Everything is bigger in Texas, and wind power is apparently not an exception. Since 2015, wind power has more than doubled in the state and, last year, Texas received 22% of its electricity from wind. Coal supplied only 18%, down from 28% just five years ago.
It’s the first year wind power has ever produced more electricity than coal in Texas, and it’s not just a symbolic change — it’s probably here to stay. Coal has been experiencing a steady decline, and wind energy is quickly rising up to cover demand. The windy planes of West Texas are an important hotspot of wind power, but in the past couple of years, other areas of the lone-star state have also started to increasingly rely on wind energy.
However, almost half of the state’s energy (46%) came from natural gas last year — so it’s not just wind that’s taking a bite out of the coal industry, but also natural gas. Natural gas isn’t as polluting or as bad for the climate as coal, but it’s still a fossil fuel and not what you want to see long-term. However, natural gas may have already peaked in Texas, Carey King, assistant director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, told LMTonline.
According to King, it’s not just wind turbines that’s driving the change, but batteries: battery storage in Texa is expected to grow more than seven-fold this year, making the renewable energy source more reliable throughout the day, even when the wind isn’t blowing.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
Wind power isn’t just bringing clean and cheap electricity — it’s bringing jobs as well. In 2019, Texas alone had 26,000 jobs, compared to 45,000 jobs in the coal mining industry for the entire US.
Solar power is still in a weird place in Texas. In 2020, it produced just 2% of the state’s electricity, but it has also improved dramatically since. From being a mere afterthought five years ago (when it produced 0.001% of the state’s electricity), solar has surged exponentially. If it can keep up the rhythm, renewable energy may well overcome fossil fuel energy in the not too distant future — which for Texas, sounds almost too good to believe.
But the change is happening, and it’s happening fast. A whopping 95% of the new energy planned for installation in Texas is renewable, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
Texas is the 2nd largest US state by both size and population, with 29 million people calling it home. Taken individually, Texas would be the world’s 10th largest economy by GPD, ahead of countries like Canada or South Korea.