Clean Power

Published on December 4th, 2013 | by U.S. Energy Information Administration


Renewable Energy Generation Growing Fastest In Texas

December 4th, 2013 by  

Originally published on the US Energy Information Administration website.
By M. Tyson Brown

Graph of fuel shares of total electricity generation in Texas, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Monthly Update

Growth in electricity demand in Texas has been met through increasing amounts of all sources of generation, but renewable sources have grown the fastest. Increased output from renewable sources (mostly wind generators located in the western portion of the state) has important implications for the operation of the electric grid in the state.

Graph of electric power demand in Texas, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Monthly Update

The Texas electric region serves 85% of the load in Texas, whose grid is operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (called ERCOT; the remaining portions of the state are in the Central electric region). ERCOT is not synchronously interconnected with the rest of the U.S. grid, meaning that it cannot readily exchange electricity with neighboring regions.

In the Texas region, a combination of robust economic growth that outpaced growth in supply and high demand for air conditioning during warm summers has led to strain on the electric system during summer months. In August 2011, the warmest month on record in the state, there were severe spikes in wholesale electric prices as well as emergency actions taken by the grid operator. The region did not meet its target reserve margin in the summers of 2012 or 2013; however, cooler weather in summer 2013 helped relieve the strain seen in prior years.

Texas has added coal- and natural gas-fired capacity since 2011; however, the largest share of capacity growth has been from wind generators, mostly located in western Texas. Texas leads the nation in wind power generation and was the first state to reach 10,000 megawatts of wind power generating capacity. To move electricity generated from these new sources to meet demand in the more heavily populated eastern portion of the state, the Public Utility Commission of Texas established a series of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones in 2005. The projects under this program have included upgrades to substations and additional transmission lines, all of which were designed to bring new generation from renewable sources in the western areas of Texas to electricity markets in the eastern areas.

Map of CRE zones in Texas, as explained in the article text

Source: The Public Utility Commission of Texas
Note: Gray areas in Texas represent population centers.

Principal contributor: M. Tyson Brown

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About the Author

-- the EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

  • The solar industry has long understood the necessity of electricity storage. Shaun Qu, founder and CEO of Canadian Solar, says that the development of storage technologies will allow for more renewable energy to be installed.


  • matthew

    Amazing that Texas has the most wind in this nation being a conservative state. lol
    I’d love for it to get in the top spot for solar over the next few years.

    • Bob_Wallace

      And conservative Iowa and South Dakota are getting about 25% of their electricity from wind.

    • Yep, and a pity that the Republicans in Congress (esp House) are so opposed to continuing the support.

      • Larry

        Zach, When it makes economic sense, it works. I wish you’d ferret out the economic, not just the envirionmental and subsidy angle. The answer is there but no one seems to be making it.

        Texas is just picking low hanging fruit. There is a lot of it. Instead of focusing on how to get solar working in Boston, maybe we should look at the southwest for solar. Or the midwest for wind. Or the tide in Seattle and Portland.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We deal with the financial angles all the time. Just keep reading.

          As for Boston, your wind farms will probably to your east and they will be more productive than Texas’s wind farms.

          The cost probably will be a bit high at first but as apply good old American ingenuity we’ll bring the price down.

        • We cover the economic and financial angle all the time.

          Of course, externalities are part of that, but much of the population doesn’t have even an Econ 101 understanding to help them to understand that, including many in the House and Senate.

    • That whole self-reliance angle should be a giveaway there.

  • Matt

    With so much of their peak load from ACs, Texas need to move to PV on every roof tops.

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