The local Intertubes in Texas were all abuzz last week over a massive new $1.2 billion, 800 megawatt wind farm in the works, which is pretty big even for Texas. The news is significant because it demonstrates that the US wind industry still has big plans for the future, despite concerns over President* Trump’s recent tariff actions.
The only problem is, some of the reportage seems to have jumped the gun. So, what’s really going on with that Texas wind farm?
What’s Really Going On With That Texas Wind Farm
CleanTechnica reached out to the developer, Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, for the latest on the Texas wind farm. The communications team gave us this reply with a quick turnaround, which is much appreciated:
Thanks so much for getting in touch. The article referenced was misreported, so I’m glad you reached out for information about the project. Swinford Wind won’t reach commercial operations until late 2021, so it’s still quite far off with plenty of work still to be done, but I can provide you with the following on-the-record information…
Great! So, here it is on the record:
Swinford Wind is planned as two 400-megawatt phases located primarily in Moore County, Texas. The project would create approximately 400 local jobs during construction, as well as up to 24 long-term local operations positions. The project would contribute $160 million in tax payments to the localities and nearly $130 [million] in landowner payments over the life of the project.
Swinford Wind is currently in the development phase and is expected to begin commercial operations in late 2021. When operational, the project will provide enough clean energy to power more than 300,000 average U.S. homes.
As of last year, the American Wind Energy Association totaled up almost 22,800 megawatts in installed capacity in Texas, so another 800 is a pretty hefty increase.
It also just barely tops the state’s largest wind farm by capacity, the 781.5 megawatt Roscoe wind farm developed by Germany’s E.ON.
Also for the record, at one point Roscoe was the largest onshore wind farm in the world. If you can figure out which wind farm still holds that position, drop us a note in the comment thread.
The Texas Wind Farm Phenomenon
For those of you familiar with Texas’s historic position in US fossil fuel development, the state’s robust wind industry may come as a bit of a surprise.
Nevertheless, during the Obama Administration the state forged ahead with a massive new electricity transmission project designed to promote wind farm development, and it was an overwhelming success.
Texas was setting wind power generation records by 2014 and it never looked back. As of 2017 it still held the #1 position among 50 US states for installed wind capacity.
Local governments in Texas are also leveraging wind power to meet their renewable energy goals. One standout example is the city of Georgetown, which made its 100% renewable goal within just three years.
More Than Just Another Wind Farm
When the topic of wind comes up energy storage is sure to follow, so it’s no surprise that Texas is also the site of cutting edge energy storage projects designed to maximize power output.
The company Apex CAES, for example (not to be confused with the other Apex), is on board with a compressed air energy storage facility aimed at leveraging Texas wind power. Right now there are only a handful of such systems in operation worldwide. One of them is in Alabama but it was built in 1981, so let’s assume the technology has advanced somewhat since then.
Another interesting development is the 36-megawatt energy storage system that Duke Energy launched back in 2013, which hooked up to the company’s Notrees wind farm. That facility put Texas on the map as the largest wind energy storage facility of its kind in the US.
The project was initially designed with lead-acid batteries. Just a few years later, in 2016 and 2017, it got an upgrade to Samsung’s SDI lithium-ion technology.
It’s still the largest wind-connected energy storage facility in the US, by the way.
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Photo: Apex Clean Energy via Facebook.
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