- Texas wind generators in 2020 will produce more electricity than the state's coal-fired power plants, as the falling price of renewable energy continues to put pressure on fossil fuels, according to a report released Sept. 19 by energy research firm Rystad Energy.
- Texas wind generators will produce about 87 TWh of electricity by 2020, versus 84.4 TWh from coal, Rystad forecasts. Natural gas generates the largest share of the state's electricity.
- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas in June announced wind generation had narrowly edged out coal in the first half of this year, a first since the grid operator began tracking the fuel mix in 2003.
Wind and natural gas are the United States' fastest growing sources of electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In its September Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA forecasts U.S. gas-fired generation will increase 6% in 2019 and 2% in 2020, while wind power is expected to grow 6% in 2019 and 14% in 2020.
"These trends vary widely among the regions of the country; growth in natural gas generation is highest in the mid-Atlantic region and growth in wind generation is highest in Texas," the agency wrote in a note last week. EIA said it expects coal-fired electricity generation to continue declining nationwide, falling by 15% in 2019 and by 9% in 2020.
Those trends are playing out in ERCOT, where Rystad expects wind to top coal-fired generation beginning next year. But the growth of wind power is a national story. The firm says wind power generation "has grown at an exponential rate and is set to make up 10% of the power mix in the country so far this year," compared to 23% from coal (down from 44% in 2009).
Rystad's analysis points to the global average levelized cost of electricity from onshore wind farms, which it says has dropped below $0.06/kWh.
"This development brings the cost of wind generation down to the lower cost limit of fossil fuel power, explaining why wind capacity has been growing and pushing increasing amounts of coal generation out of the power mix," the firm said.
Wind power has been ERCOT's fastest-growing resource, according to the EIA. Since 2018, there have been 3 GW of wind generating capacity added to the state's grid, and there are plans to add another 7 GW before the end of 2020. EIA says it expects wind to supply 20% of its total generation in 2019 and 24% in 2020, allowing it to match coal this year and outstrip it next year.
Texas generates more wind energy than any other state and in 2017 produced a quarter of all U.S. wind-powered electricity. The state's wind turbines have produced more electricity than both its nuclear power plants since 2014, according to the EIA.
The Lone Star State produces more electricity than any other, but also consumes more due to its large industrial and oil refining sector.