The Electric Reliability Council of Texas released data this month that revealed that wind created 22 percent of the electricity used in the first half of the year, compared to coal, which produced 21 percent, as reported by the local NPR station KUT.
According to the Energy Information Administration, Texas is the largest coal consumer in the U.S. Yet, cheap natural gas and renewable energy prices are forcing their way into the market.
Natural gas produces more electricity than any other energy source, at 38 percent, and while solar energy only accounts for about 1 percent of the electricity generated, Daniel Cohan, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Rice University, believes the number will increase.
“For several years in a row now, we’ve had almost a doubling of the amount of solar farms in Texas. And it looks like we’re set to have a few more doublings ahead,” he said. “So, Texas is really becoming one of the growth areas for solar after a very slow start.”
Most of the coal plants in Texas are designated as “peaker plants,” meaning they only operate when the demand for electricity is high. While wind has been producing more energy than coal so far this year, July and August are usually the biggest months for coal generation.
“It still remains to be seen whether [wind] surpasses coal for the entire year,” Cohen said. “But, so far, it just illustrates the big transition that we’re having away from coal and toward wind power.”