Blowing in the wind II

Michael Williams, Chairman Texas Railroad Commission:

Several studies show Texas as having the most potential of any state for wind energy.

For a number of reasons, already Texas has more wind-powered electricity than any other state in the nation. In 2007 alone, Texas added 1,600 megawatts of new wind capacity and by May 2008 the total installed wind capacity in the state exceeded 5000MW. As much as 10,000 additional megawatts may be going and blowing by 2009 with another 45,000 megawatts in some phase of the planning process. Whether all of that generation gets built, we'll just have to wait and see.

That's the good news. The bad news is wind is fickle. It blows when it wants which may not be during high demand periods. Also the West Texas sweet spot for wind generation is miles and miles from the high population areas that need the power.

Just imagine pumping compressed-air energy into mature Permian Basin oil fields during off-peak hours and extracting it when necessary. Sounds futuristic. It is. But it is the heart of a proposal for the upcoming legislative session - that Texas establish a public-private innovation prize for the commercialization of a large-scale project to store off-peak hour energy.


It sounds like an innovative plan to deal with the unpredictability of wind power. It could also be an answer to the current need for using natural gas to supplement wind power. That has been an argument against the Pickens plan which wants to switch natural gas for use in cars. It should be noted that Chairman Williams is already working on converting school busses to natural gas and propane.


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