How Solar is helping the Texas grid amidst scorching heat

Solar is really helping the Texas grid today. But check back same time next and following year when double digit GW of new capacity is on line…

“Several experts told CNN that it’s owed in large part to strong performances from wind and solar, which generated 27 gigawatts of electricity during Sunday’s peak demand — close to 40% of the total needed.

“Texas is, by rhetoric, anti-renewables. But frankly, renewables are bailing us out,” said Michael Webber, an energy expert and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “They’re rocking. That really spares us a lot of heartache and a lot of money.”
Despite the Texas Republican rhetoric that wind and solar are unreliable, Texas has a massive and growing fleet of renewables. Zero-carbon electricity sources (wind, solar, and nuclear) powered about 38% of the state’s power in 2021, rivaling natural gas at 42%.

This is a relatively recent phenomenon for the state.

“Wind and solar would not have been available in years in the past, so the growing capacity helps to alleviate reliance on natural gas and coal,” said Jonathan DeVilbiss, operations research analyst at the US Energy Information Administration.

Not only have renewables helped keep the power on during a scorching and early heatwave, they have also helped keep costs low. Prices for natural gas and coal are high amid a worldwide energy crunch, but renewables — powered by the wind and sun — have no fuel cost.
“Because the price of wind and sunlight hasn’t doubled in the past year like other resources, they are acting as a hedge against high fuel prices,” said Joshua Rhodes, an energy researcher at UT Austin.