Everything is bigger in Texas, and wind power is no exception. Wind power has been growing in Texas for years. Now, for the first time, wind power has beaten coal power in the Lone Star State. In 2020, Texas received 22% of its electricity from wind and only 18% from coal. In contrast, in 2010, coal made up 40% of the grid’s power. Coal’s downfall, unfortunately, is also partly due to natural gas generation. However, in the coming years, 95% of the proposed investment into power generation will be renewable according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
The wide-open, windy planes of West Texas are not the only reason for wind’s growing share of the market. There are more valuable winds along the southern coast of Texas that provide wind in the afternoon and evening when power demand is at its peak. Wind farms are spread out across the state to improve reliability.
Wind power is not only bringing cheaper electricity; it is bringing jobs too — as many as 26,000 jobs in 2019 in Texas alone. For comparison, in the entire United States, there are under 45,000 jobs in the coal mining industry.
As of Q3 2020, Texas had a total installed capacity of 30,904 MW of wind power, according to AWEA. Texas leads the country with 15,359 wind turbines installed, which have a value in excess of $53 billion. These assets generate $285 million in state and local taxes annually. Additionally, they pay landowners $192 million in lease payments.
As of Q3 2020, there were 5,324 MW of wind power under construction, and that is a tiny fraction of what is possible. Across the state, there is the potential for another 1,347,992 MW of wind power to be tapped, and that does not include offshore. Texas has an offshore wind potential of 215,979 MW.
While onshore wind continues to be cheaper, offshore wind is more reliable and adds the necessary variety of time of production. According to The Solutions Project, Texas can become 100% renewable by 2050, with wind power leading the way. The Solutions Project calls for 50% onshore wind and 13.9% offshore wind.
In 2010, wind power made up less than 8% of the Texas power, and now it is at 22%. Hopefully, it will reach 63.9% before 2050. Of course, Texas has the awesome potential to export power to other regions. Texas’s robust combination of renewable energy gives it an incredible economic advantage, which is why many tech companies and other industries are pouring into the state.