Is there enough Wind in Texas and what happens if it stops Blowing?
Is there really enough wind power to go around?
In Texas, you bet.
The Lone Star State leads the nation in wind energy production. In fact, Texas is one of the largest wind power producers in the world, with the potential to meet over 18 times our current electric needs — using wind power alone.
Texas leads the nation in wind generation capacity, with more than twice the amount found in Iowa, the next closest state. If Texas were a separate country, it would rank sixth in the world, ahead of countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Brazil.Source: ERCOT, 2015 State of the Grid Report
Legendary Texas Wind-Everything is Bigger in Texas!
The legendary Texas winds left their mark on the ERCOT region in 2015 as wind records continually were set and subsequently broken. Throughout the year, ERCOT set new wind records on eight different occasions. Ultimately, the output record of 13,883 MW, established on Dec. 20, would set the bar for 2016. That day, wind generation output reached nearly 88 percent of the system’s installed capacity. Wind penetration went as high as 44.7 percent of load, and wind provided 38.4 percent of the energy used in the ERCOT region that day.
Why is Texas so Windy?
When you think about the unique and varied geography of this amazing state of ours, it's no surprise. The wide-open Panhandle, for example, with its barren landscape and high elevation, allow the wind to charge down the plains and prairies with most of these mighty turbines located in one of the most remote and windy regions in the continental United Sates. And the gusty Gulf Coast is buffeted by consistent, strong winds.
What happens if the Mighty Texas Wind stops blowing?
First, don't worry - as they say, the wind is always blowing somewhere in Texas! But, more importantly - on that rare occasion that the mighty Texas Breeze loses it's bluster....the fact is - it doesn't really matter. Why? well, it has something to do with the fact that Texas is the only U.S. state with it's own electric power grid run by ERCOT - Electric Reliability Council of Texas. ERCOT maintains a massive transmission system built to bring electricity from the desolate western and northern areas of the state to the population centers of the south and east- like Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, Galveston and Corpus Christi.
According to Jeff Clark, of the Wind Coalition: "Texas should be recognized as one of the most visionary infrastructure projects ever built in Texas."Source: MIT Technology Review, "The One and Only Texas Wind Boom"
How does ERCOT work to provide Texans with power 24/7 365 days a year?
There are a variety of fuel sources in the Texas electric grid from renewables like wind and solar - to fossil fuel sources like natural gas and coal. All power plants back up all other power plants- that is what makes the grid so reliable in Texas. Portfolio diversity is the key, as no resource is available 100% of the time. All power plants have reduced output at times, and grid operators plan for wind’s contribution using the same tools they use to evaluate the contributions of other resources.
Adding wind power to the grid never increases the need for power plants, but rather reduces it. During a number of events wind has demonstrated its contribution to a more reliable and diverse energy portfolio by stepping in when other resources failed unexpectedly.Source: Climate Rocks, "Wind Power Reality Blows Away Myths", February 2015 Source: AWEA White Paper, "Wind energy helps build a more reliable and balanced electricity portfolio"
How does Texas Wind Energy contribute to a cleaner, greener planet?
Utility system operators must balance the total supply of electricity with the total demand for electricity 24/7, 365 days a year.
Therefore, the electricity produced by a wind plant must be matched by an equivalent decrease in electricity production at another plant. "When it is available, system operators use wind energy to reduce the output of the power plants that are the most expensive to operate, which are almost always natural gas or coal power plants because of their high fuel costs. Wind energy is also occasionally used to reduce the output of hydroelectric dams, which can store water to be used later to replace more expensive fossil fuel generation.
By directly reducing the use of fossil fuels, wind energy significantly reduces emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and other harmful pollutants. A number of detailed power system studies, as well as real-world experience with wind plants, have demonstrated that wind energy significantly reduces fossil fuel use and emissions."Source: AWEA, "Wind energy, backup power, and emissions"
State of the Wind Today
Currently, Texas wind energy powers over 3.3 million homes.
And we're just beginning to mine the potential of mighty Texas winds.
So, hold on to your hat Texas, because the future of wind looks might strong for this great ‘ole breezy state of ours.