A Red State Goes Green – Why Texas Is Adding So Much Solar


Clean power

Published on September 13, 2020 |
By Paul Fosse


September 13, 2020 by Paul fosse


Image courtesy: ERCOT

In this article, I will talk about what Texas is doing with utility-scale solar and how the motivation is different than many other states. I was inspired to research and write the subject after listening Jigar Shah Talk about this topic on the Energy Gang Podcast, which I highly recommend.

We recently published an article on solar overtaking wind and sometimes outpacing natural gas in new capacity, and I wanted to explain how Texas is different in the region. Also relevant to this story, we summarized the findings of a study 8 years ago that recommended rebuilding wind and solar plants to deal with intermittent problems inherent in those forms of energy production, while it Also stating when it makes more sense than when. Came out first. The major reason for overproduction today is a realistic alternative in that costs have dropped dramatically and more dramatically than optimistic forecasters. But they are common solar energy topics; Let’s dive into Texas now.

First, let’s talk a little about the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a non-profit function with matching power demand and supply at all times. While it is governed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), it uses price signals to allow free market forces to address the technical issues needed to meet the growing needs of the Texas market. This is consistent with the principles of representative democracy, that if the people believe in a free market, then the laws governing power must reflect the will of the people. It has been very successful in providing the power required to meet the state’s power needs at a very low cost and to provide power to its export engine. In 2017, Texas exports exceeded the combined exports of California and New York! The average cost of electricity is 11.65 cents per kWh, about 40% less than in California. So, how has that free market approach been done to reduce emissions? Not as well. Let us look at the differences between the two states a little more. Texas uses too much energy for 3 reasons:

  1. It is cool in summer and winter in most parts of Texas compared to most parts of California, so all else being equal, they require more energy to heat and cool their homes.
  2. The state is much more accommodating to manufacturing companies in the areas of regulation, taxation and cost of living to prevent Elon Musk’s famous outbreak earlier this year, in which he threatened to relocate manufacturing from California to Texas.
  3. Texas citizens and the government that represents their citizens are less concerned about climate change, so they have passed certain regulations requiring production for re-operation and renewal of fossil fuels.

I was definitely surprised when I saw this chart from the EIA report on emissions by state. Texas produced more zero-carbon energy in 2016 than California. However, the sources are fundamentally different. Texas has taken advantage of federal incentives for wind and its natural wind resources to add too much wind capacity over the past 10 years, and has not shut down its nuclear plants. California has added a little wind and a lot of solar, but it only makes up for the decrease in nuclear and hydropower generation in those 10 years.

2020 plans to add solar to California and Texas

California has too much solar installed (27.9 GW vs. 4.6 GW) and ducks have to worry about the curve, while Texas has very little solar, so the energy produced in the afternoon on sunny days is still very valuable, because those Even on sunny days the air increases the demand for conditioning, which means that increased power comes exactly when it is most needed. According to this report published 3 days ago by the Solar Energy Industry Association and Wood Mackenzie (sponsor of the Energy Gang Podcast, I started this rabbit hole), while California added twice as much solar PV in Texas in 2019, Texas installed. Has been doing. 50% more this year.

Did change

The thing that makes solar so attractive is that land and labor in Texas are cheap, and permits to turn solar are easy to obtain in Texas. Less regulation in Texas means it is easier to build projects and obtain permission to sell electricity on the grid. It is easy to try new things. In addition, many major commercial and residential locations do not yet have solar. As noted above, Texas does not have enough solar to worry about overproduction in daytime hours (duck curve), which will eventually cause the market price of electricity to go very low during daytime hours.

In California, they added solar to several major locations years ago when costs were high. Although they mandate that all new construction is solar, the new cost is limited in the high cost of construction and land and poor economy. Texas’ economy, which is not shut down by COVID by an excessive government, is much healthier than California, with an unemployment rate of only 8% instead of 13.3% in California. Also, since California is losing so many residents, there is no need for many new residential buildings. COVID has also reduced demand for new commercial buildings. I don’t mean to be far below the state, though – California owes a debt to lead new technology in solar and many other areas in the rest of this country.

The conclusion

Texas looks like it will be a leader in the solar market over the next few years, and has done so differently and for very different reasons than many other states. The good news for all of us who care about emissions is that prices are so low that even people who do not believe in climate change are jumping to use solar because it works and is affordable.

California can still take the lead on new rooftop solar technology. We recently published this article of an owner of a house with Tesla Solar Roof in California in which you need to know about the latest version of Tesla’s revolutionary roofing product. But Tesla also offers extremely cheap traditional rooftop solar panels, and Texas can be a good market for those.

If you decide to order a Tesla Solar Panel or Tesla Solar Roof, use a friend’s referral code from Solar Panel or Solar Roof for $ 100! If you don’t have any friends with Tesla, use me: https://ts.la/paul92237


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Tags: California, California Renewable Energy, California Solar Energy, California Wind Energy, Texas, Texas Renewable Energy, Texas Renewable Energy Standards, Texas Solar Energy, Texas Wind Power


About the Author

Paul Fosse has been a software engineer for over 30 years, first developing EDI software, then data warehouse systems. Along the way, I have also had the opportunity to start a software consulting firm and help with portfolio management. In 2010, I took an interest in electric cars because gas was getting expensive. In 2015, I started reading CleanTechnica and became interested in solar, mainly because it was a threat to my oil and gas investments. Follow me on Twitter @ atj721 Tesla Investor. Tesla Referral Code: https://ts.la/paul92237