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Wind Generates More than 10% of Texas Electricity in 2014

graph of Texas (ERCOT) annual electricity generation mix, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)

In 2014, more than 10% of the electricity used in the grid covering most of Texas came from wind generation, according to the grid’s operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Wind’s share of the ERCOT generation mix grew from 6.2% in 2009 to 10.6% in 2014 as total electricity generation increased over the same period by 11.3%. The growth in wind generation is a result of new wind plants coming online and grid expansions that have allowed more wind power to flow through the system to consumers.

graph of Texas (ERCOT) installed wind capacity and annual generation, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)

Wind generation in ERCOT nearly doubled from 18.8 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2009 to 36.1 million MWh in 2014. Wind capacity has also grown substantially over the past six years (and much more so in the years before that), but wind generation grew at a faster pace, partly because transmission constraints that previously prevented wind generators from operating at their maximum capability were gradually removed through a state-directed transmission expansion program. As these transmission constraints were removed, more generation from wind plants (largely concentrated in the northwestern part of the state) could reach the state’s population centers. The result has been a faster increase in wind generation than in wind capacity from 2009 to 2014.

map of wind plants in Texas, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Energy Mapping System. Note: Wind plants shown are facilities with a net summer capacity of 1 MW and above. Wind plants shown also include those located in the small areas of Texas lying outside the ERCOT grid footprint.

Wind’s contribution to ERCOT generation is not evenly distributed throughout the year. In Texas, peak wind season occurs during the spring—March to June—before significantly dropping off during the summer—July to September. Based on data for the past six years, the four months from March through June account for on average about 40% of annual wind generation in ERCOT. The graph on the right below shows a fairly consistent seasonal pattern from year to year, despite the difference in actual volumes of generation.

graph of Texas (ERCOT) monthly wind generation, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)

Principal contributor: April Lee

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Charlie Hewitt's picture
Charlie Hewitt on Mar 2, 2015 10:48 pm GMT

It was refreshing to see the inclusion of generation rather than just capacity.  In Texas, natural gas, wind, and other resources generate a disproportionately smaller share of electricity than indicated by their percentage of installed capacity. 

The state is undoubtedly benefitting from the extensive transmission line construction projects associated with the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones.  My primary concern is without a commercially-viable storage solution, west Texas wind generation will be limited in meeting system peak demands.

For summer months, ERCOT plans on only 12% of nameplate capacity for non-Coastal wind resources.  The problem is that west Texas winds tend to die down about the same time system demand is ramping up.  Coastal wind generation is far more synchronous with peak demand and ERCOT assigns uses 56% of nameplate capacity when factoring in the likely contribution of those resources.

The point is that there seemed to be more of a focus on siting wind generation where nobody cared rather than where winds blew when they were most needed.  It will be interesting to see how the Texas generation mix evolves over the coming years.

 

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