“The main capacity that’s gone out in Texas is not the wind; it’s actually some of the natural gas plants that were also not ready for the super-cold temperatures.” Gates said Wednesday in a Yahoo Finance interview.
Abbott made his assertion in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday, saying that wind turbines that were frozen in Texas by a severe winter storm showed how a Green New Deal ― the series of environmental initiatives promoted by progressives to combat climate change ― “would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.”
“Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and oil and nuclear, as well as solar and wind,” Abbott said. “But ... our wind and our solar got shut down [by the storm] and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis ... As a result, it just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas, as well as other states.”
Gates, who recently authored the book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” said those were misleading comments. “He’s actually wrong,” the Microsoft co-founder said, noting the significantly larger role played by crippled natural gas production.
Information released by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) confirmed that the blackouts were primarily caused by the freezing of natural gas pipelines that were not properly weatherized to withstand the cold. Wind energy, on the other hand, surpassed daily production forecasts last weekend as the winter storm swept across Texas.
Abbott himself walked back his Fox News comments at a Wednesday press conference, admitting that “every source of power” for Texas “has been compromised, whether it be renewable power such as wind or solar, but also ... access to coal-generated power, access to gas-generated power.”
In his interview, Gates added that relying entirely on wind and solar power remains problematic and that a state like Texas needed three things in its power grid, especially as climate change ushers in more extreme weather in the future.
“One is more transmission,” Gates said. “if Texas had had slightly more of a connection [for renewables], they wouldn’t have had a problem. The second is energy storage; it’s still hard to store these amounts of energy. And finally, sources of energy that aren’t weather-dependent but are green, like nuclear.”
ERCOT announced on Thursday morning that rolling blackouts had stopped in Texas. But hundreds of thousands of Texans remained without power.