The Impact of Texas Wind Energy

The Impact of Texas Wind Energy

The State of Texas can proudly boast that it is the national leader in wind energy. At the close of 2013, the lone star state had the most installed wind capacity of any state with about 12,300 megawatts. It has more wind turbines and more wind-related jobs than any other state. The wind energy industry in Texas has created thousands of jobs and provided billions of dollars in economic benefits.

Why Texas?
Wind power has a long history in the Lone Star State. West Texas State University began wind energy research in 1970 and led to the formation of the Alternative Energy Institute (AEI) in 1977. AEI has been a major information resource about wind energy for Texas.
There are now over 25 large wind farms operating in Texas and more on the way (This number doesn’t include the smaller farms that are less than 140 MW).
The expanding wind power market will help Texas meet its 2015 renewable energy goal of 5,000 new megawatts of power from renewable sources.
The wind boom in Texas was assisted by expansion of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, use of designated Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, expedited transmission construction, and the necessary Public Utility Commission rule-making. Wind power accounted for 8.3% of the electricity generated in Texas during 2013.

State Policy
Texas established a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 1999 and it was amended in 2005. The current RPS provisions require 5,880 MW of renewable energy by 2015. The state also has a target of reaching 10,000 MW of renewable capacity by 2025, a target that the wind energy industry met in 2010.

The Current State of Texas Wind Energy
The wind power boom in Texas has outstripped the capacity of the transmission systems in place, and predicted shortages in transmission capability may dampen the growth of the industry in years to come. It is said that until now, the growth in wind power “piggybacked” on existing lines, but has now almost depleted spare capacity. As a result, in Winter the west Texas grid often has such a local surplus of power that the price falls below zero.

In July 2008, utility officials gave preliminary approval to a $4.9 billion plan to build new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from West Texas to urban areas such as Dallas. The new plan would be the biggest investment in renewable energy in U.S. history, and would add transmission lines capable of moving about 18,000 megawatts.

Texas recently broke a new wind energy record. On March 26, a wind power record was set at 10,296 MW at 8:48 PM. This represented close to 29% of the nearly 36,000 MW of electricity on the power grid at that moment, and smashed the record set only weeks ago by 600 MW. No issues concerning integration were reported. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the 10,296 MW is the most for any U.S. power system to date. (The following day, 9,868 MW of wind generation achieved a record 38.43 percent of the 25,677 MW systemwide demand at 3:19 a.m.)

What’s Next?
An energy storage system is being developed for West Texas. The system allows excess wind energy to be stored, making wind energy more predictable and less variable. This 36 MW battery facility became operational in December 2012.
The development of the Tres Amigas HVDC link to the Western grid and the Eastern grid will allow more flexibility in importing and exporting power to and from Texas.
A 300 MW offshore wind farm is planned for Galveston, and 2,100 MW for the Gulf Coast of Texas. Making turbines that are able to yaw quickly will make them more likely to be able to survive a hurricane.