Texas now leads the way for solar development in the United States, with many large utility-scale projects coming online month after month. A 36 GW buildout is expected by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) over the next five years, building on the roughly 16 GW that is active to date.
Much of this investment in solar, which nears $20 billion, is going towards large solar facilities, often exceeding 100 MW in capacity. Over 10,000 Texans are employed by the solar industry, and those jobs numbers will sharply rise as more utility-scale projects are built. Today, nearly 5% of Texas electricity is generated by solar.
The solar buildout is promising for Texas, though it does come with some mounting challenges in transmission costs and congestion, climate resilience, and price stabilization.
Relatively low land costs and high solar irradiance in West Texas makes it one of the premier hotbeds of solar development. This development is pushed along by high demand from East Texas, which houses five of the top 15 largest cities in the U.S. Below are some recent utility-scale solar developments across the Lonestar State:
Ashtrom 400 MW
Ashtrom Renewable Energy, an independent power producer, announced it signed financing totaling about $270 million with a group of five banks to fund a 400 MW solar project in Texas. The U.S operation of Bank Hapoalim Group, Bayerische Landesbank, ING Capital, Rabobank and Société Générale were participants.
The project includes a tax credit transfer agreement to sell the production tax credit (PTC) associated with the project, which is valued at $300 million. The project is among the first solar projects in the U.S. to execute a PTC credit transfer agreement under the Inflation Reduction Act.
In a 20-year power purchase agreement, Ashtrom will sell about 60% of the project’s electricity generation to CPS Energy, the municipal utility serving San Antonio.
The project is located on 2,400 acres in Pecos County, Texas and is currently under construction. Commercial operations are expected for Q4 2024.
bp 187 MW
bp announced is has begun construction on a 187 MWdc project that will supply power to a Gulf Coast Growth Ventures petrochemical complex. The facility produces materials used to manufacture clothes, food containers, packaging, agricultural film and construction materials.
The project is expected to bring 300 construction jobs and $25 million in tax revenues over a 25-year period.
At full capacity, the project is estimated to offset the emissions of the equivalent of about 55,000 fuel-burning cars. The project is expected to come online in the second half of 2024.
Recurrent Energy 134 MW
Recurrent Energy, the development arm of Canadian Solar, announced it closed financing for a 134 MWdc solar project in Liberty County, Texas. The project is about 50 miles northeast of Houston.
Rabobank acted as the Coordinating Lead Arranger and the Joint Lead Arranger. Nord LB and U.S. Bank acted as Joint Lead Arrangers. Rabobank, Nord LB and U.S. Bank are expected to provide construction debt, a letter of credit facility and a term facility, totaling $120 million. U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance, a subsidiary of U.S. Bank, is expected to provide the tax equity totaling $80 million.
Liberty Solar will expand solar energy capacity in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region, which includes most of Liberty County where Liberty Solar is located. Solar energy currently makes up only 1% of the resource mix in MISO.
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