Wind power overtook coal in Texas’ power mix for the first time in 2020, the latest sign of the growing importance of renewables at the heart of US fossil fuels.
Texas has been at the forefront of the boom in wind power construction across the United States, attracting tens of billions of dollars in capital investments over the past decade and growing rapidly the production of electricity from fuel. The surge in investment and job creation has helped the renewable energy sector gain political support from the state, despite being home to the country’s oil and gas sector.
Wind turbines generated nearly a quarter of Texas’ electricity in 2020, surpassing coal’s market share by roughly 18%, making it the state’s second-largest source of generation behind natural gas, according to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot), the state’s main grid operator.
And the low-carbon boom in Texas, by far the largest power-producing state in the country with the second-largest population and a large base of oil refineries and petrochemical plants, is expected to accelerate from ‘here.
Wind, solar and battery power combined account for around 95% of the new generation capacity that project developers have proposed to connect to the grid in the coming years, according to Ercot.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to deploy tens of thousands of new wind turbines and millions of new solar panels as part of a plan to put the United States on the path to net zero emissions in the industry. electricity by 2035, a central pillar of its $ 2 billion Climate Platform.
While the reversal of coal-fired wind power in Texas contributes to Mr. Biden’s efforts to green the U.S. electricity grid, the stronghold of natural gas as the primary fuel in the electricity sector – it accounted for over 40% of electricity production – underlines the difficulty of the new president will have to reach the goal of net zero in just 15 years.
Curt Morgan, the managing director of Vistra Energy, a large Texas-based power producer, told the Financial Times last month that replacing fossil fuels with renewables by 2035 would be “prohibitive“.
Coal’s share of Texas’ energy mix has fallen by more than half from around 40% a decade ago as fuel found itself under the onslaught of cheap natural gas – a result of the boom shale production – and increasingly competitive and stricter renewable energies. Environmental regulations.
A number of Texas coal-fired power plants have been retired in recent years, the latest in October at Oklaunion, the plant of American Electric Power. Others could be forced to go out of business within the next two years as the capacity for renewables continues to gain a foothold in the market, especially with solar power in the booming state, argued a report last year from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
“Coal-fired power generation in Texas, battered by clean, fuel-free wind for the past 10 years, is about to be hit by a second wave of competition from renewables,” the authors said. report.
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