Texas Grid Plans Jump In 2016 Solar & Wind Capacity

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Additions this year to the ERCOT grid in Texas are expected to be dominated by from wind and solar PV, according to energy research from SNL. If SNL research proves true, this will be a huge boost to the generation of renewable electricity within this historic oil-producing state.

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As Christian Roselund has written for pv magazine, “This is the beginning of a boom anticipated in Texas over the next 15 years.”

In spite of its abundant sunshine and massive open spaces, Texas has long trailed in the US solar market, a trend now changing, ElectricityPolicy concludes:

“Solar is poised to take off in Texas,” Peter Sopher, a policy analyst for the Environmental Defense Fund in Austin, told the Dallas News. He compared it with wind power a decade ago, when wind generated 1.4% of the ERCOT system’s electricity. For the first 11 months of 2015, wind’s share was over 11%. And in November, it was over 18%. For a warm, sunny state, Texas has been lagging in solar, as it lacks the incentives of some states and has an abundant supply of cheap energy, including natural gas. But prices for solar panels have fallen over 80% since 2009, making solar competitive with fossil fuels. Last year, solar installations on ERCOT grew almost 50%. This year, solar generation could jump six-fold, by ERCOT projections. If proposed rules to cut emissions and haze remain in place, ERCOT estimates solar will add 14 GW to the ERCOT grid by 2030—and that projection came before last month’s federal budget deal, which extended tax creditsfor renewable energy. Last summer, Austin Energy signed solar power agreements for less than 4 ¢/kWh, hailed at the time as “the cheapest solar ever.”  January 14, 2016″

ERCOT is a separate grid from the other two US grids, covering most of Texas’ territory and 85% of the state’s demand. Demand on the ERCOT grid has traditionally been met mostly with gas- and coal-fired generation. Although, in recent years, wind has met more than 10% of annual electric demand, pv magazine has reported.

But this year, a number of significant solar projects are under construction, led by those under power contracts awarded by municipal utilities in Austin and San Antonio. Austin Energy has signed contracts for 600 MW of solar PV, which has yet to be completed, and OCI Solar Power had scheduled to complete 400 MW of solar PV for CPS Energy by the end of the year.

At this time, solar still only represent an estimated 2% of ERCOT generation capacity by the end of the year.

Image via Shutterstock

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Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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9 thoughts on “Texas Grid Plans Jump In 2016 Solar & Wind Capacity

  • Now we need the inter-connector to get that clean power out of Texas.

    • Gotta start talking to Texans about how they’re missing out on making a lot of money. Oklahoma is eating their lunch.

  • Texas has IIRC next to no state incentives. Renewable investors get the federal tax breaks, that’s it.

  • If 2 GW really goes on line this year in Texas, I hope it will end the solar uncertainty and the lid will go off for further expansion. And that will probably have large impact on red states.

  • Welcome to our house. Feel free to pee on the floor wherever you like.

    There’s nothing misleading in an article that talks about the amount of renewables added and says nothing about natural gas. It’s just a comparison of one year’s RE additions over previous years.

  • “But this year, a number of significant solar projects are under construction….”

    This is good news. Texas recently has had a surplus of power overnight, but it’s expensive during the day. Adding a bunch of solar will allow some coal plants to be shut down. The “virtuous circle” in action!

      • Interesting map. I’m copying it over for others to more easily see.

        Look at all the yellow dots in North Carolina.

        And when are we going to see a green dot in the Southeast? If Bill Gates actually wants to do something about energy he should take the spare change off his dresser and build a high hub wind farm in the SE and demonstrate what could be done.

  • Unless the additions get added Jan 1st, you don’t get a full years production in the data till the next year.

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