Clearly, the news story of the week — well beyond CleanTechnica — has been Texas and some neighboring regions freezing over and losing electricity. The vast majority of the power plants that went offline were thermal power plants (mostly natural gas). They were not equipped enough for the cold. A number of wind turbines were also down because no one had bought the “cold-weather package.” (Note that there’s an enormous number of wind turbines in cold, snowy, icy climates that do just fine. The Texas problem was just a Texas problem of poor planning and cutting costs.)
In fact, even while some wind turbines were down, other wind turbines were producing more than expected, helping with the crisis. One of the great things about renewables is that they are widely distributed, decentralized, reliable, and resilient. The more renewables are on a grid, in general, the more reliable and resilient the grid becomes.
With that in mind, the following news brings a bit of light in a dark week: Texas is expected to add another 35 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind power capacity in the coming few years, from 2021–2023. That’s according to data from ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council Of Texas Inc.) on what’s in the development pipeline for the coming few years. If Greg Abbott, Tucker Carlson, and the shale gas mafia get their way, they will slow that clean energy growth down — incorrectly blaming all of the grid problems Texas has for other reasons on renewables seemed like a good option for them. However, the response has been strong and broad to that nonsense, and ERCOT’s “free market” approach to the grid is going to remain apolitical on electricity sources anyway, which means buyers choosing the cheap renewables.
The world is turning to renewables, and that includes the energy capital of the United States. “The near-term additions — which are largely underpinned by financial security deposits for interconnection, federal tax incentives and power purchase agreements — would more than double ERCOT’s solar and wind footprint to 64 GW in just three years,” S&P Global writes.
Doubling down!!#Texas will be adding 35 GW more of wind+solar over the next 2 years, doubling its current capacity.
— Mark Z. Jacobson (@mzjacobson) February 20, 2021
In addition to the wind and solar, much growth in energy storage is also expected — something that would go a long, long way in a cold week like this week. In fact, the expected growth in stationary energy storage is far greater on a percentage basis than even the wind and solar power growth.
“According to ERCOT data, installed battery capacity connected to its system could jump to 1.7 GW in 2021 and to more than 2 GW in 2022 from 225 MW in 2020. But that just scratches the surface of the more than 26 GW of large-scale battery storage under study in ERCOT’s deeper interconnection queue — more than wind and second only to solar.
All of the above about wind, solar, and battery storage is just about large-scale projects. There’s also a competitive market for rooftop solar and home energy storage, a market that must be getting more popular in the midst of this natural disaster and grid disaster.
Tesla offers its seemingly unbeatable rate of $1.49/watt in Texas, as elsewhere, and you also have market-leader Sunrun, SunPower, and many others set up locally. They all offer the rooftop-solar-plus-storage combo now, and they should all be able to undercut price from the electric grid — at least with rooftop solar, if not also with the Powerwall energy storage system rolled in..
Aside from not having power or water for a period of time in the state, the interest in having a more reliable, secure home energy system must be piling up in Texas. Stay tuned for more stories on that in the days, weeks, and years ahead.