Understanding the Landscape of Renewable Energy in Texas
The lone star state has a big reputation for good reason. It began as its own country, and in many ways, it has remained one culturally. As any resident will tell you, there isn’t just one Texas culture; there are several. Austin is notably more liberal than the rest of the state. The western side of Texas is known for its ranches and ranching culture. But what is common throughout is the state’s welcoming relationship to big business and energy companies.
The History of Texan Energy
Texas has unique needs when it comes to energy. Its vast area, with densely-populated pockets, makes it challenging to facilitate the state’s ever-increasing demands.
Due to the intense heat in the state, each household consumes a large amount of electricity. Air conditioning is not merely a valued luxury in Texas—it’s a necessity. Anyone visiting South Texas in August can attest.
The state quickly acknowledged the benefits of electricity and established its first power plant in the late 1800s. An intricate power grid was constructed to bring electricity to developing urban centers and isolated rural areas.
During World War II, regional utility companies formed the Texas Interconnected System. They aimed to aid in war efforts by redirecting excess power to specific consumers. At the time, these comprised government contractors manufacturing weapons and aircraft.
This system was so efficient and successful that after the war, the state revamped it into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Today, this body still manages Texas’ grid.
Since 1901, Texas has primarily been defined by oil production. Vast fields of oil were tapped throughout the state, creating jobs and wealth for over a century. Production hit its peak in the early ’70s, and the decline since has left a vacuum, which energy production industry competitors have filled.
How Renewables Came To Texas
Texas’ unique climate and geography made it an ideal place to facilitate the adoption of renewable energy. Not only does Texas have the ideal weather for solar and wind farms, but it also has space. This variable means the state has all resources necessary to create affordable power for residents and businesses.
In 2011, Texas became the first state to reach 10,000 megawatts of installed wind-generating power. Now Texas measures growth in gigawatts. Clean Texas electricity providers may soon surpass oil producers for the title of Texas’s most recognizable industry.
However, there is still stiff competition in the energy sector, with gas making up the state’s largest source. The gas industry’s deep ties to state history mean it is engrained in Texas culture, and therefore challenging to retire.
Where Texas Is Today
Due to the state’s polarizing seasons, Texas still has a dependency on traditional energy sources like coal. Its hot summers and cooler winters generate residential energy consumption spikes that wind power cannot fully satisfy.
Despite the climate, the state is still making significant progress toward adopting renewable energy sources at greater percentages. Texas’ total renewable energy production in 2019 was more than that of coal by one full percentage point, an excellent indicator for things to come.
Texas is so competitive in the renewable energy sector that in 2019, sustainable power accounted for 5.5 gigawatts of all corporate deals. Surprisingly, 80 percent of these contracts were for solar energy, which is more than the combined new sustainable power deals of Europe and Asia at that time.
This progress is meaningful, not just for Texas’s economy but also for the environment. Every new solar and wind farm takes the U.S. another step further from dependency on fossil fuels that negatively affect the environment.
Grow And Prosper
Texas has been blessed with many options to satisfy energy needs and grow economic prospects. With so many businesses making a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint, the state will continue to draw positive attention. So long as they continue to develop their infrastructure, Texas will be poised to capitalize on its position.