Skip to comments.Texas hits new peak wind output
Posted on 06/25/2014 5:20:09 AM PDT by thackney
At 8:48 p.m. on March 26, wind generation on the electric grid covering most of the state of Texas reached a new instantaneous peak output of 10,296 megawatts (MW). At that moment, wind supplied almost 29% of total electricity load, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid's operator. The average wind production in that hour was 10,120 MW. The new wind record surpassed two highs reached in the previous week, while the record prior to March was 9,674 MW set in May 2013.
March's wind power record will likely be surpassed in the near future as wind capacity continues to be added in the state. Texas currently has more than 12,000 MW of operational utility-scale wind capacity (see graph below)about one-fifth of the total wind capacity in the United States. According to preliminary data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Electric Power Monthly, Texas added 150 MW of utility-scale wind capacity in 2013, less than one-tenth of the nearly 1,600 MW added in the previous year.
The significant slowdown in wind additions in 2013 mirrored the national trend, which reflected the lapse of the federal production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2012. That lapse encouraged those with facilities under construction to complete them and begin operation before the end of 2012 in order to receive the tax credits (which are for all generation during the first 10 years of operation). The subsequent one-year extension in early 2013 required only that plants commence construction in 2013 to be eligible to receive the tax credits after the start of operations at a later date. This modification of eligibility requirements led to many wind projects beginning construction in 2013 with expected completion dates in 2014-15. Trade association reports estimate that there were more than 7,000 MW of wind projects under construction in Texas at the end of 2013; however, exactly how much of that capacity will actually be completed and by when remains to be seen.
The recent wind output records are a result not only of the growing amount of wind capacity in the state, but also of the successful completion of a major state-directed transmission expansion program, the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) program, which was specifically designed to allow wind power to reach a wider swath of the ERCOT grid and reduce grid congestion-related curtailments of wind power. Tomorrow's article will discuss wind curtailments and the CREZ program in more detail.
Curtailments of wind generation on the Texas electric grid have steadily dropped since 2011 as more than 3,500 miles of transmission lines have been built, largely as a result of the state's Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) program. Occurrences of wind-related negative real-time electricity prices have similarly declined as the CREZ transmission expansions have allowed wind power to flow to more electricity demand areas in the state.
Wind capacity in Texas grew rapidly in 2006-09, when more than 7,000 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale wind capacity (more than half of the state's current total wind capacity) was built. The Texas grid experienced major transmission congestion as the large volumes of electricity from these wind plants, which were concentrated in the rural western and northern areas of the state, were sometimes unable to reach the population centers in the eastern half of the state. The limited transmission capacity connecting the wind production and power demand centers was insufficient for the amount of wind power being generated in the west. During these situations, excess wind generation was curtailed by the grid's operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), in order to keep the transmission network operating within its physical limits.
In addition to wind curtailments, the regional supply and demand imbalances caused real-time wholesale electricity prices at the West Hub in ERCOT to drop, and even go negative, during periods of substantial wind generation. The negative West Hub prices (see graph above) reflect the region's local oversupply of wind power compared to its electric demand and the inability to move the excess wind power to other areas with more demand. Negative prices occur when generators are willing to pay for the opportunity to continue generating electricity.
Wind plants can offer power at low prices because they have low operating costs and, in particular, no fuel costs, unlike fossil fuel and biomass plants. Wind plants can offer negative prices because of the revenue stream that results from the federal production tax credit, which generates tax benefits whenever the wind plant is producing electricity, and payments from state renewable portfolio or financial incentive programs. These alternative revenue streams make it possible for wind generators to offer their wind power into the wholesale electricity market at prices lower than other generators, and even at negative prices.
To address the wind-related transmission constraints, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) in 2008 established five “competitive renewable energy zones” (CREZ) with high wind power potential and authorized a series of transmission expansion projects that in total would allow 18,500 MW of wind power to be transported from the five CREZ zones to the rest of the state.
As the CREZ transmission projects have been completed over the past few years (see maps below), the amounts of wind curtailments and wind-related negative electricity prices have correspondingly decreased (as seen in the first graph). As of the end of 2013, the scheduled program completion date, all of the CREZ projects had been energized, at a total cost of $7 billion.
Texas - We have the best low density minimally reliable power source in the world! (thankfully we also have reliable power)
Wind power is a total joke. It is just an excuse to rape the taxpayer and rate payer for the benefit of landowners, windmill manufacturers and politicians.
All I know is that windmills ruin my view shed. Whatever that is. ;>}
Isn’t Obama on his way to shut this down? “We didn’t build that”!
This can’t be correct. I just read that Wendy Davis’ campaign is imploding...
She is still spewing a lot of hot air, even if it isn’t catching on.
In February 2011 Texas experienced rolling blackouts because a cold snap increased demand, two fossil fuel plants were off line and the weather front idled many of the windmills. Rolling blackouts were narrowly averted in 2008 for the same reasons. More windmills will not solve the problem and with the EPA shutting down more coal plants rolling blackouts will become common.
We had several problems back then. More than just the coal plants and wind going down.
The additional grid ties help the state meet generation outages.
Natural gas plants were hastily turned on to make up for the coal-plant failures. But, Fraser said, some power cuts affected some stations for compressing natural gas so without power they couldn’t pump gas, causing some gas power plants to go offline. In addition, rules regarding “curtailment” of natural gas who gets first dibs on gas when gas supplies are tight were last revised in 1972, Fraser said, leaving some power plants at risk of losing out on supplies. A large minority of Texans heat their homes with gas, in addition to the needs of the power plants, so there was extremely high demand for gas during the freezing weather.
See more at:
Woodfin said the power industry has made significant improvements since a February 2011 storm knocked out 152 of 550 generating units
Early Monday morning, between midnight and 8 a.m., about 13,000 megawatts were unavailable
Operating a grid is not just about how much generation capacity you have, but also the ability to move the power around.
This particular event they are talking about in the article when it was mild and windy and the windmills were in 4th gear, the state can utilize large amounts of windpower, in this case 29%
OTOH, at 5pm on a dog day afternoon in Aug, the grid operator is asking for/expecting the windmills to produce only 1%-2% of the state's power needs
Peak is one thing. The complete duty cycle is quite another. I’ll bet that overall the average number of MWe generated is less than 20% of nameplate capacity.
Plus, peak production is when the wind conditions are optimal. How often do we suppose those peaks line up with demand? In fossil and nuke plants you can ramp up production for predictable peak demand times. Plants can be in ‘spinning reserve’ ready to go online when dispatched to accommodate demand. Gas turbine plants can be quickly started when there are frequency drops due to trips or unexpected outages.
The point is the utility can throw a switch and bring up a power plant on line with a reasonable expectation that it will respond. You can’t just whistle up a few thousand MWe of wind.
Hydro-Electric damns with turbines are steady output and dependable. Greens don’t like them due to the damns changing streams.
Atomic power is steady as well — greens don’t like them.
Wind and Solar are landscape intensive and very irregular in output and very subject to damage.
The average person does not understand that the grid can’t “store” power and fluctuating generation is more of a problem rather than a resource. A coal fired or nuc plant does not spin up in ten minutes as output of wind generated power drops. There aren’t batteries in the grid the size of Godzilla every block or two.
Simply stated thackney, what is a curtailment of wind energy?
I believe they mean:
The limited transmission capacity connecting the wind production and power demand centers was insufficient for the amount of wind power being generated in the west.
When the wind generation was capable of exceeding the local load and the ability to move that power to the demands located in other locations.
I see. Thanks FRiend.
It took a while to get the lines to catch up to the generation. But the Texas Grid is stronger for it, those lines carry electrons from all sources of generation.