While many may not expect it, Texas generates the most wind energy in the US with over 25,000 megawatts of energy production. In fact, as of today over 1/6th of the energy consumed in the state comes from renewable resources.
Now solar energy is gaining ground, with plans to take advantage of the state’s massive solar potential and offset some of the challenges wind faced last year.
Wind Energy Put To The Test
Back in August of 2019, wind energy in Texas was put to the test, and it performed poorly.
For about a week, Texas was put through a not so uncommon heatwave. As temperatures rose, citizens in Texas began to pump air conditioning to stay cool. This started to tax the electric grid.
To make matters worse, the wind stopped blowing. All those gigawatts of wind energy were not available, partially causing a massive spike in wholesale electricity prices.
While this is not the sole cause of the wholesale price spike that week, it showcased the problem of relying on a singular renewable energy source. When the wind is not blowing, you’re not getting any power.
So you can see why the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is looking towards solar.
Today, solar contributes only 1% to Texas’s electricity production. This is a small percentage, especially when you consider that the state has the largest solar potential in the US.
However, Texas looks to finally be taking advantage of that energy potential. An ERCOT manager states that they expect to add 3.5 gigawatts of solar energy in 2020 and another 5.5 gigawatts of solar energy in 2021.
While there is still a long way to go before solar nears wind energy’s 25 gigawatt capacity in the state, it will at least help take some pressure off the electric grid in times of low wind.