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The Latest Trends in Texas Wind Energy

February 9, 2011

In 2010, the wind energy industry in the United States built an additional 5,115 megawatts (MW) capacity and entered the New Year with another 5,600 MW capacity ongoing construction. As wind energy becomes more cost-competitive and will eventually be comparable with natural gas, the prospect for wind energy in generating cheap electricity for the country is growing more favorable than ever. The AWEA or American Wind Energy Association states that one MW capacity of wind energy is enough to provide electricity for up to 300 homes per year. Texas will play a big part in America’s wind energy industry as the state now leads the nation in wind energy development and capacity. Texas has generated an average 6,175 MW output, enough to supply up to 8.25% Texas electricity to the region. Texas wind energy continues to be a viable renewable energy source that will power the state and the rest of the region as well. Keeping the Lights On Just recently, the state of Texas experienced a rash of rolling blackouts caused by the severe cold weather that affected some parts of the state. These cold conditions caused equipment failures at fossil-fuel plants, resulting in up to 7,000 MW of Texas electricity capacity going offline and affecting over three million Texas households. According to reports, some of the power plants experienced freezing of pipes resulting in the plant breaking down and going offline. Texas wind energy proved its worth by generating up to 4,000 MW of Texas electricity during the critical window between 5 to 7 am where the ERCOT grid needed capacity the most – helping the state in this very critical situation. Although some of the state’s more than 7,000 wind turbines were affected by the cold weather resulting in significantly reduced output, most were still operating in full capacity and able to generate Texas electricity. This real scenario just proves the high reliability of Texas wind farms in ensuring a continuous supply of electricity for the Texas consumer even during extreme weather conditions. Outlook in Texas Wind Energy The United States wind energy industry enters 2011 with additional wind energy capacity undergoing construction and is expected to generate more than 5,600 megawatts of electricity. Texas made a major milestone in wind energy when it exceeded the 10,000 megawatt capacity mark, which is approximately a fourth of the total wind energy capacity in the whole of the United States. Wind energy also accounts for 99% of the state’s 10,367 megawatt renewable energy capacity, giving Texas consumers more options to exercise their power to choose clean energy options. With a one-year extension of the 1603 Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy, it is expected that more wind energy projects will be initiated and Texas will play a major part in these major developments. In Texas, one renewable energy credit (REC) is awarded for every megawatt-hour of renewable energy capacity generated. This sparked a voluntary market for RECs that is actually bigger than what was mandated – and it is expected that the state will eventually do away with the mandated market by the year 2015. The only problem faced by the Texas wind energy industry is the lack of transmission lines that will distribute the generated Texas electricity to populated areas where demand for electricity would be highest. To address this problem, more than $5 billion in investments will be pouring in to expand the transmission line capacity – a brighter future for the industry awaits.

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