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Solar power surpassed coal in Texas for an entire month, marking the first time this has occurred

A revolution is occurring in the way we generate electricity, even in the locations where it is strongly criticized. Texas serves as a prime example of this phenomenon, as it continues to achieve new milestones in renewable energy generation despite facing opposition from influential individuals who hold a strong aversion towards it.

In February 2021, an extreme cold weather event exerted unparalleled strain on the Texas electricity grid, resulting in extensive power outages that resulted in fatalities and posed a significant threat of catastrophic failure. Unavoidably, certain individuals who deny the existence of climate change hastily attributed the problems to wind power, despite the fact that the majority of the decrease in power generation was due to issues with gas-fired power stations. Nevertheless, numerous esteemed Texas politicians, including the governor, joined them, creating the impression that they would impede any energy source incapable of operating continuously for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

However, the installation of photovoltaic panels has been occurring at an astonishing pace since then. In March, solar energy supplied a greater proportion of Texas’s electricity than coal, marking the first time that solar has surpassed coal for an entire month.

The Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reported that in March, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which provides electricity to 90% of Texans, used 3.26 million megawatt hours (MWh) of solar-generated power. The amount of energy generated from coal, which was 2.96 million MWh, was around 10 percent less than the amount generated from the other source.

The solar production in March increased by 56 percent compared to the previous year, and it was three times higher than the March that occurred after the severe freeze.

IEEFA has observed a series of significant achievements. In March, solar energy accounted for over 10 percent of ERCOT’s electricity generation, marking the first time it has reached this milestone. Additionally, coal’s contribution to the electricity mix fell below 10 percent for the first time.

In January, solar power played a crucial role in averting system failure during a period of extreme cold weather. It supplied nearly 25% of the electricity needed during the daytime.

The records will continue to decline. The Texas grid is projected to see an additional 7 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity by the end of this year, representing a nearly 30% increase from current levels. Furthermore, solar capacity is expected to be even greater in March, despite potentially less favorable weather conditions. Preparations are currently in progress for the implementation of even more significant enhancements in 2025. According to the Energy Information Administration, a governmental organization, solar power is projected to generate a greater proportion of Texas’s electricity than coal throughout the entire year.

The demand in Texas is insufficiently increasing to absorb the surplus production, especially when considering the slower growth of wind power. Consequently, there is a need to eliminate something from the market. Up until now, the primary source of energy has predominantly been coal, as opposed to natural gas. Coal accounted for nearly one-third of the energy consumption in Texas in 2017. Despite experiencing a decline in March, it is projected that this year’s performance may surpass 10 percent for the year, albeit by a small margin.

Until now, Texans have been known for their tendency to engage in activities on a larger scale, including the use of coal. Last year, it consumed twice the amount of coal for electricity compared to any other state. The rate of decline in coal usage in Texas has outpaced the national average, although the rest of the country is also experiencing a significant decrease.

Opponents of renewable energy often claim that solar power is ineffective when the sun is not shining. However, it is worth noting that Texas is currently at the forefront of battery installation in the United States. Indeed, it is accomplishing more than that. When it comes to solar energy, both Texas and the United States as a whole lag significantly behind China in terms of total capacity, as well as when comparing the amount of solar energy generated per person. However, Texas is at the forefront globally when it comes to large-scale batteries that can store surplus energy during the day and discharge it in the evening.

According to the IEEFA, Texas currently has 5.2 GW of functioning battery storage, but this capacity is expected to increase to 10.9 GW by the end of the year. Solar-generated electricity will ensure continuous illumination throughout the night.

The people who claim that renewable energy is impractical have been impeding its advancement for many years, despite the fact that they have seen its success in various places.

The rapid growth of solar energy in Texas, despite a government that is not particularly supportive of renewable power, can be attributed to its significantly lower cost compared to alternative energy sources. If this is true in Texas, which is the primary producer of fossil gas in the United States, it is likely that a few other locations will be able to withstand the revolution for an extended period of time.

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