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Texas Solar Soars But Can The Grid Harness It?

image credit: Solar array, Webberville, Texas; © Bryan Roschetzky |
Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central, BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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  • Mar 29, 2023

The Lone Star state is struggling with having sufficient transmission infrastructure as developers increase the amount of solar capacity. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects that Texas will install 7.7 GW of solar in 2023, a quarter of all U.S. installations. Some 36 GW in new solar is predicted in Texas over the next five years, according to the U.S. Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

Federal tax benefits from the infrastructure act and energy storage are benefiting companies. Most solar power producers are planning to partner P.V. arrays with 1-4 hour lithium-ion (LI) battery storage facilities. This is a new development for many utilities in the area. At the beginning of 2022, only just over a quarter (27%) of all solar projects in the Texas grid connection queue were paired with storage, but by the end of that year solar+storage facilities had risen to 42%, according to information from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In contrast, in California – leading the way with renewables – the figure was as high as 97%.

With demand soaring, the lack of grid capacity in Texas could lead to projects being delayed or cut back. Across the U.S., solar and wind companies have faced interconnection problems as grid operators struggle with dwindling capacity and a massive increase in renewable energy applications. Texas has benefited from a streamlined application process, but it is now experiencing a backlog.

Grid access is also becoming more difficult as energy producers expand into rural areas with large expanses of affordable land as prime connection points near cities such as Austin and San Antonio reach their limits.

Developers need grid operator ERCOT to invest more in transmission systems in West Texas, where solar and wind resources are highest, to gain the most benefit from increased grid capacity. There are calls for a new “CREZ type” project, referring to the transmission system that was completed in 2013 to bring renewable energy from Northern and Western Texas to the urban areas.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 29, 2023

If you build it, will they come? 

Julian Jackson's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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