The Texas Fleet
Texas Fleet: State of the Art & Worth Fighting For
Energy diversity is key to energy security. Texas relies on a diverse mix of gas, coal, wind, nuclear and other resources to meet its generation needs. This balanced portfolio is as diverse as any in the nation and has been essential to Texas’ economic prosperity, which has consistently outperformed the national average.
ERCOT Generation by Fuel Type
(January 2017 Data. Totals are Rounded. Hydro, Biomass and Solar Combine to 1%.)
The Texas Coal Fleet
The Texas coal fleet is the youngest and cleanest in America, thanks to market-driven advances and investments. The youth of the Texas coal fleet means it has decades of useful life remaining that will be essential to responding to population and economic growth.
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Texas power providers have taken proactive steps to ensure that this young coal fleet is maintained and upgraded with state-of-the-art pollution control equipment. Due to its youth and the installation of more than $17.4 billion present-day dollars in state-of-the-art environmental controls, Texas coal-fired power plants have some of the lowest emissions rates of any fleet in the country, including emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide. The average CO2 emission rate of coal generation plants in Texas is lower than the average emission rates of those in 32 other states. In addition, Texas’ coal-fueled power plants have reduced PM-related emissions by 43 percent and emissions of nitrogen oxides by 55 percent since 1999. The Texas coal fleet also has one of the lowest NOx emissions rate of any coal fleet in the nation, far lower than the national average.
Texas coal-fueled power plants have reduced PM-related emissions by
present-day dollars spent on state-of-the-art environmental controls in Texas
Texas coal-fueled power plants have reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by
As found by the Office of the Governor, renewable energy generation in the state has increased substantially over the past decade, and as of 2011, accounted for a total of 4.1% of all energy consumed in Texas. Texas generates more wind energy than any other state and wind energy generation was twelve times larger in 2011 in Texas than in 2002. Statewide solar generation is the fastest growing segment of Texas’ renewable energy development, increasing 265% from 2011 to 2012 alone, from 36,580 MWh to 133,642 MWh. This places Texas as sixth nationally in installed solar photovoltaic capacity.
While there is great promise in Texas’ renewable generation expansion, forward thinking is necessary in order to ensure that this capacity is developed strategically and economically. The majority of Texas’ wind resources are concentrated in West Texas, while the majority of the population and power demand lies in the eastern portion of the state. To address this challenge, the PUC collaborated with ERCOT to establish the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission project in West Texas. Completed in 2013, the $6.9 billion CREZ transmission project transmits 18.5 MW of wind power across Texas. These transmission lines will enable Texas to provide three times as much available wind power as any other state.
All of Texas’ energy sources are interdependent. Renewable resources, although valuable, are intermittent, and are supported by a base load of coal, nuclear and natural gas. Fossil generation provides significant voltage support for renewable investments. For example, increasing the amount of energy from wind turbines creates a challenge. Wind power is only available to generate power 20 to 30% of the time, while conventional power plants operate around the clock. Wind farms are a viable supplement, however, other power plants (fueled with coal, nuclear or natural gas) are needed to anchor the network and ensure that power is available at all times.
CREZ transmission project transmits 18.5 MW of wind power across Texas
Texas leads the nation in natural gas production, holding around 23% of the nation’s natural gas reserves. Natural gas is also currently the largest source of electricity generation in the state and provides 40.5% of the power generated in the ERCOT region. Natural gas is a proven, reliable and clean fuel that has provided Texas not only with abundant and relatively inexpensive energy supplies for more than a half-century, but also has provided the Texas economy with a reliable income.
Nuclear power generates approximately 12% of the Texas electricity mix, consistent with its percentage of the world’s energy mix.
Energy storage systems store excess energy for later use when demand is greater. There are currently a wide variety of energy storage technologies in use or undergoing research in Texas. Additionally, smart grid technology enables facilities on the Texas grid to communicate and coordinate actions. Texas is tied with California as the top-ranked states for smart meter deployment, demand-side management techniques and other conservation measures.