Wind Booms, Coal Suffers in Oversupplied Texas Grid

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence:When Vistra Energy Corp. subsidiary Luminant Generation Co. LLC announced on Oct. 13 that it would retire two large coal plants in Texas next year, the company stated that “these two plants are economically challenged in the competitive ERCOT market” because of “sustained low wholesale power prices, an oversupplied renewable generation market, and low natural gas prices, along with other factors.”That statement echoed what has become a truism among merchant generators operating in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas region: the rapid spread of cheap wind power is creating an oversupply of electricity in the Texas market. ERCOT oversees the grid that supplies most of Texas with its electricity.“ERCOT is currently oversupplied,” found a December 2016 report prepared for the Texas Clean Energy Coalition by the Brattle Group, Inc. that looked at grid reliability in the face of rising penetration of renewable energy sources and accelerating retirements of coal-fired plants, “and the forecasted additions of natural gas, solar, and wind generation should provide a cushion to absorb many of the retirements that may occur.”A market that appears oversupplied to an owner of coal-fired plants, however, may not appear so to a grid operator charged with maintaining adequate resources for summertime peak loads. What’s clear is that as the penetration levels of wind and solar generation climb toward and past the 20% threshold, the issues around supply and demand, grid stability and market functioning become more complex. And Texas, a pioneer in wind power, could serve as a glimpse into the future of the U.S. power grid as renewables become cheaper and more widespread.Even as peak loads have remained relatively flat in the region in the last few years, total operating capacity from all sources combined has continued to climb.And much of that new capacity comes from wind, which grew from just over 11,000 MW in 2013 to nearly 16,260 MW in 2016 — a 48% increase in just three years — despite a renewable energy mandate that was met years ago.Following a construction boom fueled by the federal tax credits and the state’s $8 billion investment in long-distance transmission lines, Texas has nearly 20,000 MW of wind power capacity. The state supplied 25% of U.S. wind power in 2016, and wind capacity in the state is expected to reach 25,500 MW by 2019. Along with abundant supplies of low-priced natural gas, all that wind has helped depress energy prices in Texas. Despite having, by far, the highest energy usage per capita in the nation, Texas enjoys energy prices per MWh among the lowest of any state.As the Luminant retirements indicated, low wholesale power prices are driving coal generators out of the market. Exacerbating that trend, the wind boom is expected to be followed by a solar boom in the Lone Star state; in its most recent long-term scenario, ERCOT said between 14,500 MW and 28,100 MW of solar capacity could be added to the system by 2031. Through September, Texas had generated about 17% of its electricity from wind in 2017. Developers have already signed interconnection agreements for another 8,655 MW of new wind, plus 2,050 MW of new solar installations, in ERCOT.For coal plant owners, low natural gas prices and high wind penetration “have been like a one-two punch,” says Chen-Hao Tsai, senior energy economist with the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas, Austin. “If solar really takes off as ERCOT predicts, that will replace a good amount of generation from conventional generators during the daytime. I would consider that the third punch.”Adding to the blows against coal, natural gas plant construction is proceeding as well: “more than 14 GW [of] gas-fired generation capacity are also in the pipeline, with 7.6 GW scheduled to come online in 2018,” according to a July 2017 report by Tsai and his colleague Gürcan Gülen for the International Association of Energy Economics.What goes for Texas today could soon apply to the U.S. as a whole. According to the American Wind Energy Association, nearly 26,000 MW of wind capacity is now in development nationwide, with more than 14,000 MW under construction. New installed wind capacity reached 2,357 MW in the first half of this year, the American Wind Energy Assocation says, pushing total installed capacity to 84,405 MW. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation from wind will reach about 526 billion KWh by 2040, nearly 11% of total U.S. generation.The Department of Energy’s more ambitious Wind Vision program aims to boost wind to 35% of U.S. generation by 2050.In Texas, meanwhile, wind power’s position is being strengthened by new farms built not in West Texas, home to the majority of the capacity built to date, but along the Gulf Coast. While West Texas still accounts for the majority of the state’s wind capacity, wind power along the Gulf Coast has increased sixfold in the last five years, reaching 2,385 MW, or nearly 12% of the state’s total wind capacity. That’s important because Gulf winds blow more consistently than those in West Texas, and better match with the peak daytime hours for electricity consumption, overcoming the variability that of generation from farms in West Texas, where the wind is highest at night.That will likely crowd out more fossil fuel generation, especially from coal plants, which are less flexible than plants that burn natural gas and are thus less able to ramp up quickly when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing. According to a May 2016 report from the Brattle Group — also prepared for TCEC — coal generators face a sharp decline in Texas: Coal’s share of generation in the state will fall from 34% in 2013 to 6% in 2035.Coal’s dethronement in Texas has implications for coal producers in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, as well. Texas, which consumed some 86 million tons of coal in 2015, much of it from Powder River mines, is by far the largest coal market in the U.S. Accelerating retirements in Texas will have a dramatic effect on Powder River Basin mines: Luminant’s Monticello and Big Brown plants, for instance, both of which are now slated for early retirement, bought up 54% of production from Peabody Energy’s Rawhide mine through the first seven months of 2017, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.More: Wind booms, coal suffers in oversupplied Texas grid Wind Booms, Coal Suffers in Oversupplied Texas Gridlast_img read more

The Latest: Warriors to play Nets at home without fans

first_img March 11, 2020 Associated Press Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the coronavirus outbreak’s affect on sports around the globe (all times EDT):2:30 p.m.San Francisco is banning all large gatherings of more than 1,000 people for the next two weeks and the Golden State Warriors intend to play at least one home game without fans. 1 p.m.The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told a congressional committee Wednesday that he would recommend the NBA not allow fans at games in response to the coronavirus.That answer by Dr. Anthony Fauci came hours before NBA owners are scheduled to meet to discuss the next steps in responding to the growing concern about the virus.Fauci was responding to a question from Rep. Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin Republican, during a meeting of the House Oversight Committee. Grothman asked, “Is the NBA underreacting or is the Ivy League overreacting?” He was referencing how the Ivy League recently canceled its basketball tournaments, instead of having them played without fans in attendance or keeping the status quo.“We would recommend that there not be large crowds,” Fauci said. “If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. But as a public health official, anything that has crowds is something that would give a risk to spread.” ___— reporting by Janie McCauley——2:05 p.m.The Mariners will move home games from Seattle through end of March following the state of Washington’s decision to ban large group events in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The seventh-ranked Cardinal were expected to be picked as a host for the tournament that starts March 20. The top 16 teams are picked as hosts of the opening two rounds.The NCAA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.— reporting by Josh Dubow___1:20 The Latest: Warriors to play Nets at home without fans ___1:35 p.m.Stanford is still willing to host the NCAA women’s basketball tournament with a strict limit on spectators if selected to do so next week.The school in Northern California said Wednesday that all sporting events on campus will be closed to the public through May 15 or until further notice in response to the spread of the new coronavirus.Only participants, coaches, working staff, officials, credentialed media and a very limited number of family members, friends and guests of the competing teams will be allowed to attend. Santa Clara County announced a ban earlier this week of gatherings of more than 1,000 people. Seattle had been scheduled to open the season at Safeco Field with a four-game series against Texas from March 26-29, then host Minnesota in a three-game series from March 30 through April 1.The Mariners say they are working with the commissioner’s office on alternative plans.Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced a ban on all large gatherings in the three counties of the Seattle metro area through at least the end of March.That decision affects the Seattle Mariners’ first seven games of the season, when they host the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins. It also applies to home games for the MLS Seattle Sounders, XFL Seattle Dragons and a pair of junior hockey teams in the area.The restrictions do not include Spokane, where NCAA Tournament games are scheduled to take place next week. The men’s first and second rounds are being played at the Spokane Arena, while early rounds of the women’s tournament could end up being played on campus at Gonzaga. One of college basketball’s postseason invitational tournaments has been canceled.Organizers of the College Basketball Invitational, widely known as the CBI, say they’ve decided to cancel this year’s event because of the “uncertainty about the coronavirus and the impact it is having on college campuses across the country.”The tournament is played at campus sites for teams that aren’t invited to the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.The statement issued Wednesday says officials look forward to bringing back the CBI in 2021.___ Mayor London Breed announced the ban Wednesday. She says she understands the order “is disruptive, but it is an important step to support public health.” She says the Warriors are in support of the efforts, and the team announced it would host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night with no fans, making it the first NBA game set to be played in an empty arena.The Warriors’ next home game after that is March 25 against Atlanta.Golden State also said all events through March 21 would be canceled or postponed. The G League Santa Cruz Warriors were set to host the Austin Spurs on Saturday, but that will be moved to Santa Cruz.Fans will receive refunds, the team said.Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics have canceled an exhibition game they’d scheduled against one another on March 24.last_img read more