Energy & Environment

Texas just broke a record for how much power it got from the sun

Experts say it’s a Texas record that’s not expected to last very long.

Texas broke a record Sunday for the share of electricity on the grid that comes from the sun: 36.11%.
Texas broke a record Sunday for the share of electricity on the grid that comes from the sun: 36.11%.

More solar energy powered Texas than ever before on Sunday morning, with over one third of the electricity running on the state's power grid coming from the sun. Experts say it's a Texas record that's not expected to last very long.

Weather conditions were ideal for solar, with clear skies across most of the state, when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas recorded the record at 10:09 a.m. Sunday.

At that time, about 15,222 megawatts of solar ran over Texas transmission lines to homes and businesses. According to ERCOT, one megawatt can power 200 homes in times of peak energy use.

Later that day, Texas broke a record for the share of electricity on the grid that comes from the sun: 36.11%.

Joshua Rhodes, an energy researcher at UT Austin, said he thinks the state will be breaking more records in the near future "as we install more [solar facilities] and the sun's higher in the sky during the summer."

Rhodes said the new record is the result of recent years of meteoric growth in solar installations in Texas, which recently surpassed California as the state that produces the most energy from solar power.

"About five or six years ago, solar became cheaper than wind to deploy, so we started building a lot of that," he said. "That’s kind of the second wave of renewables that’s come onto the grid [after wind]."

There was actually even more sun power in use Sunday than ERCOT’s numbers suggest. That's because the state's grid operator does not include energy generated by rooftop solar, like you see on homes and businesses, in its grid-wide assessment.

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