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Texas Becomes A Bigger Global Player In Solar Energy

Photo Courtesy Greenalia

The transition to solar energy is mostly about reducing carbon emissions and bolstering American strength and sustainability, but that’s not the only motivation behind it. It also has practical economic benefits. According to the Native Solar website, in oil-rich Texas, for example, rapid growth in solar power is partly seen as a “strategic move to save money and cut costs.” This push makes the Lone Star State an “unexpected but powerful champion” of clean energy solutions and one that has an increasingly global footprint.

As previously reported by The Business Download, Texas ranks fifth in the United States in solar jobs with about 10,350.

According to Forbes, nearly 1.9 million homes in the state are powered by solar panels, placing it second behind only California (with 10.5 million).

Michael Webber, a professor at the University of Texas’ John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering, says that Texas’ clean energy movement doesn’t have much to do with reducing carbon emissions. Instead, he told PBS News Hour that Texas has encouraged the rise in renewables because it “makes us a lot of money for landowners and saves us a lot of money for the consumers.” Some reports say the average Texas household saves roughly $200 annually on electricity costs by adopting solar energy.

Photo Courtesy The University of Texas at Austin

The Lone Star State still has a way to go to become a leader in the percentage of homes and commercial buildings that rely on solar energy. Less than 5% of Texas’ total power comes from solar — a much smaller percentage than several other states. However, Texas continues to attract investments from leading solar companies worldwide that want to set up operations there.

One project in Texas with an international flavor involves JTEKT North America, a South Carolina-based engineering and manufacturing firm owned by Japanese conglomerate JTEKT Corporation.

Earlier this year, CleanTechnica reported that JNA signed a virtual power purchase agreement under the umbrella of the Spanish renewable energy firm Greenalia. The agreement will allow JNA to acquire the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) equivalent of 142.8 megawatts of solar capacity, which will be credited to Greenalia’s new Misae II solar project in Childress, Texas.

Photo Courtesy Misaesolar

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, RECs are issued when “one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource.”

The power purchase agreement with JNA will help finance the initial 319-MW stage of the project, according to CleanTechnica. The array will reach 695 megawatts when fully built out, making it one of the biggest solar energy projects in Texas and the U.S.

Photo Courtesy Misaesolar

In a November 2023 press release, Greenalia said the Misae II project “represents an increase in renewable production at a global level, with the consequent contribution to the global decarbonization process.”

Another foreign company with renewable energy operations in Texas is Trina Solar, a China-based provider of photovoltaic (PV) modules and smart energy solutions. In September 2023, Trina Solar announced plans to invest over $200 million to build a PV manufacturing facility in Wilmer, Texas

The factory will span more than 1 million square feet and is expected to provide about 1,500 local jobs when completed. It should be up and running this year and produce “large power output Vertex modules” using a 210mm large-size wafer.

Photo Courtesy Greenalia 

“We have long had a vision to manufacture solar products in the United States, and we are proud of the jobs we are creating and the investment we are making in the Wilmer community,” Steven Zhu, president of Trina Solar U.S., said in a statement. “Trina’s goal in building this facility is to begin to create an ecosystem of American manufacturing that can serve the burgeoning U.S. solar market.” 

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