Solar Power Can Aid Strained Texas Grid, Officials Say

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of the Texas Tribune. Author credit goes to Kate Galbraith.

Solar power can play a role in aiding Texas’ strained electric grid, industry officials and regulators said Tuesday at a meeting devoted to solar power in San Antonio.

“Solar will help ERCOT, will help in our resource adequacy challenge,” Public Utility Commissioner Rolando Pablos of San Antonio said at the conference, which was convened by the nonprofit Solar San Antonio. He was referring to the peak-time pressures on the Texas power grid, when power demand threatens to exceed supply.

Solar Power

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Currently only a tiny fraction of Texas’ power comes from the sun, and the state ranks well behind California and other sunny states in development of the resource. The main downsides of solar power are that it is expensive (despite recent solar-panel price drops) and intermittent, because it does not produce power at night.

Solar advocates argue that the sun’s rays offer an emissions-free electricity source that revs up just when Texas needs power the most — for example, the late summer afternoons when air conditioners are running full-blast. Solar panels also require little water, aside from being washed once or twice a year — a key advantage in the drought-prone state.

Texas possesses about 14 percent of the nation’s solar-power potential, according to Emily Duncan, the manager of government affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, who added that 255 solar companies are based in the state.

Solar power can play a role in aiding Texas’ strained electric grid, industry officials and regulators said Tuesday at a meeting devoted to solar power in San Antonio.

“Solar will help ERCOT, will help in our resource adequacy challenge,” Public Utility Commissioner Rolando Pablos of San Antonio said at the conference, which was convened by the nonprofit Solar San Antonio. He was referring to the peak-time pressures on the Texas power grid, when power demand threatens to exceed supply.

Currently only a tiny fraction of Texas’ power comes from the sun, and the state ranks well behind California and other sunny states in development of the resource. The main downsides of solar power are that it is expensive (despite recent solar-panel price drops) and intermittent, because it does not produce power at night.

Solar advocates argue that the sun’s rays offer an emissions-free electricity source that revs up just when Texas needs power the most — for example, the late summer afternoons when air conditioners are running full-blast. Solar panels also require little water, aside from being washed once or twice a year — a key advantage in the drought-prone state.

Texas possesses about 14 percent of the nation’s solar-power potential, according to Emily Duncan, the manager of government affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, who added that 255 solar companies are based in the state.

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