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 many wind farms with a total installed nameplate capacity of 22,637 MW [1] [2] from over 40 different projects. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state. [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]

Wind farm group of wind turbines

A wind farm or wind park is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm can also be located offshore.

Nameplate capacity, also known as the rated capacity, nominal capacity, installed capacity, or maximum effect, is the intended full-load sustained output of a facility such as a power plant, electric generator, a chemical plant, fuel plant, metal refinery, mine, and many others. Nameplate capacity is the number registered with authorities for classifying the power output of a power station usually expressed in megawatts (MW).

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.


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. [6]

The wind power industry is involved with the design, manufacture, construction, and maintenance of wind turbines. The modern wind power industry began in 1979 with the serial production of wind turbines by Danish manufacturers. The industry is currently undergoing a period of rapid globalization and consolidation.

Renewable energy commercialization

Renewable energy commercialization involves the deployment of three generations of renewable energy technologies dating back more than 100 years. First-generation technologies, which are already mature and economically competitive, include biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal power and heat. Second-generation technologies are market-ready and are being deployed at the present time; they include solar heating, photovoltaics, wind power, solar thermal power stations, and modern forms of bioenergy. Third-generation technologies require continued R&D efforts in order to make large contributions on a global scale and include advanced biomass gasification, hot-dry-rock geothermal power, and ocean energy. As of 2012, renewable energy accounts for about half of new nameplate electrical capacity installed and costs are continuing to fall.

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.

Roscoe Wind Farm Wind farm in Texas, USA

The Roscoe Wind Farm in Roscoe, Texas, owned and operated by E.ON Climate & Renewables is one of the world's largest capacity wind farms with 634 wind turbines and a total installed capacity of 781.5 MW. At the time of its completion in 2009, it was the largest wind farm in the world, surpassing the nearby 735.5-megawatt Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. In 2012, it was overtaken by California's 1,020-megawatt Alta Wind Energy Center.

Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is a large wind farm with 735.5 megawatts (MW) of capacity. It consists of 291 GE 1.5-megawatt wind turbines and 139 Siemens 2.3-megawatt wind turbines spread over nearly 47,000 acres (19,000 ha) of land in Taylor and Nolan County, Texas. At the time of its completion in 2006, it was the largest wind farm in the world.

The Sherbino Mesa Wind Farm is located in Pecos County in west Texas. The first 150 megawatts (MW) of the project, which has a potential capacity of 750 MW, is in operation. Phase I utilizes 50 Vestas V-90 Mk.5 wind turbine generators, each with a rated capacity of 3 MW. BP will operate phase I of the project.


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. [7] The first 80-meter tower was erected at Big Spring, Texas in 1999. [8]

West Texas A&M University

West Texas A&M University, also known as WTAMU, WT, and formerly West Texas State, part of the Texas A&M University System, is a public university located in Canyon, Texas, a city of 13,303 about 13 miles south of Amarillo, a city of 190,695. The university is part of the Amarillo metropolitan area with a population of 268,893. West Texas A&M University was established on September 20, 1910, and was originally known as West Texas State Normal College. The university started out as one of the seven state-funded teachers' colleges in Texas.

Alternative Energy Institute

Alternative Energy Institute was West Texas A&M University's alternative energy research branch. Formed in 1977, the program was nationally and internationally recognized, and along with research provides education and outreach around the U.S. and the globe.

Big Spring, Texas City in Texas, United States

Big Spring is a city in and the county seat of Howard County, Texas, United States, at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 87 and Interstate 20. With a population of 27,282 as of the 2010 census, it is the largest city between Midland to the west, Abilene to the east, Lubbock to the north, and San Angelo to the south. Big Spring was established as the county seat of Howard County in 1882; it is the largest community in the county.

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 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. [9]

Texas Panhandle Region in Texas, United States

The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east. The Handbook of Texas defines the southern border of Swisher County as the southern boundary of the Texas Panhandle region.

Galveston, Texas City in Texas

Galveston is a coastal resort city and port off the southeast coast on Galveston Island and Pelican Island in the American State of Texas. The community of 209.3 square miles (542 km2), with an estimated population of 50,180 in 2015, is the county seat of surrounding Galveston County and second-largest municipality in the county. It is also within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area at its southern end on the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Mexico.


The Trans-Pecos, as originally defined in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill, is the portion of Texas that lies west of the Pecos River. The term is considered synonymous with "Far West Texas", a subdivision of West Texas. The Trans-Pecos is part of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. It is the most mountainous and arid portion of the state, and most of its area is vast and sparsely populated, comprising seven of the ten largest counties by area in Texas. The area is known for the natural environment of the Big Bend and the gorge of the Rio Grande, part of which has been designated a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. With the notable exceptions of Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the vast majority of the Trans-Pecos region consists of privately owned ranchland. However, the majority of the region's population reside in the El Paso metropolitan area.

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. [10] This offers farmers a fresh revenue stream without impacting traditional farming and grazing practices. 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. [11]

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. [12]

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. [13] (→ 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. [14] 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. [15] [16]

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. [17] As a result, in winter the west Texas grid often had such a local surplus of power, that the price would fall below zero. [18] [19] 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." [20]

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. [21] 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. [22] [23] [24] 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. Wind power has occasionally supplied 14 GW in Texas, about half the consumption in the somewhat islanded state. [25] [26] [27]

In areas where Smart Metering is commonly installed, [28] some utilities offer free electricity at night. [29]

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, [30] [31] [32] which helped Texas eventually become the leading producer of wind powered electricity in the U.S. [33] [34] [35] The RPS was part of new laws that restructured the electricity industry. The Texas RPS mandated that utility companies jointly create 2000 new MWs of 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. [36]

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. [36]

Sources of generation for Texas Texas Electricity Generation Sources Pie Chart.svg
Sources of generation for Texas

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: [47] [48]

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.

Wind power in the United States

Wind power in the United States is a branch of the energy industry that has expanded quickly over the latest several years. For the twelve months through November 2017, 254.2 terawatt-hours were generated by wind power, or 6.33% of all generated electrical energy.

Wind power in California

Wind power has a long history in the state of California, with the initiative and early development occurring during Governor Jerry Brown's first two terms in the late 1970s and early 1980s. California's wind power capacity has grown by nearly 350% since 2001, when it was less than 1,700 MW. In 2016, wind energy now supplies 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 big 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 December 31, 2016, California had 5,662 megawatts (MW) of wind powered electricity generating capacity.

Wind power in Iowa

Making up more than 37% of the state's generated electricity, Iowa is a leading U.S. state in wind power generation. The development of wind power in Iowa began with a state law, enacted in 1983, requiring investor owned utilities purchase 105 MW of power from wind generation. In 2016, over 20 billion kWh of electrical energy was generated by wind power, representing 36.6% of in state electricity production. As of February 2016, Iowa had over 6,974 megawatts (MW) of capacity. By 2020 the percentage of wind generated electricity in Iowa could reach 40 percent.

Wind power in Oregon

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

Wyoming has one of the highest wind power potentials of any state in the United States. As of 2016, Wyoming has 1489 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 Illinois

Wind power in Illinois provided 6.2% of the state's generated electrical power in 2017 and 8.3% of electrical power sales. At the end of 2017, Illinois had 4,464 megawatts (MW) of wind power installed, ranking sixth among states for installed wind turbine capacity.

The distinct ways of electricity generation can incur significantly different costs. Calculations of these costs can be made at the point of connection to a load or to the electricity grid. The cost is typically given per kilowatt-hour or megawatt-hour. It includes the initial capital, discount rate, as well as the costs of continuous operation, fuel, and maintenance. This type of calculation assists policymakers, researchers and others to guide discussions and decision making.

Wind power in Montana

Wind power in Montana is a growing industry. Montana had over 695 MW of wind generation capability by 2016, responsible for 7.6% of in-state electricity generation.

Wind power in Indiana

Wind power in Indiana was limited to a few small water-pumping windmills on farms until 2008 with construction of Indiana's first utility-scale wind power facility, Goodland with a nameplate capacity of 130 MW. As of September 2017, Indiana had a total of 1897 MW of wind power capacity installed, ranking it 12th among U.S. states. Wind power was responsible for 4.8% of in-state electricity production in 2016.

Wind power in Pennsylvania

There are more than twenty wind power projects operating in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The most productive wind energy regions generally fall in mountain or coastal terrains. The northern portion of the Appalachian chain, including most of Southwestern Pennsylvania, is one of the areas with the highest potential for wind energy in the Eastern United States. The mountain ridges of central and northeastern Pennsylvania, including the Poconos in the eastern part of the state, offer some of the best wind resources in the region.

Wind power in Colorado

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.

Solar power in Texas

Solar power in Texas, along with wind power, has the potential to allow Texas to remain an energy-exporting state over the long term. The western portion of the state especially has abundant open land areas, with some of the greatest solar and wind potential in the country. Development activities there are also encouraged by relatively simple permitting and significant available transmission capacity.

Wind power in Michigan

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. As of 2018, there were around 1000 wind turbines in the state with a nameplate capacity of 1925 MW. The nameplate total exceeded 2000 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

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. South Dakota has 583 turbines with a total capacity of 977 megawatts (MW) of wind generation capacity.

Wind power in Oklahoma

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.

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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