Texas Cracks Top 10 in Total Solar Capacity

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Continuing its impressive growth, Texas had the eighth most new solar capacity added last year in the nation, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. The state also finished the year ranked No. 10 among all states in total installed solar capacity.

Continuing its impressive growth, Texas had the eighth most new solar capacity added last year in the nation, according to the recently-released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. The state also finished the year ranked No. 10 among all states in total installed solar capacity.

In 2014, Texas added 129 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 330 MW. That’s enough clean, affordable energy to power nearly 60,000 homes. The report went on to point out that Texas’ biggest solar gains came in utility-scale installations, but commercial and residential installations were strong, as well, setting new records for the state. Of the new capacity added, 99 MW were utility-scale, 16 MW were commercial and 15 MW were residential. Together, these installations represented a $252 million investment across Texas – a 45 percent increase over the previous year.

“To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, the 330 MW of solar installed today in Texas is more than our entire country had installed by 2007. That’s an amazing achievement,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “What’s more, we expect 2015 to be Texas' best year ever for new PV installations, with more than 260 MW of new capacity projected to come online – twice the amount installed last year.”

Today, there are 398 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Texas, employing more than 7,000 people. Notable Texas solar projects include:

  • Alamo 4 Solar Farm was completed in 2014 by developer OCI Solar Power. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 39 MW of electricity – enough to power more than 4,200 Texas homes.
  • At 30 MW, the Barilla Solar Project in Pecos County is the first merchant solar project in the United States. With no long term electricity contract, the project from First Solar represents a landmark in the production of cost-efficient solar energy.
  • Many large retailers in Texas have also gone solar, including REI, Applied Materials, Kohl's, Campbell's Soup and Target.
  • IKEA has installed one of the largest corporate PV systems in the state with 1,633 kilowatts (kW) of solar capacity at their location in Round Rock.

In addition to a growing commercial sector, the Texas residential market also showed significant gains last year, with installed system prices dropping by 8 percent – and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. Nationwide, the U.S. residential market added 1.2 GW of installed capacity in 2014, marking the first time that this growing sector surpassed 1 GW of clean, affordable solar. Residential also continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.

From an environmental perspective, solar installations in Texas are helping to offset more than 350,000 metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of removing more than 75,000 cars off state roads and highways, or saving 400,000 gallons of gasoline.

“Today, the U.S. solar industry employs 174,000 Americans nationwide – more than tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined – and pumps nearly $18 billion a year into our economy,” Resch added. “This remarkable growth is due, in large part, to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). By any measurement, these policies are paying huge dividends for both the U.S. and Texas economies, as well as for our environment.”

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