Texas will add 10 gigawatts of utility-scale solar power in the next two years, meaning it will soon rival California as the state with the most large-scale solar power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA said that Texas will add 4.6 gigawatts of utility-scale solar this year and 5.4 gigawatts in 2022, giving the state a total capacity of 15 gigawatts within two years. Factoring in the intermittency of solar energy, that’s enough to power roughly 5 million homes, according to Reuters. California now has 16 gigawatts of installed solar capacity and is expected to have close to 18 gigawatts by the end of 2022, the EIA reported.
Utility-scale solar is booming in Texas in part because of a federal tax credit of 26 percent for solar projects begun this year and next. That tax credit drops to 22 percent in 2023 and 10 percent in 2024 and after. The EIA said the rapid growth of utility-scale solar in Texas also is the result of lower costs for solar technology, as well as the state’s abundant sunshine, particularly in West Texas’s Permian Basin, where 30 percent of the state’s planned utility-scale solar projects will be built.
One third of the utility-scale solar projects that will be built in the U.S. in 2021 and 2022 will be constructed in Texas, the EIA said.
In 2020, utility-scale solar comprised only 4 percent of Texas’ generating capacity, compared to 23 percent for wind and 53 percent for natural gas. The state experienced a crash of its electrical grid during a bitterly cold stretch of weather in February, and state officials now are working to expand electricity-generating capacity and to modernize the state’s grid.