Texas Expected To Continue Breaking Wind Energy Records As Capacity Grows

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Hourly averaged generation shown. Instantaneous peaks highlighted in the hour in which they occurred.

As total installed wind energy capacity grows, so will the Lone Star State’s ability to keep breaking wind energy records in the United States, says a recent report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

According to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the amount of wind energy flowing into the Texas electric system recently hit a few all-time highs, with October 22nd seeing a record instantaneous peak of 12,238 MW, which broke previous peaks on September 13th (11,467 MW) and October 21st (11,950 MW).

The wind energy generating capacity in Texas continues to increase, and these “substantial additions,” along with strong wind conditions and unseasonably warm temperatures, have boosted the wind energy output in the state, even though the capacity factor was slightly below that from previous peaks. ERCOT reported that during the recent wind energy peaks in September and October, overall capacity factor for Texas wind generators was 75 to 81%, as compared with the 83% capacity factor during a previous generation peak (11,154 MW) in February 2015.

The EIA predicts that because of additional new wind generating capacity coming online in Texas, coupled with the seasonal increase in wind conditions (autumn and spring are typically high wind generating months in Texas), the most recent record for instantaneous peak output will “very likely be surpassed in the near future.”

Due to the 2013 expiration and delayed renewal in 2014 of the federal renewable energy production tax credit, the addition of new wind generating capacity was virtually stalled until about mid-2014, after which both ERCOT and the US overall “experienced a strong recovery” in new wind capacity.

In the period between January 2013 and May 2014, less than 100 MW of new wind capacity was installed in ERCOT, in contrast with the period between June 2014 and September 2015, when more than 4,000 MW of new capacity was installed, with an expected additional 1000 to 2000 MW of capacity planned for installation before the end of 2015. For the whole US nation, the amount of new wind capacity installed during 2013 and the first half of 2014 was only about 1500 MW, as compared with the more than 7,700 MW of new wind generating capacity being installed between June 2014 and September 2015, with another 4,600 MW of capacity planned for installation in the US by the end of 2015.

Image: EIA

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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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21 thoughts on “Texas Expected To Continue Breaking Wind Energy Records As Capacity Grows

  • I stopped reading at “Texas Expected To Continue Breaking Wind…” – shouldn’t have.

    I’ll get my coat.

    • It’s all that good Tex-Mex food. – yum.
      Natural Gas is cleaner than coal?

      • Yes, especially since human digestion produced “natural gas” is mostly hydrogen. Or at least the component that burns is.

        • Or if you want to go into the whole coal vs.methane thing:

          One kilogram of carbon in the form of black coal burned to generate electricity will produce about 3 kilowatt-hours and result in the release of 3.67 kilograms of CO2. One kilogram of methane burned with the same efficiency as the black coal it will produce about 5.1 kilowatt-hours and result in the release of 2.75 kilograms of CO2.

          So for every kilowatt-hour of coal electricity generated about about 0.33 kilograms of carbon are burned and 1.22 kilograms of CO2 is produced. And for every kilowatt-hour of natural gas electricity about 0.2 kilograms of CH4 are burned and 0.55 kilograms of CO2 is produced.

          One estimate is that over a 20 year period methane results in 72 times more warming than an equal amount of CO2. So if methane leaked into the atmosphere equal to 5% of what was burned then that would be 10 grams of methane per kilowatt-hour which would be the CO2 equivalent of 0.72 kilograms of carbon dioxide, which would make the warming effect from burning coal and natural gas roughly equal after 20 years. As methane in the atmosphere has a half life of about 7 years its warming effect after the 20 year period would soon be less than generating electricity from coal.

          However, leakage from burning methane to generate electricity is not 5%. It is under 2%. A lot of leakage of methane comes from domestic distribution for heating purposes. So at 2% leakage using methane to generate electricity results in significantly less warming than burning
          coal and will continue to decrease over time from that point on.

          Efficiency note: For black coal generation I used 33% efficiency. The efficiency of gas generation varies much more from generator to generator than for black coal, ranging from about 26% to 50% for electricity generation and potentially 90% efficiency with cogeneration that makes use of what would otherwise be waste heat. Obviously the most efficient turbines are preferenced over the less efficient ones, but assuming an average efficiency of 33% for both coal and gas is not unreasonable for the simple comparison I have done here.

          • The IPCC uses a (22 x CO2) factor for methane vs CO2, not 72.

          • off the top of my head. 22 x co2 for 100 years. 72x co2 for 20 years. Rapid loss from the atmosphere over 100 years.

          • But, fracking leaks methane. And destroys it’s “advantage” over coal. But, now solar and wind are cheaper than carbon.

          • Shooting off your second toe is bad, but it’s not as bad as shooting of your big toe. If you have to shoot off a toe, I strongly recommend against shooting off a big one. But the fact of the matter is, I’m actually quite strongly against the shooting off of any toes what-so-ever, and my cautioning against shooting off your big toe is in no way meant to be an endorsement of shooting off your second, or indeed, any other toe.

          • You got a bang out of that, didn’t you?

          • Normally I just shoot off my mouth.

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      • “It’s all that good Tex-Mex food. – yum.”

        And it’s bean that way for centuries.

    • me too lol, someone pegged that state

    • I wonder what the reaction if the headline on the page had the same line breaks as the headline in the email.

    • Aww, you beat me to saying something similar.

  • Wind energy.

    And not just from the Legislature!

  • Now if they’ll just let Tesla sell cars in their state.

  • I ran across this from the New York Times a few days ago:
    A Texas Utility Offers a Nighttime Special: Free Electricity

    Now what Texas needs is a bunch of electric cars to soak up that excess overnight power, and a bunch of PV to power the day so that they can shut down some coal-burning power plants.

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