Texas’ solar market is about to catch fire
With more than 5 GW of approved solar projects in the ERCOT grid, Texas is getting ready for a major boom in its utility-scale solar market.
here is a lot of information that is publicly available on the U.S. electricity system. And one of the richest sources of this information is the nation’s grid operators.
At the beginning of this year, pv magazine USA reported on the flood of projects in the interconnection queues of regional grid operators, finding 139 GWac of projects in five grids. Since that time, we found another 26 GWac of projects in the Southwest Power Pool queue, bringing that total to 165 GWac.
But that was a snapshot, and since that time project development has proceeded – particularly in one of the most active regions, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which covers the large majority of Texas’ area and population.
In December, the volume of solar applications in ERCOT’s interconnection queue exceeded those of wind for the first time, at over 40 GWac. But it didn’t stop there, and the January report from ERCOT published earlier this month finds a stunning 43.5 GWac of solar projects, most of which are in West Texas with some in the Panhandle and South Texas, and even a few on the Gulf Coast.
But as any developer will tell you, not all of that is going to get built. In fact, most of it won’t. Which leaves a question that is hard to answer: How much will?
Perhaps even more important than the 43.5 GWac figure in the interconnection queue is that 5,081 MW of these projects have interconnection agreements. Furthermore, with the exception of a mammoth 495 MW project in Borden County, all of these projects are scheduled to come online in 2019 and 2020.