What fraction of Texas windturbines were frozen?

Question in the subject line. I’ve heard that it was actually a fairly small percentage, but can’t find specific numbers by googling.

[Note: I know that the main cause of the power outage in Texas was fossil fuel power plants going off line and not windturbines freezing. Let’s not argue about that. (Vainly hoping to forestall that argument.)]

Here’s a BBC article on it: le

“Nearly half” is not exactly what I want. I’m looking for actual numbers. Or at least a more exact percentage. Wikipedia says there are about 10,700 wind turbines in Texas. How many were out because they were frozen?

Pretty much what I’d expect the BBC to say when talking about Wind Turbines: the BBC fails to point out that while 20% of the oil and gas went offline, for wind turbines it was 50%.

In the nature of business, those suppliers won’t be releasing data unless compelled to do so. Their contracts may compel them to do so, and there may be data in their stock market reports, but I’m not a aware of any general real-time reporting for Texas. Texas is pretty hard-core on avoiding regulation and oversite, and for some reason I’m unable to access any of the ERCOT documents.

The Times today said that they expected about 7% of their power to come from wind turbines - lower than capacity during the summer. So that would mean the capacity was reduced by about 3.5%.

I don’t know the data, but to calculate the percentage correctly I would think you need to know the percentage of the total electricity generated with wind, gas, coal, water and nuclear (and other, if applicable) first by capacity and then compare that with the real data of a given day.
If wind generation has the capacity to cover 10% of the consumption on a given day if all works well (and that consumption will not be the same in winter and in summer) but can only cover 7% because of problems the moment you are interested in, then I would not say that wind is reduced by 3% (from 10% to 7% of the total), but by 30% of its capacity. And even that would be a very crude calculation. You should also take into account spare and reserve capacities and how much of those there should be (or rather, have been) by law and why that reserve was not there.
The potential for manipulating the data is enormous. There are civil, penal and political liability issues and everybody will try to cover their asses.

The cheap idiots didn’t buy the “winterize” upgrade for the windturbines. WHat a shock. They froze in extremely cold weather. Like putting the wrong oil in your car. Don’t blame the car when it doesn’t start.

I’ve been looking at various numbers on the ERCOT website this week, but while I’ve seen capacity versus available, I haven’t seen anything remotely like that statistic.

I have worked in the power industry, live near Houston and am suffering through all this.

IMO - you will not get the statistics you seek. At least for another year or so. There will be a lot of finger pointing but not real Data.

The power generation companies will blame the wind turbine manufacturers, the turbine manufacturers will blame the companies for not winterizing or blame utilities not supplied by the turbine companies,…,; There won’t be someone to fully blame or sue.

Here in Houston, in the last few years, we’ve had a Flood that was a 100 year high. Now we’ve had a 100 year freeze event. (The 100 year is a rough approximation )

People will say things but the truth is that no one prepares for 100 year events and global warming (my opinion) will increase the likelihood of infrequent weather events.

The Saskatchean Crown corporation responsible for power generation has been sending electricity south to Texas to assist:

Can that power actually get to Texas? I thought the ERCOT grid had no interties to the rest of the continent.

I was wondering the same thing. “Southwestern United States” does not necessarily include Texas.

The US Energy Information site has some great numbers and charts that show what being generated those nights. We first hit 0F the night of 2/14-15 and it is pretty clear in the chart below when everything went to hell in a handbasket.

Wind was producing a peak of 9101MW at 4pm on 2/14 and that had fallen to just 649MW by 8pm on the 15th so that’s what, (caution, liberal arts major attempting math) roughly 93% of the turbines dropping off-line? However, up until the grid collapsed, wind was generating a pretty consistent share of the available electric. While that power would have been nice, wind alone was not going to meet demand that night as temps went to zero and every heating element from Amarillo to Brownsville went active.

I’ve heard a couple things, one culprit being that natural gas is pumped directly from the well-head to the pipeline to the generators. If I understand, in transit NG usually has a pretty high moisture content and at the temps we had that night the moisture was freezing up those pipelines and knocking out the NG supply. Plus, residential units get first call on NG over generators as the danger of losing NG service to a home (are you sure all those pilot lights in 30% of homes will relight if you cut off gas?) outweighs the generator need.

One engineer I saw put it pretty well, it’s hard to stress test for cold weather in Texas, so you don’t know if winterizing worked until an event like this.
Hopefully the engineers will learn their lessons and fix it in time for the next event like this. I don’t live here because I am fond of being cold.


Yes, but you can’t assume that percentage of turbines dropped out because they froze. The wind could have decreased in various parts of Texas.

Also, when parts of the transmission & distribution grid have problems, some generation sources will themselves go offline to prevent overloads or wide oscillations. So it would be a combination of “frozen” plus wind fluctuations plus units “safed” out or just not contributing because their transmission link was down.

You do know if winterizing worked if you didn’t do it. Things that are’t done never work.

Agreed. And the wind turbines don’t appear to have dropped offline until well after the grid began to collapse.

The discussion of what happened should focus on on what triggered that cliff on the 15th where about 10000mwh of NG went off-line all at once.

At 0200 2/15:
Wind – 5350
NG - 42372

An hour later, at 0300
Wind – 5154
NG – 33096

Yeah. I understand txtumbleweed’s point, but it reminds me of Hurricane Katrina, and how the Dutch came in to help us understand water management.

We don’t need to test winterization methods in Midland, Texas if they’re already successfully winterizing the same turbine (and other) generation equipment in Manitoba.

Wheel = invented.

“American Exceptionalism,” writ large, is the assumption that We Do It Better Than Anybody Else Anywhere Else On The Planet (also see: abject and willful ignorance).

Texas, stereotypically, is American Exceptionalism on steroids. Can you imagine them caring how some socialists in Kah-na-Duh do it ?

Exceptionalists dismiss best practices. Instead, they cite the world’s worst practices as axiomatic evidence of our exceptionalism (“sneak into Saudi Arabia illegally and see how they treat you”).

And couldn’t this be part of the problem (he asks rhetorically) ?

What’s the breakdown voltage of the Red River?

This was part of the recent major outage in (the state called) South Australia. The wind system was configured to expect all the system stability to be provided by the coal/gas generators. But since the coal/gas generation had been replaced by wind, there wasn’t as much system stability as the wind systems had been configured for. The wind systems interpreted a dip as a major failure – and just switched off.

This was sort of understandable in SA 3 years ago – it represented poor planning for a predictable event. If Texas didn’t check their configuration after the SA event, then that’s not just poor planning – it’s negligence.

At some stage it’s not poor planning, it’s an unavoidable ‘act of God’, but if, as suggested, the wind system just started shutting down – well, if that’s not poor planning it’s poor capital investment.