The latest data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid operator, has revealed that Texas’ energy market is now 30% carbon-free and dominated by wind energy, which accounts for 23.4% of 2019 generation capacity.
According to figures published by ERCOT last week, natural gas accounts for 52.4% of 2019 generation capacity and is followed by wind energy with 23.4% and coal with 15.9%. The 30% carbon-free figure that is being bandied about comes from adding up wind with nuclear, solar, and “other” generation sources which brings the total carbon-free energy generation to 31.8%.
In terms of energy use in 2018, natural gas produced 167,202,212 megawatt-hours (MWh) accounting for 44.4% of the overall total, followed by coal, which produced 93,249,395 MWh and 24.8%, and wind energy which produced 69,796,019 MWh accounting for 18.6%. Despite coal beating out wind, however, carbon-free electricity generation still exceeded 30%.
Wind energy continues to grow in Texas, and in 2018 it reached two new records (on different days) which only serve to highlight the growing importance of wind energy in the Texas energy mix. On December 14 wind generated a record 19,168 MW, and on December 27 wind penetration hit a new record of 54.64%. Texas also boasts 21,751 MW of installed wind energy capacity, the most of any US state by a long margin, and 1,719 MW worth of utility-scale solar capacity.
“Texas continues to set the national pace for wind energy generation, supplying nearly 19% of all electricity demand in the state for 2018,” said Scott Dunaway, Spokesperson for Powering Texas, who spoke to me via email. “The growth of Texas wind energy has been driven by high demand for electricity from a growing economy, excellent wind resources, corporate commitments to predictable and long-term energy resources, a largely independent power grid, and—importantly—competitive, intelligent, conservative policy. The future looks bright in our state for wind energy.”
The good news is that wind and solar have strong years ahead, judging by ERCOT’s interconnection queue (projects in the pipeline waiting to connect to the grid). For the first time in recent years solar energy has overtaken wind in the queue and boasts just over 40,000 MW worth of projects waiting to connect to the grid, according to Joshua Rhodes, research associate at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. Wind energy, on the other hand, isn’t lacking for future capacity either, and is sitting just underneath the 40,000 MW mark.
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