Wind power in Texas

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The 781 MW Roscoe Wind Farm at sunrise. Roscoe Wind Farm at Sunrise.JPG
The 781 MW Roscoe Wind Farm at sunrise.
Brazos Wind Ranch GreenMountainWindFarm Fluvanna 2004.jpg
Brazos Wind Ranch

Wind power in Texas consists of over 40 wind farms, which together have a total nameplate capacity of over 28,000 MW (as of 2019) [1] [2] . If Texas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world: [1] The installed wind capacity in Texas exceeds installed wind capacity in all countries but China, the United States, Germany and India. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state. [1] [3] According to ERCOT (Energy Reliability Council of Texas), wind power accounted for at least 15.7% of the electricity generated in Texas during 2017, as wind was 17.4% of electricity generated in ERCOT, which manages 90% of Texas's power. [4] [5] ERCOT set a new wind output record of nearly 19.7 GW at 7:19 pm Central Standard Time on Monday, January 21, 2019. [6]


The wind resource in many parts of Texas is very large. Farmers may lease their land to wind developers, creating a new revenue stream for the farm. The wind power industry has also created over 24,000 jobs for local communities and for the state. Texas is seen as a profit-driven leader of renewable energy commercialization in the United States. The wind boom in Texas was assisted by expansion of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, use of designated Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, expedited transmission construction, and the necessary Public Utility Commission rule-making. [7]

The Roscoe Wind Farm (781 MW), near the town of Roscoe, is the state's largest wind farm. Other large wind farms in Texas include: Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, Sherbino Wind Farm, Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm, Sweetwater Wind Farm, Buffalo Gap Wind Farm, King Mountain Wind Farm, Desert Sky Wind Farm, Wildorado Wind Ranch, and the Brazos Wind Farm.


Part of the Desert Sky Wind Farm off I-10 Desert-Sky-Wind-Farm.jpg
Part of the Desert Sky Wind Farm off I-10
Wind turbines on the windswept high plains of the Llano Estacado, Lubbock County, Texas. Lubbock County Texas wind turbines 2011.jpg
Wind turbines on the windswept high plains of the Llano Estacado, Lubbock County, Texas.
Vestas V47-660kW wind turbine at American Wind Power Center in Lubbock, Texas Vestasturbine.jpg
Vestas V47-660kW wind turbine at American Wind Power Center in Lubbock, Texas
A wind turbine blade on I-35 near Elm Mott, an increasingly common sight in Texas Wind turbine blade transport I-35.jpg
A wind turbine blade on I-35 near Elm Mott, an increasingly common sight in Texas

Wind power has a long history in Texas. West Texas A&M University began wind energy research in 1970 and led to the formation of the Alternative Energy Institute (AEI) in 1977. AEI has been a major information resource about wind energy for Texas. [8] The first 80-meter tower was erected at Big Spring, Texas in 1999. [9]

Several forces are driving the growth of wind power in Texas: favorable wind resources and land availability, State targets for renewable energy, cost efficiency of development and operation of wind farms, and a suitable electric transmission grid. The broad scope and geographical extent of wind farms in Texas is considerable: wind resource areas lie in the Texas Panhandle, along the Gulf coast south of Galveston, and in the mountain passes and ridge tops of the Trans-Pecos in the western tip of Texas. While there are over 10,700 wind turbines currently[ when? ] operating in Texas to generate electricity, there are still 80,000 windmills operating in Texas for pumping water, indicating the amount of growth potential still left for wind power generation. [10]

Wind power is a for-profit enterprise between land owners and wind farm operators. Texas farmers can lease their land to wind developers for either a set rental per turbine or for a small percentage of gross annual revenue from the project. [11] This offers farmers a fresh revenue stream without impacting traditional farming and grazing practices. [12] Although leasing arrangements vary widely, the U. S. Government Accountability Office reported in 2004 that a farmer who leases land to a wind project developer can generally obtain royalties of $3,000 to $5,000 per turbine per year in lease payments. These figures are rising as larger wind turbines are being produced and installed. [13]

Wind power offers a reliability benefit in that its generation (though not its transmission) is highly decentralized. Sabotage and industrial accidents can be potential threats to the large, centrally located, power plants that provide most of Texas’ electricity. Should one of these plants be damaged, repairs could take more than a year, possibly creating power shortages on a scale that Texans have never experienced before. Coal trains and gas pipelines are also vulnerable to disruption. However, wind power plants are quickly installed and repaired. The modular structure of a wind farm also means that if one turbine is damaged, the overall output of the plant is not significantly affected. [14]

Wind is a highly variable resource. With proper understanding and planning, it can be incorporated into an electric utility's generation mix, although it clearly does not provide the sort of on-demand availability that Gas power stations provide.

Many areas in Texas have wind conditions allowing for development of wind power generation. The number of commercially attractive sites has expanded as wind turbine technology has improved and development costs continue to drop. [15] (→ Cost of electricity by source#United States) Particularly in southern Texas, the difference between land and off-shore air temperatures creates convection currents that generate significant winds during the middle of the day when electricity usage is typically at its peak level. [16] Although these winds are less than in West Texas, they occur more predictably, more in correlation with consumption, and closer to consumers. Several wind farms have been developed at the Texas coast, to a combined 3,000 MW. [17] [18]

Starting in 2008, the wind power development boom in Texas outstripped the capacity of the transmission systems in place, and predicted shortages in transmission capability could have dampened the growth of the industry. Until 2008, the growth in wind power "piggybacked" on existing lines, but had almost depleted spare capacity. [19] As a result, in winter the west Texas grid often had such a local surplus of power, that the price would fall below zero. [20] [21] According to Michael Goggin, electric industry analyst at AWEA, "Prices fell below US −$30/MWh (megawatt-hour) on 63% of days during the first half of 2008, compared to 10% for the same period in 2007 and 5% in 2006." [22]

Curtailment in Texas Wind power curtailment in USA, 2007-2014.svg
Curtailment in Texas

In July 2008, utility officials gave preliminary approval to a $4.9 billion plan to build new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from West Texas to urban areas such as Dallas. The new plan would be the biggest investment in renewable energy in U.S. history, and would add transmission lines capable of moving about 18,000 megawatts. [23] ERCOT curtailed wind power by 17% (3.8 TWh) in 2009, but that decreased to only 0.5% by 2014, as transmission improved, particularly the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) in 2013. [24] [25] [26] However the CREZ lines are sometimes maxed out, and in November 2015, prices were negative for 50 hours. Wind power in Texas receives subsidies regardless of whether power prices are positive or negative.

In an early morning period of low electricity demand, wind energy served more than 56% of total demand on the ERCOT grid at 3:10 am Central Standard Time on Saturday, January 19, 2019. [6] Two days later, ERCOT set a new wind output record of nearly 19.7GW at 7:19 pm Central Standard Time on Monday, January 21, 2019. [6]

In areas where Smart Metering is commonly installed, [27] some utilities offer free electricity at night. [28]

Large wind farms in Texas

Location map

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Large Wind power projects in Texas
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Renewable Portfolio Standard

The Texas Renewable Portfolio Standard was originally created by Senate Bill 7 and signed by Governor Bush in 1999, [29] [30] [31] which helped Texas eventually become the leading producer of wind powered electricity in the U.S. [32] [33] [34] The RPS was part of new laws that restructured the electricity industry. The Texas RPS mandated that utility companies jointly create 2000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy by 2009 based on their market share. In 2005, Senate Bill 20, increased the state’s RPS requirement to 5,880 MW by 2015, of which, 500 MW must come from non-wind resources. The bill set a goal of 10,000 MW of renewable energy capacity for 2025, which was achieved 15 years early, in 2010. [35]

According to, "In 1999 the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) adopted rules for the state's Renewable Energy Mandate, establishing a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a renewable-energy credit (REC) trading program, and renewable-energy purchase requirements for competitive retailers in Texas. The 1999 standard called for 2,000 megawatts (MW) of new renewables to be installed in Texas by 2009, in addition to the 880 MW of existing renewables generation at the time. In August 2005, S.B. 20 increased the renewable-energy mandate to 5,880 MW by 2015 (about 5% of the state's electricity demand), including a target of 500 MW of renewable-energy capacity from resources other than wind. Wind accounts for nearly all of the current renewable-energy generation in Texas. The 2005 legislation also set a target of reaching 10,000 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2025. [35]

In 2018, wind power was the third-largest source of electricity generation in Texas. It is expected that it will surpass coal, the second-largest source, by 2020. Texas Electricity Generation Sources Pie Chart.svg
In 2018, wind power was the third-largest source of electricity generation in Texas. It is expected that it will surpass coal, the second-largest source, by 2020.

Qualifying renewable energy sources include solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave or tidal energy, biomass, or biomass-based waste products, including landfill gas. Qualifying systems are those installed after September 1999. The RPS applies to all investor-owned utilities. Municipal and cooperative utilities may voluntarily elect to offer customer choice.

The PUCT established a renewable-energy credit (REC) trading program that began in July 2001 and will continue through 2019. Under PUCT rules, one REC represents one megawatt-hour (MWh) of qualified renewable energy that is generated and metered in Texas. A capacity conversion factor (CCF) is used to convert MW goals into MWh requirements for each retailer in the competitive market. The CCF was originally administratively set at 35% for the first two compliance years, but is now based on the actual performance of the resources in the REC-trading program for the previous two years. For the 2010 and 2011 the CCF will be 30.5%." Each retailer in Texas is allocated a share of the mandate based on that retailer’s pro rata share of statewide retail energy sales. The program administrator maintains a REC account for program participants to track the production, sale, transfer, purchase, and retirement of RECs. Credits can be banked for three years, and all renewable additions have a minimum of 10 years of credits to recover over-market costs. An administrative penalty of $50 per MWh was established for providers that do not meet the RPS requirements.

Future developments

An energy storage system is being developed for West Texas. The system allows excess wind energy to be stored, making wind energy more predictable and less variable. [37] This 36 MW battery facility became operational in December 2012. [38]

The development of the Tres Amigas HVDC link to the Western grid and the Eastern grid will allow more flexibility in importing and exporting power to and from Texas. [39]

A 300 MW offshore wind farm is planned for Galveston, and 2,100 MW for the Gulf Coast of Texas. [40] Making turbines that are able to yaw quickly will make them more likely to be able to survive a hurricane. [41]


Source: [48] [49]

Texas Wind Generation (GWh, Million kWh)
Year Total Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec

See also

Related Research Articles

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, Renewable Electricity Certificates, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), are tradable, non-tangible energy commodities in the United States that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource and was fed into the shared system of power lines which transport energy. Solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) are RECs that are specifically generated by solar energy. Renewable Energy Certificates provide a mechanism for the purchase of renewable energy that is added to and pulled from the electrical grid. The updated Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 Guidance guarantees of origin, RECs and I-RECs as mainstream instruments for documenting and tracking electricity consumed from renewable sources.

Capacity factor unitless ratio of an actual electrical energy output over a given period of time to the maximum possible electrical energy output over the same amount of time

The net capacity factor is the unitless ratio of an actual electrical energy output over a given period of time to the maximum possible electrical energy output over that period. The capacity factor is defined for any electricity producing installation, such as a fuel consuming power plant or one using renewable energy, such as wind or the sun. The average capacity factor can also be defined for any class of such installations, and can be used to compare different types of electricity production.

Texas Interconnection

The Texas Interconnection is an alternating current (AC) power grid – a wide area synchronous grid – that covers most of the state of Texas. The grid is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Wind power in the United States Use of wind turbines to generate electricity

Wind power in the United States is a branch of the energy industry that has expanded quickly over the latest several years. From January through December of 2019, 300.1 terawatt-hours were generated by wind power, or 7.29% of all generated electrical energy in the United States. That same year, wind power surpassed hydroelectric power as the largest renewable energy source generated in the U.S.

Wind power in California Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

Wind power in California had initiative and early development during Governor Jerry Brown's first two terms in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The state's wind power capacity has grown by nearly 350% since 2001, when it was less than 1,700 MW. In 2016, wind energy supplied about 6.9% of California's total electricity needs, or enough to power more than 1.3 million households. Most of California's wind generation is found in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, California, with some large projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. California is among the states with the largest amount of installed wind power capacity. In recent years, California has lagged behind other states when it comes to the installation of wind power. It was ranked 4th overall for wind power electrical generation at the end of 2016 behind Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. As of 2019, California had 5,973 megawatts (MW) of wind power generating capacity installed.

Wind power in Iowa Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

Making up 42% of the state's generated electricity in 2019, wind power is the largest source of electricity generation in Iowa. In 2019, over 26 billion kWh of electrical energy was generated by wind power. As of April 2020, Iowa has over 10,201 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, ranking 2nd in the nation below Texas.

Wind power in Oregon Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

The U.S. state of Oregon has large wind energy resources. Many projects have been completed, most of them in rural Eastern Oregon and near the Columbia River Gorge. Wind power accounted for 12.1% of the electricity generated in Oregon in 2016.

Wind power in Wyoming Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

Wyoming has one of the highest wind power potentials of any state in the United States. As of 2016, Wyoming has 1,489 megawatts (MW) of wind powered electricity generating capacity, responsible for 9.42% of in-state electricity production. Wyoming produced of 3,800 GWh in 2015, about 9% of the total.

Wind power in Minnesota Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

At the end of 2016, the installed capacity for wind power in Minnesota was 3,500 megawatts (MW). Wind power generated nearly 18 percent of Minnesota’s electricity in 2016, ranking sixth in the nation for wind energy as a share of total electricity generation.

Wind power in Illinois Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

Wind power in Illinois provided 7% of the state's generated electrical power in 2019 powering 1,231,900 homes. At the end of 2019, Illinois had 5,350 megawatts (MW) of wind power installed, ranking sixth among states for installed wind turbine capacity. An additional 1,039 MW of wind power was under construction across the state at the end of 2019.

The distinct methods of electricity generation can incur significantly different costs and these costs can occur at significantly different times relative to when the power is used. Also, calculations of these costs can be made at the point of connection to a load or to the electricity grid. The costs include the initial capital, and the costs of continuous operation, fuel, and maintenance as well as the costs of de-commissioning and remediating any environmental damage.

Wind power in Arizona Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

As of 2016, Arizona has 268 megawatts (MW) of wind powered electricity generating capacity, producing 0.5% of in-state generated electricity.

Wind power in Colorado Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

The US state of Colorado has vast wind energy resources and the installed electricity capacity and generation from wind power in Colorado has been growing significantly in recent years. The growth has been sustained due to a combination of falling costs, continuing federal incentives, and the state's aggressive renewable portfolio standard that requires 30% of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Renewable energy in South Dakota

Renewable energy in South Dakota involves production of biofuels and generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy such as wind and hydropower. South Dakota is among the states with the highest percentage of electricity generation from renewable resources, typically over 70 percent. In 2011, South Dakota became the first U.S. state to have at least 20% of its electricity generation come from wind power.

Wind power in Michigan Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

Wind power in Michigan is a developing industry. The industrial base from the automotive industry has led to a number of companies producing wind turbine parts in the state. The development of wind farms in the state, however, has lagged behind. In 2018, there were around a thousand wind turbines in the state with a nameplate capacity of 1,925 MW. The nameplate total exceeded 2,000 MW when Pine River came online in March 2019. Wind provided 4.2% of the state's electricity in 2016.

Wind power in South Dakota Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

The state of South Dakota is a leader in the U.S. in wind power generation with over 30% of the state's electricity generation coming from wind in 2017. In 2016, South Dakota had 583 turbines with a total capacity of 977 megawatts (MW) of wind generation capacity. In 2019, the capacity increased to 1525 MW.

Wind power in Oklahoma Electricity from wind in one U.S. state

The U.S. State of Oklahoma has high potential capacity for wind power in the western half of the state. In 2017, Oklahoma's installed wind generation capacity was almost 7,500 megawatts, supplying almost a third of the state's generated electricity.

California produces more renewable energy than any other state in the United States. In 2018, California ranked first in the nation as a producer of electricity from solar, geothermal, and biomass resources and fourth in the nation in conventional hydroelectric power generation. As of 2017, over half of the electricity (52.7%) produced was from renewable sources.

The Spinning Spur Wind Ranch is a 516 megawatt (MW) wind farm spanning the length of southern Oldham County in the northwest panhandle region of the U.S. state of Texas. The project was developed by Cielo Wind Power and EDF Renewable Energy in three phases that came online from 2012 to 2015. Phases 2 and 3 are enabled by the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission infrastructure completed in 2013 that was designed to bring electricity generated in energy-resource-rich western regions to industrialized population centers in the central and eastern regions of the state.


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