Texas Renewable Energy Resources
Due to its vast size and diverse climate, Texas ranks first in the nation for its renewable energy resources, with a realistic potential to harness these resources to meet most of the state's energy needs. As consumers look for ways to cope with high, fluctuating energy costs they are also looking at ways that they might generate some of their own power using wind turbines, solar electric generators, anaerobic digesters, biomass energy systems, geothermal systems and biofuels. The key lies in developing technologies that can tap these resources affordably and reliably as well as setting up a regulatory and incentive structure that makes such investments viable.
Renewable Energy History
Texas Renewable Energy Resources
Our nation is currently dependent upon fossil fuels that are nonrenewable, finite resources that will eventually diminish until they are too expensive and environmentally damaging to retrieve. Although the supply of fossil fuels is limited, renewable energy comes from nature's resources that can be constantly replenished. Renewable energy sources include: biomass, hydro, geothermal, solar, wind, ocean thermal, wave action and tidal action. These primary sources of energy can be converted into heat, electricity, mechanical energy and vehicle fuel - over and over again.
Texas is beginning to shift focus to its vast renewable and clean energy resources. The chart (below) shows Total Renewable Net Generation in Texas by Energy Source 2006.
Ever since the first oil well gushed forth in East Texas in 1866, Texas has been renowned for its "black gold." An oil-related economy developed around subsequent oil discoveries as the state prospered with its flourishing petroleum industry. Throughout most of the first half of the century, oil was plentiful, prices were low, and at mid-century, Texas was the dominant producer in the world oil market, producing more oil than the entire output of the Middle East. From its oil and gas revenues, the state has collected billions of dollars in taxes that have built some of the nation's best roads, schools and infrastructure.
Texas at a Crossroads
For nearly a century, Texas has been a leader in the world's energy industry. Today, Texas has the opportunity to become a leader in the global market for renewables. As the nation's top crude oil producer and one of the major energy production and consumption centers in the world, Texas has an extensive energy infrastructure already in place.
Texas Energy Infrastructure — Making the Switch
Texans have a rich and colorful past in mining nature's energy resources, of seizing the moment when opportunity is promising but uncertain. Wildcatters were after oil, they knew it was there, but where exactly? They risked everything to find a "wildcat," an oil gusher as yet unexplored and unclaimed. What began with wildcatter foresight ended with the Texas oil boom.
The early Texas oil fields served as fertile ground for the growth of numerous support industries. In many cases, members of these fledgling groups have come to be recognized as the world's most knowledgeable and capable experts in their fields. As the renewable energy industry expands, the expertise of these support industries is being tapped to provide the support and infrastructure needed for the advancement of renewable energy production in the state.
Declining Costs of Renewable Energy
The cost of energy from renewable technologies has steadily declined in the past quarter century. As an example, the cost of wind energy has declined from about 30-45 cents per kilowatt-hour in 1980 to less than 5 cents today. Wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy production have all seen impressive advancements in technologies with significant drops in cost.
It makes economic sense for Texas to tap into its vast renewable reserves. With new technologies and declining costs, renewable energy sources are becoming more competitive with fossil fuels.