According to a recent study by Rice University engineers, Texas renewable energy efforts may serve as an example for the rest of the country in terms of efficiently replacing coal with wind and solar for the state’s energy requirements while fulfilling environmental standards, Renewable Energy Magazine reports.
The new research, led by environmental engineer Daniel Cohan and senior computer science major Richard Morse of Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, employs optimization modeling to identify the most cost-effective mix of suggested wind and solar initiatives with the aim of replacing coal-fired power generation in Texas.
“Simply put, it’s not always windy and not always sunny, but it’s almost always windy or sunny somewhere in Texas,” the authors said.
According to Cohan, this might allow wind and solar to replace practically all coal-fired generation, especially if wind and solar initiatives are located in areas with complementary production. His latest work expands on a study from his lab that was published in 2018.
Several huge Texas coal plants shut down in 2018, and the remaining facilities have been operating at a fraction of their capacity, including during the February 2021 freeze. According to the team’s findings, by June 2020, just a third of the wind and solar projects previously proposed to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas could replace nearly all of the state’s coal power and make Texas renewable energy a reality. Hundreds of these projects have been completed since June 2020, and the number of planned solar projects has doubled.
“In Texas, that’s the biggest bottleneck slowing the growth of wind and solar,” Cohan said. “The bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed last year is a good start, but doesn’t have nearly enough funding for transmission. Also, by not connecting to other grids, Texas has missed out on opportunities to sell surplus wind and solar power to other states.”