Wind Turbines Thriving in Cold Midwest Winter

February 18, 2021

WJRT – Flint, MI, Feb. 17, 2021:

MID-MICHIGAN, Mich. (WJRT) – (2/17/2021) – The frigid temperatures across the United States have been difficult to handle in the south. Energy companies are conducting rolling black outs throughout the country to help conserve what little power they can provide right now.

In Texas, Republican lawmakers are blaming the wind turbines — frozen by the unusually low temperatures.

But experts say that renewable energy source only makes up a fraction of energy in the state. The real problem is frozen natural gas pipes.

Here in Michigan, we use both natural gas and wind turbines to power our homes. So why aren’t we losing power?

DTE operated more than 400 wind turbines in Michigan. The energy company explained the state won’t see the issues states like Texas are facing right now because the turbines are crafted to handle temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius.

“Wind turbines can be designed and outfitted to operate in whatever weather conditions they’re expected to see, wherever they’re located,” David Harwood, DTE’s Director of Renewable Energy, said.

Knowing Michigan’s weather, he said DTE equipped their wind turbines across the state with what are called “cold weather adaption packages.”

He said that provides heat in the turbine to prevent them from freezing up and failing to operate.

“These packages include additional heating components for hydraulic and lubrication oil systems and in other critical components; but, you know as a result, our turbines have been operating very well over the last few weeks, and last few days,” Harwood said. “And even if you go back to the Polar Vortex in late January a couple years ago, our wind fleet operated just as expected, right through that with no issues.”

Almost exactly two years ago, in 2019, Michiganders dealt with a Polar Vortex that brought bitter, cold and record temperatures.

While the situation was certainly not as drastic as what our neighbors to the south are experiencing, energy companies did ask their customers to lower their thermostats and minimize their electricity usage. That was a direct result of a fire at a Consumers Energy gas compressor station in Macomb County. 

At that time, DTE shared “DTE Gas did not have a shortage in 2019. This was a Consumers Energy issue that stemmed from a fire at one of their facilities. In fact, DTE Gas aided Consumers Energy with additional supply to address that shortage.”

2 Responses to “Wind Turbines Thriving in Cold Midwest Winter”

  1. John Oneill Says:

    Wind turbines equipped with heating, to prevent freezing of components and icing of blades, will still be a net drain on the grid at times when there is too little, or too much wind for them to operate. Meanwhile, in Texas the one nuclear plant, of four, that tripped out ( for the first time in years ), is now back in action, and after starting the day at 100% of nameplate capacity, the fleet has now been running all day at 107%. The much larger nameplate wind sector is running at 16%. Carbon emissions per kilowatt hour for either source are about the same.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Great! I’m sure you can get plenty of people to invest in and approve the years-long construction of more of these nuclear power plants. I bet the energy they provide will be too cheap to meter!.

      Again I say, the US model of siting, funding and approval for power plants rewards investors who get a quick and relatively reliable ROI for putting up waterless wind turbines and PV solar arrays. Wind in Texas is more than worth it for the summer heat load alone, and advancing grid-storage tech will increase their value (from off-peak production) over the coming decades.

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