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Short Term Energy Outlook
Credit: US EIA

Clean Power

Texas Will Have More Electricity From Renewables Than Natural Gas Next Year, Says EIA Report

The December Short Term Energy Output report from the EIA contains lots of good news and a few surprises for those living in Texas.

The US Energy Information Agency, otherwise known as the EIA, released its Short Term Energy Outlook for December this week. It contains news that is heartening to renewable energy advocates. It expects the share of unnatural gas used to power generating plants to fall from 39% this year to 37% in 2023. It also predicts coal will fall to 19% (it was 23% in 2021) while renewables will increase from 20% in 2021 and 22% this year to 24% in 2023.

That is good news all around but the real shocker in the EIA report concerns Texas. It predicts solar and wind will provide 37% of the electricity generated in Texas, up from 30% this year. At the same time, unnatural gas is expected to generate 36% — the first time in history renewables have outpaced gas in the Lone Star state, according to the EIA.

EIA

Credit: EIA via Twitter

This may be perplexing to some readers. Isn’t Texas the state that refuses to link its grid to any other state or region in order to avoid federal regulation and isn’t it the state whose reactionary leaders would rather drink Brent Light Crude than than say anything positive about renewable energy? Isn’t Texas the state whose governor lied though his teeth a few winters back when the grid failed after a winter storm and told people it was all the fault of renewables when actually it was because many of the diesel engines used to power unnatural gas pipelines failed?

The answer is yes, yes, and yes. Texas is indeed a state that loathes renewable energy and loves every hole in the ground drilled by the oil and gas industry. Yet in 2021, the American Clean Power Association reported that Texas installed 7,325 megawatts of new wind, solar, and energy storage projects versus 2,697 megawatts in the next highest state, California.

“But what got my attention wasn’t Texas’ dominance in 2021,” Dan Gearino wrote in Inside Climate News. “It was that Texas also is the leader when ranking the states on how much wind, solar, and storage they have under construction or in advanced development. Texas can claim, with ample evidence, to be the renewable energy capital of the United States. This is despite also being the fossil fuel capital of the United States and having political leaders who go out of their way to defer to oil and gas.”

“Texas leaders, lawmakers, and regulators are “putting their thumbs on the scale to reward fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy, which is hardly surprising given the chummy relationship state officials have with oil and gas,” the Houston Chronicle says in an editorial. “That’s bad news for residential consumers, particularly since wind and solar are often the most reliable energy sources during times of peak demand.”

Mostly it comes down to economics. Texas is adding massive amounts of renewable energy because it “makes financial sense,” not for environmental reasons, Joshua Rhodes, an energy expert at the University of Texas at Austin, told Inside Climate News. Texas, after all, has ample strong winds and bright sunlight. “There’s some dumb luck there,” Rhodes said.

Whatever the reason, renewable energy is now the leading source of electricity in Texas. Suck on that, Greg Abbott!

 
 
 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?

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