The solar power industry in Texas is still small, which accounts to just 1 percent of the total electric power produced in the state. Renewable energy advocates say that the state could be the top generator of solar power in the United States within the near future.
This is due to the open spaces, lots of sunshine and a fast growing population that would require more electricity. Texas plays host to the Solar Power International conference this week. About 1,200 companies will exhibit their solar products and services at the Dallas Convention Center.
Costs of solar panels are going down and new power transmission lines are being built in West Texas. This could signal a solar boom in the Lone Star State. One of the companies that expect to benefit from this would be Austin Energy, which is a municipal electric utility that will purchase power from the new 30-megawatt solar power farm just east of Austin.
The said solar farm will be completed by the end of the year. It would double Texas’ solar generation capacity, which is at present at 37 megawatts. CPS Energy of San Antonio has been soliciting proposals for 400 megawatts of solar generation, which is 10 times the total capacity of the entire state.
CPS has gathered a short list of offers from companies that are willing to invest in a solar farm or several farms. In exchange, CPS would agree to buy the power generated from the plant. At present, CPS gets power from the biggest solar power plant in Texas, which is the 14 megawatt Blue Wing Solar Project located in southeast San Antonio. The facility has 214,500 solar panels that are able to generate 26,570 megawatt-hour of electricity each year. That would be enough to power 1,800 households.
The proposed 400 megawatt additional solar power symbolizes the raise of the industry in the state. Texas solar power expansion is not limited to municipal utilities. Principal Solar wants to build large solar farms in the state that will be capable of hundreds of megawatts. It is looking at West Texas, which has large amount of open space and inexpensive land.
Price of solar panels has dropped 30 percent since the start of 2010. aT the same period, competition has increased between solar companies. General Electric announced that it would build a $300 million solar panel factory in Colorado. California remains the leader in solar generation but analysts say that Texas could overtake it in a couple of years.