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Texas Matters: Why can't Texas have a green grid?

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Provided book cover, images via NASA

Power outages in Texas and across the country could be a thing of the past if the United States moved to a 100% green grid, powered solely by electricity generated by renewable sources, that’s according to a new study.

A winter storm in Texas in February 2021 left more than 10 million people without electricity at its peak, causing losses of an estimated $130 billion. The official state of Texas death toll is 246, but an independent report put number of people who died as a result of the blackouts at more than 700.

Researchers at Stanford University have modelled a 2050 scenario where the U.S. power grid runs only on renewable electricity from wind, water and solar energy. Even with extreme weather, there are no blackouts under this scenario in Texas, California, or any other state, the researchers say in the study, which is published in the journal Renewable Energy.

Another study published this week found that Texas could almost entirely phase out the burning of coal in the state for electric power by leaning into the wind and solar power projects that are in place and projects that are now proposed.

This switch would create: cheaper power, healthier environments, many more high paying jobs and help protect the planet from the devastation of climate change.
But there’s a big problem with making that switch from dirty expensive coal to green clean cheap energy: the grid is a mess.

That’s according to a co-author of the study Daniel Cohan. He is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. And he has a book coming out this week titled — Confronting Climate Gridlock: How Diplomacy, Technology, and Policy Can Unlock a Clean Energy Future. Cohan explains that Texas is everything in place to remain being the energy capital of the world — except the leadership to put in place the needed infrastructure.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi