Texas Was an Oil Giant, Now It’s a Solar Energy Titan: The State Already Produces More Energy Than California

  • After years in the shadows due to conservative politics, Texas is finally embracing solar energy.

  • The state has already surpassed California in solar production, and the trend continues.

Texas production has already surpassed California’s
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When people talk about oil producers, they usually mention Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Texas. The Texan fields, with their typical wells and stereotypical movie and television moguls we have seen dozens of times, may have something to do with it. Still, they aren’t far from reality: Texas is a significant oil producer that meets almost half the country’s demand.

However, Texas has embraced renewable energy, especially solar power. In recent years, its production has been so high that it's surpassed California, which is known for boasting about its solar might.

Winds of change. Texas was mainly farmland until January 10, 1901. On that day, the Lucas No. 1 well blew in at Spindletop, and the gusher spewed oil more than 100 feet into the air. Since then, oil has become the state’s primary source of income and energy. Coal came next. While filling the rest of the U.S. with oil, Texas produced energy with coal and other fossil fuels.

Texas’s energy might is so strong that it has its own electricity grid and a deregulated market, so people can choose which company they want to buy energy from. But a few years ago, the green revolution began. The state has excellent wind and solar conditions, so it built wind farms that soon produced a great amount of energy with windmills and solar panels on a large scale.

Look at the Sun. In 2022, Texas produced 26% of all U.S. wind energy. However, this wasn’t the first time wind energy surpassed other sources. In 2014, it beat nuclear power plants; in 2020, it exceeded coal. But conquering the Sun was still to come. According to government studies, Texas was one of the top states for solar energy. Still, different laws, reticent leaders, and the conservative population kept it from becoming a leader.

Over the years, California has emerged as the country’s largest producer of solar energy. It even has more solar panels than its grid can handle. However, the scene has changed in the last two years. In 2019, Texas produced an output of 2 GW from solar plants compared to California’s 13 GW. Now, the situation is entirely different.

Goodbye, California. On May 14, Texas reached 19.1 GW in production. It was lower than California’s output on the same day, but the trend continues. At the beginning of 2020, Texas started producing more power from photovoltaic plants, coinciding with the drop in coal-fired power production.

The state still uses gas, but the transition to clean energy attracts conservatives mainly because of the economic benefits. Although conservative rural counties in the state don’t favor this type of energy, they would receive 60% of the taxes paid to produce renewables.

From Texas to the entire U.S. Money moves the world, but in addition to the economic benefits of adopting green energy, the state makes it easy for energy companies to produce and sell their product. By letting companies supply electricity quickly, new power generation projects take half the time to get up and running than in other states.

In fact, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is looking favorably on the Texas model and could replicate it in other parts of the country. It's no wonder that Texas has caught its attention: In the past two years, the state added 14.2 GW, more than any other grid operator.

Images | Eric Kounce TexasRaiser | ENERGY.GOV

Related | California Has Defeated the Sun: 20% of the Power It Uses at Night Comes From Solar Panels


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