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Near-term Discovery, Long-term Planning

Energy asset developers have information needs in multiple timelines. Some needs are nearly instantaneous, such as price(s) and volume(s), and are ‘structured’ in data parlance. They are numbers, in forms easily accessed via download or API, and easily integrate into other structured data or models.  

Some information needs though are on much longer timelines. Developers of a wind or solar or energy project need to know what the system might look like in five or ten years, and what it might look like in specific locations or seasonality. Much of that information is unstructured, within documents (which are themselves within specific file directories) that can be nearly impossible to find unless the person searching is deeply familiar with any publishing entity’s own sitemaps and directories. 

Halcyon has been ingesting information from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid operator, which has a wealth of unstructured information. A useful example is the state’s latest long-term system assessment, which looks ahead to 2039. 

One Texas scenario is “current trends,” which is exactly what it sounds like. It describes a future in 2039 that looks much like 2025, just carried forward. More wind and solar power are built, and more batteries too. There are more natural gas-fired generators added to the grid, and most old coal-fired power is expected to retire. But, the grid is by no means radically different. Total installed capacity expands by more than 30%, but for any active energy project developer in Texas today, this number would not raise any eyebrows. 

But, the state has another scenario, which Halcyon recently uncovered: its “High Load Growth and Environmental Regulations” scenario. This scenario features both much more growth in electricity demand, coupled with more regulation of the power sector to reduce system emissions from fossil fuel combustion. The system this scenario requires is quite different from today, and it is worth exploring how, where, and why it is different. 

Firstly, power consumption more than doubles in this scenario, from 630 terawatt-hours in 2025 to 1,364 terawatt-hours in 2039. That 2039 level would make the Texas electricity system about one-quarter the amount of all US electricity consumption today. 

Secondly, the state would then have to build a great deal of new power generation and storage capacity. In this high scenario, Texas would add 16 gigawatts of combined cycle gas turbine plants, and more than 100 gigawatts of other fossil fuel-fired generation, in the form of combustion turbines and internal combustion engine (ICE) generators. On the renewable front, it would add almost 80 gigawatts of battery energy storage systems, 45 gigawatts of wind generators, and 117 gigawatts of solar capacity. Almost every coal-fired unit would be retired. 

The installed capacity of this system would be almost three times larger than in 2025 - just under 500 gigawatts - a larger power system than India’s today. 

Thirdly, the high-growth, high-regulation scenario in Texas results in a highly dynamic electricity system. One aspect of that dynamism is the changing electricity mix. Wind generation expands its share of total power generation from 27% to 39%, and solar from 16% to 27%. Coal-fired power effectively vanishes, and gas-fired generation decreases slightly, from more than 41% to just under 40%.  

More importantly, though, is a massive change in system peaks and troughs. The ‘coincident peak’ in 2039 in this high-high scenario is almost 200 gigawatts, which is almost double what it is today. But, the peak net load (total demand minus wind and solar output) is much lower, and the minimum net load (again minus wind and solar) is actually lower in 2039 than in 2025.  

This system, then, is one that not only expands rapidly in energy and infrastructure terms, but also must respond rapidly to a massive amount of wind and solar generation which adds system energy very quickly, and then retreats just as quickly.


Texas is an extreme case, but that is a matter of degree and not of kind. Every regional transmission operator is (or should be) planning this far ahead, and many of them will be expecting a similarly dynamic system by 2039.

And Texas’ system assessments are not the only sort that planners, builders, and traders will find useful. The Federal Energy Regulatory published its 2024 Summer Energy Market and Electric Reliability Assessment in late May, and it is an invaluable look at what the supreme regulator of the US grid expects during the hottest months. An invaluable look, but not the easiest read if we’re honest, given that FERC’s assessment and accompanying presentation are embedded in web readers.  

Fortunately, extracting these critical studies from a reader, and using them to build a queryable workspace with dozens of other relevant studies across time and across states and grid operators, is something Halcyon can do. Want to quickly ask questions of Texas’ expectations of the power market in 2039, or of the US grid this summer? Talk to us. 

Comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you -, or find us on LinkedIn and Twitter.