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  • Lauren Duhon

Resiliency in the Lone Star State

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

The State of Texas isn’t new to the renewable energy game.

For years, as the state continues to grow in population and as clean energy projects continue to break ground, Texas rapidly became the nation’s leader in wind energy, making it a premiere renewable energy producer.

Now, solar energy could be the next frontier.

Source: Ken Oltmann, U.S. Department of Energy

Even though the state is known for its oil production, solar farm development in Texas is expected to increase in the next few years. This will be in part as costs for electricity generation continue to fall and as power demand grows along with the increasing population of the state, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Not only that, but the state is set to be home to the largest solar farm in the U.S., due to its vast and sunny landscape. The Samson Solar Energy Center, which is slated to be completed by 2023, will be the nation’s largest solar farm and will power nearly 300,000 homes.

Upon completion, the 1,310-megawatt farm will support five major consumer brands and supply energy to three Northeast Texas cities: Denton, Garland and Bryan.

More recently, the City of Houston agreed to lease a vacant former landfill in Sunnyside to a Wolfe Energy subsidiary that will reuse the property to construct the largest urban solar project in the U.S.

Seeing as Texas uses more energy than any other state and accounts for almost one-seventh of the total consumption in the U.S., the state has a vested interest in renewable energy.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has been working toward renewable energy efforts for years. Mandates amended back in 2005 required that 5,880 megawatts, about 5% of the state's overall electricity generating capacity, come from renewable sources by 2015.

Additionally, 10,000 megawatts of renewable capacity needed to be created by 2025. The state surpassed this goal way ahead of schedule back in 2009, due to the generating capacity provided by the state's wind farms.

At present, Texas has the nation's second-largest population and the second-largest economy after the State of California. Texas is sixth in the nation in per capita energy consumption and is the third-largest net energy supplier despite its high energy use, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Renewable energy sources contribute to nearly one-fifth of the net electricity generated, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the anticipated growth puts Texas on track to claim much more of the power market that is typically dominated by wind farms and natural-gas power plants.

Four tools will continue to set the state up for success going forward:

  • Its competitive market structure found within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the stand-alone grid for 90% of the state.

  • Its transmission line highways, known as the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ), which were built to carry West Texas wind to major cities throughout the state.

  • Its clean energy potential, which far exceeds that of other states.

  • Its business-friendly landscape, which makes it easier to not only start projects but to finish them.

Now, as the pandemic continues to affect the state’s oil and gas industry, both wind and solar production remain on that path for record growth, according to Greentech Media.

As the state’s politics and attitudes change too, the rise of renewable energy isn’t the only notable change taking place in Texas. Approximately 85% of Texas voters support increasing clean power in the state, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

This further clears a pathway of support for clean energy projects throughout the state.

Texans will reap the awards of a smaller carbon footprint and a more renewable energy infrastructure overall, as the state continues to wean itself off fossil-fuel dependent sources of energy and prioritizes sustainable practices.

In a state that produces more energy than anywhere else in the U.S., Texas can set an example for other states in how to lead the clean energy transition.

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