Renewable energy is huge in America, and wind and solar are leading the way as the fastest-growing sources of green power. The American Clean Power Association reports that over 27,000 megawatts of new wind, solar, and energy storage were installed in the United States in 2021, which means that renewable energy now satisfies about 20% of the country’s total energy needs. Although every state is contributing, one state, in particular, is leading the way — Texas.
Texas Ranks First in Renewable Energy Production
It might sound like a stretch, but it’s accurate to say that Texas is the renewable energy capital of the United States. The state’s energy production portfolio is diversified, but its investments in wind, specifically, have it generating more clean, green energy than any other state.
You might be wondering what’s happening in Texas to cause all of this tremendous growth and efficient use of natural resources. That’s what we’re going to look at in this article — how Texas is leading the country in renewable energy production and some of the contributing factors that make it all possible.
Quick Facts About Energy In Texas
- Texas produces and consumes more energy than any other state — twice as much as Florida, the second-ranked state.
- Texas put 7,000 megawatts of new wind, solar, and energy storage projects online last year, more than any other state.
- Texas is first with how much wind, solar, and storage are under construction or in advanced development, with 19,918 megawatts. California comes in second with 13,663 megawatts.
- Spread across the state are more than 13,000 wind turbines that produce over 30% of the nation’s wind-generated electricity.
- If Texas were a country, it would be fifth in the world for total wind energy generation.
- In 2014, for the first time, Texas generated more power from wind than nuclear power. By 2020, wind was consistently generating more electricity than both of the state’s nuclear plants combined.
- On May 2, 2020, Texas set a record when wind-generated power contributed to over 50% of the hourly electricity demand.
- During the sunny summer months, daily solar capacity has the potential to power almost five million households in Texas.
- ERCOT estimates utility-scale solar capacity will skyrocket from the current capacity of 7,800 megawatts to more than 28,000 megawatts by 2024.
How Texas Is Leading the Country in Renewable Energy Production
Renewable energy has a firm hold in Texas, and its upward trajectory is only going to accelerate as its popularity continues. There are several variables coming together to enable this to happen, including favorable legislation, a competitive market, power grid investments, a diversified approach to energy production, and Texas’ plentiful renewable capacity.
Texas Has Plenty of Renewable Resources
Covering about the same area as the entire country of France, Texas is the second-largest state in terms of geographic size. That equates to a lot of space for solar panels to soak up the rays on sunny days. The wind turbines spread across the state produce more wind-generated power than any other state. Even the eastern and southern portions of the state have geothermal resources.
It’s worth noting that although most of the state’s residents and subsequent power demand are located in the eastern portion of the state, many of Texas’ renewable resources are found in the south and west. Former Governor Rick Perry signed legislation to develop more than 2,300 miles of high-voltage transmission lines to transport energy from western and southern areas where it’s created to the northern and eastern areas where it is needed.
Texas Legislation Is Friendly to Renewable Energy
Former Governor Perry’s legislation isn’t the first time the elected leaders in Texas looked at renewable energy with favor. In fact, the start of renewable energy’s success in Texas began in the late nineties when then-Governor George W. Bush signed a bill to deregulate the energy market. This resulted in a competitive market between electricity providers, and it also encouraged the forward-thinking and technological innovation that led to the proliferation of green energy. Support for renewable-friendly legislation has continued since.
In 2005, the Public Utility Commission of Texas set a directive for 5% of the state’s electric consumption to come from renewable sources by 2015. They also set a goal for renewable capacity to hit 10,000 megawatts by 2025. Not only did Texas reach the 2015 goal in 2005 and the 2025 goal in 2009, but the state did it almost completely with wind-generated power.
In one of the most significant projects of the last decade, the Public Utility Commission of Texas partnered with ERCOT to establish the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone. Finished in 2013, the $6.9 billion project transmits more than 18,000 megawatts of solar, wind, and natural gas energy across Texas.
This is in stark contrast with many other states that have regulated energy markets. Not only do customers lack the power to choose their electricity provider, but because utilities and municipal systems have monopolies in those areas, there’s no incentive to innovate.
Renewable Energy Creates Jobs and Drives Economic Growth
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the alternative energy industry employs more than 300,000 people across the country, and nearly 37,000 of those well-paying jobs are located in Texas. This means that renewable energy is a reliable solution that will help Texas meet its ever-growing energy demands while also being the catalyst for significant economic growth and activity in Texas communities. Jobs are created, and people all across the state find their life and livelihoods improved by the opportunities provided by renewables.
Coal Is on the Decline
While renewable energy continues to flourish, the use of coal has gradually declined for the past four decades. In fact, the uptick in wind power capacity combined with the retiring of 6,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity since 2016 led to Texas generating more power from wind than coal for the first time in 2020.
And the trend isn’t going to slow down, either. The U.S. Energy Department reports that coal production will continue to decline to levels not seen for almost a century. This slow phasing out will only create more demand for renewables, which are projected to continue growing at record levels alongside the population migration to Texas.
Texas Solar Prices Keep Dropping
Concern over the effects of climate change is influencing the spread of renewable energy, but the fact that it’s economically viable is truly what makes its widespread use a reality. Although the generation costs of all renewable energies have come down over time, solar may be the most impressive example. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the price of solar power generation is down almost 40% from five years ago.
Presently, Texas has enough solar power to provide electricity for 600,000+ homes. That ranks it fourth in the nation, but the gap is closing. With other solar projects slated to go online, Texas is on track to lead the nation in solar power creation just like it’s leading the country in wind power.
Texas Has Its Own Grid
One of the unique characteristics of the infrastructure in Texas is that it’s the only state with its own electricity grid. Technically, Texas actually has four grids — but the “main” grid referred to in conversation serves about three-quarters of the state and is operated by ERCOT. The grid is not connected to the power grid that serves the rest of the nation. Not only has grid independence allowed Texas to home-grow its renewable energy industry, but do so at a pace that’s often not possible in areas subject to federal oversight.
Join the Energy Revolution With Energy Texas!
When you compare the renewable energy situation in Texas to any other state in the nation, it’s easy to see how and why we’re leading the country in economic expansion, innovation, infrastructure investments, job opportunities, and quality of life. People all over the country are moving to Texas in droves, and the demand for electricity is surging right alongside.
Make sure you’re on the right side of history and power your home with renewable energy from Energy Texas. We offer 100% renewable energy from wind and solar. Our rates are fair, and our commitment to customer satisfaction is ahead of the rest. Check out the plans we have available in your area and switch to clean electricity with Energy Texas today!