2017: Wind Power Surpassed Coal in Texas… Kind of, sort of

Guest contextualizing by David Middleton

Everyone knows that Texas leads the US in wind power capacity… And probably leads most other countries too.  In 2017, installed wind power capacity in Texas exceeded that of coal… BFD.

Wind Power Capacity Has Surpassed Coal in Texas

Scientists at UT predict that by 2019, the state will get more energy from wind than coal.

DATE DEC 2, 2017

Wind power capacity edged out coal for the first time in the Texas history last week after a new 155-megawatt wind farm in Scurry County came online. The farm in question is the Fluvanna Wind Energy Project, located on some 32,000 acres leased from more than 130 landowners.

Fluvanna pushed total wind power capacity in the state to more than 20,000 megawatts, while coal capacity stands at 19,800 megawatts and is slated to fall to 14,700 megawatts by the end of 2018 thanks to planned coal powerplant closures. Next year, Luminant will shutter three coal-fired plants—Monticello, Sandow, and Big Brown—and San Antonio’s CPS Energy will close J.T. Deely Station. Wind capacity in the state will reach 24,400 megawatts by the end of 2018, according to projections from Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at UT Austin’s Energy Institute.

But capacity is one thing, electricity generation is another. In the first ten months of 2017, wind generated 17.2 percent of power in the state, and coal 31.9 percent, according to ERCOT. But wind should soon see large gains there. “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more energy from wind than coal,” Rhodes said.


Texas Monthly

Wake me up when wind is catching up to crude oil and natural gas…

Texas Energy Production in Million tonnes oil equivalent (Mtoe)

Data Sources:

194 thoughts on “2017: Wind Power Surpassed Coal in Texas… Kind of, sort of

        • There is context:

          ” In the first ten months of 2017, wind generated 17.2 percent of power in the state, and coal 31.9 percent, according to ERCOT. But wind should soon see large gains there. “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more energy from wind than coal,” Rhodes said.”

          • That’s the part I quoted. How is that context regarding, “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more *energy* from wind than coal,” Rhodes said.”

          • Lame spin effort David. Once it’s clear that wind will soon exceed coal not only in rated power capacity, but also production, you switch topics. From state level power generation, to oil and gas production. Oil and gas production that is mostly exported, not used in state.

          • Learn how to read.

            “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more energy from wind than coal,” Rhodes said.

            Wake me up when wind is catching up to crude oil and natural gas…

          • More spin. You’re comparing in-state electricity production and the sources of that power against fossil fuels produced for export to other states. I’m not sure why you are making a big deal out of the word energy. Natural gas and oil are sources of energy, they can be consumed to make electricity, to heat directly (natural gas furnace) or in an ICE. It’s quite clear the article is referring to electricity produced in the state of Texas.

            Yes, out of all sources in all states wind is certainly a smaller source of power production than natural gas or coal at present. But this is certainly a milestone in Texas, the second largest population state in the US.

          • Your inability to read and/or comprehend plain English doesn’t constitute “spin” on the part of anyone else.

          • Comparing sources of in state power generation versus fossil fuels produced for export makes no sense. But hey, that’s how you roll, your nonsense comparison is obvious.

          • There is context….and then there’s context
            The people that wrote this crap left some very important facts out….
            Of course wind is going to beat coal….when you no longer have coal plants

            “Coal’s decline in Texas accelerated this week as Luminant announced it would close three coal-fired power plants in early 2018. Combined, they account for about 22 percent of the state’s coal power plant capacity.”
            “The three plants can produce 4,167 megawatts of electricity — enough to power nearly 2.1 million Texas homes.”


            By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more energy from wind than coal,…because we’re shutting down the coal plants……morons

          • “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more energy from wind than coal,…because we’re shutting down the coal plants……morons”

            From your article: “Luminant officials said cheap natural gas and Texas’ competitive energy market has gradually made these decades-old plants unprofitable.”

            And: “The cost to generate electricity from coal plants varies from $60 to $143 per megawatt hour, compared to $48 to $78 for natural gas, according to a report last year from financial advisory firm Lazard. The unsubsidized cost for wind was $32 to $62.”

            So let me understand – you’re calling them morons for shutting down an unprofitable power plant that is not competitive with natural gas or with unsubsidized wind power. Got it.

          • I believe the ‘moron’ epithet was aimed at the con-artists attempting to elevate a non-issue as a big win for a lame industry.
            IMHO their statement while true, is intended to mislead.
            The author of the article could have as readily stated “Wind energy exceeded unicorn farts for electrical production.” and would have been as trivially accurate.

          • I find it very difficult to believe that the unsubsidized cost for wind power was $32-$62. Sounds to me like they are not including natural gas backup costs.

          • That’s the big deal. They’ve been shuttering coal plants for decades now. Not twenty years ago, the natural gas generation column was essentially zero and the coal was the combined height of both of them currently.

            Now, gas is the plurality and we are building more plants, and coal is continuing to fall with no plants under construction.

      • If the enviro/CAGW inspired regulations against coal and fossil and nuclear are allowed to continue, then, sure.
        Wind and solar will produce more energy.
        But it won’t be enough.

        • And it won’t be during peak demand periods – so it’s redundant energy – paid for twice energy.

      • The posted chart shows “electricity generation in the state,” including natural gas.

        The rest is added for perspective.

          • No it doesn’t. Everything is in MTOE… The energy-equivalent of oil.

            Energy production/consumption is the only way you can compare energy sources which are used for different purposes. It’s basically a primary energy plot.

      • Wind power capacity edged out coal for the first time in the Texas history last week after a new 155-megawatt wind farm in Scurry County came online. The farm in question is the Fluvanna Wind Energy Project, located on some 32,000 acres leased from more than 130 landowners.
        Talk about Low Density Energy…a single Nuclear Generator unit could supply you with 7 times that amount 24/7/365 on just 12 acres

        • How many acres are the uranium mines need to fuel the nuke? Ore processing facilities? Fuel manufacturing factories?
          [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • You can raise cattle under the turbines on a wind farm, you can’t raise cattle on a nuclear generator site.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • Not true. See the fields around Turkey Point, Browns Ferry, Prairie Island, River Bend, Beaver Valley, Susquehanna, for example.
            Now, I’ll grant there are few “cow pastures” around St Lucie – but that’s because the nearby condo’s and hotels bought all the land many years ago!

          • True…..cows can’t get inside the containment dome.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • And nuke plant operators would not want to devote manpower to cleaning up the bovine excrement the cows would leave all over the place.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • ????? Every nuclear site has enviro clauses requiring elaborate surveys and reviews on an hourly basis. Most have elaborate additional “museum quality” wildlife management areas around their security fences. (No cows in the containment, but the level of BS is proportional to nbr of inspectors present.)
            Tracking a little bit more BS is no problem at all – particularly since they ALREADY monitor the land, cows, alligators, pelicans, manatees, and fish and turtles and ostriches and cockroaches already present.

          • Wind farm operators don’t have to clean up the after the cows graze under the turbines.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • Somewhat true. They do have to get rid of all of the raptor and other bird carcasses.
            Stop the grass fires. Keep the roads and power line easements clean and paved, cut back.
            The thousands of tons of concrete poured into the foundation are just left to sit there when the site is abandoned.

          • I understand from the locals that only German law requires site restoration after a windmill is shutdown, and requires the funds be set aside to actually do the work. The rest of the world ignores the base and tower, roads, power lines, and control stations and transformer yards once the subsidy money is dispensed to the owners. CA is notorious for leaving junk windmills strewn through their passes – and they are no better now than when I toured them in 1983-1988. Pulling the concrete is most expensive, most difficult part of restoration – most likely, the owners will continue to merely ignore what reg’s do exist. Ideal case is what the coal and mining industries face: Full funding, immediate and long term monitoring of all environmental effects, full removal and resurfacing with funds mandated before the mine is approved.

          • What about all that ‘bovine excrement’ around wind power? I mean 32,000 acres to generate [what] might require 32 acres for the [nuclear] plant plus say its share of a uranium mine somewhere. Three orders of magnitude. Saying wind energy is free in the air, just there for the taking, makes about as much sense as saying uranium is free in the ground, also just there for the taking. The real issue is the extremely low energy density of wind (and solar and wave and tidal) that requires such massive sized devices to extract, convert, store and deliver a useful product.

          • They could always sell collection rights off to Greens who could then burn them for heat/power, like they do in the Third World!

          • How many acres (or hectares if you wish) is the average containment footprint?

            What percentage of the total land area attributed to a nuclear plant is the contaminant?

          • From your Friendly Neighborhood WIKI
            The Diablo Canyon Power Plant is an electricity-generating nuclear power plant near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California. After the permanent shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2013, it is the only remaining nuclear plant operational in the state. The plant has two Westinghouse-designed 4-loop pressurized-water nuclear reactors operated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

            The facility is located on about 900 acres (360 ha) west of Avila Beach, California, of which about 12 acres form the power-producing portion of the plant

            900 acres forms the security zone but only 12 acres is improved for generation from 2 units providing 2200 MW generation

          • On the containment footprint for wind mills, I would like to know. I understand that in Germany, and I suppose elsewhere, they’re looking into the problem of infrasound or very low frequency sound. I think I’ve read that there is a question if the wind farm placed in the North Sea might have a part in an increase of whale beachings. From what I’ve learned, infrasound can have a negative effect on human brain function. I think that measuring audible frequencies would not be an effective proxy for directly measuring the very low frequencies, both for volume and for degree of attenuation over distance. An easy field test of this in audible frequencies is thunder. The farther one is from the lightning, the less one hears of the higher pitched “crack” and the higher proportion of the lower pitched “rumble” one hears. Far enough away, it’s basically only the lower pitched “rumble” one hears. My understanding is that with infrasound the difference is greater.

          • Your problem Cook, is you posted: “See the fields around. ” The cows don’t just graze around the wind turbine farm, the graze IN the wind turbine farm.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/study-wind-power-increases-dependence-fossil-fuels-eu-germany-must-soon-begin-scrap-wind-units-new-costly-environmental-issue/

            “It is estimated that about 5700 turbines with an installed capacity of 45 megawatts will see their subsidies expire by 2020 and approximately 14,000 megawatts of installed capacity will lose their subsidies by 2023, which is more than a quarter of Germany’s wind capacity. Thus, Germany will be left with hundreds of thousands of 2 to 300 metric tons of turbine parts littering its landscape.”

            “According to German law, the massive 3000-metric ton reinforced concrete turbine base must be removed. Some of the concrete bases reach depths of 20 meters and penetrate multiple ground layers, which can cost several hundreds of thousands of euros to remove. Many wind farm operators have not provided for this expense. Wind farm operators are trying to circumvent this expense by removing just the top two meters of the concrete and steel base, hiding the rest with a layer of soil. It is likely that most of the concrete base will remain buried in the ground, and the turbine will get shipped to third world countries despite the current law.
            Germany’s Energiewende has not made a major contribution to the environment or to Germany’s climate. But since renewable energy subsidies are financed through electric bills, Energiewende is a major reason why prices for German consumers have doubled since 2000. Germans now pay about three times more for residential electricity than consumers in the United States.”

            Since 2004 the planet has spent $3 trillion on wind turbines which in 2017 generated 1.3% of the planets energy demand. The UK has spent £400 billion on wind which in 2016 might have mitigated 0.0000037586% of global Co2 emissions. Germany to keep 200,000 people in wind related jobs is chopping down ancient forest in search of suitable land to impose 200 metre high monolithic turbines which at best are 25% efficient. 85% of electricity generated by German turbines Germany pays surrounding countries to take because most is generated when Germany cannot use it Denmark is the same.

            Germany has exemption to mine and burn lignite beyond 2070 combined with continuing imports of coal from America South Africa Colombia and Australia needed to maintain boiler temperatures at 100% to cut in and out of supply to stabilise the grid and keep their lights on.

            Wind was promoted as the universal panacea for a problem that does not exist except in IPCC climate models. Now wind and solar are promoted to maintain belief in being green by governments desperate to whitewash their duplicity and maintain employment. As the article points out German emissions since spending billions on wind and solar have increased not decreased. As wind and solar have proven unable to mitigate Co2 what exactly is the point of wind and solar especially when they only last for 20 years??

          • Just because the subsidies expire doesn’t mean the wind turbines no longer operate. It simply means they will now be required to pay for their maintenance and operational costs out of their collected revenues.

            That very well may make these turbines less than useful as they will undoubtedly be running at a loss.

          • You can also feed coyotes under wind turbines with bird and bat pieces. Also, how many wind turbines (very dilute energy) to replace 1 nuke plant? (1st job out of grad school was in nuke facility)

          • 14 times as many as noted in the article to replace Diablo Canyon 2200MW capacity…when the wind is blowing just right

          • You could raise livestock under a wind turbine, but it wouldn’t be recommended, as the shards shredding off the blades as the turbines age can be ingested by the livestock. Ask the Germans about this problem.

          • You certainly can raise cattle under Wind Turbines but the meat will be tougher and the Milk production will be lower due to the stresses induced by the constant infrasound.
            You Can graze cattle all over the 32,000 acres surrounding the 12 acre Nuclear Generation site with No side effects, even up to the fence surrounding the 12 acre facility.

          • How many acres are the uranium mines need to fuel the nuke? Ore processing facilities? Fuel manufacturing factories?

            About the same as the strip mines, factories, toxic waste dumps and stagnant waste dump lakes in China needed for their “cheap” and deadly semi-conductor and rare earth magnet production sites for millions of sq kilometers of solar cells and glass and windmill generator fabrications.

          • You don’t need rare earths for electromagnets. Solar cells aren’t used in wind farms. ….. Try to stay on topic and don’t build straw men.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • DB: The wind power people I know say that they have moved to electromagnets because they can’t get reliable supply of rare earth magnets from China. That’s what that is about. They think China is throttling supply to keep the price up.

            They’re probably right. Meanwhile, try getting permits to open a (clean, safe) rare earth mine in North America. If you’re of a masochistic disposition and have a couple of decades to spare.

          • Actually, land based turbines with gearboxes have been using electromagnets all along. The rare-earth permanent magnets were mostly used in off-shore direct drive units.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • PS, you can make permanent magnets without rare-earths, for example alnico is decent.
            [This was posted by an impostor, not the real Dave Burton -Mod.]

          • Rare earth magnets have a much higher power density compared to “conventional” magnets and they don’t require electrical power to operate. This means that rare earth magnets make smaller, lighter and more efficient devices.

          • Please point out where in that link it says you are right? Specific quotes, please. In short, prove that link says what you claim it does because, frankly, I don’t see it but may have missed the specific part you thinks proves your point.

          • Okay, how much area of mine is needed to produce the limestone, gypsum and clay (none of which come predominantly from underground mines) required to make the cement needed to make the massive amount of concrete needed to anchor a wind generator? How much natural gas is used to sinter the limestone to make the cement? And what percentage of uranium comes from open pit mines? Would you believe 20%? It is not at all clear whether nuclear or wind plants have the smaller footprint. When you factor in longevity, I think it becomes more obviously in favour of nuclear. And finally how many birds and bats are killed by nuclear power and how many people are bothered by the sound from nuclear power production? When the animal deaths and the area affected by sound are factored in, the footprint from wind beats down the tiny footprint from nuclear and leaves it to rot in obscurity.

          • I would add: How many hundreds of million of acres are “polluted” by the windmill’s 600 foot tall, horizon-stretching appearance monotonously scarring the landscape for 25 miles all around every tower? TX, OK, IA, ID, CA, MT, MO, NB, WI, Washington, OR, NM, AZ ….

            Even Massachusetts paid for a windmill in downtown Boston – surrounded by buildings taller than its tower!

            Each windmill might produce 17% of its rated power over the entire year, but it MUST be connected with 100% rated load-sized power lines, transformers, cross-connections, transformer yards, grid transformer years, controllers, roads and access right-of-ways. All of those represent wasted material, energy, resources, money, and effort – to make enviro’s “feel good”.

          • the neodymium and dysprosium just magically appear???

            edit: sorry missed the key word electromagnet and just based on magnet.
            but still 2-4% (depending on where you look) of US based turbines use these.

          • How devastating are the rare earth metal mines to create the magnets for the wind turbines? How much energy and environmental damage from the concrete for the wind tower foundations? That kind of analysis could go on and on and applies to any development. Typical leftist biased crap. Give me a break!!!!!

          • Do fully functioning windmills float down from the heavens? No? Then how many acres of mines are needed to build them? Ore processing facilities? Fuel used in manufacturing factories?

          • Dave Burton

            How many acres are the uranium mines need to fuel the nuke? Ore processing facilities? Fuel manufacturing factories?

            How many acres are needed for the Rare Earth Mineral Mines to supply the elements needed for the Wind Turbines and Automotive 8000 cell Mega Batteries? Ore Processing Facilities? Turbine Manufacturing Facilities?

            Probably about as many acres for either power source so it comes down to Land Area necessary for Power Generation that is Key.

            To power NYC (Manhattan Island) and totally electrify their transportation sector so ZERO Fossil Fuel use was the norm would require an area the size of the State of Connecticut be covered with Solar Panels or an Off shore area twice that size with Wind Turbines…Just to power one city.

            Low Density Energy is a waste of space

          • I keep coming back to the realities of green power generation. To keep up with increased world demand of 2% each year. you need land for windmills the size of Great Britain. After 50 years you would need land the size of Russia. For solar the numbers are 50% of that. Neither one works in the long run.

        • That 155 Megawatt nameplate rating will only deliver 26 MegaWatts average over the course of a full year.
          But it sure does deliver the construction subsidies quickly!

        • Can I remind everybody that the Operative Word is
          C A P A C I T Y
          Wind power capacity edged out coal for the first time in the Texas history and from that capacity the Generation was way below that of coal.

          • Exactly! Nameplate capacity is much higher than average generation for wind and solar. This fact is conveniently ignored by most proponents of renewable energy.

      • I must admit that I am partly with Mr Stokes here. The graph seems to be comparing apples and oranges. Energy generated is presumably used locally to support the functioning of Texas services, while energy produced is presumably mainly for export. The argument becomes confused if it compares the two..

        I note that wind energy plus solar is around 20% of the mix. This is pushing the optimum levels according to Denny. As you put more intermittent power into a grid your losses mount up because of the inefficiency of the backup you are forced to provide, So I suspect that they won’t find many more ‘large gains’…

        • The chart is an apple to apples comparison to what was said:
          “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more *energy* from wind than coal,” Rhodes said.
          If they didn’t mean energy in general, but instead the more narrower “locally used energy”, they should have said so.

          • “If they didn’t mean energy in general, but instead the more narrower “locally used energy”, they should have said so.”
            It’s right there in the headline
            “Wind Power Capacity Has Surpassed Coal in Texas
            Scientists at UT predict that by 2019, the state will get more energy from wind than coal.”

            And capacity clearly refers to generating capacity. What could it mean in the context of gross oil production?

          • The article clearly says…

            “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more energy from wind than coal,” Rhodes said.

            To which I replied…

            Wake me up when wind is catching up to crude oil and natural gas…


            We may very well have more energy from wind than coal by 2019. Even though Texas ranks 6th in the nation in coal production, we are a net importer of “beautiful, clean coal”…


          • Nick, even if you don’t want to look at the first two columns (which I can agree, is apples to oranges), the rest of the graph shows electricity produced. Natural Gas generation is the big one that has been growing most rapidly for years. In fact, it’s taken most of coal’s and nuclear’s dropping output. As more coal plants are getting shuttered, it’s gas that’s taking the slack, not wind.

          • It’s not “apples and oranges”… MTOE is MTOE just like quads are quads in the EIA graph.


            Wind is the bulk of the green line on the Texas graph… The line that’s barely above zero-point-zero. Natural gas is the light brown curve that towers over everything else. The only differences in my bar chart are 1) I’m plotting gross energy production rather than the difference between production and consumption and 2) I plotted the MTOE for natural gas production and for natural gas electricity generation.

            This provides a direct comparison of natural gas to wind in terms of both primary energy production and electricity generation.

    • I was wondering about that. The first 2 bars appear to be oil and gas taken out of the ground. The other bars are electricity generated.

    • The chart is clearly labeled. The first two bars are oil & gas production. The other bars are electricity generation. Everything has been converted to oil equivalent energy units.

        • The third bar (natural gas generation) would not be used for calculating primary energy production.

          Texas is a net exporter of natural gas… More is exported than imported.

  1. We need more and more bird choppers.
    Good for the next stage headline: “Birds decimated by climate change! Act now! Send money!”

    Stupid people…

    • The general rule of thumb is blame everything on Climate Change! Slightly off-topic, in the UK, Badgers were hunted, then that was banned by the guvment under huge eco pressure from Greens, they became a protected species! Sparrowhawks have also been made a protected species. A few years later, the same campaigners who wanted these just two examples protected, started to notice that Hedgehog populations were in decline, as was that of Sparrows & many other small birds! A Badger’s main diet is Hedgehogs! A Sparrowhawk’s main diet is Sparrows & small birds! Conservationists don’t think things through!

  2. While inmy 92 nd year I just hope to live long enough to see the widespread brrown or blackouts which have to happen as we race to the botton in our quest for the “Clean energy”.


    • Michael. I’m only in my 83rd year, but I have the same hope — that I’ll live long enough to see the adverse effects of the renewable energy mania — and open borders, etc., etc.

      I also would like to see those who equate installed wind and solar capacity with dispatchable generators such as nuclear and fossil fuels, prosecuted for false advertising. They are outright lying when they trumpet that a new solar/wind facility can power X-thousands of homes, which they do regularly.

      The ignorance of the general public is only exceeded by the brazen misrepresentations of renewable power.

    • Here in the UK, in the county of Northumberland in the north of England, a large part thereof is owned by ex-PM David Cameron’s wife’s father. He apparently earns a cool £250,000 + per year from ordinary taxpayers through their energy bills! My Socialist friends think that it’s irrelevant, that the rich get richer at the expense of the poor! They’re not very good Socialists me thinks!

  3. Much of the coal previously used was Texas ‘brown’ coal, a pretty low grade coal that was only marginally profitable in the best of times. It was always the 1st to go offline when real coal prices dropped. Natural gas from fracing pretty much killed it.

  4. Quoting name plate capacity is the same deliberate falsehood that California Governor Brown uses when quoting actual production. Actually, just about everyone uses the same deceit with wind, and solar for that matter. I don’t know if there is a way to accurately separate dispatchable “renewable” energy intermittent power on area grids. Is there? Wait until they try to match installed fossil fuel and nuclear generation with seldom achieved wind and power capacities.

    • “I don’t know if there is a way to accurately separate dispatchable “renewable” energy intermittent power on area grids”

      Maybe when the wind decides not to blow some Summer day and air conditioning stops working? Ever been to Texas in July or August? Believe me, folks will notice.

      • Ditto in the Winter months! High Pressure occurs in two conditions, Summer & Winter! In the UK the generating companies have “back-up” in the form of hundreds if not thousands of diesel generators for such occasions! Not exactly fossil fuel free!

  5. What was the cost for all Texas wind farms and related infrastructure, including land purchases and leases, projected over the life expectancy of the wind farms? Include costs for reliable electricity generation plants kept on hand to make up for intermittency of wind. Divide total costs by expected total electricity production.
    What was the cost for all Texas coal plants and related infrastructure, including land purchases and leases, plus coal purchase and delivery fees, projected over the life expectancy of the coal powered plants? Divide total costs by total expected electricity production.

    When those numbers are presented side by side, then lets talk.


    • I’m being madly sarcastic. Here in California, we’re after clean, renewable energy. So, first, we have to forget that wind and solar are not renewable, they are both external, the sun provides the energy for solar for photovoltaic and steam generation boilers using mirrors to concentrate the energy and differential heating of the Earth to produce wind. The closest I can think of to renewable is biomass. We have a very powerful governor who will decree that the sun shall remain at high noon over California and there shall be no clouds, so solar production shall be constant, and he will decree that wind speed and direction shall be constant. See? no problem with variability. Who needs standby sources? And mining, manufacturing, and shipping shall be without damaging and polluting the Earth. Of course there would be no need for lubricants and resins and it will be FREE energy because no-one will receive compensation for any work.

      • You missed the point that Moonbeam would need to stop the earth from circling the sun such that the sun would always be at the same location as noon on a mid-summer day.

        • Good point. I was thinking from the position that the Earth’s rotation period would match that of Earth’s revolution around the sun, one year, so it would be as the moon goes around the Earth with one side always facing the Earth. I “wanted” to give the governor some slack, so that he did not have to nullify the sun’s gravitational effect on the earth.

    • The cost of site remediation should be included, usually an additional 5%. Unfortunately, wind farm operators are rarely made to remediate their sites at the end of their lifetimes.

  6. Wind folks have always misled the public by comparing wind power generation to other generation types by quoting “installed capacity” (how much power can the generator produce when operating at maximum output, rather than the proper metric, net generation, or how much power does the generator actually produce. And wind power has little intrinsic value, since it is uncontrollable. It also has this bad habit of dying when a large high pressure area remains stationary, producing lots of heat and lots of A/C usage. I remember one instance when the wind turbines were providing practically no power at all during a Texas heat spell.

    • It’s worse than that, Arthur. Wind generators consume external power when there isn’t enough wind to turn the blades in order to prevent bearing damage. So the graph of net energy production vs wind speed starts at a negative value and only goes positive when there is enough wind to generate enough power for the turbine to be self-sustaining. Only then is the generator able to send power to the grid. This is truly 19th century technology.

      • Right on, Boy. I call that external power the Site Factor (SF). It exists alongside the ubiquitous capacity factor (CF). It is a ratio of the amount of energy (electricity in your case) produced to the sum of energies consumed, such as electricity for turning your blades, running compressors, elevators, cafeterias, etc. along with natural gas or oil for heating, maintenance, diesel fuel and gasoline, jet fuel for helicopters for blade de-icing, etc. Similarly with solar plants: there is mirror washing for PV plants, there is burning gas to keep steam turbines turning with CSP plants, and more. Thus the energy delivered to the grid MINUS energy consumed from outside sources needed to maintain the plant ready for the sun or wind – that is the energy output that should be quoted.
        Power-to-the grid = rated power x CF x SF.

        With heat plant (gas, nuke) the SF is negligible on the scale of the huge, years-long, uninterrupted delivery. Nukes are re-fueled in 1.5 years intervals, I believe. And run full tilt.

        Rated power is the name-plate number stamped on the generator, or it is written in the certificate supplied with the solar panels.

    • Has a wind-farm ever produced its full installed capacity for any significant period of time? Ditto for Solar.

      • Solar PV cells operate at nameplate briefly during cloudless mid-summer days, if and only if the PV panels are installed perpendicular to the sun’s rays. My 3.2 kW rooftop solar system has NEVER produced its namplate “capacity”.

        • oh and don’t forget to mention they have to be perfectly clean too! My panels also have never produced close to name plate, and were closest to it when they were first installed.


  7. David, I’m saying this for the umpteenth time at this blog: Crude oil isn’t used to generate electricity (except for a meager 0.5% according to the USEIA). I don’t necessarily concur with the idea of grouping in crude oil with wind (or solar) when making an argument or point about the latter.


    • Usually electricity is 20% of all energy consumption. Does anybody know what that exact figure is for Texas?

      • This post is about energy production, not consumption. Texas produces 41% more energy than it consumes…

        Texas leads the nation in both energy production and consumption. Texas, which produces 41% more total energy than it consumes, is also a leading net energy exporter. The state accounts for more than one-third of U.S. crude oil production, nearly one-third of natural gas production, and more than one-fourth of wind-powered electricity generation. For each of those fuels, Texas is the largest producing state.

        Texas leads the nation in crude oil refining capacity and supplies petroleum products to virtually every major U.S. market east of the Rocky Mountains. The state also has the most natural gas hubs in the nation, and it supplies natural gas across the United States and to Mexico.


  8. From the wind plants I’ve seen here in Texas, every one I know of uses both Wind power and Nat Gas to generate power. The wind, even in the good areas, is too intermittent to provide power more than 40% of the time, but a plant has to keep up its output or it will cause a problem on the grid.

    I am always amazed (well not really) how the enviro’s overlook the reality of wind power in Texas, and how much money the energy companies make from it as a result. Every wind generating plant I know of in Texas is in fact, about 40% wind, 60% nat gas, and yet the owners get subsidized rates for all of it.

    Energy companies in Texas have found a brilliant way to make government subsidize their already profitable fossil fuel production, and the enviros are cheering them all the way.

    What a racket!!!

  9. The key problem with wind power – no wind = no electricity.
    The key problem with solar – no sun = no electricity.
    In California, we can go 3 days with no wind at all.
    Obviously there is no solar at night, but neither is there any at ramp time in the morning or peak in the evening.
    The idea that we can all live off renewables is a pipe dream.
    (It is however possible to live off the grid. Amery Lovins, has a house in Colorado which is entirely off the grid).

      • It’s not really even “cheap” on an individual basis, but it is doable. At grid-scale it becomes a monumental engineering task in addition to being expensive, mostly because the grid must supply power for commercial as well as residential users.

  10. My guess is that the sum total of coal, gas and nuclear in Texas is sufficient to meet demand. Unless Texas has some magic wind maker that never ever goes to zero. Mr. Middleton?

    • If there is a “magic wind maker,” it’s on the Llano Estacado. Wind works better in Texas than most other places… making wind good enough to be a bit player in the Texas energy game.

  11. And on the highest demand days of the year, wind gives Texas about 10% of its rated capacity and generally production bottoms out as demand peaks. Go look at ERCOT wind reports for late July.

    • End the wind subsidies and where would wind be? OnshoreWind cant compete with solar on a life cycle cost basis. Germany held their 1st joint auction and solar won every project.


      The wind guys claimed it wasnt fair for wind to have to compete against solar and the solar guys agreed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The German government then agreed to contravene my 2nd law of economics by saying that in the future; wind will have a guarantee of a certain % by combining it with solar in joint bids thereby protecting wind as if it was a baby that needed protection. BTW My 1st law of economics is that there is no free lunch. My 2nd law says “On any tender or auction, if the quality is the same and all external costs are accounted for, then whoever has lowest lifecycle cost, wins the tender or auction.” For those interested, my 3rd law of economics states “Any attempt to interfere with either the supply or demand curve raises the costs or creates shortages. Monopoly markets are an exception.” My 4th law states that any attempt by governments to lower energy usage by promoting energy efficiency is doomed to failure. My 5th law of economics states that when evaluating whether a new technology ( of equal quality to the older one) should replace an older technology; only if life cycle costs of the newer technology per year are lower than the older one, should the old one be replaced assuming that all external costs are taken into account. Of course national security and future supply of old technology have to be taken into account. Politicians that promote increasing number of jobs for the new technology are promoting increased costs and thus are contravening the 5th law.

      These laws should never be broken and in fact the 1st one by definition cannot be contravened.

      Apparently the green lobby and governments that pander to them break these laws as if they didn’t exist.

      • I should add that for the 5th law, if the output of the new technology is different than the older one, then output per unit divided by lifecycle cost per unit has to be the deciding metric.

    • I believe South Australia would currently lead the pack in wind stupidity, with consumers having to pay around USD 33c/kWh. Don’t think folks in Texas pay that much.

        • Wakyfornia is getting closer to that every day. Gov. Brown appears to want to double that though. Not sure how ‘fornians will be able to afford their Utility Bills given that the lack of Energy Stability will force many High Paying Jobs out of state.

    • There’s no way Texas can lead in Stupid as long as you are around Mosh, your drive-by posts have got Texas beat hands down

  12. What’s depressing is that Texas is a pro-business State, but insane government subsidies enable corporations to make profits in an industry that should not exist, paid for by taxpayers with higher taxes and higher energy costs…

    The same phenomenon exists in conservative Corn-belt states, with bio-fuel subsidies, paid for by the world in terms of higher food prices and domestically in higher taxes and energy rates..

    I don’t blame corporations or farmers for taking the “free” governemnt money… Money always seeks profits, and the artificial alt-en subsidies do make wind/solar/bio-fuel industries profitable, but at a terrible price to everyone other than the subsidy recipients and nefarious governemnt hacks.

    I blame freckles government hacks for creating this insane “alt-en” fiasco under the lie of “Saving The Planet”, ‘cuz Climate Change…

    [“feckless” ? Some government hacks may be freckled as well. .mod]

    • Wind power in Texas might be economically viable without subsidies.

      That said, even with all of the subsidies, wind is a very tiny percentage of the total energy production in Texas… and Texas leads the nation in wind generation.

        • Sheri, as David says its the government that you need to ask that question of.

          That said, if it’s a federal subsidy we are talking about then it applies across the national board – whether you are in Texas (where wind is plentiful enough that it might be viable without a subsidy) or in some other state (where wind isn’t as plentiful and thus wouldn’t be viable without a subsidy) government says you get money to subsidize “renewables”.

          If it’s a state’s subsidy, then it’s the state of Texas that needs to rethink the “need” for the subsidy in a state where wind power might be viable without subsidizing.

      • Wind produces more power than nuclear in the state. It really is on track to produce more power than coal in the next couple years. If you look at ERCOT alone it is going to produce ~20% of all the power on the grid this year, not sure I would call 1/5 a very tiny percentage.

        • Wind is only going to surpass coal because they are closing down coal plants. So this is like being proud that you won a foot race when the truth is that your competitor broke his ankle half way through. And if you are looking at “energy” production, wind is not even worth mentioning. If by “power” you mean “electricity”, then you are more accurate, although the number is 17%, not 20.

          • 17% was last year. The buildout at the end of last year (since most goes in 4Q) amounted to ~10% annual growth so the expected generation for this year should be pretty close to 20% on ERCOT.
            By the way, you have your causal chain tangled. You include only two links (coal shutting down therefore wind will be bigger). The more complete chain is something like:
            The net return on investment from installing new wind in Texas is positive
            New wind turbines are being erected
            Installed capacity competes based on the variable cost of production (solar and wind have high capital costs, but near 0 variable cost)
            Brown coal has a low capacity cost but a high cost of production
            Brown coal is the least competitive power producer in the ERCOT market and is not called on
            Brown coal plants are losing money
            Brown coal plants are shutting down
            Coal as a whole loses market share
            This then accounts for both the rising portion of wind, the declining portion of coal, and the link between them. The biggest problem I have in this chain (and I am guessing Dave would agree) is in step 1. The net ROI for wind installs might only be positive due to PTC and accelerated depreciation. If that is the case then we have distorted the market and should not be installing wind. If the PTC and depreciation schedules were aligned with the rest of the market and wind still went in then I would have no problem at all.

          • Given the amount of space needed, the available sites where wind is sufficient, locales that are sufficiently remote, the relative distance to population centers, and the annual increase in population…How long is it until Texas reaches Peak Wind?

          • Nah, the truth is they and their complicit natural gas advocates went all Tonya Harding on their competitor half way through the race. If that is, you can call as they were getting lapped “halfway through.” Wwwwhhhhyyyy?!? Wwwwhhhhyyyy?!?

    • Moderator. Auto-correct error, but a funny one. “freckles”… LOL, perhaps government hacks find it difficult to “change their spots”?

    • “I don’t blame corporations or farmers for taking the “free” governemnt money…” I do. I blame anyone who takes money from other without permission. I blame anyone who enriches themselves by taking money and not earning it. Corporate welfare is WELFARE. Nothing more. These corporations are no different than the people who take, take, take from the government (ie tax machine) via social welfare programs.

      • Agreed. It saddens me to hear individuals in my own family talk about how “stupid” they would be not to take the subsidies available to them for their various business pursuits.

        “Stupid” or “Principled”?

        Sadly for many there actually is a choice to be made.

        • Stupid is the correct term. They’re in business, they have competitors. You can bet their competitors are taking advantage of the govt. hand-outs. If they don’t take them too, then they are putting their business at a competitive disadvantage that could likely result in them soon being out of business because they can not compete with their competitors.

      • Sheri, it’s the government that is taking the money and redistributing it. The corporations or farmers have the governments permission. The blame lies not with them for taking what the government offers them (as I said in another post, their competitors will be taking that money, if they wish to be competitive/stay in business they need to take it too), it lies with the government for offering it in the first place.

  13. Here in BC the electrical utility is BC Hydro, a public utility with vast hydro generation and never any need for private independent power producers which are mainly run of the river and wind. With the expanding wind generation more back up is required so the controversial site c hydro electric dam is being built. The IPP’s including wind get subsidies paid for by the taxpayers and site c is paid for by the taxpayers while the shakers and movers get the money.

    In BC one cannot go online to see generation output to see how good or poorly the IPP’s, wind are doing. Its a big secret for some reason, wink wink nudge nudge, not wanting the taxpayer to see how they are getting fleeced.

    • Bonneville Power Authority in Washington, Oregon, and elsewhere, is one of the few utilities I know of that posts daily generation reports for all sources. I often link to the page to show just how poorly wind does.

  14. You cannot rely on the gross generation figures. That 14.1 in wind, when was it generated, is the question. Was it generated when it was needed?

    The problem with wind is not simply that it fluctuates and goes AWOL The problem is also that it generates when you have no need for it and cannot use it.

    It is, in an analogy I have used before, a bit like a lettuce supplier who insists on supplying when he feels like it. So on Tuesday he delivers and you have tons of it, and it doesn’t sell before it wilts. But a week later on Monday you have customers clamouring for it, and he doesn’t show.

    You have to consider both aspects, was it there when you needed it, and how much of the delivery was there when you did not.

  15. I suppose this is just a way of restating what many others are saying but here goes anyway. No matter how many wind generators you build, when it becomes too still or too windy, you can lose most or all of your wind power over a large area. How can it ever be sensible to build reliance on a network that can be widely disabled by the very conditions wherein demand will be the highest? Imagine a car that specifically won’t run when you need to flee a hurricane. That is an electric car charged by wind turbines.

    • Texas has some of the best wind resources in the world, wind generation is strongly supported by the State, wind generation works fairly well in Texas, Texas leads the nation and many other entire nations in wind generation…

      Yet wind is a very tiny percentage of energy production in Texas… Context is rarely friendly to green schist.

      • Define “fairly well” – be sure to include all costs, including the $7 billion of power lines required to connect distant windfarms to cities and the costs of back up power for all the periods of high demand when the wind production drops to almost nothing.

        Wind generation does not work “fairly well” in Texas. It works “fairly poorly”.

  16. I sincerely wish anyone who speaks on the virtues of wind was required by law to live without ANY fossil fuels whatsoever. Then the idiocy might go down. Still, the cult believes……

  17. They say that like it’s a good thing. Like starvation and elimination of the more reliable and less subsidized base load insurers is a necessity.

    • Well played you dirty rotten no good scoundrel Texas snide-winders! An accomplishment to be proud of. Although I will admit I do appreciate ya takin’ full advantage of Moonbeam…

      “California’s share of the proxy PTC tax burden is $330.8 million, while wind producers in the state received $134.9 million in proxy PTC subsidies, indicating a net payment of just under $196 million in 2012—the largest net payment we estimated. Texas, on the other hand, was the largest net taker of subsidies—wind producers took in $642.5 million in proxy PTC subsidies in 2012, while taxpayers in Texas contributed $248 million toward the related tax burden for a net transfer of $394.5 million.”


    • ERCOT does not have any known operational challenges for the upcoming season other than the capacity reserves issue described below.

      Generation unit retirements that occurred in early 2018, along with reported delays in Tier 1 resource capacity by generation project developers, are expected to result in tight reserve margins for the upcoming summer. ERCOT has a variety of operational tools to help manage tight reserves, maintain system reliability, and to help maintain sufficient operating reserves.

      • Higher wholesale market prices, during peak demand periods, are anticipated to incentivize power customers to voluntarily reduce load or increase energy output from load-serving generation facilities (such as industrial cogeneration and commercial-sector Distributed Generation).

      • There are no significant issues associated with neighboring assessment areas expected for the summer. In the event that issues were to occur, ERCOT has coordination agreements in place with SPP and MISO that address operation of the dc ties, switchable generation resources, and block load transfers.


  18. Coal capacity utilization factor~85 percent. Wind capacity factor ~30 percent. Not even close. Installed capacity is NOT the correct comparison metric. Wind electricity production less than. coal by about half.

  19. With all the wind power installed how do electricity prices compare to states with much lower wind installation? Like Massachusetts for instance?

  20. As oil is not used to produce electricity much at all in the USA, the graph is comparing apples to oranges, or cheese to Wednesday. Why bother to post such a misleading figure?

      • True, but, energy involves resources from the Earth. Electricity involves amperage delivered into people’s homes. Lots of people know this, but lots more do not.

        Still wonder why you posted this. Texas has lots of mineral-rights resources. I was hired by Gulf States Utilities out of Beaumont TX in 1981, Alternate -Energy Engineer. We had one of the first wind-turbines in the state, at the Sabine Pass, a tiny one, 25 kWatts. It delivered 7 kW on average, 25 % or so. My boss stated in the monthly report to the VP that it had delivered 7 kilowattt-hours per hour, based on a 24-hour day. I asked him what other kind of days there were. Obviously I did not last long after that

        Electric utility engineers think in terms of money, as do most good engineers.

        You seem to be confusing electricity with mineral resources. Maybe it makes a good story, but not much sense.

        • Was not my title. It was Special Programs Engineer. Had to think about that one, a long time ago.

          I also worked on probably the first Gas Turbine-Combined Cycle project. This was a Westinghouse machine, 110 MW, largest one in the world at that time. GSU had bought it as a simple peaking unit, and it was converted to maybe the first Natural-Gas-Fired GT-CC unit in the world. Westinghouse engineers added many probes inside the turbine. One of them failed under load, and the turbine shed many blades, and there was a shower of chunks of titanium on-site. I was not there, I am fine, do not want anyone to worry.

          Those were the days…


  21. Dave,
    Of all the people I have read on wind power your analyses is probably the most fair. I think you would recognize that South Australia, Germany, UK, and ERCOT have all integrated large amounts of wind, but only one has done so in an economically responsible manner. The biggest problems of the other regions is not the generation technology, but the government market manipulation. Even in ERCOT market is still skewed due to subsidies, but even without the subsidies there would likely be some non-negligible amount of wind built in ERCOT.
    That said, Texas has some really good wind resources, and you can’t take the panhandle and extrapolate it to Connecticut.
    Texas also uses a lot of Nat Gas and was built for a region with enormous seasonal swings, and so the installed gas capacity is able to meet peak summer demand even if the wind stops. Since that is already installed and you have an energy only market new wind is able to drive price down since wind does not get guaranteed returns on capital, and gas units are making their day to day operational decisions based on the variable cost of fuel. This does not imply a 100% wind future, but acknowledges when you have a well managed grid with substantial wind resources there is a place for wind turbines.
    I would guess that ERCOT is going to saturate at ~30% of annual power production, but I am guessing you would estimate closer to 25%.
    All that said, you don’t claim that wind only ever drives prices through the roof (how could you living in Dallas?).
    You don’t claim it can do everything. You don’t make stupid suggestions like tying it to metric tons worth of Lithium. Your writing is a breath of fresh air.

      • And if carbon emissions are not a concern, where’s net cost/benefit line then? One blue box to the left, to the left? Everything they’ve sown is a box to the left?

        • Mentally erase “New emissions” from the left and “Avoided emissions” from the right. If you take the carbon bogeyman out of the picture, gas kicks @$$.

        • Snarling Dolphin, “Carbon” emissions (soot) are a concern, “Carbon Dioxide” emissions on the other hand are not as they are beneficial to the Earth’s biosphere (plant food). By referring to CO2 as “carbon” is a greenie slight of hand that needs to be pointed out whenever someone confuses the two.

  22. Coal gen is decreasing because we are fracking natural gas, plus Obama crawled up their backside for the 8 years he was in office. The article states the maximum potential power output if all the windmills were operating at 100%? Let’s see a baseload graph please. I bet wind is less than 2%.

Comments are closed.