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As a matter of fact. In winter, are wind turbines and solar panels useless?

This is an assertion that has come up on several occasions in recent weeks, in several languages, on social networks.

Publications that criticize Germany’s energy policy. The French version, for example, suggests that in February, “30,000 wind turbines were inactive” on German soil and that the snow prevented “millions” of solar panels from producing any electricity.

There were indeed very low temperatures in Germany at the beginning of February. But in reality, production from wind turbines has not stopped.

Vincent Boulanger, editor-in-chief of Observ’ER confirms: “in February, wind power produced every day in Germany. It happens that in summer there are days without wind, there it turns out that wind power produced every day.” He adds that “the wind turbines are equipped with resistors which heat the blades, they are anti-icing devices, which means that they can operate completely during the winter, in Germany, but also further north in the Scandinavian countries or even in Greenland. “

On the famous Facebook post, we also see a photo of snowy solar panels. However, they did not experience a sharp drop in production in Germany in February. In any case, nothing abnormal, as Mélodie de l’Épine, coordinator of the Photovoltaic Resource Center in France explains: You should know that photovoltaics produce 6 to 7 times more in summer anyway, so we do not plan a large solar production in the winter months. This is not the basis of electricity production in winter, it plays on the margins. “

The same type of accusation also came from Texas.

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The US state experienced an unprecedented cold snap in February. 4 and a half million inhabitants were deprived of electricity. Here again, the so-called “intermittent” energies have been blamed in the United States.

Except that in reality, the cold snap created cuts on all energy sources in Texas. And mainly those related to gas and oil. Gas pipelines, like the wind turbines there, are not equipped to withstand freezing. And in this case, Texas depended -at that time- 80% of fossil fuels. Against only 7% for renewable energies.

To sum up, yes, wind power and photovoltaic power sometimes suffer production cuts in winter. But these technologies were not stopped because of the cold in Germany. And they are not the cause of the massive power shortages that Texas has just experienced.

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