(August 3, 2020)
65 gas and oil-powered peaker plants are currently responsible for ensuring that Texas’ growing demand for energy can be met even at peak times. These facilities include a wide range of power generators, from 21 steam turbines built more than 50 years ago, to 11 gas turbines constructed within the past five years.
For the group Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, the present state of peaker plants in Texas offers room for improvement. They want to see more space given to battery storage, in combination with wind and solar power, to fill the demand gap.
“Those units that are aging, inefficient, run infrequently, have high emission rates, have shorter runtimes when they start up, or are located in urban areas particularly near vulnerable populations or in areas with poor air quality may be good candidates for replacement with energy storage, solar, demand response, or a mix of clean energy resources that best match local grid needs,” the group wrote in a recent report.
The report includes an analysis of the peaker plants currently in use based on these criteria. It notes that out of the total of 65 facilities, 30 run at just 5 percent of capacity or less, while 13 operate at less than 1 percent of capacity. 10 plants typically run for five hours or less after they start up, making them ideal candidates for replacement, the group argues.
In addition, the report makes the case for abandoning plans to build five new peaker plants in favor of relying on energy storage and other clean energy solutions.