Texas grid operator ERCOT announced a new record for wind on Monday. For the first time, wind provided more than 15,000 megawatts of electricity to the state on a single day.
The record wind on Sunday supplied an average of 41 percent of electricity throughout the day. But it was not an all-time record for wind in Texas. On one day in March, wind supplied more than 48 percent of load during one hour.
It is not the hour-by-hour records that are impressive, however.
Texas is already the clear leader in wind power in the U.S., and that lead is widening. Texas has more than 18,000 megawatts installed and another 5,000 megawatts under construction, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Wind power made up an average of 11.7 percent of electricity in 2015 in Texas, a figure that will be at least 14.7 in 2016, according to ERCOT.
The final tally of wind power’s contribution to the Texas electric grid will likely be slightly higher, as the wind blows harder in winter and therefore wind power contributions to the power mix usually go up.
Of course, the growing share of wind is still half the amount of coal in Texas and about one-third of natural gas generation.
FIGURE: Texas Energy Mix, 2016
Coal and natural gas may dominate in Texas, but the investment the state has made in transmission and improving renewable energy forecasts could allow for even more wind and solar in the future.
The wind power in Texas is coming from across the state, including the Texas Panhandle, the west and the south. Texas’ success with wind power is largely due to its Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, which were identified mostly in West Texas and the state's Panhandle region. A key to the project was about $7 billion in transmission lines to carry the wind power where it is needed.
With wind power flowing across the state, solar power is now starting to catch on to take advantage of the transmission lines. In 2015, ERCOT did not even list solar as a fuel source on its annual demand and energy report.
In 2016, the figures are still very small -- but they're growing. ERCOT reports about 685 megawatts of solar will be on-line in Texas in 2016, up from less than 300 in 2015. For the first time, solar energy received its own designation as a fuel type in ERCOT’s annual demand and energy report.
Large-scale solar could grow quickly in Texas, but will not even come close to wind. By 2020, ERCOT expects 2.5 gigawatts of solar on its system, compared to more than 28 gigawatts of wind.