A new study from Rice University on the growing role of wind and solar electricity in powering Texas has been attracting widespread attention. John B. Billingsley, CEO for two of the state’s premier renewable power developers, says that the study underscores the critical importance of renewable energy – both wind and solar – in the state.
The study points out that wind and solar electricity provided about 18% of Texas’ power in 2017, but that thoughtful planning to optimize natural patterns of renewable energy output could further help those resources “punch above their weight” as coal-fired power plants are retired.
In fact, Texas, because of its size and climate, is uniquely positioned to replace coal power with electricity from a complementary mix of West Texas and Gulf Coast wind along with solar power from around the state.
Billingsley’s company, Tri Global Energy, has been developing West Texas wind projects for 10 years and has become the number one developer of wind farms in the state. (Texas also leads the nation in production of wind power.) He also launched Sunfinity Renewable Energy nearly three years ago. Sunfinity is developing residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar energy in several states, including Texas.
“The rise of clean energy appears to be everywhere across Texas,” said Billingsley. “The state is speeding ahead to develop renewable energy and reaching new milestones all the time. But we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in terms of truly harnessing our clean, renewable resources. Texans will be the real winners, realizing both the environmental and economic benefits of renewables. The next several years will see amazing strides forward.”
The study analyzed weather data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and records compiled by the nonprofit Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) from 2007 to 2013, which tracked wind power from west and south Texas, as well as statewide commercial solar generation.