Coal and natural gas plants are retiring in Texas. Now may be the time to look into solar and storage options to provide energy stability for the future.
ERCOT may need to plan for a skinny duck curve.
In the next 15 years, Texas expects to add somewhere between 14 and 27 gigawatts of solar capacity, according to a new long-term system assessment from the state’s grid operator, ERCOT.
ERCOT is considering eight different scenarios, such as continued low natural-gas prices or extreme weather. Under all scenarios, solar makes up nearly all of the new capacity. In all of the scenarios, ERCOT assumes that changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze rule will go into effect. Those changes are expected to make the rule more stringent and impact power producers with emissions that affect air quality.
As more solar energy comes on-line, coal will retire. About 5 gigawatts of coal are expected to go offline in the next five years because of the regional haze rule, according to ERCOT’s assessment. Even without the regional haze rule, some coal will retire anyway.
Natural gas is now the dominant electric generation source in Texas and could see some retirement as well, although the facilities that will retire are mostly older steam units that will be shut down due to age, rather than environmental rules or market conditions.
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