In February the U.S. state of Texas was hit by extremely cold weather. The conditions caused havoc: electricity demand increased massively at the same time as the frosts were knocking out crucial pieces of energy infrastructure. Then the entire energy system failed, and because the grid that covers Texas operates independently from other U.S. grids, it could not get access to electricity from other states.
This was a lesson in the fragility of energy systems in the face of extreme weather conditions, which is especially important to consider as we transition to low-carbon and renewable energy sources. This episode of WRI’s “Big Ideas Into Action” podcast examines what lessons can be learned from the Texas freeze, and how energy resilience can be a solution to the impacts of COVID-19, as well as weather, across the world.
Highlights from the episode
Lori Bird, Director, US Energy Program And Polsky Chair For Renewable Energy, World Resources Institute
"We’re seeing more extreme weather events as a result of climate change, particularly hurricanes and fires and things like that, that we do need to deal with and need to plan for in ways that we haven’t had to so much in the past. Making sure that our power generation sources are climate resilient is really important. Also, it shows the need to shift towards clean energy sources to help alleviate these extreme weather events and the climatic change that’s occurring. The faster we can shift to clean energy sources, the better off we’re going to be.”
“Developing countries and even developed countries face a climate penalty. They were on track to improve basic services through infrastructure development, but climate change is likely to adversely affect those development gains. They have to make a choice to spend slightly more right now to build a resilient infrastructure, or continue business as usual and incur massive losses later. So it’s about when you want to invest.”
“This lockdown held a mirror up to many of our problems. It has shown some very encouraging solutions in terms of how renewables can help us in building up that resilience. We see that renewable energy sources have shown their true potential when it was absolutely needed. This we can see in Tamil Nadu, and it has established itself as the primary fuel of the future.”