Wind Energy Continues Expansion
Texas continues to lead the nation in installed wind capacity and generation. In 2012, Texas had 21 percent of the nation’s installed wind capacity, reaching 10,648 megawatts. Iowa was second in installed wind capacity, at 4,524 megawatts.
With Texas’ significant increase, wind generation was responsible for 7.0 percent of total electricity generation in the state in 2010, and dipping slightly to 6.9 in 2011.
By the middle of 2012, U.S. installed wind capacity had grown to 49,802 MW.
|Installed Wind Capacity in megawatts (MW)|
The Texas plains continues to see rapid growth in wind farms, while more recently expansion has began offshore on the Gulf Coast. In all, Texas has six of the ten largest wind generation projects in the country. Roscoe Wind Farm, which stretches across Nolan, Mitchell, Scurry and Fisher counties, is the largest in the state, with a capacity of 782 MW. It is second in the nation to Alta Wind farm in California at 981 MW.
Wind power is variable and ERCOT historical wind generation data reveals that there is often less wind blowing on summer afternoons that coincide with peak electrical demand. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the state’s largest power grid, is responsible for ensuring the reliability and adequacy of the electric grid, it makes capacity calculations to determine if it will have sufficient generating capacity on the grid.
For planning purposes, ERCOT determined that in the future, it can count on just 8.7 percent of its installed wind capacity to alleviate Texas’ peak summer demand. It also notes that conventional generation must be available to meet forecast load and reserve requirements.
Sources: U.S. Department of Energy, the Office of Governor/Economic Development & Tourism, the State Energy Conservation Office, 2012, and other sources.