The percentage of the Texas grid powered by wind and solar has been on an upward trend over recent years. In 2019, wind power produced 20 percent of the energy for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid. This drew wind power level with coal for the first time. In April 2020, wind energy supplied 27.6 percent of ERCOT’s energy demand, a monthly record. Solar power generation also surpassed its monthly peak in April 2020. It accounted for 2.2 percent of the grid’s power capacity.
ERCOT recorded large increases in wind and solar capacity on its grid during 2020. The grid manager expected to end 2020 with 31,069 megawatts of wind power on the grid. This was after almost as much wind came online during 2020 as the previous five years combined. ERCOT projected solar power capacity would triple to 6,035 megawatts.
ERCOT’s list of ongoing energy projects is mostly wind, solar, and battery storage projects. As of August 2020, the queue contained more than 76,000 megawatts of solar projects, 25,000 megawatts of wind projects, and 17,000 megawatts of energy storage projects. This compares to only 7,000 megawatts of natural gas plants.
Joshua Rhodes is an energy researcher at the University of Texas at Austin. Rhodes argues renewables can provide more stability to local tax revenues and payments to landowners. This is because their costs are less subject to the fluctuations of the global oil and gas markets.
Rhodes wrote, “While revenues and royalties from oil and gas are tied to global markets that are stubbornly stalled out and declining, all indications are that, especially in Texas, electricity demand is only going to grow. That growth will mean more renewables along with the grid and financial stability they bring.”