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Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. I do make mistakes, but I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct. Remember: the unexpected sometimes happens. The expected does too, but all too often it takes longer than you thought it would.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Don't mess with Texas

From Quartz:


Don’t mess with Texas. Although the White House is leading a campaign to burn more coal, states and utilities are largely ignoring the call. In April, West Virginia rebuffed efforts by Democratic governor Jim Justice to revive its moribund coal industry. On Oct. 13, Texas announced it, too, was turning to renewables.

The retirement of three coal-powered plants owned by Texas utility Luminant early next year means wind capacity in Texas will surge ahead of coal by the end of 2018. The Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin reports that the lost coal power capacity will be more than replaced by about 4,000 MW of wind power coming online.

[Read more here]

Source: Quartz

Note that that's capacity, not output.  Assuming reasonable capacity factors (60% for coal, 40% for wind) output should be around 8,800 MW from the coal and 9,800 from the wind, on average.  So over the course of 2019, wind will exceed coal in ERCOT.

The key point is this: renewables are cheap and getting cheaper.  So cheap that even in Republican, conservative Texas wind is replacing fossil fuels.  Coal doesn't stand a chance.  And in the USA, the transition is easy because gas is cheap, so "firming" supply (i.e., filling in the gaps caused by variability of renewables output) by using gas power stations is relatively cheap.  Outside the US, because gas is more costly, the transition requires storage, which is still a bit expensive.  But inside or outside the US, storage costs are plunging--gas is just an interim fuel until storage becomes cheap enough to replace it.

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