(Reuters) – Texas records yet another record for wind-power output as coastal wind farms begin to play a larger role in supplying electricity to the state.
The total electricity produced from wind on October 7 set a record at 7,400 megawatts, equating to more than 78 percent of the 9,400 MW of installed wind capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
That was substanitally above the average 30 to 40 percent of electric capacity that wind farms around the country typically produce.
Thanks to the large wind farms in West Texas, the state leads the nation in carbon-free electric capacity from wind turbines. The downside of locating the farms in the great plains of West Texas is when the majority of that electricity is generated: namely the evening hours and during the spring and fall — not during the heat of the summer months when Texas has the most need of electricity. This is due to the weather patterns of the region.
That is precisely why most of the recent wind-farm additions in Texas have been built closer to the coast, mostly near Corpus Christi where wind patterns are quite the opposite of those of West Texas.
According to ERCOT, about 15 percent of the record 7,400 MW produced October 7 originated at the coastal wind farms.
At the setting of the previous record, wind generation accounted for 15.2 percent of the power demand of 48,733 MW.
Wind farms expanded rapidly in Texas until 2009 when wind capacity began to overwhelm the existing transmission capacity available to move the power from remote areas of West Texas to large cities – such as Dallas and San Antonio – that consume the power.
A number of wind projects were canceled, but more than 1,500 MW is in development for 2012, according to ERCOT.
Texas is working to add more than 2,300 miles of high-voltage transmission in a $6.5 billion plan to expand the grid by late 2013 to accommodate wind-farm growth of up to 18,500 MW.
While current wind-farm construction has slowed to wait for the transmission grid to catch up, developers are studying the addition of nearly 34,000 MW of wind in Texas, down from 39,000 MW a few months ago.
Wind represents nearly 58 percent of all new generation seen in planning stages over the next few years, according to a monthly ERCOT report.