Summer Heat Shows Texas Needs Solar
July 14, 2023
By Bret Biggart
June was historically hot in Texas. Temperatures set records. So did electricity use.
But for the most part, Texans weathered it. The lights stayed on, and the air conditioners kept running — and that’s largely thanks to the state’s massive and fast-growing solar power resources.
Or, as Texas Monthly put it, “Without Solar Power, This Texas Heat Wave Would Burn Much Worse”:
“Much like last summer, solar electricity has been critical for keeping the lights on throughout Texas the past few days. It has been a workhorse during the afternoon hours, fulfilling more than 15 percent of the state’s power needs during some of the most critical periods. Natural gas and wind still contribute a greater share, so solar can’t solely be credited with saving our bacon during this first summer heat wave. But when it’s so hot out that the bacon will sizzle on the sidewalk, the sun’s largesse has played a key role in preventing brownouts.”
That’s certainly true for large-scale solar plants, of course. Since Texas’ first large-scale solar farm opened in 2010, solar power has generated 126,000 megawatts of energy on the state’s primary power grid. The amount of solar power on the grid has more than tripled in the last three years alone.
It’s also true for individual homes and businesses, more and more of which have installed rooftop solar panels to help stay free and safe from high bills and blackouts. This summer and every summer, solar panels are allowing people to generate their own electricity during the broiling afternoons when they — and their air conditioners — need it the most.
Texans are still rightly scarred from Winter Storm Uri in 2021. Our state needs a diverse energy portfolio to deal with that kind of extreme weather.
But solar has more than proven its worth. It’s helped keep the lights on. It’s also created an avalanche of cheap electricity on days when demand has set records, helping to bring down bills that could otherwise crush Texas consumers. And it’s protected other forms of Texas energy: as research scientist Joshua Rhodes put it, “Having solar provide during the hottest parts of the day is allowing our thermal fleet to not run itself into the ground as fast.”
The timing is pretty ironic. Just two months ago, we were sweating the Texas Legislature even more than the heat — fighting a series of bills designed to undercut solar power by making it harder to get and much more expensive.
But we won those fights, for the most part. Solar power is flourishing. It’s not only shaping our future — it’s also powering the economy and life in Texas today.
This summer is showing, as well as anything ever could, how solar is helping Texans to live more powerfully. Again, Texas Monthly said it well: “Texas is and remains a state dependent on fossil fuels, but, more and more, the lone star in our solar system is energizing the Lone Star State.”