The Lone Star State has two cities that are among the nation’s leaders in solar power. San Antonio, Texas is ranked sixth in installed solar capacity, and the state’s capitol, Austin, is ranked 16th. In 2013, San Antonio utilities and residents installed 84 megawatts of solar capacity, while Austin installed 12 megawatts.
Over the years, improvements in solar technology have driven down generation costs and utility prices, as a result the U.S. now has more than 200 times the amount of solar system installations than it did in 2002. The State of Texas leads the nation in solar potential with its ample sunshine and its large geographical size. Most of that capacity is in West Texas, where the sun gives off 75 percent more direct solar radiation compared to East Texas.
San Antonio’s CPS Energy wants to achieve the goal of using renewable energy to meet 20 percent of its electricity demand by 2020. “CPS Energy’s approach to attract business partners is helping to drive job growth, improve our environment and invest in education,” said Kim Stoker, the utility’s director of environmental planning, compliance, and sustainability. “We believe this commitment is really helping our community, and San Antonio is emerging as a hub for clean energy technology.”
The low cost of energy from traditional sources allows CPS to invest in solar in many different forms. They have the flexibility to install rooftop panels on houses as well as on farms to capture the sun’s rays on a larger scale.
By expanding solar, Texas has added 4,100 jobs as of 2013, making the state sixth in job creation. According to Stoker, four of CPS’ solar partners have moved their headquarters to San Antonio. These companies are OCI, Mission Solar, Consert and Greenstar. Mission Solar and OCI has contributed 570 full-time positions. To prepare the next generation of CPS workers, these partnerships have contributed $1.2 million to education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
Now just because Texas is known for its big oil & gas production does not mean it can’t set aggressive goals in the solar industry. The City of Austin is setting a goal to have 600 MW of utility-scale solar by 2017 and 200 MW of rooftop solar by 2020. Even though, as stated, Austin ranks 16th in installed solar capacity, there are other cities that are contributing to installations. The top five U.S cities include Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, San Jose and Honolulu.
We recently highlighted Mission Solar’s accomplishments in a separate blog post. To learn more about this company click here.