Photo: Public domain
For a Little While, %19 of the State's Electricity Came from Wind Power
It looks like the wind is blowing strong these days in Texas. On Sunday Feb. 28th, it broke a wind power electricity generation record with 6,242 megawatts on the ERCOT grid, and that record was broken again 5 days later on Friday March 5th with a 6,272 megawatts peak, and this is just for ERCOT, it doesn't include wind turbines on the "Panhandle" part of the state because they are connected to a different grid - so the real total for the state would be even higher.
Photo: Public domain
Texas has by far the most wind power capacity in the US. According to recent numbers by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the lone star state has a wind energy generation capacity of 9,410 megawatts, followed by Iowa with 3,870 megawatts and California with 2,794 megawatts.
Transmission Problems: It's Hard to Get Power Where It's Needed
"Texas's progress in installing turbines is testing the bounds of just how much wind the electrical grid can handle. Some turbines are slowed or shut down on windy days because the state does not have sufficient transmission wires to move all the power from the remote, windy areas of West Texas to cities like Dallas and Houston that need it. Last night and this morning, for example, the prices for wind generation offered on the main Texas grid actually fell below zero, a sign of oversupply that usually prompts wind generators to shut down their turbines." (source)
You can see the current wind output on the ERCOT grid here (along with other information about that grid). At the time I'm writing this, wind power output is 4695 MW. That's a lot of power! But at the same time, the total wind electricity generation for the province of Ontario is 63 MW (out of a capacity of about 1 GW)...
Storage is Still #1 Thing to Figure Out
While this high electricity generation from a very clean source is great news, it is also a good reminder that intermittent and variable sources of power pose a great challenge to the grid. We need to figure out how to storage that energy so that we don't need to keep natural gas power plants spinning as backup in case there's an unforeseen change in wind power output, or to pick up the slack on days when there's simply no wind.
We've previously reported on wind power records in Spain:
New Wind Power Record in Spain: 40.8% of Total Demand!
New Spanish Wind Power Record: Wind Supplies 43% of Spanish Electric Demand
Spanish Wind Power Supplies 50% of Demand Last Sunday Morning - #1 Electricity Source in November
More on Wind Power
T. Boone Pickens Planning a New Wind Farm (500 MW), But Not in Texas Panhandle
Sweden to Build 2,000 New Wind Turbines, Aims for 50% Renewables by 2020
California Doubles Net-Metering Cap on Wind and Solar to 5%