Published 26 May 2021
Recent years have witnessed various extreme weather events across the globe that have caused major power supply disruptions. Examples include the heatwaves and wildfires in California and Australia in 2019 and 2020, which led to load shedding and eventually to rolling blackouts. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active on record with 13 storms developing into hurricanes. These events demonstrate that electricity systems are already exposed to and greatly affected by climate hazards.
The latest extreme weather event took place around Valentine's Day in February 2021, when two severe winter storms swept over the southern part of the United States. The storms brought freezing temperatures as far south as Texas, which is well-known for its energy-only market with very few interconnections to neighbouring grids. The state faced extremely severe conditions: some 4.5 million of its inhabitants were without power, heat or running water for days and at least 150 died, some from carbon monoxide poisoning through trying to stay warm in cars or using generators.
This paper provides an overview of the Texas power system and the root causes of the crisis. It then discusses (climate) resilience especially in the context of the Texas crisis, and the key takeaways, first responses and initial 'lessons learned' in the aftermath of the crisis.
Footnotes omitted from this introduction.