Information present solar technology in ERCOT is predictable, could be deliberate round

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By Contributing Author August 18, 2022

July was a record-setting month in ERCOT, the system operator that handles roughly 90% of Texas’ electrical demand. Searing warmth drove electrical energy demand to a brand new month-to-month file, with technology climbing to 45.97 million megawatt-hours (MWh)—properly above the earlier file set simply the month earlier than, and the primary time technology topped the 45 million MWh mark. It was additionally a record-setting month for solar, with technology climbing to 2.99 million MWh—up 60 % from July 2021 and 4 instances the 2019 complete.

The pairing is necessary, because the continued buildout of ERCOT’s solar assets provides each an possibility for assembly rising demand on the whole, whereas offering dependable and predictable power throughout the system’s peak demand hour. During the month, solar met 10% or extra of demand on the peak hour on 25 of the 31 days. On 4 different days solar was above 9.6% of complete demand on the peak hour.

In different phrases: Reliable and predictable.

ERCOT data from IEEFA

The reply to Texas’ issues about getting older fossil gasoline technology, particularly gas-fired combustion generators that typically don’t function typically however are costly and polluting after they do, is to construct extra solar technology. When it’s scorching—actually scorching—in Texas, which means the solar is shining and solar technology will sparkle, too.

According to ERCOT knowledge, there are 12,340 MW of solar capability synchronized with the grid. On common, that capability generated 8,055 MW of electrical energy throughout the peak hour in July. If that capability was doubled, it’s cheap to imagine that peak output would double to greater than 16,000 MW.

Assuming the brand new technology may very well be shipped to the state’s principal load facilities from Dallas south to Houston, peak solar contribution can be pushed to greater than 20% and considerably ease the burden on the state’s thermal technology assets.

This would require further transmission infrastructure, however such an funding would additionally allow further wind technology for the system’s grid, each on and off peak, additional lowering the demand for polluting fossil fuel-fired technology.

And opposite to standard knowledge, the wind does blow in Texas in the summertime, even on the most well liked days. The common excessive temperature in Dallas for the month was 102.4°, with the excessive solely dipping beneath 100° on 4 days whereas hitting 105° or larger on seven days. Still, wind generated a median of just below 10,000MW on the peak hour. Wind is extra variable than solar, however it nonetheless offered 10% or extra of peak demand on 21 of the 31 days in July.

Even trying on the peak of the height days of July 18, 19, and 20 when ERCOT set three consecutive technology data, wind and solar nonetheless met 18%, 25% and 19% % of demand throughout the peak hour.
That is a truth to plan round. Texas needs to be encouraging the continued buildout of non-polluting, fuel-cost-free wind and solar to maintain prices down for residents throughout the state and reduce the burden on its getting older thermal mills.

Dennis Wamsted is an IEEFA analyst

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Tags: IEEFA, market analysis

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