How the Texas power grid braces against rolling blackouts as summer heat looms

How the Texas power grid braces against rolling blackouts as summer heat looms

It's been decades since state power reserves were as depleted as they are now, according to Texas regulators — forcing them to contemplate the worst-case scenario this summer: rolling blackouts.

Such "rotating outages" are a last resort for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and they've been necessary only three times on record — and never during even the most sweltering of Texas summers.

ERCOT is forecasting a peak demand of 74,853 megawatts this summer, 1,300 megawatts higher than the all-time peak demand record set July 19, 2018, when temperatures reached 108 degrees at DFW International Airport.

And with backup resources at their lowest levels since the early 2000s, the staff at ERCOT is working to ensure the lights stay on this summer.

Renewable energy capacity in Texas REC program grew by almost 10% in 2018

Renewable energy capacity in Texas REC program grew by almost 10% in 2018

Houston — Total capacity in Texas' voluntary Renewable Energy Credit program, including facilities outside the Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint, increased by about 2.6 GW, or almost 10%, between 2017 and 2018, but industry observers differ over whether such growth may continue.

Some have blamed federally subsidized renewable energy's massive growth in Texas for low power prices, discouraging investment in dispatchable thermal generation, causing ERCOT's record-low planning reserve margins of 8.6% this summer, when ERCOT expects to declare Energy Emergency Alerts.

A renewable energy credit is a stock-like certificate corresponding to an actual megawatt-hour of renewable energy. Renewable power generators can earn and sell the RECs to retailers on the open market. Texas retail electricity providers must acquire and retire RECs based on their load-ratio share of the annual renewable portfolio standard mandate.

Legislative Bills affecting the Texas Market

Legislative Bills affecting the Texas Market

A couple of legislative proposals with the possibility of significantly affecting Texas renewable energy development if enacted are advancing through the Texas Legislature. Members may want to contact legislators representing districts where they have or are developing projects, or other members with whom they have connections, to let them know how these proposals could affect their interests.

Department of Energy Announces $28 Million in Funding for Wind Energy Research

Department of Energy Announces $28 Million in Funding for Wind Energy Research

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $28.1 million in funding aimed at advancing wind energy nationwide across the land-based, offshore, and distributed wind sectors. While utility-scale wind energy in the United States has grown to 90 gigawatts, significant opportunities for cost reductions remain, especially in the areas of offshore wind, distributed wind, and tall wind.

“Wind power is an important part of America’s energy strategy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Research, development, and demonstration of innovative wind technologies can continue to drive down costs, and expand the success that we’ve seen in the land-based utility-scale wind sector to the emerging distributed wind and offshore wind sectors.”

Texas Solar Boom Fueled By Oil And Gas Power Demands

Texas Solar Boom Fueled By Oil And Gas Power Demands

A new look at a burgeoning solar boom in Texas reveals an unlikely source behind much of the demand - oil and gas companies.

Demand for electricity in Texas is so high, much of it due to "power-hungry" oil and gas drilling operations, that solar power is now becoming highly sought after in the state, Bloomberg reports. Developers expect to add more than 6 gigawatts of solar in the state by 2022, quadrupling the current capacity in Texas.

Texas solar is being built solely for economic reasons, not due to incentives. BloombergNEF estimates that, spread over the lifetime of the plant, it currently costs about $32 per megawatt-hour to build a solar farm in the state - and it's $38/MWh for a comparable high-efficiency gas plant.

A Better Way For Corporations To Buy Green Power? The Proxy Revenue Swap

A Better Way For Corporations To Buy Green Power? The Proxy Revenue Swap

In recent years, corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) to buy renewable energy have been a key driver for large-scale wind and solar projects.  The PPA trend has grown rapidly in the U.S.  Last year alone, the number of buyers jumped from 31 to 75 while the contracted volumes soared from 2,780 to 6,530 megawatts (MW).  

Those numbers are expected to grow in coming years.  However, some of these deals can be complex, with contracts that can run over a hundred pages.  They can also involve certain risks that buyers may be unaware of. 

Forward Spark Spreads Suggest Rising Profitability of US Renewables As Sector Matures

Forward Spark Spreads Suggest Rising Profitability of US Renewables As Sector Matures

Ahead of the S&P Global Platts Global Power Markets conference in Las Vegas, April 8-10, 2019, The Barrel presents a series of articles on the global and US electricity sectors. In this last post of the series, Steve Piper analyzes S&P Global Market Intelligence data to show that renewables are increasingly able to compete with conventional generation.

Wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) electric facilities only account for an estimated 11% of US generation, but they are fast closing on a tipping point where they may outperform conventional generation as an asset class.

Grid Security Council Creation Bill Passes Out of Texas Senate

Grid Security Council Creation Bill Passes Out of Texas Senate

A bill to create a grid security council to protect Texas’ electricity infrastructure is on its way to the House.

The Texas Senate passed Sen. Kelly Hancock‘s SB 475, with a substitute, is aimed at protecting the grid from cyberattack in part by commissioning a utilities council for the ERCOT region.

Texas Businesses Building More Power Supplies

Texas Businesses Building More Power Supplies

Texas is heading into summer with a growing supply of privately-generated electricity, reflecting the surge of small-scale power generators that businesses have been installed to provide their own back-up power and make money when prices spike during extreme weather.

A report by the Austin advocacy group Texas Clean Energy Coalition and the Boston consulting company Brattle Group found that back-up power supplies, including  fast-starting diesel-powered and natural gas-powered micro-turbines along with solar panels, can generate about 1,300 megawatts of power in Texas, the equivalent of building nearly three utility-scale combined-cycle electric generating plants.

Solar Energy About to Light Up Texas

Solar Energy About to Light Up Texas

By Peter Kelly-Detwiler - Storyteller in Residence

Until recently, wind energy has been the undisputed renewables champion in Texas, and rightly so.  The state boasts almost 25,000 megawatts (MW) of installed wind, with 13,000 turbines in operation, and an additional 7,000 MW in advanced development or under construction.

Wind is about to get a partner, though, as the solar industry is about to take the state by sunny storm.  From a base of approximately 2,000 MW today, solar is forecast to climb to 8,200 MW by 2025.  Solar’s already significant enough that ERCOT has already implemented solar forecasting.  It will have a few tailwinds to help it (to mix metaphors across renewables).