The Associated Press reported recently that NRG Energy is in the process of purchasing a 101 MW wind energy farm in Texas. This will be their fourth purchase of a wind farm in Texas. For those of you who do not know, NRG Energy is a fortune 500 company that owns and operates one of the largest energy portfolios in the United States. They provide over 24 GW of power to the nation and deal in major sources of energy, such as nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, and coal. So, why is this major company buying so much wind from Texas? Because Texas is a major wind state!
Texas is the largest provider of wind out of any other state. The total potential wind energy in Texas is 481 TW/year and its average potential output is 136 GW. Now, this is only POTENTIAL wind energy, meaning it has not been fully utilized yet. However, Texas does provide almost one-third of the nation’s total wind capacity with a whopping 8,796 MW of power installed. But that’s not all, they are currently in the process of installing 660 MW more of wind energy . The most important factor for wind energy is wind speed. Figure 1 illustrates the average wind speed in Texas .
Much of Texas is in class 1-3 for wind speed, which is actually quite poor, but there are small locations throughout the state where wind speed is high. It is in these locations where wind farms are built. Combining this with the large number of wind farms in Texas, as shown in Figure 2 , equals the largest wind power producer in the country.
A tip of the hat must also be given to the legislation at work promoting wind energy in Texas. In 1999, Texas made its first renewable energy mandate. The current goal for the state is to reach a capacity of 10,000 MW of renewable power by the year 2025. Financial incentives for wind energy are also available in the form of tax deductions and tax exemptions for companies that own wind farms or manufacture wind turbine parts. Wind is utilized by our very own Austin Energy which has contracts with wind farms in McCaney and Sweetwater, Texas, producing about 439 MW of electricity to power 55,000 Austin homes .
Is it clear now why NRG Energy has so much invested in Texas wind energy? Being the nation’s leader in wind production counts for something and with the vast potential of more wind out there, it seems like Texas wind will be here to stay.
- “Texas Wind Facts.” NationalWind. March 4, 2010. http://www.nationalwind.com/texas_wind_facts#1>
- “Wind Power in Texas.” State Energy Conservation Office. March 4, 2010. <http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/Maps/re_maps-wind-tx.htm>
- “Virtual Earth Maps: Public Wind Data Map.” West Texas A&M University. March 4, 2010. <http://www.windenergy.org/maps/ve/public/>
- “GreenChoice–Energy Sources.” Austin Energy. March 4, 2010. <http://www.austinenergy.com/Energy%20Efficiency/Programs/Green%20Choice/sources.htm>