Is a Texas solar boom on the way?

Texas solar power

Solar power is currently sweeping the nation, with only more installs ahead as the United States weens itself off fossil fuels and establishes a reliable, robust network of renewable energy. Lots of plans in action at the federal level (this story) and the local level (these stories).

But despite that, you could say that the progress is still too concentrated in the areas that are already ahead of the curve – the solar rich getting solar richer. Which is why it is encouraging to hear that an unlikely state like Texas is starting to make some big solar steps. Ideology and fossil fuel history of this red state aside, Texas seems more unlikely than a California or a North Carolina to add more solar because there are no state-driven incentives helping to nudge the cause. The interest in solar in Texas, other than the federal deduction, is more market-driven.

The Wall Street Journal wrote a nice update on the progress being made in the state:

Pecos County, about halfway between San Antonio and El Paso and on the southern edge of the prolific Permian Basin oil field, could soon play host to several large solar-energy farms responsible for about $1 billion in investments, according to state tax records.

On a recent day, contractors for OCI Solar Power LLC erected posts for a solar farm that will be the size of more than 900 football fields. First Solar Inc. was negotiating to lease an adjacent property, its second project in the county. Last year, the Arizona company began capturing sunlight on 400,000 black solar panels in a separate project, converting the abundant sunlight into about 30 megawatts of power.

SunEdison Inc. has presented plans for its own utility-scale solar farm to county commissioners, and Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc., is readying another site nearby for construction.

The large-scale solar power output is small at this moment (193 MW), but the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is forecasting in the neighborhood of 10,000 MW and 12,500 MW to be installed by 2029.

Falling prices are a big contributor to the growing interest but, according the Journal, so is “$6.9 billion worth of new transmission lines, many connecting West Texas to the state’s large cities,” which have been hugely influential in putting Texas at the top of wind power production.

Definitely read the entire Wall Street Journal article for the full details.

— Solar Builder magazine

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