Renewables Booming In The Lone Star State!

State Economy

The population of the “Lone Star State, Texas is approximately 29.73 million people[1]. Texas is the 2nd  most populated state in the United States.

In 2020, Texas’ economy was ranked 2nd in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the advanced manufacturing, aerospace, aviation, defense, biotechnology, energy, information technology, petrochemical, and agriculture industries[3].

Environment Policies

In 1999, Texas enacted a renewable energy standard[4] (RPS) requiring all state utilities install a total renewable energy capacity of 5,880 MW by 2015.

In 2005, Texas amended the state’s RPS requiring all state utilities install a total renewable energy capacity of 10,000 MW by 2025.

In 2019, Texas utilities surpassed the total renewable energy capacity of 10,000 MW! Texas now has a total renewable energy capacity, just from wind and solar of over 30,000 MW[5]!

In May 2021, Texas utilities[6] used natural gas (45.8 %), renewable energy (27.6 %), coal (17.1 %), and nuclear (9.5%) to generate electricity. Wind, solar, and hydroelectric are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Texas.

Texas’ use of inexpensive renewable energy and natural gas contributes to the state’s below average cost of electricity. In May 2021, the average cost of residential electricity in Texas was 11.96 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 13.71 ¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Texas include:

  • 500 MW Solar ProjectAmerican renewable energy company, ConnectGen is continuing work on the Pecan Prairie Solar project at a site approximately 100 miles north of the city of Houston. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2022.
  • 500 MW Solar Project – American renewable energy company, Rosendin Electric is continuing work on the Aktina Renewable Power Project at a site approximately 25 miles southwest of Houston. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2022.
  • 284 MW Solar + 81 MW Storage ProjectItalian energy company, Enel is continuing work on the Azure Sky solar plus storage project at a site approximately 120 miles west of the city of Dallas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 250 MW Solar Project – American solar company, 7X Energy is continuing work on the Taygete I Energy Project, which is at a site approximately 300 miles west of the state capital, Austin. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 250 MW Solar Project – In June 2021, American utility, Duke Energy commenced work on the Pisgah Ridge Solar project at a site approximately 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 209 MW Wind Project – In May 2021, Spanish energy company, EDP Renewables commissioned the Reloj del Sol Wind project at a site approximately 250 miles southwest of Austin.
  • 200 MW Solar Project – German energy company, RWE renewables is continuing work on the Big Star Solar Project at a site approximately 25 miles southeast of Austin. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2022.
  • 180 MW Wind Project – In August 2021, EDP Renewables commissioned the Wildcat Creek Wind Farm at a site approximately 50 miles north of Dallas.
  • 144 MW Wind ProjectAmerican engineering company, Signal Energy is continuing work on the East Blackland Solar project at a site approximately 15 miles northeast of Austin. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 100 MW Wind Project – French utility, EDF Renewables is continuing work on the King Creek 1 Wind Project, which is at a site approximately 175 miles west of Dallas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 105 MW Solar Project American renewable energy company, Pattern Energy Group is continuing work on the Phoenix Solar project at a site approximately 60 miles northeast of Dallas. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.
  • 100 MW Energy Storage System – American energy storage developer, Able Grid Energy Solutions is continuing work on the Chisholm Grid battery energy storage system located in the city of Fort Worth. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2021.

Conclusions

Commercial coal mining began in Texas in 1819[7] near the Sabine River. Initially, coal was initially used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, stoves, and forges.

In 2019, Texas had 8 operating surface coal mines[8], which produced approximately 23.3 million short tons of lignite and bituminous coal. The coal used to fuel Texas’ power plants is brought by rail from Wyoming.

 

In 2010, 42.7 % of Texas’ electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[9]. In May 2021, 17.1 % of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the decrease in the use of coal?

  1. EconomicsThe cost to generate power from coal is more than double the cost to generate power from renewables, like wind.
  2. Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[10].
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Texas has long been known as a global energy center for the oil and gas industry. A new energy boom of wind and solar began in the state fifteen years ago and is continuing to gain momentum.

Texas knows energy and the state’s innovative and progressive thinking will keep the state an energy center in America for generations to come.

Jack Kerfoot

Website “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

 

[1] Texas Population 2021, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Texas Economic Development, “Target Industry Clusters

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, January 4, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Texas State Profile and Energy Estimates, Renewable Energy Analysis

[6] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Texas State Profile and Energy Estimates, Electricity Analysis

[7] Historical Coal Mining In Texas,  Surface Mining and Reclamation Division, Railroad Commission of Texas

[8] U.S. EIA Annual Coal Report, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State, County, and Mine Type, 2019.

[9] U.S. EIA, Electric Power Sector Consumption Estimates, Texas 1960-2018

[10] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019

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