Wind and solar power have become a neat trick this week in Texas, with turbines and photovoltaic panels continuing to spew electricity, while the entire Southwest has been baked under another round of record high temperatures. This may come as a surprise to some extent. After all, Texas is a global leader in oil and gas production, and its coal industry is not too shabby either. However, when it comes to supplying kilowatts under extreme conditions, renewables supply goods.
Extreme weather: Who wore it better, renewables or fossil fuels?
Hojun Choi z Morning news from Dallas he recapitulated the current situation on Thursday morning and wrote that “renewable energy this week was a great success in Texas when temperatures and demand for electricity reached record levels.”
According to Choi, the Texans set a new record in electricity demand on June 12, reaching three-digit temperatures that bound the century-old hundred in the Dallas-Fort-Worth area. Instead of withering under pressure, wind and solar power plants took off and supplied about 1/3 of the state’s electricity. This exceeds the typical average, which is already impressive compared to renewable output in other US states.
This report is particularly significant compared to last year’s devastating storm-related power outage in Texas. Fossil energy stakeholders have quickly blamed the state’s strong wind industry. However, the network failure affected all sources and the main culprit proved to be over-reliance on gas-fired power plants during the winter.
“The share of energy generated from wind energy in Texas set a new record on April 10, contributing about 69% of total electricity in the ERCOT network,” Choi added. “Solar energy production in the country’s main energy network set a new record on May 19, accounting for 14.62% of the system’s electricity.”
Lone Star State Hearts Renewables
CleanTechnica over the years he poured out a lot of ink due to the renewable energy revolution in Texas. The state is the global epicenter of fossil energy production, but lax regulation, which has allowed oil, gas and coal production to rise sharply, has also opened the door to strong wind industry development with sound economic development policies that launched a new transmission line in 2013.
US military facilities in Texas have also helped push the renewables argument as part of the Department of Defense’s broader efforts to promote energy security and resilience to climate change.
Although much attention has been focused on the state’s wind industry, solar energy activity has begun to increase, as have energy storage and other related technologies.
Top Beginning for renewables
Other US states are catching up with Texas in the field of renewables, but this year is still in 1st place in wind capacity and in healthy 2nd place in solar capacity, and that’s not the end of it.
Ground wind and solar energy are not the only renewables in the city. Last summer, Texas University A&M dropped the word that it was exploring the possibilities of clean technologies at sea. This could be a challenge for offshore wind farms, as wind sources in the Gulf of Mexico are sub-optimal, but A&M’s vision could address this by pairing winds with floating solar panels.
In addition, another Gulf state, Louisiana, is intensively looking for opportunities for offshore wind energy. Last February alone, the state announced a target of 5 gigawatts for offshore wind, which is very impressive given that the entire US currently has only a few offshore turbines in operation.
Louisiana could use emerging trends in green hydrogen and green ammonia to make it a major reason for offshore wind energy development, and this angle is already at stake for the Lone Star state.
In January 2021, the University of Texas at Austin hosted a round table on green hydrogen to create a nationwide green hydrogen center using renewable energy sources – wind, solar and biogas – plus existing fossil energy infrastructure.
Shell has a green hydrogen angle on the offshore wind energy project in the Netherlands, which is interesting because in the autumn of 2020 the US Department of Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Netherlands on cooperation in offshore wind energy development. Shell is also behind the largest electrolyser-based green hydrogen project in the EU at its Rheinlander plant in Germany.
Renewables and pickups, perfect together
Another interesting perspective on the Texas renewable energy scene is the number of pickups. More drivers in Texas prefer cars and SUVs on a percentage basis, but in terms of gross numbers, the state remains the national leader in pickup sales.
The number of pickups in Texas could come into play as older carmakers have switched to electric vehicles and extreme weather encourages further disruption of state power. Ford Motor Company is already offering the battery of its Lightning F-150 EV as an emergency backup power supply, and last year Ford announced a merger with Sunrun’s leading solar installer, which makes it easier for F-150 owners to charge from their own rooftop solar array.
If the electrical sensor movement becomes mainstream, millions of energy storage facilities could take to the streets of Texas to provide much-needed solutions to the remaining bottlenecks that continue to hamper the pace of renewable energy development in the state.
The pick-up element fits in with the trends of distributed energy and virtual power plants, where small renewables and energy storage facilities are coordinated through “smart grid” technology and provide the network services that a large centralized power plant would normally provide.
The trend of virtual power plants began to take shape in the United States a few years ago with the support of the Department of Energy. Last month, the director of the credit program office, Jigar Shah, wrote a blog post highlighting the impact of virtual power plants on the demand for renewables.
“The consumer market for distributed energy sources – DER – is on the verge of expansion. The Solar Energy Industry Association estimates that almost 5% of owner-occupied homes now have a rooftop solar panel. Energy storage is experiencing its moment, in 2021 more storage will be deployed than in the previous five years combined. What’s more, solar energy production and storage are becoming more user-friendly, with a third of new solar systems per meter installed by 2025 expected to include energy storage, ”wrote Shah.
“DERs can provide energy at a lower price than the grid normally offers. They do so while offering consumers greater resilience during adverse network events. And despite the reluctance of commercial lenders to adequately recognize this, DERs are also more affordable and cost-effective than ever, “he said, adding that” virtual power plants can catalyze the deployment of DERs on a large scale and help create affordable, resilient and clean energy. accessible to all Americans. “
That is why we say that this is the beginning of the beginning of renewables. For another indication of what is prepared for fossil energy stakeholders, check out a recent Rice University report that shows that “Texas can be a model for the nation to effectively replace coal with wind and sun for the state’s energy needs while meeting environmental objectives. “
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Photo: Rooftop Solar Panels in Austin, Texas courtesy of the US Department of Energy through Austin Energy.
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