Red letter day for Texas wind power

Oct. 28 was a big day for the Texas wind industry.
At 3 a.m. that day 25 percent of the Electric Reliability Coucil of Texas’ power needs were served by wind. Total load was 22,893 megawatts, according to ERCOT officials, and wind was putting out 5,667 MW. Yes, it was in the middle of the night when demand was at its lowest, so the bar was lowered.
Then, later that day, at 8:19 p.m., ERCOT set an all-time record for instantaneous wind generation of 6,223 MW. That was about 17 percent of the total load at the time of approximately 35,713 MW.
It’s not exactly a world record — wind-loving Spain has topped 50 percent for brief spells in the past — but it’s something worth noting as the state’s wind capacity appears on track to keep going up from its current 8,500 megawatt-or-so level [ERCOT has 8,916 MW as of Oct. 31]. (thanks to WSJ Environmental Capital and Platt’s for finding the data first)
Nighttime wind power may matter more in the future if efforts to make plug-in hybrid electric cars more common continue.
But wind power development doesn’t simply mean emissions-free power. For every megawatt of wind capacity that’s built about .85 megawatts of natural gas-fired back-up are usually required for reliability, according to a previous CERA study.