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Texas blackouts prevented with renewable energy


Twelve months later, the state’s electrical grid, while improved, is still vulnerable to weather-induced power outages.

“If we got another storm this year, like Uri in 2021, the grid would go down again,” said Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. “This is still a huge risk for us.”

Now, a recent study shows that electricity blackouts can be avoided across the nation — perhaps even during intense weather events — by switching to 100 percent clean and renewable energy, such as solar, wind and water.

“Technically and economically, we have 95 percent of the technologies we need to transition everything today,” said Mark Jacobson, lead author of the paper and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Wind, water and solar already account for about one-fifth of the nation’s electricity, although a full transition in many areas is slow.

The study showed a switch to renewables would also lower energy requirements, reduce consumer costs, create millions of new jobs and improve people’s health.

For years, some have expressed skepticism about the viability of large-scale adoption of renewables, owing it to their costs. But Dessler said that while solar was an expensive energy source 10 years ago, it is one of the cheapest today.

“A lot of people’s understanding of renewable energy is extremely out of date,” said Dessler, who was not involved in the research.

Wind energy can also be very effective and provides half of Texas’s energy some days — a fact Dessler surprised podcaster Joe Rogan with when he appeared as a guest on Thursday’s episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

“Solar and wind are the cheapest energy sources available,” Dessler said. “People don’t seem to understand that, and they also don’t understand that we know how to make a reliable grid that’s mainly renewables.”

In the recent study, Jacobson and colleagues showed how to meet energy demands every 30 seconds across the United States with no blackouts in a greener, more populated nation in 2050 and 2051.

In the simulations, they imagined all vehicles were electric or powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Electric heat pumps, water heaters, wind turbines and solar panels replaced their fossil fuel alternatives. The team also included new geothermal sources but no new hydroelectric plants.

They modeled grid stability throughout the contiguous United States, including data from a weather-climate-air pollution model, which includes climate factors and statistically typical weather patterns that occur in a given region. Using energy consumption data from the Energy Information Administration, the team simulated energy demands for 2050-2051. Energy supply had to equal energy demand every 30 seconds, otherwise the model shut down.

The team found the actual energy demand decreased…


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