Wind power surges to 15 percent of Texas power mix
Texas grid operator ERCOT announced a new record in November for wind power in the state. For the first time, wind provided more than 15,000 megawatts of electricity in a single day.
Already a clear leader in wind power in the US, Texas has more than 18,000 megawatts installed and another 5,000 under construction.
In 2015 wind power made up 11.7 percent of electricity in Texas but by the end of 2016, this figure is expected to be at least 14.7 percent. It’s likely the tally will be slightly higher than these estimated figures as the wind blows harder in the winter and wind contributions to the power mix usually go up.
Coal and natural gas still dominate Texas’ power mix but the investment the state had made in power transmission and improving renewable energy forecasts could allow for more wind and solar in the future.
Texas’ success is down to is Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, which are mostly in West Texas and the state’s Panhandle region. Key to this project was $7 billion in transmission lines to carry the wind power where it’s needed.
It’s these transmission lines that could see solar become more viable to the state. At the moment, solar energy plays only a very small part in power generation. In fact, ERCOT didn’t even list solar as a power source on its annual demand and energy report in 2015.
The figures are now growing with more and more solar farms taking advantage of these new transmission lines. ERCOT reports 685 megawatts of solar will be on line in Texas in 2016, up from less than 300 in 2015.