Wind power surges to 15 percent of Texas power mix
Texas grid operator ERCOT announced a new record in November for wind power in the state. For the first time, wind provided more than 15,000 megawatts of electricity in a single day.
Already a clear leader in wind power in the US, Texas has more than 18,000 megawatts installed and another 5,000 under construction.
In 2015 wind power made up 11.7 percent of electricity in Texas but by the end of 2016, this figure is expected to be at least 14.7 percent. It’s likely the tally will be slightly higher than these estimated figures as the wind blows harder in the winter and wind contributions to the power mix usually go up.
Coal and natural gas still dominate Texas’ power mix but the investment the state had made in power transmission and improving renewable energy forecasts could allow for more wind and solar in the future.
Texas’ success is down to is Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, which are mostly in West Texas and the state’s Panhandle region. Key to this project was $7 billion in transmission lines to carry the wind power where it’s needed.
It’s these transmission lines that could see solar become more viable to the state. At the moment, solar energy plays only a very small part in power generation. In fact, ERCOT didn’t even list solar as a power source on its annual demand and energy report in 2015.
The figures are now growing with more and more solar farms taking advantage of these new transmission lines. ERCOT reports 685 megawatts of solar will be on line in Texas in 2016, up from less than 300 in 2015. Large-scale solar could grow very quickly with more and more being installed between now and 2020, where ERCOT expects 2.5 gigawatts of solar on its system.
Solar still won’t the leading renewable, however, with wind power figures for 2020 being estimated at more than 28 gigawatts.
Image via: Wiki Commons
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.