In late October, South Texas Electric Cooperative hosted the formal commissioning ceremony for the newly built Red Gate Power Plant, located north of Edinburg, Texas. The power plant is fueled by natural gas, making it a clean burning energy resource for South Texas.
The Red Gate Power Plant uses 12 natural gas-powered reciprocating engines and is capable of producing 224 megawatts of electricity. To put that in perspective, that’s enough energy to power about 50,000 homes.
Red Gate has the largest spark-ignition gas engines in the world. Each engine stands 21 feet high. The entire facility spans 13 acres.
The facility is also environmentally-friendly. Red Gate has air emission controls that are well in excess of what is required and it consumes significantly less water than many other generation facilities. While a similarly-sized combined cycle gas turbine plant would use about 1,000 gallons of water per minute, the Red Gate plant uses an estimated 889 gallons of water per day.
Even more impressive, perhaps, is the power plants engine startup time. The facility can be deployed with the push of a button, giving it the ability to go from a cold-start to fully powered in just 5 minutes. The first power generated can be on the grid in 30 seconds.
The flexibility to generate energy almost on-demand is important given the state’s expanding renewable energy portfolio. Texas is the nation’s leader in wind energy generation, with more than 18,500 MW of installed wind capacity. Wind provides about 12 percent of all energy produced in Texas. However, because the wind doesn’t blow all the time, or in consistent amounts, it’s critical to have reliable generation resources that can keep power on the grid, especially during times of high demand.