Texas Going Big on Solar: 10GW by 2029
(Originally published on SolarLove.org)
Secure, clean, and affordable energy is driving the U. S. economy toward a more prosperous future. Solar and wind power generation are making significant contributions to this rising prosperity. And in Texas, where everything is bigger, this is true in a very big way. Solar and wind projects on the ground and in the Texas pipelines are generating big numbers in both GW and revenue.
Though famous as the epicenter of the traditional U. S. oil and gas industry, Texas is also home to a growing advanced energy market encompassing solar and wind energy, natural gas electricity generation, and cost-effective energy efficiency measures saving money for building manufacturers and owners.
New TAEBA report: Advanced Energy in Texas
Advanced Energy in Texas, a new report from Navigant Research commissioned by Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance (TAEBA), measures the booming economic footprint of the advanced energy market in the Lone Star State.
A broad range of technologies, products, and services, advanced energy encompasses wind and solar power generation, natural gas production, energy efficiency, and energy storage. Distinguished separately from conventional energy products, advanced energy is described as “the best available technologies for cutting costs and improving reliability” of both today’s and tomorrow’s energy supply.
Advanced Energy in Texas represents the first comprehensive study of the advanced energy market in Texas. With an estimated $16 billion in revenue for 2014, this represents 8 percent of the total U. S. advanced energy market. It also represents enough money to buy the Dallas Cowboys, the most valuable franchise in the National Football League, five times over.
The report gives big credit for advanced energy growth in Texas to the state’s pro-business, pro-growth attitude, combined with well-designed policy structures, including renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Texas also has the nation’s most open and competitive market for energy resources, managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
The Advanced Energy Market in Texas
The new TAEBA report highlights the advanced energy market size in Texas, the key trends, and the growth companies in each of the seven segments that make up advanced energy. The $16 billion in revenue last year broke down into the various segments as follows:
• The Building Efficiency segment, including energy-efficient lighting, HVAC, and retrofits to commercial and public buildings, was the largest in the Texas advanced energy market, and drew in revenue of $5.5 billion.
• Electricity Generation produced $3.6 billion in revenue, $2.3 billion of which came from wind energy installations alone.
• Fuel Production pulled in $2.7 billion. Compressed and liquefied natural gas for vehicles was included in this number.
• The Transportation segment gained $2.3 billion in revenue. Hybrid electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles, and the supporting infrastructure for fueling these vehicles was included.
• The Electricity Delivery and Management segment, with $1.2 billion, was driven by transmission projects required for integrating larger amounts of advanced energy into the transmission system.
• Fuel Delivery brought in $25.8 million in revenue from natural gas fueling stations.
Key Trends in Advanced Energy
According to the new TAEBA report, Solar is on the Texas launch pad, with 10 GW of new capacity expected by 2029. Wind energy is booming even bigger, with more than 14GW already installed. Now producing over 10 percent of Texas’ electricity supply, an additional 10 GW of wind capacity is also in the pipeline.
As noted above, energy efficiency is already big in Texas, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. The report finds that efficiency measures account for one-third of the cost of power generation, and note that there is still a huge potential additional savings and peak load reduction. Energy efficiency and demand response are critical factors in helping to prevent electricity blackouts, as well as helping customers save money.
Michele Negley, vice president of the south region for CLEAResult, an energy efficiency consulting firm interviewed for the report, said “Energy efficiency is a powerful tool for economic growth and diversification of resources. Our research as well as TAEBA’s report, indicate there is great potential to help utilities, businesses and individual Texans save money and improve comfort by making the wise use of energy a way of life.”
Negley continued, “CLEAResult is tapped into Texas’ energy market—not only because we’re headquartered in Austin—because we’ve run close to 20,000 projects across the state since 2006 that have delivered significant energy and incentive impacts. The appetite for energy efficiency is here.”
Another big trend to watch in advanced energy is energy storage. As technologies, strategies, and cost reductions come into alignment in the near future, the TAEBA report anticipates that advanced energy storage “is now within reach.”
“Solar is Taking Off in Texas”
“Solar is taking off in Texas,” said Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar, a global provider of photovoltaic solar energy solutions. “Our Barilla Solar project is the first solar power plant in the country to offer electricity on an open contract basis, and it illustrates how solar has become a reliable, competitively priced component in the state’s balanced energy portfolio. We see an enormous growth opportunity for solar in Texas.” First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) is a vertically integrated solar power provider with more than 10 GW of installed capacity worldwide. Along with the Barilla power plant, First Solar has several other projects in various stages of development in Texas.
“Advanced energy is alive and well in Texas,” said Susan Reilly, president of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Inc. (RES Americas), and current chair of the American Wind Energy Association. RES Americas and its many Texas projects are profiled in the TAEBA report. “Texas is the nation’s leader in wind energy, today and going forward – just look at what’s in the pipeline. RES Americas is proud of the wind and solar installations we’ve worked on in Texas and we look forward to many more in the future.”
RES Americas is a renewable energy, transmission, and energy storage developer. Its projects in Texas total nearly 2,500 MW, including the 278 MW King Mountain Wind Ranch, the 60 MW Whirlwind Energy Center, and the 166 MW Hackberry Wind Farm. RES Americas was also a contractor for the 30 MW Webberville and 41 MW Alamo 1 solar projects. Near completion is its Keechi wind project, owned by Enbridge Inc., which will power Microsoft Corp. near Dallas-Fort Worth.
The Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance
The Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance includes local and national advanced energy companies endeavoring to make Texas’ energy supply “more secure, clean, reliable, and affordable.” TAEBA’s stated mission is “to raise awareness among policymakers and the general public about the opportunity offered by all forms of advanced energy for cost savings, electric system reliability and resiliency, and economic growth in the state of Texas.”
A complete list of companies participating in TAEBA is available at texasadvancedenergy.org.