How Red Texas Became a Model for Clean Energy

John Connor

The Unlikely Solar Surge

In March this year, Texas achieved a significant milestone by generating more electricity from solar power than from coal. This remarkable achievement reached a peak on May 14, when Texas briefly hit 19.1 gigawatts of solar energy generation, setting a new US-wide record according to Grid Status, which tracks electricity generation data across the US.

Outshining California

Perhaps even more striking, Texas outshone California, a progressive stronghold that has mandated clean energy targets for more than 20 years. In 2019, Texas had just over 2GW of large-scale solar plants to California’s 13GW. Since then, however, the Lone Star State has entered into a solar boom. As of this month, it has deployed 23.6GW of utility-scale solar to California’s 21.2GW. When the latest batch of solar plants comes online, Texas will have added more solar capacity per capita in a single year than any US state and any country in the world, according to data from energy think-tank Ember.

Rapid Growth and Economic Incentives

Texas’s swift transition to green energy is driven by economic factors. Almost overnight, a state synonymous with dirty fuels has become America’s clean energy giant, and the trend is still accelerating. Texas is still heavily reliant on gas, but its transition towards clean energy is emblematic of a dynamic that plays out time and time again in climate discussion: economics has a habit of winning out over politics and ideology.

Rural Support and Economic Benefits

An unlikely coalition for clean energy has formed in Texas. Urban progressives in blue cities like Austin have been joined by rural West Texas conservatives who recognize that renewable energy is becoming a critical source of economic development for their communities. Despite accounting for only a tiny portion of the state’s population, rural counties will receive more than 60% of the tens of billions of dollars expected to flow into Texas from renewables and storage over the coming years, according to a report by Joshua Rhodes, an energy policy expert and research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin.

Policy and Infrastructure Advantages

The ease of building and connecting new renewable projects in Texas has been a critical factor in its clean energy boom. Texas’s electricity grid operator uses a “connect and manage” model. This assesses new projects based on the essential local requirements needed to connect to the grid instead of carrying out protracted studies into the broader potential ramifications. The result is that new power generation takes about half as long to come online in Texas as elsewhere.

National Implications

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is now looking to follow a similar approach to speed up the transition nationwide. Red Texas has become the model for going green. The polarised nature of US political discourse can make it seem as if renewables are still a divisive topic. But shift your gaze from cable news to the plains of Texas and a different story is unfolding. For those with skin in the game and an eye for a good investment, clean energy has become a no-brainer.

What are your thoughts on the Texas Green Energy boom?

Texas’s transformation into a green energy leader is a testament to the power of economic incentives over political ideology. This shift demonstrates that renewable energy can thrive in traditionally fossil-fuel-dependent regions. As Texas continues to lead the way, it sets a powerful example for other states and countries to follow.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Texas’s green energy revolution! Share your comments below.

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

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