What Did Harvey Do to the Wind Farms on the Texas Coast?

What Did Harvey Do to the Wind Farms on the Texas Coast? by Wolf Richter – Wolf Street

Downed power lines was the biggest problem. 

Oil-and-gas state Texas is by far the largest wind power producer among US states. With an installed capacity of 21,044 MW, and with 5,437 MW under construction as of the end of 2016, Texas is well ahead of Iowa, with 6,974 MW of capacity and 338 MW under construction, oil-and-gas state Oklahoma with 6,645 MW capacity and 1,609 MW under construction, and well, in 4th place green-energy state California… Just sayin’

During the windiest parts of the day, wind power typically supplies 20% of the power in Texas, according to grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Most of the wind farms are in West Texas, far away from the coast. During the hurricane, they continued operating normally. But a little over 2,000 MW of capacity is located in coastal areas, in hurricane country. So how did they fare?

According to a report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE):

At noontime on Friday, August 25th, the Texas coastal wind projects were operating at 95% output, an exceptionally high output level (also called a capacity factor).

As expected, several wind farms curtailed power production when wind speeds exceeded safety limits. Also, as local grid connections failed and power outages affected the entire region, wind farms remained offline until grid connection could be re-established.

Between 3-4 PM, as conditions deteriorated, wind power production dropped by approximately 800 megawatts, with a regional operation rate of about 47%.

Over the next three days, wind power production generally increased during the daytime, and declined at nighttime – similar to “normal” coastal wind power production levels. At no time did power production from all coastal wind farms reach zero.

This chart by SACE shows power generation for each of the four days, starting with August 25 (red line):

Only one facility – E.ON’s Papalote Creek Wind Farm complex, south of where the hurricane made landfall near Corpus Christi and then moved north – was knocked out of operation, according to Recharge, not because of damage to the wind turbines but because the electric transmission system to the facility was heavily damaged by the storm, and service to the grid was cut.

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Wolf Richter

In his cynical, tongue-in-cheek manner, he muses on WOLF STREET about economic, business, and financial issues, Wall Street shenanigans, complex entanglements, and other things, debacles, and opportunities that catch his eye in the US, Europe, Japan, and occasionally China. WOLF STREET is the successor to his first platform… TP-Title-7-small-200px …whose ghastly name he finally abandoned in July 2014. Here’s the story on that. Wolf lives in San Francisco. He has over twenty years of C-level operations experience, including turnarounds and a VC-funded startup. He earned his BA and MBA in Texas and his MA in Oklahoma, worked in both states for years, including a decade as General Manager and COO of a large Ford dealership and its subsidiaries. But one day, he quit and went to France for seven weeks to open himself up to new possibilities, which degenerated into a life-altering three-year journey across 100 countries on all continents, much of it overland. And it almost swallowed him up.