Texas power grid faces limited solar power supply

The Texas power grid operator has urged consumers to use less power as clouds threaten access to essential solar power.

The Texas Electricity Reliability Board has asked residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve power for the second time in three days amid an ongoing heat wave.

Following Monday’s call for conservation, Wednesday’s advisory also calls for conservation from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., during which residents are encouraged to raise their thermostats to 78 degrees and postpone use of large appliances such as dishwashers or dryers.

Contrary to Monday’s call, ERCOT included forced thermal outages and solar as major factors reducing grid supply on Wednesday.

According to an ERCOT spokesperson, developing cloud cover in West Texas has reduced the amount of solar generation.

This particular factor is important, because Texas often experiences low heat and wind—which boost electrical demand and decrease natural energy drawn from the wind—but rarely loses access to its solar power.

According to ERCOT data, the percentage of dispatchable power installed at the tightest hour on Wednesday was 84%, while that of solar power was 68%.

Wind, typically a small contributor in times of extreme heat, was measured at just 12% of installed capacity at the tightest time of day.

Texas energy consultant Doug Lewin told the Texas Monthly that the state’s power grid has twice as much solar power as it had last summer and three times what it had a year ago. 18 months.

The sun sets behind power lines in Houston, Texas on July 11, 2022.

Nick Wagner/Xinhua/Newscom

According to Lewin, Texas set a record for solar power on Monday. It’s renewable energy, such as solar power, that allows the grid to maintain power and prevent outages, Lewin said.

Demand, despite the lure of conservation, has soared amid extremely dry and hot temperatures across the state.

According to the National Weather Service, Austin is expected to have a heat index of 110 degrees on Wednesday, which has kept its temperatures in the triple digits all week.

San Antonio is expected to stay above 100 degrees for the rest of the week, with a high of 104 on Wednesday.

In northeast Texas, Dallas will also remain in the triple digits, with Wednesday’s heat index at 105 degrees.

Amid the lingering heat, electricity demand has already broken two records this week.

On Monday, demand set a record high of 78,264 megawatts as ERCOT called for voluntary energy conservation.

On Tuesday, that record was broken again, peaking at 78,419 megawatts of demand.

Wednesday is expected to break that record again, with ERCOT predicting demand of 78,451 megawatts.

According to an ERCOT spokesperson, Texas has only 906 megawatts of power available beyond forecasted demand for the day.

This figure falls to less than half of the threshold that requires the network to begin taking emergency measures, according to data from ERCOT.

According to the power grid, Monday’s conservation call led consumers to cut their energy use by 500 megawatts.