Renewables Keep the Lights on in Texas

In June and July 2023, Texas and other Southern states experienced an unprecedented heat dome phenomenon that resulted in consecutive days of record-breaking temperatures. This extreme weather event not only posed significant challenges to the Texas grid, which is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), but also showcased the ability of solar, wind, and battery storage resources to deliver dependable power generation during extreme heat.

Renewables Performed Better When It Counted the Most.

During a week when the state’s grid experienced unprecedented demand, ERCOT reported nearly 10 gigawatts (GW) of outages at coal and natural gas plants in late June. These outages, close to the threshold of 11 GW that ERCOT deems “extreme” in its summer planning scenario, underscore the vulnerability of thermal electric generating plants to the adverse effects of extreme heat.

Meanwhile, renewable energy generation rose to the occasion to meet a critical need. Between June 19 and June 30, renewable energy provided an average of 30 percent of electricity during the peak 10 percent of demand hours. On June 28, a day after ERCOT broke the all-time peak demand record at 81 GW, the share of electricity from wind and solar during peak hours rose to nearly 40 percent, combining to produce over 31.4 GW, another all-time high for Texas.

Renewables Also Help to Keep Prices Stable.

According to an April 2023 study, renewable energy reduced wholesale electricity costs in ERCOT by roughly $31.5 billion between 2010 and 2022, including $7.4 billion in the first eight months of 2022 alone.

Renewable Generation and Battery Storage Worked Together.

For example, solar generation, thanks in large part to the 4.4 GW that Texas added since the summer of 2022, played a critical role during the recent heat wave. As the sun beat down, the state’s solar resources set new records with 13 GW of production on June 24 and 25. Meanwhile, grid-scale batteries also helped to supply power when fossil-fired and nuclear units went down. In a one-week span, these resources twice filled in when a Texas nuclear plant tripped on June 16 and two coal plants faltered on June 19.


For the second summer in a row, renewables are helping keep the lights on and energy costs down in Texas. Yet, as recent data shows, a lack of transmission capacity is expected to continue to limit wind and solar plants from contributing even more low-cost power to the state’s grid, leading to curtailments. At the same time, electricity demand in ERCOT is projected to increase steadily over the next 10 years.

Texans continue to benefit from wind, solar, and battery storage deployment, but keeping the lights on and costs low for homes and businesses will hinge on whether the state can develop sufficient infrastructure to support current and future demand.