Texas likes to do things big. The Lone Star State leads the US with the most energy generated by wind power, and now it’s ramping up solar, which is projected to be the fastest-growing contributor to the state’s power grid in the next three years.
Solar currently provides just 2.2% of energy to the Texas power grid. But according to the state grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), solar developers are expected to add 3.5GW of capacity from new utility-scale solar projects this year and 5.5GW in 2021 (via the Houston Chronicle). One gigawatt can power around 700,000 homes.
That includes projects that have signed interconnection agreements with ERCOT, which means they have a high likelihood of completion. ERCOT represents 90% of the state’s electric load.
Most of the planned solar projects are expected to come online before summer 2021.
According to the US Energy Information Administration about Texas’ renewable energy:
The state provided almost one-fifth of the total US utility-scale electricity generation from all non-hydroelectric renewable sources in 2018, more than any other state.
Texas leads the nation in wind-powered electricity generation, producing more than one-fourth of the US total in 2018.
The EIA also says that the sun power in western Texas gives the state some of the largest solar power potential in the nation, so it makes sense that it’s starting to utilize that potential. For example, a large solar farm was installed in late January in Andrews County in western Texas.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, in 2019, more than 3,000 megawatts of solar energy were installed, enough energy to power than 400,000 homes. Of the 750 solar companies in the state, that breaks down into 120 manufacturers and 307 installers/developers. In turn, this creates 9,600 jobs.
As Electrek reported on January 10, Texas used more green energy than coal in 2019:
The state sourced 21.5% of its energy from green sources (wind, solar, hydro, and biomass) and 20.3% came from coal, which is dropping rapidly across the US. However, as the Dallas Observer rightly points out, 47.3% of its energy still came from the fossil-fuel natural gas.
Texas is a red state, and as Electrek previously reported, “Democrats and Republicans invest in residential solar for different reasons, yet they still invest.” Switching to green energy is a win, no matter what or why. In fact, it’s vital for the sake of our planet’s future.
We look forward to Texas hopefully setting an example for all states, both red and blue, to follow. It’s pretty amazing for a state previously better known for its oil. Hopefully we’ll see fossil fuels go the way of the Houston Oilers soon.