Culture 5 min read

Why Texas Will be the Center of the American Renewable Revolution

From oil to natural gas and now renewable energy, Texas has set the tone for the rest of the country. Now, despite efforts on the Trump administration to maintain coal power, renewable energy may soon become the energy sources of choice for the second largest American state.

Texas is set to become one of the largest producers of renewable energy in the U.S. | Image By Sean Pavone
| Shutterstock

Texas is set to become one of the largest producers of renewable energy in the U.S. | Image By Sean Pavone | Shutterstock

Being a Houston native, I’ve absorbed quite a bit of knowledge about the energy industry in my time here.

I lived through Enron’s rocket to fame and catapult to bankruptcy. I’ve seen the energy corridor develop into a bustling mini-city. And now, Mayor Sylvester Turner wants to create an Innovation District, too.

Similarly to some of his fellow citizens and companies like Station Houston, Mayor Turner has his eyes toward the future. And, shockingly, a bullet train from Houston to Dallas is still in the works, too.

Though Texas made its fortune in black gold, new research says that we can abandon coal as a fuel source for good in favor of renewable sources. For reference, here are some quick statistics:

  • Experts expect solar and wind energy to comprise 11% of America’s electricity this year.
  • The cost of utility-scale solar systems has decreased by 10 – 15% every year from 2010 to 2016 as reported by the Energy Department.
  • Texas has already installed more than 20,000 megawatts of wind capacity to date.

Could this herald a new golden energy age for Texas and signal a change in U.S energy policy?

Rick Perry, former Texas governor, planned to amp up coal plant production as Department of Energy head. | Gabriel Cristóver Pérez | Kut

A Red State With a Green Future

As a distinct part of his campaign up to his presidency, President Trump mentioned many times how much he values coal power.

In an effort to protect it, he appointed former Texas Governor Rick Perry as the head of the Department of Energy.

Last year in September, President Trump demanded that Perry do everything in his power to prevent the collapse of coal power. This included a bailout in an industry that already receives considerable subsidies.

Despite its origins as a fossil-fuel giant, Texas has transitioned into quite the green state. Even staunch conservative Governer Greg Abbott acknowledged Clean Energy Week in 2018.

If one decision works best for the local economy, many Texans will likely opt for that in order to maximize their wealth and happiness.

Abbott pointed out the economic factor in renewable energy in his address of Clean Energy Week:

“The clean energy sector is a growing part of the economy and has been a key driver of economic growth in Texas in recent years, with scores of new jobs being added by the industry.”

He also points out the value of these jobs being local and not out-sourced.

But how did Texas become the first state with the potential to get rid of coal?

As anyone who has driven through Texas will tell you, we have a TON of land out here y’all. The size of Texas is dizzying, and most of it goes unused.

As such, we have plenty of room for large windmill farms.

This led to Texas becoming the largest producer of wind energy in the U.S. In fact, we generate around 18% of our electricity from renewable wind sources.

Wind and solar energy outpace coal energy production in Texas now. | Pixabay

Economic Benefits Outweigh Environmental for Some Texans

Thanks to how winds in Texas work, turbines along the Gulf Coast can generate power in the late afternoon when it is needed most to power A/C units on hot Texas days.

While solar has developed more slowly here in Texas, the technological leaps made have been stellar. Consider, for instance, that we can now make solar panel windows and organic solar cells at a commercially scalable rate.

This reduces the barrier of entry to renewable power which, for a long time, has been the overall cost of it.

I, myself, use wind energy to power my electricity and I have lower energy bills at my new apartment that is around 1,700 sq. ft. compared to my last apartment with 950 sq. ft.

Keep in mind, as well, that this is with three people living in the space and I work from home many days of the week. We also have roughly 15 – 20 devices attached to our WiFi/internet. Millennials, right?

But don’t take my anecdotal evidence for it; read the research.

Many of the commenters from a similar story in the Houston Chronicle remarked that the reduced cost of renewable energy proved very enticing.

There’s an opportunity with coal coming offline to have wind and solar step up. It’s the cheapest way to do things, whether or not you care about the environment…” said Dan Cohan, a Rice University associate professor of environmental and civil engineering.

In the next year, perhaps Texas can serve as a guinea pig for other U.S. states. If we eliminate the remaining 25% of energy derived from coal power, we can show other states how cheap renewable energy can really be.

Do you think the shift to renewable energy will really be that seamless?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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