Texas moves forward wind power

Posted by Peten Danko, EarthTechling.com

Wind power generation in Texas continued its steady upward march in 2013, and it’s now on the doorstop of 10 percent of the state’s electricity supply.

New data from grid operator ERCOT showed that wind provided 9.9 percent of Lone Start state electrical generation last year, up from 9.2 percent in 2012. The 9.9 proportion represents a doubling in five years – in 2008, wind was at 4.9 percent.

texas wind

image via U.S. Department of Commerce

Wind owned a bigger slice of generation even though the pie grew, with Texans using 2.1 percent more electricity in 2013 compared to 2012. Wind’s share grew because the amount of wind generation rose by a whopping 9.7 percent, from 29,803,361 megawatt-hours  to 32,705,373 MWh.

As a percentage of overall energy generation, wind did best in the spring months of March, when its share was 15.2 percent, but wind output acatually peaked in May, at 3,691,496 MWh. The lowpoint in output was in September, at 1,711,160 MWh.

As the U.S. Energy Information Administration said recently, “Texas has added coal- and natural gas-fired capacity since 2011; however, the largest share of capacity growth has been from wind generators, mostly located in western Texas.” More is on the way from that region, too, thanks to new transmission that can handle up to 2,500 megawatts of power, moving it from the windy west to the big population centers.

As for solar, it doesn’t even get its own category on the ERCOT data sheets. However, that might be on the way to changing: In December, a 41-megawatt solar power plant began operation in San Antonio, and the plan is to build up to 400 MW there. That could help provide more electricity during the peak summer months when wind declines.

* Pete Danko, EarthTechling.com