On February 10th, the first of a total of three major snowstorms began in Texas. These blizzards would strike, one after another, between then and ten days later, finally on February 20th. In their wake, they left over 4.5 million homes and businesses without power. It’s reported that 75% of the state was struck with persistent blackouts, leaving many without light, electricity, and some without food or water. Of course, the people experiencing this incident had no way of knowing that it would go down as the costliest disaster in the history of Texas, racking up over $195 billion in damages. Worst of all, it’s estimated 82 or more people met their unfortunate demise due solely to these power outages.
During this ten-day period, experts speculated on what—or who—was to blame for this disaster. As would soon become ironic, a finger was pointed towards the idea that solar panels or wind turbines had frozen up in the cold weather. It wasn’t long before the real culprit was caught: poor temperature regulating measures in Texas’ natural gas equipment. The issue wasn’t solar after all. In fact, it may be argued that solar energy is likely to have been a contributor to the stabilization of the state’s power grid. In a quote by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas:
“The Texas power grid was just seconds, or minutes, away from a catastrophic and complete failure of the Texas grid, and necessitated partial grid shutdowns,” In other words, every kilowatt generated in that brief time was utterly crucial for the continued survival of Texas’ residents.
This begs the question: what can the people of the nation do if another disaster akin to this were to strike again? After all, Texas is hardly the only state that needs to worry about cold weather. The solution may be found in a candidate you may first presume to be quite opposed to cold weather conditions: solar energy. Solar panels have proven time and time again to actually benefit from cold weather conditions, unlike the majority of other natural (and unnatural) energy options. The colder weather keeps solar panels in a more “balanced” temperature range, allowing for optimal energy generation. Solar panels are also designed and mounted in such a way as to combat snowfall, meaning snow pile-up blocking the sunlight is rarely a problem. In fact, it has been reported that snow on the ground may even reflect sunlight into the panels themselves, encouraging bonus energy production.
For homeowners that find themselves worried about the possibility of future long-term power outages such as this, and wish to be better prepared for next time, it may be a good idea to look into a personal solar energy array. It may be just the thing that separates a night of frigid cold from one of the safeties of warmth.