Despite Its Politics, Texas Leads US in Renewable Energy Projects
According to a report issued by American Clean Power Association (ACP), Texas is leading the country in renewable energy projects. During 2021, the state had 7,352 megawatts (MW) of new wind, solar, and energy storage projects come online, as reported by Inside Climate News. The runner-up, California, brought 2,697 MW online. Texas also led the rankings for future renewable energy projects, having a near 20,000 MW under construction or in advanced development.
PBS: Why Oil Country is Turning to Wind Power, May 13, 2021.
France 24: Texas blown away by wind power, June 14, 2021.
Why This Matters
The US surpassed 200 Gigawatts (GW) of clean power capacity in 2021, but ACP said the landmark is eclipsed by the slowing pace of deployment which was down 3% from 2020, driven by legislative uncertainty, supply chain disruptions, and a battle over solar panels from Asia. According to Heather Zichal, ACP CEO, "Although the US has reached this incredible achievement, more needs to be done at a faster pace to reach the climate goals and targets our country needs to achieve." The country's combined 27.7 GW of clean energy is only 45% of what is required for the power sector to become emissions-free.
Wind power in the US is set to surpass other renewables despite policy uncertainty with the expiration of tax credits for wind projects. Last year, the wind industry blew past previous milestones as growth in both onshore and offshore projects was coupled with falling wind energy costs. According to the ACP, of the 45,077 MW of operational clean power in Texas, 6,145 MW was onshore wind power.
In 2021, renewables made up 95% of new power capacity worldwide. These numbers put renewables on track to surpass fossil fuels and nuclear energy by 2026, but the growth rate is still less than half of what is needed to reach net zero by 2050.
WW0: Heather Zichal and Amanda Little WW0 Facebook Live conversation broadcast, February 18, 2021.
According to Joshua Rhodes of the University of Texas at Austin, the state's clean energy growth has almost nothing to do with a commitment to addressing climate change and everything to do with its market structure. Texas's deregulated electricity market forces energy providers to compete based on cost. Because solar and wind power cost less, they have become more attractive. Despite the entrenchment of the oil and gas industries in Texas politics, the state is undeniably the clean energy leader of the United States.
KENS 5: Texas Winter Storm created massive demand for solar, December 21, 2021.
CNBC: The Rise Of Wind Power In The US, March 10, 2021.