Texas's widespread power blackouts following record-low temperatures have caused millions of people in the dark and cold, and over 20 died.
While the power failure was mainly ascribed to Texas' go-it-alone power system that left it isolated from power support in neighboring states when faced with power shortage, and also due to unusual cold snaps that peaked power consumption and disrupted supply of natural gas – the major energy source in winter – with production disruption and pipeline blockage, it sheds light on potential risks of unstable energy supplies as a result of the transition from conventional to clean energy sources.
Disruption of wind power supply in Texas as wind turbines iced up amid cold temperatures was also a small part to blame for the outage, as it only accounts for 7% of total electricity supply of the state in February, according to New York Times.
However, the growing reliance on wind power as the world is shifting to more environmentally friendly energy sources would make power grid more vulnerable in severe weather conditions.
Countries that are moving actively toward renewable energy and away from traditional sources such as coal are likely to experience more frequent blackouts especially during the period of peak consumption and extreme weather. And compared with coal-fired power, supply of solar, wind and hydro power, the three popular renewable sources, are more constrained by season and weather. However,
Since the development in environment-friendly energy has been on track to an irreversible trend amid global goal to cut carbon emission, improving electricity transmission and storage technology is believed to be a major direction to avoid future power crisis.
In coal-dependence China, the average curtailment of wind and solar power declined significantly to 3% and 2% respectively in 2020, but it remained high at some new energy-rich areas.
Wind curtailment in Xinjiang and Gandu still high at about 10.3% and 6.4% last year, People's Daily reported citing Zhang Lin, deputy director of the industry development and environmental resources department of the China Electricity Council.
The bottleneck of effective connection of renewable power to grid should still be paid attention in the following years, as China targets to increase the share of renewable power generation from 9.7% presently to 16.7% in average, and 35% in some western provinces by 2025, Zhang said.
Renewable energy accounted for only a small part in China's winter power generation.
In December, hydro, solar and wind power generation made up for about 17.5% of the country's total, compared with 77.6% of coal-fired power, according to National Bureau of Statics, even though the country's installed renewable energy capacity increased to 49.1% of the total.
(Writing by Emma Yang Editing by Harry Huo)
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