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Old Posted Apr 26, 2014, 4:15 PM
amor de cosmos amor de cosmos is offline
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How much wind can Texas handle?
Is Texas wind power’s speeding expansion a boom or a bubble?

By Herman K. Trabish
April 25, 2014

Texas has a remarkable 8,700 megawatts of new wind capacity under development with signed interconnection agreements, including 3,600 megawatts expected to come online in 2014, 3,700 megawatts in 2015, and 900 megawatts in 2016.

That’s on top of 11,065 megawatts already installed, almost twice that of the next closest state and more than all but five countries.

“This is definitely a boom, driven primarily by the newly available Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission capacity in the Panhandle and West, where the wind resource is exceptional,” American Wind Energy Association Director of Research Michael Goggin said.

Another factor in this burst of development is the structure of last year’s production tax credit (PTC), explained Warren Lasher, Director of System Planning for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid operator. It makes any project that started construction by the end of last year eligible. Texas developers qualified a lot of capacity in Q4 that they planned on completing this year.

A constraining factor could be the ability of the supply chain to keep pace with the boom, according to Rosendin Electric Preconstruction Manager Rick Rohde. Builders need to have the 8,000-plus components of a wind turbine at their sites in a timely manner.

Delays are not impacting project economics yet because developers already met the PTC’s in-construction requirement. But they could, at least in the Panhandle, when the volume of building peaks, Rohde said.

The new capacity will not, however, challenge ERCOT’s advanced grid operations, Goggin said, because Texas has plenty of natural gas capacity to balance wind’s variability. And the deregulated Texas electricity market wants wind as a hedge against natural gas’s price volatility.​
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