Solar production in Texas’ Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) territory surpassed coal for the first time this March, generating 3.26 million MWh, compared to coal’s 2.96 million MWh.

Additionally, coal’s market share in Texas fell below 10% for the first time, landing at 9%, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) noted. Coal’s share had been declining for more than a decade, the IEEFA said, but the trend accelerated in 2016-2017, when ERCOT’s data began to incorporate solar.

In 2017, solar accounted for 0.6% of ERCOT’s demand, the IEEFA said, at 2.26 million MWh. This year’s increase has pushed solar generation’s share to above 10% for the first time, and the growth is expected to continue throughout the year and beyond. Solar generation this March showed an increase of 1.17 million MWh compared to last March, a 56% increase, the IEEFA said. Additionally, while ERCOT currently has 22,710 MW of operational solar capacity, 7,168 MW is expected to be added by the end of the year, an increase of almost one-third.

Credit: IEEFA

Coal’s apparent decline in the ERCOT territory doesn’t seem to be an anomaly caused by a few months of low generation, IEEFA says. Even during the hot summer months, coal production never surpassed 20% in 2022, or 15% in 2023, and that trend is unlikely to change this year, IEEFA says.

Originally published in Renewable Energy World.

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