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Texas Renewable Energy Percent – The latest data from ERCOT shows that wind generation set new records in 2018 – with plenty of solar on the horizon.
The reporter covers the green technology space with a particular focus on smart grid integration technologies, demand response, energy storage, renewable energy and grid-distributed intermittent green energy.
Texas Renewable Energy Percent
Texas may be the heart of the U.S. oil and gas industry, but the latest data shows the state’s competitive energy market is increasingly favoring clean energy over fossil fuel alternatives.
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New data from state grid operator ERCOT shows carbon-free resources accounted for more than 30 percent of its energy use in 2018 and a slightly higher percentage of its generation capacity in 2019. In both cases, the largest share of the funding goes to wind farms. The state-owned giants, which provided 18.6 percent of 2018’s power and account for 23.4 percent of 2019’s capacity, are followed by nuclear power, which met 10.9 percent of last year’s demand and will supply 5.4 percent. percent of this year’s capacity.
Meanwhile, solar energy accounted for 1.3% of energy consumption last year, surpassed only by “other” resources such as hydropower, biomass and fuel oil. But solar will account for 2.1 percent of this year’s generating capacity, a testament to the state’s fast-growing small-scale utility solar market.
ERCOT’s achievement is largely the result of the economics of wind and solar power, as well as a strong state energy policy to integrate its western wind resources with eastern cities, known as Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ).
Since 2009, when CREZ began, ERCOT’s energy mix has grown from 6% to about 20%, while coal has declined from 37% to 25% of ERCOT’s energy mix over time.
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Meanwhile, wind has declined from about 17 percent in 2009 to less than half a percent in recent years due to a lack of transmission and demand, resulting in $7 billion in new transmission enabled by CREZ. How ERCOT works. Adding weather forecasting and demand management to the way they manage their network.
Additionally, the Texas wind fleet can power more than half of the ERCOT grid, even at night. In December, at 7 minutes after midnight, wind power generated 19,168 megawatts of electricity for one minute, surpassing ERCOT’s previous record of 17,920 megawatts at midnight the previous month.
The record Christmas wind output was a peak generation percentage of 54.64 percent at the time, according to Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, who published the latest ERCOT figures in a recent tweet.
“The most interesting thing is that about 55 percent of the demand in the ERCOT system was served by wind,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “Network operators and policy makers were afraid of it. […] We will never be able to control the wind and the sun, but the more we can predict them, the more we can trust them.
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Solar meets only a fraction of ERCOT’s needs compared to wind, but its growth rate is now much faster, with utility-scale projects in the state setting new low-cost records alongside solar leaders like California, Arizona and Nevada. Much of that solar is in West Texas, where it could benefit from the same transmission investments that enabled the wind industry, Rhodes noted.
In fact, the December 2018 ERCOT interconnection queue had more solar projects than wind projects, the first time that has happened, he said. This is driven in large part by efforts to implement projects to take full advantage of federal investment tax credits for solar and production tax credits for wind, which will begin to expire in 2020.
Of course, the statistics for interconnect applications should be taken with a grain of salt, as they always blur when moving from proposals to fully funded projects supported by interconnect studies. Still, in terms of the number of new projects, it’s a big change from the interconnection queue four years ago, when natural gas-fired power plants were still the main form of planned new generation.
Renewable energy developers also scored a regulatory win in Texas this week. The Public Utilities Commission of Texas has rejected a proposal by utilities Calpine and NRG to change how they calculate transmission line losses for ERCOT’s interconnected generators, which could reduce the value of wind and solar power located far from the state’s population centers.
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). Even more is on the way, with solar capacity quadrupling today’s relatively low levels by 2024. Availability can be patchy, with other renewable power plants needing back-up to meet electricity demand.
Meanwhile, aging coal, nuclear and gas-fired (known as “thermal”) plants require longer-than-expected maintenance and repairs – increasing the risk of rare output collapses during periods of high demand. Additionally, Texas’ electricity consumption will only increase with population migration, electrification of transportation, and increased demand from industrial sources such as data centers and petrochemical facilities.
With little investment in new thermal generation, does the design of the Texas electricity market provide enough incentive to develop capacity for future electricity needs? Increased battery storage and demand response programs—incentives that pay utility customers for voluntary and scheduled reductions in energy use—as well as new gas-fired power generation are essential for Texas consumers to enjoy reliable electricity future.
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As daily wind and solar generation fluctuates due to changes in weather and time, balancing energy supply and demand each year becomes more difficult for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid operator of Texas. This increases the need for “dispatchable” power – electricity called on quickly, mainly from natural gas-fired power plants – that can fill the gap when renewable energy production declines.
That challenge will only increase as ERCOT expects utility-scale solar capacity to grow from 7,800 megawatts (MW) today to more than 28,000 MW by 2024. That’s enough solar capacity to power nearly 4 .5 million homes in Texas on a summer day.
Each season, ERCOT forecasts its power generation capacity, demand (load), and reserve margin—the excess generation over peak load, typically the hours of highest demand on the hottest or coldest days of the season. To prevent blackouts, ERCOT targets a reserve margin of at least 13.75% to cover unexpected increases in demand or power plant failures.
When forecasting available generation capacity, ERCOT takes into account renewable energy weather patterns and outage schedules provided by power plant operators. Based on these inputs, ERCOT expects reserve margins to exceed 30% between 2023 and 2026 (
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While these over-target margins appear adequate, summer margins can be significantly reduced during high temperatures, large power plant outages, and low renewable energy production. If all of these events were to occur during the current summer season, ERCOT’s own forecast says the grid would have more than 14,000 megawatts less generation, leading to widespread outages.
The February 2021 winter storm was a case of all the improbable events happening at once. Electricity demand exceeded forecasts, power plants and natural gas facilities were improperly winterized, more plants than expected were offline for maintenance, and renewable generation was low.
Looking ahead, the margin for error narrows due to a mix of extreme weather and changing power generation. If thermal plant downtime occurs at the level seen in June 2021 — 9,000 MW offline on the Texas grid — and if renewable generation reaches 50% of its planned contribution, generation will be short of projected peak load days and there is a reserve margin. . . Falling below ERCOT’s target of 13.75 percent for the next five years, blackouts are increasingly likely (
Texas is reaching the limit of the current generational mix, if it hasn’t already. The grid is increasingly reliant on intermittent renewable generation as questions arise about how much thermal capacity is actually available to cover unexpected shortfalls – and demand for electricity rises.
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One improvement is the expansion of utility-scale battery storage for wind and solar installations. Texas has just 853 megawatts of battery capacity today. Such storage is designed to meet demand for one or two hours, usually during peak hours when renewable resources are in short supply. While 2,400 MW of capacity is scheduled by 2024 – a quarter of ERCOT’s current reserve margin – more will be needed. Battery storage facilities cost an average of $1.5 million per megawatt.
Increasing demand response programs can also help prevent blackouts. ERCOT has already predicted that such programs will reduce peak demand by 2,900-4,700 MW over the next five years. Even on a limited scale, increased consumption can make a big difference when every megawatt counts during an extreme weather event.
Texas is the only US state with a “single” electricity market, where generators are paid only for the electricity they provide. This
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