ERCOT Projects Solar Growth, Coal Retirements in 15 Years

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The future of Texas power generation is solar and natural gas.

That’s according to a recent analysis produced by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages most of the Lone Star State’s electricity grid. In its 2016 Long-Term System Assessment, the grid operator projects that natural gas will serve about half of Texas electricity demand by 2031, with solar largely replacing coal-fired generation.

The report examines a number of scenarios based on factors that could influence the future of the ERCOT grid. The seven different scenarios modeled in the report are: current trends, high economic growth, environmental mandate, Texas recession, sustained low natural gas prices, extreme weather and high energy efficiency and distributed generation. The chart below shows ERCOT’s projected installed capacity under each scenario by 2031. 

Source: ERCOT

Each scenario portends roughly the same transition: natural gas will serve the lion’s share of power generation, coal will drop below 10 percent of generation and solar will add between 14 and 27 gigawatts. With a strong shift to solar, there are some concerns about capacity shortages in the evening hours, but those could be potentially alleviated with advances in energy storage. 

Direct Energy Business is proud to play a role in helping drive solar growth in Texas. Last July, we unveiled a 1.2 megawatt rooftop solar project with H-E-B and SolarCity in Weslaco, Texas. More recently, we announced a new plan to install solar power systems at Whole Foods Market locations across the United States. 

For the latest developments in ERCOT, please read this month's regulatory update. To learn how your business can take advantage of tax credits and join the growing solar trend, visit our Solar page.

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