Texas, a place traditionally evocative of nodding oil pumpjacks and crisscrossing natural gas and oil pipelines, is on its way to becoming a powerhouse of renewable energy, according to the state’s power grid operator.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said renewable energy capacity in 2012 was up 16 percent in Texas from 2011. Power generators in the state’s renewable power program reported a 7 percent increase in overall renewable energy generation over the same time period.
According to ERCOT, the state has 13,108 MW of total renewable power capacity, not including generation in service prior to September 1999. That number is up from 11,288 in 2011 and 10,069 MW in 2009.
The largest overall increase in renewable capacity was in wind power, which now makes up 12,667 MW of the total renewable energy capacity in the state. Wind power represented 10,961 MW of the state’s renewable energy capacity in 2011.
The second-largest amount of capacity is 232 MW, produced by biomass-fueled power plants. Biomass-fueled power plants created 132 MW of capacity in 2011 in the state.
Overall generation from renewable sources increased to 33.9 million MWh in 2012 from 31.7 million MWh in 2011. Wind power projects again accounted for the largest portion by far, producing more than 32.5 million MWh of the total reported.
Although solar power only reported an 11 MW increase in capacity from 2011 to 2012, from 70 MW to 81, solar power generation had the largest percentage increase in generation over the time period, increasing from 36,580 MWh in 2011 to 133,642 MWh in 2012 – a 265 percent increase. Biomass-fueled power generation also more than doubled, increasing from just more than 137,000 MWh to just less than 289,000 MWh.