January 24, 2019 Read More →

Grid operator says Texas electricity now 30% carbon-free

Greentech Media:

Texas may be the center of the U.S. oil and gas industry, but the latest data shows that the state’s competitive energy market is increasingly favoring clean energy over fossil fuel alternatives.

New information from state grid operator ERCOT shows that carbon-free resources made up more than 30 percent of its 2018 energy consumption, and a slightly larger percentage of its 2019 generation capacity. In both cases, the largest share of credit goes to the state’s massive wind farms, which provided 18.6 percent of 2018 energy and make up 23.4 percent of 2019 capacity, followed by nuclear power, which served 10.9 percent of last year’s needs and will provide 5.4 percent of this year’s capacity.

Solar, meanwhile, only made up a sliver of the 1.3 percent of last year’s energy use served by “other” resources such as hydropower, biomass and fuel oil. But solar will make up 2.1 percent of this year’s generation capacity, in a testament to the small but fast-growing utility-scale solar market developing in the state.

ERCOT’s achievement is largely a result of the economics of wind and solar power, plus a healthy dollop of state energy policy to integrate its western wind resources to eastern cities, known as competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ). Since 2009, about when CREZ got started, wind generation capacity has grown from 6 percent to nearly 20 percent of ERCOT’s energy mix, while coal has fallen from 37 percent to 25 percent of ERCOT’s energy mix over the same time.

Meanwhile, the amount of wind being curtailed due to lack of transmission and demand has shrunk from about 17 percent in 2009 to less than half a percent in recent years, a result of the $7 billion in new transmission enabled by CREZ, as well as ERCOT’s work to build weather forecasting and demand management into how it manages its grid.

Solar meets only a fraction of ERCOT’s needs compared to wind, but its growth rate is much faster at present, with utility-scale projects in the state setting new low-price records alongside solar leaders like California, Arizona and Nevada. Much of this solar is in West Texas, where it can benefit from the same transmission investments that have enabled the wind industry, Rhodes noted.

More: Texas grid operator reports fuel mix is now 30% carbon-free

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