Texas’s most recent heat wave created high demand for energy—and renewables helped the state get through it.
- The past few weeks have been record-setting ones for the state of Texas, with several areas of the state hitting all-time heat highs and electricity usage peaking on June 27 to power air conditioning.
- The state’s power grid produced a record 31 gigawatts of renewable energy on June 28 at the height of the heatwave.
- This usage represented 35% to 40% of all the electricity produced on the state’s power grid, Axios notes.
- The record clean energy production played a key role in reducing the cost per megawatt hour for electricity, with the majority of prices averaging $30 per megawatt hour and staying below $50.
- Operating without renewables could have raised prices above $1,000s per megawatt hour area, claims Texas Energy and Power Newsletter author Doug Lewin
- Texas’s solar energy generation has tripled in the past three years, and development on new generation stations continues, Texas Monthly reports.
Why It’s Important
President Joe Biden took a major step last August with the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, signing $369 billion of clean energy subsidies and grants into law. The decision propelled a massive movement towards a clean energy transition, with thousands of corporations and startups turning towards clean energy solutions in the effort to attain net zero energy emissions by 2050.
The road to decarbonization will take years, with the majority of the global power grid still reliant on fossil fuels like oil and coal. However, Texas has already taken a notable lead in the race, building the second-largest state behind California’s renewable energy capacity.
“The market just kind of shrugged because there was so much wind and solar in the market … It’s another demonstration of the benefit for consumers that we see from wind and solar,” says Lewin. “Renewables likely saved consumers a billion dollars or more last week alone.”
This is helpful for the state, as it has already been shown to be sensitive to extreme temperature fluctuations. The state previously saw massive ice storms in the past few years that have left hundreds of thousands of people without power or warmth for days on end. Texas is considered the fourth warmest state in the U.S., with record temperatures of 120 degrees in 1936 and 1994 and mean temperatures of 85.7 degrees.
“Having solar provide during the hottest parts of the day is allowing our [fossil fuel] fleet to not run itself into the ground as fast,” says University of Texas at Austin researcher Josh Rhodes.