• 2 days PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 2 days Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 2 days Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 2 days Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 2 days Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 2 days Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 2 days Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 2 days New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 2 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 2 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 2 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 3 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 3 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 3 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 3 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 3 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 3 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 3 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 3 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 3 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 4 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 4 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 4 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 4 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 5 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 5 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 5 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 5 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 5 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 5 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 5 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 5 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 5 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 6 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 6 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 6 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 6 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 6 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is a freelance writer on oil and gas, renewable energy, climate change, energy policy and geopolitics. He is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

More Info

Texas Set To Become Solar Powerhouse

Texas Set To Become Solar Powerhouse

Texas could finally become a leader in solar, thanks to a new resolution passed by the city council of Austin.

The bill will require the municipal utility, Austin Energy, to obtain 60 percent of its electricity generation from renewables over the next decade, and to be completely carbon-free by 2030. It calls on Austin Energy to build 600 megawatts of solar power by 2017, and it mandates the city support the build out of 200 megawatts of distributed solar on rooftops.

The council resolution, passed on August 28, could directly lead to the installation of an additional 800 megawatts of solar power, or about four times the total installed capacity in the entire state.

Most importantly, the strategy was done for the sake of economics, says GreentechMedia. Austin Energy signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) earlier this year with Recurrent Energy, a solar developer, for rock bottom prices. The five-cent per kilowatt-hour rate is one of the lowest solar deals around. The low price prompted the city council to look more deeply at solar power as a way to save on costs, which led to the most recent resolution.

Not only is solar generation becoming much more affordable, but it also acts as a hedge against fluctuating natural gas prices. Texas is still a monster when it comes to the production and generation of electricity from coal and natural gas. But with solar generating the most electricity around mid-day, it can shave off some of the load at times of peak demand. Austin decided to allow the Decker Power Plant to shutter as a result, an old natural gas plant that is largely used just for peak power.

The Austin city council move is also indicative of the improving trend for solar. The Wall Street Journal reports that the global solar market is finally tightening, after years of oversupply. Generous support from governments in China, Germany, and the U.S., led to a dramatic expansion of solar manufacturing over the last five years. That caused prices panel prices to collapse as the world was left with a glut of solar modules.

But, lower costs are a boon for consumers – evidenced by the low-cost PPA signed in Austin. That has global demand increasing fast, which is finally soaking up the glut of extra solar panels. Solar demand is now rising twice as fast as manufacturing companies can produce them.

This will provide a huge boost to some of the major solar producers out there, such as First Solar, Yingli Solar, and Suntech. After several years of weak prices, the industry is poised for growth.   

In fact, in 2014 the largest solar manufacturers are expected to see their sales rise by more than 50 percent over 2013’s figures.

And that is all because more and more places are doing what Texas is doing – turning to solar for cheap electricity generation.

Texas is already the nation’s leader in installed wind capacity with 12,755 megawatts in operation. But it has been a laggard in solar power, largely because the policy environment has not been supportive.

Beyond federal incentives, Texas offered little more to the solar industry. Their renewable portfolio standard required a set amount of renewable capacity, rather than a percentage of total electricity. As a result, Texas has already surpassed its 2025 requirement of 10,000 megawatts of renewable capacity, more than a decade early.

With little other incentives in place, solar floundered in Texas. It currently has just 213 megawatts installed, still enough to rank it thirteenth in the country.

But the solar deal in Austin will by itself launch the state of Texas into the top five solar states within a few years. And that could set the stage for future growth, both within Austin, and in other parts of Texas and beyond.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News