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Dear Texas Gov. Abbott: Wind Turbines work fine in Antarctica and Alaska, you're just too Cheap to Winterize them

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Texas governor Greg Abbott alleged that the massive power outages in his state demonstrated the unwisdom of moving to renewable energy, attempting to blame the crisis on the state's wind turbines. Like most of the things Republican politicians say publicly, this allegation was a lie.

Here's a wind turbine working just fine in Antarctica:

Wind Turbine At Sunset. Mawson Station, Antarctica

The southern-most wind farm in the world, at Ross Island in Antarctica, has three functioning turbines.

Or consider Alaska's wind turbines:

Science Channel: "Wind Turbines Help Power Alaska Through Harsh Winters"

We don't have to go so far to find wind turbines working well in wintry, icy conditions. Take those at Syracuse in New York. They are equipped with sensors to discover when the blades have iced over. They are then turned off and a heating package on the blade is turned on to melt the ice. When that is done, the turbine is started right back up. Of course, the sensors and heating element cost a little money to install and run. The investment makes more sense in New York. But such packages could be installed on the Texas turbines if the owners were willing to cut a little into their profits. Since Texas has a big winter storm as often as every five years, that might make sense. But, again, two-thirds of the Texas wind turbines were unaffected by the storm, and they fed in crucial power when it was most needed.

Some 42% of Iowa's electricity comes from wind, and that state has some pretty bad winters but no outages of the Texas sort. Fernando Garcia-Franceschini reports for ABC affiliate KCRG in Dubuque,

    "When we order our wind turbines we add cold-weather packages to them," spokesperson Geoff Greenwood said. "That includes heating elements, for example, inside the gearbox that is behind the turbines and that keeps certain components warm and enables the turbines to operate throughout the year, summer and winter alike." Greenwood said those cold-weather kits enable the turbines to produce energy down to roughly -20 degrees.

About a year ago, a disinformation campaign was waged on Facebook against solar panels and wind turbines in Germany, alleging falsely that severe winter weather impeded their operation.

I have solar panels in Michigan, so allow me to let you in on a little secret. Solar panels run warm, and they melt the snow. Of course if it is particularly heavy you can get a long-handled broom-like tool to wipe them clean. The panels work by transforming sunlight into electricity in accordance with a finding by Einstein. They aren't affected by cold.

The same campaign targeted Germany's wind turbines. AFP explains that last February,

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Juan Cole is an American academic and commentator on the modern Middle East and South Asia.  He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment (more...)

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