Wind & solar: private energy resources
The growth of private energy resources, like wind turbines and solar panels, makes the intelligence of Houston’s energy grid increasingly important.
We built a world-class energy network, resulting in easier interconnection of private energy resources with CenterPoint Energy’s smart grid. But it’s important to first understand how renewable energy systems work – what they can do and what limits they have.
Wind energy generation
Texas is a leader in wind-generated energy and we help Houstonians further the cause. We make it possible for customers to connect small-wind systems to the grid. This connection prevents wind fluctuations from affecting the power quality and reliability in their homes, farms or small businesses.
If you don’t know how wind generates energy, think about a fan. Electricity powers the fan’s motor, causing the blades to turn and generate wind. Wind turbines work similarly, but in opposite fashion:
- Wind turns the blades, causing them to spin a shaft.
- The shaft connects to a generator, creating electricity.
Wind energy pros:
- Lowest-cost renewable energy supply
- Zero fuel costs
- Helps supplement farm income (via wind farms/royalties)
- Creates good-paying jobs in rural areas
- Can generate on-site or wholesale power
- Clean energy – virtually no air pollution
- Relatively quick to connect to the electrical grid
Wind energy cons:
- Intermittent and somewhat unpredictable power production
- High upfront costs
- Turbines can get noisy
- Large visible presence is unwelcomed by some
- Can harm local bird and bat populations
- Can create erosion and other ecosystem impacts
- Potential interference with radar
Wind energy resources:
Solar energy generation
Houston is a great place for small solar electric systems and we help our customers gets the best use from them. We make it possible for our customers to connect solar panels to Houston’s grid, ensuring delivery of quality and reliable power regardless of whether it’s sunny or cloudy, day or night.
How do photovoltaic solar panels work?
- Photons of sunlight hit the solar panel’s cells and displace electrons.
- Photovoltaic cells collect the displaced electrons via conductive plates.
- The charged flow of electrons generates electricity.
Note: photovoltaic solar panels aren’t the only option for solar energy. Contact your local solar energy system retailer or browse the resources below to learn more.
Solar energy pros:
- Reduce electricity bills
- Renewable energy supply
- Clean energy with no greenhouse gas emissions
- Quietly generate electricity
- Easy to maintain
- Pairs well with air-conditioning needs
- Solar leasing is an option in Houston
Solar energy cons:
- Relatively high cost
- Solar batteries are expensive, heavy and last 15-20 years
- Energy source unavailable at night or when cloudy
- Relatively low efficiency (17-40 percent) and energy intensity
- Technology risk: Improved solar systems come out frequently
- Large, visible presence
- Long payback period (when panels save as much money as they cost)
Solar energy resources:
Solar Power for your Home, LSU College of Agriculture
Small solar electric systems, U.S. Department of Energy
Texas Solar Energy Society
Connect your system to the grid
To ensure reliability, small power generation equipment is connected to the same transmission grid as central stations. This connection, known in the electric industry as distributed generation, involves residential systems less than 50 kW (kilowatts). The energy generated is used to offset normal usage.
connect your energy source to the grid?