Houston — Almost 1.1 GW of renewable generation capacity – mostly solar -- neared commercial operation in January in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint, a new report shows, which would tend to weaken wholesale power prices, barring reductions in other capacity types.
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ERCOT's latest Generation Interconnection Status Report, released late Feb. 1, shows a 240-MW wind project in Willacy County and a 166-MW solar project in Borden County approved for synchronization in January. Willacy County is along the Gulf Coast near the Mexican border. Borden County is about 80 miles northeast of Midland, in far western Texas.
Synchronization – ensuring the resource's frequency matches that of the grid as a whole -- is the last step before approval for commercial operation. One step before synchronization is energization.
The new GIS Report shows a solar project totaling 250 MW approved for energization in Pecos County in West Texas, another 250-MW solar project in Concho County about 170 miles northwest of Austin, and a 182-MW wind project Nolan County about 50 miles west of Abilene in West Texas.
As of the end of December, ERCOT had almost 4 GW of solar nameplate capacity and more than 25.1 GW of wind capacity installed. ERCOT projected on Jan. 7 that it would have had more than 5.2 GW of solar generation and more than 29.2 GW of wind generation installed and synchronized by the end of January. Those numbers were projected total about 5.6 GW for solar and about 30.2 GW for wind by the end of February.
As solar and wind resources have near-zero marginal costs and generally benefit from federal subsidies, their growth tends to suppress power prices, unless other types of generation are taken out of service.
Canceled, inactive projects
Also in January, developers canceled two solar projects, totaling 451 MW and three storage projects, totaling 284 MW.
ERCOT deemed four projects, totaling 434 MW, as inactive in January because they failed to meet certain progress benchmarks. They were two wind projects that would have added a net 278 MW of nameplate capacity and two solar projects that would have added 156 MW.
As of the end of January, ERCOT had 28.8 GW of generation projects in the queue that had completed necessary studies and signed interconnection agreements. The largest total was for solar, at 15.9 GW, followed by wind with 9.6 GW, natural gas-fired generation at 1.8 GW and battery storage at 1.5 GW.