New utility-scale solar is poised to push much of the remaining coal-fired power fleet across Texas into retirement in the next few years, according to a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
The report – Solar Surge Set to Drive Much of Remaining Texas Coal-Fired Fleet Offline – describes the increasing vulnerability of coal plants across the power-generation market managed by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), an area that covers most of the state. It sees upward of 70% of daytime coal-fired generation in ERCOT being at risk by 2022.
“Coal-fired power generation in Texas, pummeled by clean, no-fuel-cost wind over the past 10 years, is about to be hit by a second wave of competition from renewables as utility-scale solar power stands to gain significant market share over the next few years,” says Dennis Wamsted, an IEEFA analyst and lead author of the report.
“While installed solar power capacity in the U.S. has grown by almost 4,000% over the past 10 years, its growth rate across ERCOT has been even faster, with installed capacity increasing from just 15 MW in 2010 to 2,281 MW at the end of 2019, a 15,107% increase. ERCOT’s installed capacity could climb at a comparable rate this year, with current projections showing solar topping 5,800 MW by the end of 2020,” he adds.
The report concludes that the gathering utility-scale solar surge will irreversibly alter the market’s daily dynamics and drive more coal plants offline by 2025.
The report also underscores the importance of the rise in battery-storage technology, which is evolving quickly and is being adopted by a growing number of utilities and independent power producers.
The report ranks ERCOT coal plants by likely commercial longevity, noting that the Oklaunion plant is already slated for retirement this fall, and places the Coleto Creek, Martin Lake, Fayette, San Miguel and Sandy Creek plants at especially high risk of closure. Others likely to face mounting difficulties include the Oak Grove, JK Spruce, Limestone, W.A. Parish and Twin Oaks plants.
To read IEEFA’s Solar Surge Set to Drive Much of Remaining Texas Coal-Fired Fleet Offline report, click here.