Wind

Wind

Wind is abundant and can be developed rapidly at competitive prices. However, wind power must have more transmission capacity to continue growing in windy areas of the state but wind generation can be constructed much more quickly than major expansions of the transmission system. Wind can deliver significant benefits (rural economic development, improved air quality, no water to generate electricity) but has challenges (large penetration into utility system, need for increased transmission, aesthetic/siting concerns).

Texas has the largest wind energy potential of any state in the country. Capturable wind power is estimated at 223,000 MW, which is several times the total electrical demand of the state. Texas is number one in the nation in installed wind capacity (estimated at 57 wind farms with 5,877 turbines providing 8,786 MW total capacity by the end of 2008), having surpassed California in 2006. Thirty-three percent of the new wind capacity in the U.S. in 2007 was installed in Texas and 2008 will be a record year, with an estimated 4,300 MW of additional wind capacity being installed in Texas. Texas’ Renewable Portfolio Standard, approved by the state Legislature in 2005, set a goal of 5,000 MW of capacity from renewable energy by 2015, which was exceeded in 2008.

The major challenge to wind power in Texas is that most of the windy areas of the state are not close to the major urban load centers, so the transmission system needs to be upgraded and expanded in order to utilize the resource. Five Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) have been designated by the Texas PUC for future wind development. The Commission ultimately chose a mid-level transmission expansion scenario which would accommodate 18,456 MW of wind-generated capacity in ERCOT.

ERCOT and the Texas PUC have been doing extensive research on the issues and operational risks associated with large-scale integration of wind power into the ERCOT transmission network. Variations in wind generation become more significant for system operation as the penetration of wind increases and wind forecasting will be increasingly important.

With federal production tax credits, wind is competitive with other new electric generation plants. Wind may become competitive without production tax credits if carbon regulation is implemented in the future and/or the “external costs” of fossil fuels are reflected in their price.

The development of wind energy provides important and diverse economic benefits to Texas. Wind farms provide important rural economic development, with both job creation and long-term stable royalty income to landowners. Texas could also benefit from expanding employment through increasing the manufacturing and assembly of wind turbines in the state. Wind energy can also provide significant sources of revenue for the State, including school taxes and royalty income for the General Land Office resulting from the installation of offshore wind farms.

Wind energy is a fully domestic source of energy and one of Texas’ greatest homegrown and natural sources of energy. And like solar energy, wind energy relies on a renewable power source that can’t be exhausted.

Wind energy is totally clean, requiring no combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, and wind turbines don’t produce atmospheric emissions that cause acid rain or greenhouse gasses.

How it Works

In reality, wind is a derivative form of solar energy, since the sun warms the atmosphere unevenly. Wind is created as heat flows from hotter areas to cooler areas and from high pressure systems to lower pressure systems around the earth’s surface. Wind energy taps into this natural process and harnesses it to make power.

Proposed wind projects in Texas can fill the renewable energy gap in our portfolio by 2020.

Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power, like operating a water pump or a granary on a farm. A generator then converts this mechanical power into electricity.

Wind in Texas

Texas is the national leader in wind installations and is a manufacturing hub for the wind energy industry.

The wind energy industry in Texas has created thousands of jobs and provided numerous economic and environmental benefits.

Texas Wind Projects

Currently online: 10,337 Megawatts (MW)

Added in 2011: 270 MW

Added in 2010: 680 MW

Under construction: 847 MW

Wind projects in queue: 63,504 MW

Texas is the national leader in overall wind installations and is the first state to reach 10,000 MW of wind energy installations. Texas is home to seven of the nation’s top ten largest wind farms, including four of the top five.

Augmenting power consumption with wind power would reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

  • Wind energy is 100% renewable and completely free of emissions, and can offset demand for coal and gas-fired electricity, reducing emissions – and reducing costs.

Wind energy can increase manufacturing jobs and boost revenues to landowners

  • Meeting an increased demand for wind power requires an increase in manufacturing – potential for Texas to capitalize on its workforce and strategic location.
  • Texas is already home to innovative wind companies such as TECO-Westinghouse and BP Alternative Energy North America.

RELATED LINKS

Texas Wind Energy Industry Company Directory

Take Action to Support Wind

The key to   supporting wind potential in Texas is staying informed about renewable energy   policies and being sure that your Delegates and Senators know that renewable   energy is important to you.

 

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