AUSTIN - A report released this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts rapid growth of renewable energy over the next five years. This trend is echoed within Texas, where the state has established itself as a national leader in clean energy.
“It is incredibly exciting to see the state of Texas, which has been the national leader in wind energy since 2005, now also helping lead the way in solar power generation,” stated Lennis Barlow, Clean Energy Associate with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “Solar power has the capacity to cheaply and reliably meet all of Texas’s energy needs, without the polluting or climate altering effects of fossil fuels.”
According to the IEA report, titled “Renewables 2021, Analysis and Forecast to 2026,” renewable capacity is expected to account for nearly 95 percent of the increase in global energy capacity between now and 2026, with solar power driving this growth. Solar PV is expected to account for at least 60 percent of these capacity additions.
Texas’s solar power industry mirrors this trend. In a recently released report from Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, Texas ranked second in the nation in growth of net solar generation between 2011 and 2020, with an increase of over 12,000 percent.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) projects even bigger growth in the coming years. Texas currently has 7,120 MW of solar power installed, 28,215 MW of wind power, and 833 MW of battery storage capacity, with both battery storage and solar power expected to more than double in capacity by the end of 2022.
The impressive growth of renewable energy technology seems to indicate that a future without fossil fuels is not only possible, but on the horizon. Recent research by Environment America Research and Policy Center suggests that if renewable energy generation were to continue to grow at the current rate of 15 percent per year, wind, solar, and geothermal would produce enough electricity to meet all of our current electricity needs by 2035.
As the effects of climate change become more intimately felt across the country and particularly within the state of Texas, transitioning to renewable energy becomes less of an option and more of a responsibility. Texas’ leadership in this transition will be pivotal in restructuring our energy network to accommodate these new and developing challenges.