Wind farms on the Gulf Coast are becoming important contributors to wind energy in Texas.
Although the generating capacity and wind speeds on the Gulf are lower than those on west Texas wind farms, Gulf wind is more reliable during peak power demand periods in the morning and afternoon, the Houston Chronicle reported .
West Texas produces more than 70 percent of the state’s wind energy and accounts for a quarter of the nation’s wind power. However, West Texas winds are strongest in the evening when demand is low and weakest during the summer when demand is high, making it an inconvenient source of energy despite its abundance.
“West Texas tends to be very erratic,” said Chris Coleman, senior meteorologist for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The council oversees 90 percent of the state’s power grid.
Temperatures differences between the Gulf and land means generators have steady winds at least twice a day at the Gulf. Wind energy from the Gulf can lessen price spikes on hot summer days and decrease customer bills.
North Carolina-based Duke Energy developed its first wind farm on the Gulf in 2012. There are nine wind farms between Corpus Christi and Brownsville. They have a capacity of 3,000 megawatts, which is about 15 percent of the state’s total wind generating capacity. Another four projects are in development.
One megawatt can provide energy for about 200 homes on a hot day.
The wind farms have helped the economy in rural stretches along the Gulf. Duke has invested more than $1 billion in five south Texas wind farms.
Improvements to turbine and blade technology, such as taller turbines and wider rotators, have allowed Duke to generate electricity at lower wind speeds, said Andrew Dickson, the company’s managing director for business development of renewable projects.
Apex Energy is also becoming interested in wind power on the Gulf. The company has one wind farm under construction and two more are in the planning stages.
“There is no way that this won’t be a sought-after energy resource,” said Mark Goodwin, CEO of Apex Energy.