Texas electricity generation is in the midst of a revolution. This summer it is expected that wind capacity will surpass coal capacity. Before this, Texas already had the most wind power of any U.S. state, and if Texas were a country all its own – gawd Texas would love that – the Lone Star would be fourth-ranked in the world.
However, wind slows down during the warm summer days in Texas. And, as Joshua Rhodes, Ph.D., a Research Fellow at the Energy Institute and the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin, has been dutifully tracking tracking via Twitter – this summer we have seen the wind slow down exactly align with mid-day record demand.
Wind coming in quite above forecasts as @ERCOT_ISO moves into peak hours. Load still on track to set new all-time system-wide peak demand record.https://t.co/dSwp7kVNpK pic.twitter.com/qfraI0CrQL
— Joshua Rhodes (@joshdr83) July 23, 2018
And of key importance to the marketplace is that Texas’ mismatch in electricity generation is the exact opposite of a duck curve. Of course, we in the solar industry know that in springtime the duck curve first shifts the demand peak later, leading to some daytime pricing being below night time pricing – and that during summertime heat waves solar and solar+storage feast on peak pricing.
Midday peak pricing has certainly come to Texas, starting to approach the maximum legal price of $9.00/kWh (you read that right, it doesn’t say 9¢/kWh):
.@ERCOT is blinking red right now. (You paying attention @joshdr83?) pic.twitter.com/Pj2ySZmf6W
— russell gold (@russellgold) July 18, 2018
So what’s a Texan to do? pv magazine has been reporting that Texans are already getting down to business. We’re seeing record sized projects one upping each other over and over. First is the current largest operational solar power plant at 180 MW-DC, next is an announced ~240 MW-DC and most recently is a coming 315 MW-DC bomb. And then of course we add in the most golden of all the news – Big Oil going Big Solar.
But solar isn’t alone in this fight. The 180-MW Upton project is now getting a 10 MW / 42 MWh battery storage system. And you can be sure that the battery developer is licking their chops at that sort of pricing.
The rapid development of the Texas market is showing in data. SEIA notes in its Texas profile that the Lone Star State is currently the 7th overall in solar power installed, but was the 4th-largest market in 2017 – and it projects that the state will take 3rd place over the next five years as it installs almost 6.5 GW of solar.
With Texas having developed their statewide HVAC transmission electrical grid, the far western part of the state – which has the best solar resources – is now seeing multi-decade solar lease contracts being waved around. With a state peak demand of 73 GW, and solar power signing contracts below 3¢/kWh on a regular basis, the boom is just starting.
Edit – Texas doesn’t have a statewide HVDC network, but a heavily upgraded HVAC transmission network. We hold out hope though.
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I would think that Texas’ solar market would be accelerating very quickly. As mentioned, they have the HVDC lines in place and solar is a complement to wind generation. Add in some battery projects and it would seem to be a slam dunk. Hopefully, the SEIA is wrong on the low side and Texas can get at least 10GW installed in the next 5 years. Even “them libruls” over in California are projected to install over 13GW. How much pride does Texas have if they get beat by a bunch of libruls?
Also, good for N.C. – I had no idea they had installed 4.4GW and projected to install another nearly 9GW in the next 5 years. (Again, Texas how bad does it feel to be beat by a bunch of Tar Heels?)
Which HVDC lines are you referring to? Texas only has back-to-back HVDC ties to the neighboring interconnects and no HVDC lines within the state.
“With Texas having a statewide HVDC electrical grid”
Texas does not have a statewide HVDC electrical grid.
There isn’t a statewide HVDC network, but I wrote it because I keep thinking about HVDC and the success of Texas’ transmission network in the same thought – https://www.eenews.net/stories/1059995041
And because he is a poor reporter at an e-magazine with no editorial staff or quality review…
“starting to approach the maximum legal price of $9.00/kWh (you read that right, it doesn’t say 9¢/kWh)” when all but one settlement point has broken 1/4 of the limit at any point this year? You can make reasonable claims that tell the story without being this dramatic (…lying).
And if you’d like a copy of our hardcopy magazine mailed to you on a monthly basis, edited by our international team located in Europe, Asia and Australia – and contiributed to by yours truly for the first time in this month’s copy – check it out bro! https://shop.pv-magazine.com/
Let’s provide some clarity on Texas and solar.
ERCOT expanded the network capacity of the CREZ (competitive renewable energy zones) network which can transmit 18 GW of power from West Texas into the eastern population centres. Because the network is HVAC, not HVDC, by definition it can move power in either direction, but the requirement is generally eastwards. The upgrade provided something like 14 GW of extra capacity for $7bn.
From a wind perspective the CREZ network is pretty much full now, though there is nothing to stop it from being expanded further at increased cost. From modelling, West Texas wind has a (negative) correlation of -0.2 with West Texas solar. This means that another 18 GW of solar capacity can be hosted on the CREZ network because West Texas wind and solar generation does not usually peak at the same time, so the curtailment expected from running 18 GW + 18GW on the same 18 GW CREZ network with no storage is small. West Texas wind is usually strongest at night.
Gulf Coast wind does have a positive correlation with solar, which doesn’t matter too much for this discussion as most wind capacity is in West Texas because of the CREZ network.
As well as parts of West Texas having the best wind, solar irradiance gets better the further West you go in Texas, so the 7 CREZ areas in West Texas are also places where solar power is excellent and thus cheap too.
Next, solar generation correlates highly with the peak air conditioning load, as you might expect, because both are caused by sunny days. The article says 75% of solar capacity counts towards peak summer capacity and I have no better figure. However, it only applies up to an 8 GW contribution from solar, as, on hot days, the evening peak when solar winds down is only around 8 GW lower than the daytime peak. Obviously the evening peak could be handled well by batteries – requiring a few GW of batteries with 4 hours or more of storage.
In other words ERCOT has a clear path to around 12-16 GW of utility scale solar and 4 GW of batteries backed with 16 GWh or more of storage before needing any significant transmission expansion. This could make a contribution to handling the summer peak days of around 12 GW, or maybe more.
EV charging can is also coming at some point and may eventually add another 10% (7 GW) of load. But there is no reason why this should significantly increase the summer peak as charging is highly flexible. V2G (vehicle to grid) from EV batteries may even provide some of the battery capacity and storage if car owners can be given sufficient inducement (such as free electricity for travel if they keep the EV connected to the grid most of the time, according to Nissan).
So the medium-term future for solar in Texas does indeed look pretty good, though solar panel tariffs may delay the inevitable.
Good info, thanks! It is also pretty much what I have heard – solar+wind can in Texas can use the same transmission with very little overlap.
While Coastal wind in Texas does have a positive correlation with solar, it is typically offset – the peak is well after the solar peak, and high production continues well after solar has stopped.
Effectively coastal wind behaves most of the time like delayed solar – the land heats up from the sun, air rises, wind blows in from the sea to replace it.
Taken together, West Texas wind, solar and Coastal wind cover the day pretty darn well
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