Texas Sees Solar Power Surpass Coal for First Time, Signaling Major Energy Shift – SolarQuarter

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Representational image. Credit: Canva

In a significant energy milestone, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) witnessed solar power surpass coal in electricity generation for the first time ever in March, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Solar panels produced 3.26 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity, eclipsing coal’s output of 2.96 million MWh. This shift is part of a broader trend that saw solar’s share of ERCOT’s power generation exceed 10% in the same month, while coal’s contribution dipped below 10%, continuing a sharp decline from over a decade ago.


The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) notes that the rise of solar has been remarkable. Since 2017, when solar power accounted for just 0.6% of ERCOT’s demand, its growth has been steady. As of March 2024, ERCOT’s operational solar capacity stands at 22,710 megawatts, with an additional 7,168 MW expected by year-end, thanks to fully financed projects with signed interconnection agreements. More growth is anticipated in 2025, with projects totaling 20,932 MW in similar stages of development.


In contrast, coal has seen a drastic reduction in its share within the ERCOT market. From a steady 36-40% from 2003 to 2014, coal usage has steeply fallen, sinking below 15% in 2023. This decline is mirrored in national trends, where coal’s share of U.S. electric generation dropped to a daily record low of 11.25% in March.


These changes underscore a significant shift in Texas, the largest coal-consuming state in the U.S., as it pivots towards renewable energy sources, reflecting broader national and global trends towards sustainable energy practices.

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