College of Texas Professor Calls for Extra Renewables – ?

Visitor essay by Eric Worrall

In accordance with College of Texas Affiliate Professor Fernanda Leite, final winter’s Texas ice storm which knocked out the state’s wind generators and triggered widespread energy outages proves extra renewables are required.

Nov 23, 2021

We All Should Rise to the Problem of Local weather Change

By: Fernanda Leite 

Columns showing on the service and this webpage symbolize the views of the authors, not of The College of Texas at Austin.

We’re feeling the impacts of local weather change throughout us. Rising temperatures are altering our landscapes and livelihoods. The Nice Barrier Reef is affected by thermal stress that contributes to coral bleaching — greater than half of the reef’s coral cowl was misplaced between 1995 and 2017. In July, a number of European international locations had been severely affected by floods. Globally, eight of the world’s 10 largest cities are close to a coast. And in the US, virtually 40% of the inhabitants lives in coastal areas, the place sea stage performs a job in flooding and land erosion. 

Nowhere are local weather stressors extra apparent than in Texas. Our inhabitants is predicted to almost double by 2050, and many of the state has warmed between 0.5 and 1.0 diploma Fahrenheit throughout the previous century. We’re seeing new illnesses unfold from tropical areas, and we’re experiencing extra excessive climate occasions such because the winter storm that left two-thirds of Texans with out energy and virtually half with out water for a median of greater than two days in February.

We have to urgently lower emissions. And Texas wants a statewide local weather adaptation plan. 

Rising temperatures are triggered primarily by a rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) and different greenhouse gases. CO2 ranges have been rising steadily for greater than 100 years due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels, trapping extra warmth in our ambiance and contributing to local weather change. 

A particular report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change, which incorporates local weather scientists from all over the world, has mentioned that human actions are estimated to have triggered roughly 1.0 diploma Celsius (1.8 levels Fahrenheit) of world warming above preindustrial ranges. And world warming is more likely to attain 1.5 levels C (2.7 levels F) between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to extend on the present charge. 

That is exactly one of many objectives of the United Nations Local weather Change convention, or COP26, which has introduced world leaders collectively to deal with local weather change. International locations are being requested to set bold 2030 emission discount targets that align with reaching internet zero by the center of the century. 

All of us must do our half like a real phase-out of coal, accelerating the change to electrical autos and investing in renewable power. There are constructive examples all over the world of nations which can be heading towards a low-carbon future by embracing photo voltaic, wind, geothermal and different renewable power sources. Texas produces essentially the most wind power of any state in the US. The U.S. as an entire has the second highest put in wind power capability on the earth after China. A clear power revolution should proceed to occur throughout America, underscored by the regular enlargement of the U.S. renewable power sector. 

Not solely will setting bold emission discount targets assist with local weather change, it’s going to additionally result in cleaner and extra resilient cities and infrastructure methods. Power methods with excessive percentages of renewables — and even decarbonized energy grids — are higher in a position to withstand shocks than these closely depending on fossil fuels resembling pure gasoline and coal. 

Excessive climate occasions resembling this yr’s winter storm, which occurred solely 9 months in the past, are anticipated, and we have to adapt our infrastructure to resist such stressors. And we particularly must consider weak communities, those who already undergo from continual stressors associated to poisonous air pollution, poverty, meals insecurity, combined immigration standing and gentrification. States and communities across the nation have begun to arrange for local weather change by creating their very own local weather adaptation plans, so we’ve got many examples to observe simply inside our personal nation.

Our world leaders want to go away COP26 with actionable objectives with deadlines which can be concrete, lifelike and significant. And policymakers and leaders in Texas should do their half and undertake and speed up measures that fight local weather change, addressing power infrastructure and equitable resilience. Solely then will we rise to the problem of local weather change.

Fernanda Leite is an affiliate professor and the John A. Focht Centennial Instructing Fellow in Civil Engineering within the Cockrell College of Engineering at The College of Texas at Austin. She serves on the management of a college broad grand challenges initiative referred to as Planet Texas 2050.

A model of this op-ed appeared within the San Antonio Specific Information, Abilene Reporter Information, MSN and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.  


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Texas Views is a wire-style service produced by The College of Texas at Austin that’s supposed to offer media shops with significant and considerate opinion columns (op-eds) on a wide range of matters and present occasions. Authors are college members and staffers at UT Austin who work with College Communications to craft columns that adhere to journalistic finest practices and Related Press fashion pointers. The College of Texas at Austin affords these opinion articles for publication at no cost. Columns showing on the service and this webpage symbolize the views of the authors, not of The College of Texas at Austin.


The declare that extra renewables might have saved the day is definitely refuted.

Texas Ice Storm Generation
Change in Energy Output in Texas, Jan 18 – Feb seventeenth, 2021, 12 AM US EIA (Supply Forbes)

To be truthful, 7% of wind capability apparently saved producing, not less than a few of the time, so wind surprisingly wasn’t fully ineffective. I’m guessing photo voltaic wasn’t a lot use throughout the ice storm.

However how a lot wind would have been required to maintain the lights on, if Texas went 100% renewable?

100% ÷ 0.07 = 1428% – the unique 100% = 1328% above 100%, or 1328% overcapacity.

It’s hypothetically potential wind might have carried the load, although this can be a very tough calculation which takes no account of availability of turbine websites, or variation in output across the 7% common, however the 1328% standby wind overcapacity Texas would have required to match the efficiency of gasoline throughout final winter’s ice storm can be impossibly costly to construct and keep.


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