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Texas Must Upgrade Its Energy Grid To Accommodate New Renewable Power

Texas needs upgrades to its electricity transmission grid to accommodate a soaring share of renewable energy generation, otherwise the state risks surging shares of curtailments of wind and solar power generation by 2035, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said this week.

Texas ranks first in the United States in terms of installed wind energy capacity and second in solar capacity and storage. Wind energy alone produces 21% of all electricity in the state, according to the American Clean Power Association.   

Per EIA’s estimates, the combined wind and solar generating capacity in Texas’s power market is set to double by 2035, fueling a growing renewable share of total generation.  

But without grid upgrades, curtailments of wind and solar generation will also soar, the administration said in a recent report discussing the transmission limits on renewables growth in Texas.  

Since grid operators must maintain a continuous balance between supply and demand to assure power system reliability, in case more wind and solar power is available for production than the grid can use, grid operators have to curtail wind and solar generation to keep the grid balanced.

Last year, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) curtailed 5% of its total available wind generation and 9% of total available utility-scale solar generation. If grid upgrades are not made, those curtailments could surge to 13% of total available wind generation, and 19% of solar generation by 2035, the EIA said. 

ERCOT currently has the most renewable generation in the country due to significant wind resources and focused investment in the electric transmission system, the administration said in its analysis.

“Without expanding ERCOT’s electrical transmission network and storage capacity, congestion and curtailments will rise,” the EIA said, adding that the strong projected growth in renewable energy in ERCOT over the next decade could be constrained by transmission capacity.   

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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