an issue had our grid not been so deeply penetrated by renewable energy sources that contribute the least when they are needed the most, yet are propped up by billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies every year.”

Solar power is even less reliable in severe weather conditions. Sunny skies usually give way to cold, clear nights; no sunlight means snow and ice can destroy solar panels.

Does this mean if Democrats abolish fossil fuels, we Minnesotans —  along with the rugged folks in the Dakotas and elsewhere across the northern tundra — may be stuck building fires for warmth?

Let’s live in the 21st century.