West Texas's oil fields will soon become home to about $1 billion worth of solar-energy farms, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Pecos County, covering the southern edge of the Permian Basin oil field about halfway between San Antonio and El Paso, is the perfect location for solar farms. It's cheap, flat and sees a whole lot of sun. Until, recently, however, a lack of state solar incentives has kept solar growth in Texas relatively limited. Texas currently only holds 193 megawatts of large-scale solar arrays, enough to power about 40,000 Texas homes on a summer afternoon. The recent drop in the cost of solar panels, however, has made it realistic to build solar farms in the Lone Star State even without the benefits that other states use to encourage solar growth.
In mid-August, construction began on a solar farm slated to cover the area of about 900 football fields. Right next door, a solar provider that recently built a 30 megawatt array in Arizona is looking to build another solar power station.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the power grid that covers most of the state, expects this growth to continue to boom. They predict 12,500 megawatts of solar-generating capacity will be operational in Texas by 2029 — roughly the size of all solar farms currently installed in the U.S. West Texas already has the infrastructure to handle the increased solar load. The state recently finished erecting $6.9 billion worth of new transmission lines to bring wind power from West Texas to the states largest cities. Solar developers plan to move electricity on the same lines.
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