Wind Energy in Texas: Powerful or Not?
On Oct. 26, the U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report challenging the view that Texas is a leader in wind power production. According to the report, Texas lagged far behind Midwest and Plains states in 2015 in utilizing wind energy as a percentage of total net electricity generation. Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas led the survey, with a 31 percent, 25 percent and 24 percent share of wind energy as a percentage of total net generation, respectively. Texas came in 12th nationally, with a share of 9.9 percent. Such a ranking, however, is misleading.
First, notwithstanding its ranking, Texas is still the highest wind electricity-producing state in the nation, making up 24 percent of the national total wind generation. Texas’s total wind electricity production – and share as a percentage of total net generation – is also expected to continue to rise in the coming years. Indeed, on Nov. 29, Spanish wind energy giant Gamesa announced that it was awarded a contract to supply 75 additional 2.1 megawatt (MW) turbines to Terna Energy, a Greek renewable energy company, for the development of another wind farm in Texas (for a total of 155 MW additional capacity). Delivery and commissioning are anticipated to be completed by the end of 2017.
Second, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report is based on annual wind energy production, which does not take into account changing wind energy production levels on a daily basis. For example, on Nov. 27, Texas set a new record for wind power generation. According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the electric grid operator for the state of Texas, wind farms were providing approximately 15,000 MW of electricity, which accounted for about 45 percent of the total demand for electric power at the time, far exceeding the 9.9 percent annual figure for Texas in 2015…..