Texas Renewables Jump 13 Percent in 2011

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The saying goes “everything’s bigger in Texas,” and a new report from the state’s grid operator proves the axiom continues to hold true for the renewable energy industry.

Texas saw a 13 percent increase in the amount of energy generated by renewable sources in 2011, according to a new report by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for about 85 percent of the state. 31.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy were recorded by the state’s renewable energy credit program, up from 28 million MWh in 2010.

Wind power remained the overall winner among clean energy sources, generating 30.8 million MWh. Texas was already the top wind power state in the U.S., and increased overall generation 15 percent from 26.8 million MWh in 2010. Solar energy, while still one of the smallest renewable generation sources at just 36 GWh in 2011, registered an incredible 153 percent increase from 2010’s 14 GWh.

The biggest loser, unfortunately, turned out to be hydropower. Dams and reservoirs, reduced by Texas’ epic drought, fell 56 percent from 609,257 MWh in 2010 to 267,113 MWh in 2011.

One main factor has fueled the Lone Star state’s renewables boom — a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 10,000 megawatts (MW) generating capacity by 2025. The state’s RPS exceeded its target more than 15 years early in 2009, and 11,586 MW of renewable capacity are currently registered in the REC program.

The Texas RPS mandates that electricity providers either build new renewable generation or retire a certain number of renewable energy credits (REC) based on their load-ratio share of the state’s RPS.

24.3 million total RECs were retired in 2011, up from 20.8 million in 2010, 15.7 million in 2009, and 13.5 million in 2008. For the fourth consecutive year, RECs retired in the voluntary market exceeded mandatory requirements. 15.29 million RECs were retired in 2011, a 29 percent increase over a then-record 11.83 million in 2010.

While 2011 was a banner year for clean energy in Texas, it also remains a reminder of just how far the industry could advance. 31.7 million MWh sounds like a massive amount, but fossil fuels still produce about 80 percent of all energy in the state.

Windmill image via Shutterstock

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