Texas Grid Operator Reports Fuel Mix Is Now 30% Carbon-Free
The latest data from ERCOT shows wind generation set new records in 2018—and lots of solar in the pipeline.
Texas may be the center of the U.S. oil and gas industry, but the latest data shows that the state’s competitive energy market is increasingly favoring clean energy over fossil fuel alternatives.
New information from state grid operator ERCOT shows that carbon-free resources made up more than 30 percent of its 2018 energy consumption, and a slightly larger percentage of its 2019 generation capacity. In both cases, the largest share of credit goes to the state’s massive wind farms, which provided 18.6 percent of 2018 energy and make up 23.4 percent of 2019 capacity, followed by nuclear power, which served 10.9 percent of last year’s needs and will provide 5.4 percent of this year’s capacity.
Solar, meanwhile, only made up a sliver of the 1.3 percent of last year’s energy use served by “other” resources such as hydropower, biomass and fuel oil. But solar will make up 2.1 percent of this year’s generation capacity, in a testament to the small but fast-growing utility-scale solar market developing in the state.
ERCOT’s achievement is largely a result of the economics of wind and solar power, plus a healthy dollop of state energy policy to integrate its western wind resources to eastern cities, known as competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ).
Since 2009, about when CREZ got started, wind generation capacity has grown from 6 percent to nearly 20 percent of ERCOT’s energy mix, while coal has fallen from 37 percent to 25 percent of ERCOT’s energy mix over the same time.