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Solar Energy Panels in Austin, Texas.

Texas Solar Power

Background

Solar power, or photovoltaic power, is an inexhaustible energy source that converts sunlight into electricity. Thirty years ago, solar power was an experimental power source. Today, lower production costs, greater dependability and ease of use have led to a wider acceptance of solar technology, making it a major energy source across the nation.

In Texas, solar power is used for a variety of purposes including, powering homes, school crosswalk warning signs and water pumping systems. Texas is ranked first in solar energy potential according to the State Energy Conversation Office (SECO) but is currently only tenth in solar energy production.

With a mostly sunny climate, renewable energy companies are looking at Texas as the next frontier for solar energy production. Despite the state’s tremendous potential for solar power, there are few state wide incentives to draw in more green companies. In recent years numerous bills have been filed in the legislature to push for new incentives to energize the industry but very few have passed. A recent bill proposed a statewide rebate for solar projects. That initiative would have been funded by additional charges on electric bills, including a $1 or $2 per month fee for residential ratepayers. Opponents to the legislation claimed it was unfair for electricity customers to pay the surcharge when only customers that participate in the rebate program would have benefited.

A now defunct solar project proposed for Marfa, Texas strongly divided the community between those who commended the prospect of new jobs and tax revenue in the state and those who worried that large solar satellites would spoil the desert landscape.

Solar power advocates point to the potential for job growth in Texas, as new solar projects continue to pop up across the state. A 2010 National Solar Jobs Census ranks Texas third among states, with an estimated 6,400 solar jobs at 170 companies.

Blue Wing Farm in San Antonio is the largest solar farm in Texas. The 140-acre site was built in 2010 and generates enough energy to power 1,800 homes.

Latest Posts

What Spain Can Teach Texas About Solar Energy

About an hour’s drive outside of Sevilla, Spain’s old city, past grazing black-footed pigs and olive orchards, sits the Abengoa Solucar complex, and it’s truly a sight: Imagine cresting a hill and then all of the sudden seeing several large towers, over 500 feet high, with hundreds of beams of light striking them — solar [...]

Solar Power Shedding ‘Ugly’ Image in Houston

Global demand for solar panels could soon create shortages according to Bloomberg News. In Texas, costs for solar are dropping and the amount of power Texans now get from the sun is up over 30-percent in the past year. But while some housing developments are banning the roof-top solar panels, saying they’re unsightly, some homeowners in [...]

As Renewable Energy Grows, Wind and Solar Pull Ahead of Hydropower

Wind and solar energy now routinely surpasses hydroelectric generation as an energy source in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S. (but, not surprisingly, not in Texas). The state’s online Window on State Government calls it “a tiny portion of the [...]

Sheep Keeping Grass Under Control At OCI Solar “Farm” In San Antonio

From Texas Public Radio:  OCI Solar Power thought of an idea that leaders there say is sheer genius. They’ve put sheep to work on the grounds of a solar farm on the far northeast side to keep the grass cut. As solar panels soak up plenty of hot Texas sunshine, there’s plenty landscaping work to [...]

Despite Obstacles, Solar Gains Ground in Texas

From Marfa Public Radio:  This week we have examined the opportunity and challenge for solar power in Texas. There are no state mandates or incentives for solar. And the head of the Public Utilities Commission says Congress should end solar’s 30 per cent federal tax credit.  Despite that landscape solar is breaking through in parts of Texas, providing models that [...]

Small-Scale Solar Energy Projects take Advantage of Abundant Sunlight in West Texas

From Marfa Public Radio:  Continuing their weeklong series on the future of solar power in West Texas, Marfa Public Radio takes a look at small-scale solar projects around the Big Bend region: The Big Bend region is ranching country. Miles of barbed-wire fences, cows clustered in the distance, and windmills on the horizon. Those windmills, of [...]

As Solar Grows in Texas, Border City Provides a Model

From Marfa Public Radio: For most of its life, the small border city of Presidio, Texas has been on the edge of the electric grid. This rugged part of West Texas has seen a major upgrade of its transmission lines over the past five years, but Presidio’s Economic Development Director Brad Newton says before that, it [...]

Texas’ Solar Challenge: Lessons Learned From Arizona, California

From Fronteras:  MARFA, Texas — Texas has been called an energy superpower. Fracking technology is allowing Texas producers to extract vast amounts of oil and natural that were once out of reach. The state pumps more natural gas that any other. And it leads the country in wind energy. But Texas ranks eighth in solar power. Three attempts by [...]

Largest Single Solar Plant in the State Planned for West Texas

From KRTS Marfa Public Radio: A California company has won a contract to build a 150-megawatt solar plant in West Texas. It would be the largest single plant built in the state so far, second only to the 400 mw system of plants planned for San Antonio. San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy isn’t saying where exactly it will build the plant. CEO [...]

Austin’s Energy Mix Just Got Much Sunnier

From KUT News:  Austin Energy will soon be getting more of its power from the sun. The city-owned electric utility has signed a deal, announced today, with a San Francisco-based firm to build the single-largest solar facility in Texas by 2016. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Recurrent Energy will build a 150-megawatt solar farm in [...]

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