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Major Texas solar project underway

Ghana News Agency


Accra, Oct. 2, (UPI/GNA) - Wind powerproduction is setting records in Texas, but an energy revolution is expectedfrom a project to develop utility-scale solar electricity that will help doublethe state's sun-harnessing capabilities over the next two years and easedemands on an often-overloaded power grid.

Those plans include Misae I and II, two ofthe largest utility-scale solar projects in the United States, and increasedproduction of utility-scale batteries -- all of which has the potential tosubstantially increase the marketability of renewable energy.

Experts say generating power from a mix offossil fuels and renewable energy will be crucial for a state that continuallyrequires more electricity to meet daily needs, particularly during hot Texassummers.

For most of the past decade, renewableenergy investment dollars have been funneled into wind power, a corner of themarket that's doubled capacity from from 9,400 megawatts in 2010 to more than22,000 megawatts this year, according to the Electric Reliability Council ofTexas. By 2021, the state could add more than 14,000 additional megawatts ofwind power to the state grid.

For the first time in history, production ofwind power topped coal power in Texas over the first six months of 2019. Butthe trouble with wind, some experts say, is there often isn't enough during thepeak summer heat.

In August, wholesale electricity pricessoared to more than $9,000 per megawatt hour several times because excesscapacity, or reserve margin, fell below predetermined thresholds. Experts notethat if just one major natural gas plant had gone offline during the crisis,the Electric Reliability Council of Texas would have been forced to implementrolling blackouts -- a last-ditch effort utilities use to avert overload and atotal blackout.

"When we reach conditions in whichresources are scarce compared to customer demand, all available resources areonline, and we get to the point where the amount of unused capacity falls belowthe 3,000 megawatt cap," ERCOT senior director of system planning WarrenLasher said. "That reflects that scarcity in the wholesale marketprice."

Most Texans in deregulated areas wereinsulated from price hikes because their electric rate is locked in. Butresidents who buy power wholesale were hit hard, with electric bills thatquickly totalled thousands of dollars.

Experts say peak demand is growing at up to1,500 megawatts per year, driven mostly by population growth in major cities.Another driver is wattage needed to power the oil and gas shale boom in WestTexas. Lasher said hydraulic fracking, which breaks up shale rock to releaseoil and gas, uses large amounts of electricity.



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