Texas’s power blackout shows the importance of a resilient power grid

2 to 3 million customers in Texas still had no electricity on Thursday morning, a 36-hour period gone without electricity for many due to rare weather events that disabled the power grid.

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Since Sunday, unprecedented snowfall and record-setting cold temperature have strained Texas’s power grid.

Most of Texas rarely sees snow and such cold temperature, so the adverse mix of both has put enormous pressure on the state’s power grid.

On Tuesday morning, over 4 million residents were without power and heat. “Texas’s electric grid, operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, is different than everywhere else in the country, so most of Texas can’t import energy from neighbouring states, as would otherwise be standard practice. Just producing more energy is not an option, as instruments at nuclear, gas, and coal facilities froze, and the plants had to be taken offline”, Slate reported.

Thousands of Texans reported frozen and burst pipes, flooded basements.

135 warming centers were set up across the state.

About 23% of Texas’s power grid runs on renewable energy, mainly wind. Many of the wind turbines became inoperable due to the formation of ice on the turbine’s blade.

Power plants running on natural gas increased their output in an attempt to meet the spiking demand caused by the failure of other energy sources.

Overall, the state’s grid was unprepared to deal with this type of tail-risk weather event. The grid was designed for the State’s average weather.

Dozens of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning were reported across the state. There will likely be dozens of deaths as well from direct and indirect causes of the weather and power grid failure.

These events emphasize the importance of building a reliable and resilient power grid, one that accounts for such failures and adverse weather events. A power grid should be equipped with proper storage capacities to avoid complete, days-long blackouts.

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