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Texas can become the largest exporter of solar and wind power to other states if it strongly interconnects. How can connection-phobia be overcome?

Andrew Blakers's picture
Professor of Engineering Australian National university

Andrew Blakers is Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University. He founded the solar PV research group at ANU. In the 1980s and 1990s he was responsible for the design and...

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  • May 9, 2022
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Texas has the largest solar and wind resource in the USA, and one third of its electricity came from solar and wind in Q1/2022. Texas can become the largest exporter of solar and wind power to other states if it strongly interconnects. How can connection-phobia be overcome?

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As it is, renewables are throwing up distribution challenges within the country forcing the T & D sector to deal with challenging issues to meet the customer satisfaction.  For that matter, Karnatka state in India with surplus renewable will face herculean task supplying renewable power to the neighbour states due to inherent limitations in governance.  More importantly, we are still not clear on the environmental consequences of such massive renewable propositions.   With the kind of reservations already expressed this seems to be far fetched.

As a professional that grew up and received my BSEE in Texas (before I moved to California), I don't believe that this will happen (It's part of Texans' personality). 

The good news is, there is another road to Rome. I believe that ERCOT has one or two DC Transmission Lines now. If they add more, they will be able to selectively transmit power to and receive power from other grids without putting the ERCOT grid at risk. 

For more information on this technology, see the earlier post linked below.

HVDC Transmission, Part 1, Technology: In general, an HVDC line tends to be used for specific critical and/or long-distance applications whereas an HVAC line tends to be part of a large AC network composed of many synchronized AC lines that operate at various voltages.

Part 1 of this series will look at specific applications where HVDC Transmission excels, other applications that may not be as suitable, and the geographic area in the U.S. Grid where they have and will continue to be used extensively. Part 1 will also look at the technology used to implement an HVDC line.

https://energycentral.com/c/gr/hvdc-transmission-part-1-technology

 

One project attempted to do this in one fell swoop. See the two links below for details. The good news is that this project is still alive, albeit with more modest goals.

http://tresamigasllc.com/?msclkid=863c6ceccfaf11ec96605c588a59ddea

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tres_Amigas_SuperStation?msclkid=863b79f4c...

-John

Seems like most of the reluctance to Texas connecting to the larger electric grid network was the control that FERC would have over their control. This is short-sighted in my opinion, and the winter storms in Feb 2021 were a prime example of what can happen when a state has little redundancy and abilities to pull in power during major extreme cases. 

I believe "resiliency" is the way to break through the barriers of this mindset. Poinbting to the devastating impacts the extreme winter storms had across the entire state, and the vulnerabilitie4s that it spotlighted, provides good justification to revisit the current ERCOT model. 

The other is "open competition" and allowing independent power providers to also export power in certain times when they cannot compete in the energy market. I believe if businesses begin to rally together and put pressure on PSC and ERCOT, this could show them the importance of opening up these interconnections to neighboring states and drive more revenues to the State.

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