A Central Texas coal-fired electric generating plant is being shut down this summer, cutting the state's biggest electric power grid's reserve capacity for meeting summer demand.
The astounding growth in wind and solar power coupled with their plummeting prices means that we are now radically rethinking how we produce, transmit, and sell power. Customers want 100 percent renewable energy, states want to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, and utilities are scrambling to come up with new business models and infrastructure to accommodate them.
The wind and the sun are some of the most abundant sources of energy in the world, and they’re free. But the big challenge of harnessing them is the simple fact of their intermittent availability: In general, the sun shines during the day, which means the amount of solar energy available is highest during the day. Wind, meanwhile, is usually strongest at night, so wind energy peaks after sunset.
Upton 2 battery energy storage system project now operational
IRVING, Texas, Jan. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Luminant, a subsidiary of Vistra Energy (NYSE: VST), announced that its Upton 2 battery energy storage system project has finished construction and began operating on Dec. 31, 2018.
The battery system, which is the largest energy storage project in Texas and seventh largest in the United States, is located on the site of Luminant's 180-megawatt Upton 2 Solar Power Plant in Upton County, Texas. The solar facility continues to deliver on the company's strategic plan to strengthen and expand its integrated businesses through enhanced retail solar offerings and diversity across its generation fleet. It is also direct evidence that competitive generators will invest in batteries in Texas when supported by market economics.
After weathering an erratic Electric Reliability Council of Texas market this summer, Austin Energy finished the year in a financially stable position with extra revenue that will be passed on to the public in the coming year.
According to Mark Dombroski, chief financial officer at Austin Energy, who addressed the Electric Utility Commission at its Nov. 19 meeting, the expected revenues can be attributed to an increase in the cost of energy from the ERCOT market as well as a larger-than-anticipated consumption of energy in the summer months. Forty percent of the utility’s sales occurred from June to September.
Timing and placement of wind and solar power facilities are critical factors for Texas electricity providers that juggle their output with other resources to provide a balanced flow of energy. Rice University researchers have some suggestions on how they can integrate widely varying sources more efficiently.
Rice undergraduate student Joanna Slusarewicz, along with environmental engineer Daniel Cohan, performed an analysis of recent peaks in production from West and South Texas renewable resources and suggested that the state’s power production can be made more reliable by adjusting where and when those resources are deployed.
Last week on vacation with the family in Puerto Rico, I took a small detour from the touristy stuff to check out a cool new technology. Driving just over an hour west of San Juan, I headed south, and soon found myself passing through an intensely green forested and serrated landscape of karst limestone outcroppings. I followed the winding road about a half hour south to the town of Utuado, home of 33,000 souls and one of the communities most seriously affected by hurricane Maria. After asking directions three times (my destination was not on Google Maps), I eventually found my way to the Utuado Estacion de los Bomberos – the local fire station.
There I introduce myself to the officer in charge (he was perhaps a bit confused as to what TREIA’s storyteller in residence actually does) and asked permission to accompany him to the roof. We climbed a vertical ladder set into the wall, opened a hatch, and walked over to view a secondary lower rooftop.
Today, less than two percent of the vehicles Americans buy are electric. But within the next three decades, some automotive industry experts expect electric vehicles could make up the majority of US and global car sales.
All told, American drivers log about 3 trillion miles per year, consuming more than 170 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel in the process. Converting all those road miles to electricity would place new demands on the nation’s system for producing and delivering electricity.
As part of a major energy infrastructure study, we are seeking to understand how an increase in electric vehicles (EVs) might change how energy is supplied and consumed. So far, we have figured out the impact of electric vehicles will depend on where you live and when they are charged.
A new Electric Reliability Council of Texas Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) report shows that the planning reserve margin for summer 2019 is forecasted to be 8.1% based on resource updates provided to ERCOT from generation developers.
This is 2.9% lower than what was initially reported in the May CDR, ERCOT said. The report shows reserves are expected to increase to 10.7% in 2020 and 12.2% in 2021.
The ERCOT CDR Report includes planning reserve margins for the next five years.
As stories about the energy transition go, Big Oil going big on solar power in the heart of America’s biggest oil patch is as transitiony as it gets. Besides the symbolism of Exxon Mobil Corp. signing up for 250 megawatts of solar power (plus the same amount of wind power) in the Permian basin, though, it is also part of a big change gathering momentum in the country’s biggest electricity market: Texas.
Despite lots of sunshine and power demand, the state hasn’t embraced solar power in a Texas-sized way. Last year, it ranked sixth in the U.S. in terms of solar generation, just behind Utah. But that appears to be changing. As of the end of November, the state’s solar pipeline was at almost 37 gigawatts, up from less than 25 GW at the beginning of the year, according to the latest monthly report from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
We just wrapped up GridNEXT 2018 in Georgetown a few short weeks ago. While the event is already in the rear view mirror, memories and impressions linger. A frequently heard comment was that the quality of panels and discussion just keeps getting better from year to year.