Lonestar State Growing As A Solar Player But Much Work To Do: Report

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Solar Panels Near The Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas USA
Solar Panels Near The Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas USA

The state of Texas is steadily growing as a player in the solar power installation market, but much work has to be done, according to a new report.

Clean Edge, a cleantech think tank released a report titled The Texas Solar PV Market: Competitive Analysis where it ranked the state compared to five other different states (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey, and New Mexico) in terms of competitiveness.

“Texas may be in the race, but its far from taking full advantage of its abundant solar resources and traditional energy industry expertise, managerial know how, research, infrastructure, and economic resources,” said the report.

Texas ranked tenth in new solar installations in 2010 with 25 mega watts (MW), according to the report. That is far off the pace of the top five states in the US that include: California with 252 MW, New Jersey (132 MW), Nevada (65.3 MW), Arizona (58.5 MW), and Colorado (58.3 MW).

While the Lonestar state finished tenth in new installations, they finished dead last in four of the five major market and technology indicators in the report. Those indicators in the study included: total market value, venture capital, job creation, research and development (R&D), and policy landscape.

The report found that Texas new installation capacity in 2010 had a total new installation market value of US$128.6 million, or U$5.12 per capita last in this section. This is far off the pace of leading California who had total new installation market value of US$1.5 billion, or $41.84. Much of the new installation in Texas was driven by utilities, the report said.

Venture capital saw Texas do  better third with US$78 million, only behind Colorado with US$264 million, and California with US$4 billion. The report noted the importance of venture capital for growth in the solar industry saying “ they are a clear indicator of state leadership and competitive economic advantage.”

While Texas fared better in venture capital the state fared poorly in solar job creation with only .08 of the state employed in the solar energy sector and far behind other states compared, especially California (.30), Colorado (.29), and Arizona (.20).

In terms of solar R&D patents, Texas had per capita only 0.76%, last in this section. New Mexico per capita finished better, along with California. However, despite the poor showing in R&D patents, the report does see lots of potential for the Lonestar state thanks to its well known universities in the state including University of Texas, and Rice University.

Texas, also lacked many of the policy tools vital to spur growth in the industry, the report found. The state was the only state in the study that did not have solar rights provision or net metering. Texas as well does not have any loan programs ranging up to US$5 million for energy reducing technologies, which include solar PV’s.

The overall view of the Clean Edge report on Texas’s solar industry shows a lot of thing it can do better , while giving it hope to a state that can diversify away from fossil fuels and towards an industry that has grown 39.8% compounded annually since 2000 and worth US$71.2 billion at the end of 2010.

Photo Credit: Clickykbd, courtesy of Flickr

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Adam Johnston

is expected to complete the Professional Development Certificate in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto by December 2017. Adam recently completed his Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College Continuing & Online Learning. Adam also graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications in 2011. Adam owns a part-time tax preparation business. He also recently started up Salay Consulting and Social Media services, a part-time business which provides cleantech writing, analysis, and social media services. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or check out his business www.salayconsultiing.com.

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