Texas is going green: 86% of future capacity solar or wind, zero coal


The Texas power grid is going green, and at an increasing rate. Texas wind capacity is already larger than coal, and sometime in 2018 or 2019 we’re going to see total electricity from wind be greater than coal. After this summer’s heatwaves the Texas grid is begging for solar power, and a UT-Austin analysis says the grid is ripe for 11 GW of it.

And developers are listening. New records for largest solar plants in the state are being signed regularly, and a recent gauntlet was dropped for largest energy storage projects. This of course means investors are moving large amounts of solar powered money.

Now, to complement the deals being signed everyday, we get a view of the future. The most recent Generator Interconnection Status Report (GIR) from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), shows a pipeline of 80 GW of potential capacity at various level of approval – of which 38 GW is wind power and 30 GW is solar power plants. The 12 GW of gas is the lowest value that has been in the report during the last two years.

About 50% of the solar volume is located in the west Texas region, with that volume being projected as coming online heavily in 2020, in line with transition from a 30% federal tax credit to a 26% tax credit. The other three regions of the state range from about 2.5 to 5 GW of solar volume planned.

The trend is most clearly shown chart titled “Project MW by Fuel”. You can see that there is zero coal, nuclear, biomass and other in the queue – and that gas projects are at a low since the chart starts two years ago. Of the capacity – 86% of it is solar or wind power.

Noted in the future project lists was a 750 MW project owned by SunPower, “Texas Solar Nova”, located in Kent County and a 600 MW being developed by Coronal Energy called the “Anson Solar” plant, located in Jones County, Texas.

Of course, much of this volume is in an early stage. Of the 30 GW of solar, 8 GW is in the screening study stage, and only 2.5 GW of projects have an executed interconnection agreement. Inevitably some of the total volume won’t get built, but the trend is clear, and much of it will be built. Good work Texas.

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