Texas has broken all kinds of records, and that’s mostly bad news.
High temperature records were broken statewide in June when a heat dome was installed over Texas, trapping intense heat and humidity beneath it.Texas was very hot, meteorologist Ben Noll pointed out that, the only rivals on earth are “the Sahara desert and the Persian Gulf region”.Houston National Weather Service apologized Regarding the “potentially lethal” “heavy and persistent heat” blanketing the state, he said, “Sorry folks. We’ll get back to normal levels of heat one day, but not anytime soon. Keep fighting the heat!” “
The Texans obviously turned up the air conditioning. And while this was largely responsible for the state’s new record for energy demand (80,878 megawatts on June 27), the state’s transmission operator, the Texas Electricity Reliability Council (ERCOT), said the record didn’t expect it to last long. .
The Texas power grid, which peculiarly serves only the state of Texas, has quivered and sometimes broken in recent years under the weight of extreme weather, population growth, and aging infrastructure. But for now, Grid is holding up this summer. In fact, ERCOT only has the following features: asked the customer To voluntarily reduce power consumption once during extreme heat.
And that’s largely due to another record Texas broke this summer: Solar and wind farms set new records. High water mark for renewable energy generation It delivered 31,468 MW on June 28, helping offset 8,000 MW of outages at failed natural gas and coal-fired power plants. “Wind and solar provide enough buffers to cause chaos even if a few plants shut down,” Dan Cohan of Rice University in Houston told The Washington Post. rice field.
How are solar and wind power saving the summer?
Maintaining air conditioning in extreme heat is a collective effort, and while Texas agrees with all of the above energy strategies, the rapid increase in renewable energy generation has made it difficult to maintain air conditioning like in past summers. State power distribution is curtailed. And solar energy was a surprising MVP in a few weeks of triple-digit heat.
“The sun that heats buildings and increases the need for air conditioning is the same sun that powers solar panels,” Joshua Rose, an energy researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, told Texas Monthly. “They line up pretty neatly.”
Solar power “is a mainstay in the afternoon hours, meeting more than 15 percent of the state’s electricity needs during the most critical times,” Russell Gold wrote in The Texas Monthly. With natural gas and wind turbines generating more power, “you can’t believe that sunlight alone saved bacon” this summer, but “when it’s hot enough to bake bacon on the pavement, the sun’s bounty.” Plays an important role ‘to prevent blackouts. “
Texas is the top state for wind power and second only to California for solar power, but it dominates the construction of new solar and wind farms and has three renewable energy sources. The construction of storage batteries, the third segment of the pillar, is also progressing. The paper said the “Mack truck-sized” battery arrays to be installed in the event of a “power plant failure” would be “perfect for harnessing wind and solar energy” and would “play a key role in avoiding power outages” in Texas. It was reported.
“I really think solar and storage are really summer topics,” said Doug Lewin, president of Stoic Energy and author of the Texas Energy and Power Newsletter. Over the past few years, Texas has “expanded its battery storage to more than 3,000 megawatts, enough energy to power the city of Austin during peak energy demand,” said Ariel Samuelson of his Heated Substack. I am writing in
ERCOT projects that 8,000 megawatts of storage batteries will be installed by May 2024, which is “enough power to meet ERCOT’s current backup needs,” said Chris Tomlinson in Houston.・Added in Chronicle. “Companies are applying for 96,300 megawatts of connectivity by 2030, which is more than the entire grid consumes at peak times today.” Probably late July to August,” Rose told Heatmap.
How did Texas get so big with renewable energy?
When people think of Texas, they think of oil derricks and natural gas wells, but “thanks to federal tax credits and the state’s famously lenient regulatory environment, developers, whether it’s wind farms or not, can go underground.” You’ve found a welcoming environment to put your iron in. North Texas could have solar power, or the droughty south and west of Texas could have utility-scale solar power,” writes Matthew Zeitlin in a heatmap.
The state of Texas also stepped in and built important transmission lines to transport the electricity generated by wind farms and solar farms on willingly rented land to the growing population centers that needed it. Susan Sloan of clean energy company Oersted told the Texas Tribune. The state’s electricity market has also made it easier for wind and solar companies to obtain the necessary permits and connect to the grid, added Engie North America’s Rob Minter. “Frankly, this is better than most market designs we see elsewhere in the country.”
A compelling advantage of Texas is that “wind farms and solar farms don’t need water cooling,” UT Austin energy resources professor Michael Weber told PBS NewsHour. “And water is scarce in Texas.” Meanwhile, consumers prefer cheap renewable energy. “When it comes to electricity bills, wind and solar have saved tens of billions of dollars over the last decade,” UT’s Rose told Heatmap.
Are Republicans in Texas Supporting This Green Revolution?
it’s complicated. Many of the Republican lawmakers who control the Texas government argue that wind and solar power are less reliable than power plants that run on fossil fuels. Oil and gas production is an important source of state tax revenue as well as political contributions. In the last Congress, Republicans introduced wind and solar bills through onerous permit requirements and boosted natural gas plants with special financial incentives.
But “Twenty years ago, conservative leaders in the state laid the groundwork for Texas to become a clean energy powerhouse,” the Post reported. Governor George W. Bush (Republican) called in 1999 to deregulate the state’s energy market and put 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy into operation over the next decade, but his successor, Rick Governor Perry (Republican) backed the multi-billion dollar push. Pulling in power lines from windy and sunny West Texas.
“There’s a certain cultural thing in Texas that says renewables are bad because they’re against oil and gas, and that’s often irrational,” Lewin of Stoic Energy said. told Heated. Given these benefits, “it should be safe for elected officials to talk about the energy transition, but they don’t perceive it as such.”
But the oil and gas industry is seeing upside and investing in renewable energy, Lewin said. “While we witnessed this unfold during the session, some of the oil and gas community weren’t so staunchly opposed to renewables and the worst attacks on renewables. could have been trying to stop them, because they’re trying to buy them.”
Are solar and wind sources of reliable energy?
“No source of power is 100% reliable,” Tomlinson wrote in The Chronicle, adding, “The biggest disruption to the Texas grid so far this summer came from perhaps the most reliable generator, fossil fuels. I have.”
While some Republican lawmakers have “promoted the idea that wind and solar power are unreliable,” they said, “We’ve been hit hard by Winter Storm Uri, the February 2021 storm that killed hundreds and caused massive power outages.” What we found was a natural phenomenon,” gas infrastructure froze, natural gas, coal and nuclear power plants shut down,” UT Austin’s Weber told NewsHour. “And we’ve found that solar plants perform very well when it’s sunny outside, which means it’s very hot.”
In fact, “there are very strong arguments that solar power, in particular, is much more reliable than coal or gas,” Lewin told Heated. “We know exactly when the sun will rise and when it will set.”
What can other states learn from Texas’ renewable energy giant?
“Texas is going through what everyone in the country will be going through in some way in the next few years,” said Aaron Zubati, CEO of energy storage company Aeolian. told to The current Great Hell in Texas and the recent ice storms are “the kind of weather phenomenon that can cause strange things in plants of all kinds that no one has ever thought of.”
“We basically built our grids according to the weather of the past. The transmission systems were built mainly in the 1930s and 1970s, and many modern power plants were built in the 70s and 80s. ,” Webber told NewsHour. And we need to prepare our systems for a hotter future. There, “the heat we’re feeling in Texas right now, and the high temperatures and demand for air conditioning, could become the new normal.” Next year could be hotter. Therefore, we must prepare for it. “
One of the lessons Texas has to offer is that “only diverse combinations can survive extreme weather,” wrote The Chronicle’s Tomlinson. “The solar power plant is starting to work during the day, but the wind is still blowing at night,” he said. I will do more,” he said. Batteries will be cheaper, but they will take years to come to fruition, and “fossil fuels will always provide some sort of backup,” he added. But “the grid must evolve to mitigate climate change. Texas will eventually depend on clean energy most of the time.”
“I think we are postcards from the future,” Mr. Lewin said, adding that “the stakes are very, very, very high,” not only for other states but also for other countries. “I think a lot of places can learn from Texas because we are doing things right. hmm,” he told Heated.
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