Solar energy not competitive in Texas

Fuel Fix:
The Texas solar rush is far from achieving its promise. At least five major solar projects have been delayed or canceled, while some industry giants, such as SunEdison, have filed for bankruptcy.

“You haven’t seen quite the liftoff with solar yet in Texas,” said Philip Moore, Lincoln’s vice president of development.
Despite natural advantages such as nearly 300 sunny days a year and plenty of open spaces to site projects, Texas ranks 10th in solar installation. Rock-bottom natural gas prices, which have lowered the cost of traditional power generation, and a lack of state incentives make it nearly impossible for solar to compete dollar for dollar in the Texas marketplace — even with federal tax breaks, said Travis Miller, director of utilities research at Morningstar.

Solar doesn’t compete with wind, which costs about 15 percent less than solar, according to renewable energy developers. Texas leads the nation in wind power with an expected capacity by the end of the year of more than 20,000 megawatts — enough to power about 5 million homes when the wind is blowing. In March, wind generated more than 20 percent of the state’s power for the first time in a month, more than coal or nuclear power.
Despite the drop in price for solar panels, solar energy is still not competitive.  It is going to have to become much more efficient if it is to break out from the one percent  it now delivers.  Besides efficiency, solar providers are going to have to do a better job of modulating their output.  That is relatively easy with natural gas and coal, but is hard with solar.


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