ERCOT: Wind, solar nearly two-thirds new capacity in 2016
- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas system is expected to add almost 12,500 MW of new generating capacity in 2016, raising total generating capacity from 101,553 MW to over 113,000 MW, SNL Energy reports
- New wind capacity is expected to be 7,863 MW or 63% of ERCOT’s new generation, while the grid operator also expects to add 2,124 MW of new solar capacity in 2016, increasing nearly ten-fold compared to the state's solar generation in 2015.
- The amount of wind and solar capacity ERCOT expects to add will boost its renewable resources to 21% of its power mix.
ERCOT is rapidly building out its renewable energy, with solar and wind accounting for nearly two-thirds of new capacity. Even so, natural gas and coal still make up the majority of the system's power mix.
Natural gas generation capacity was at 59,507 MW by the end of 2015, making up 59% of system capacity and is expected to grow to almost 62,000 MW in 2016. But SNL Energy said it will drop to 55% the system’s generation as new technologies are expected to be used. Only 23 MW of the system's generation capacity is expected to be retired.
Coal capacity, at 19,095 MW at the end of 2015, composed 19% of ERCOT’s power mix, and will likely fall to 18,280 MW in 2016. The 5,020 MW of nuclear power in 2015 is expected to remain unchanged in 2016.
Texas has begun exploiting its rich renewable resources as installed costs have dropped and the recent extension of wind’s production tax credit and solar’s 30% investment tax credit make those resources more competitive.
The installed cost for utility-scale wind has dropped 66% since 2009, according to the American Wind Energy Association. And the Rhodium Group noted the installed cost for wind will drop 24% further by 2020. For utility-scale solar, the installed cost for has dropped over 50% since 2007, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects the installed cost for solar will drop 43% further.