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Record high temperatures set in Texas

August 23, 2023

Solar energy helps meet record power demand

Brutal heat waves continue to set record temperatures and push the limits of the Texas power grid. Managing strained infrastructure, utilities are urging as much energy conservation as possible.

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, Laredo, Del Rio, San Angelo and Junction cities recorded their highest readings throughout summer months.

John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist, attributes the heat wave to a range of factors: near-record ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, high pressure systems that trap heat over the state, and the inexorable reality of climate change.

“It’s been close to the hottest, if not the hottest June so far for South Texas,” he added.

A 2021 report by the Office of the Texas State Climatologist documents that “extreme heat has recently become more frequent and more severe” in the Lone Star State. It has projected that by the year 2036, the number of 100-degree days in Texas would be nearly double the number between 2001 and 2020.

Solar power & storage are helping deter blackouts

On July 11, 2023 the state electrical grid operator ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, reported a peak in solar energy production at 2 P.M. Central Daylight Time and contributing 15.5% of demand. While this supply seems small, economist Ed Hirs told the local CBS News, “Every incremental addition to the portfolio of power plants on the Texas grid has been helping” — especially days when temperatures reach triple digits.

On August 20, 2023 ERCOT reported its tenth record breaker for power demand this summer alone.

During the hottest June on record, Texas avoided rolling blackouts due to solar energy and battery storage in large part, as other energy sources such as coal and nuclear power plants struggled. Batteries provide the most benefit over a day when renewable energy generation conditions are scarce, a shortfall in power supply, and power prices are high. Researchers are working to develop batteries that may be able to discharging clean energy during seasons with lower renewable output.

According to a tweet by energy consultant Doug Lewin, “Storage replaced 75 percent of the lost coal in minutes.”

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