Texas solar boom project updates


Texas leads the United States in solar development, particularly in the utility-scale segment. It has 22.8 GW installed through the end of 2023, with another 40.9 GW expected to come online over the next five years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“As the Texas economy continues to grow, electricity consumption has correspondingly increased,” said SEIA. “Environmental regulations and various market pressures have forced a significant amount of generation to exit the market in recent years while older generation sources continue to be retired. Thus, new solar generation capacity is required to meet the Texas market’s demand.”

Image: SEIA

Much of the market is driven by large utility-scale projects. Many developers are also opting to add grid-scale battery energy storage with their projects.

Dallas-based Amshore Renewable Energy announced it has identified a site for its new Route 66 Solar + Battery project. The site encompasses 1,500 acres, and Amshore said the community surrounding the project site is “highly motivated” and “ready to collaborate on renewable energy initiatives.”

The project enables dual interconnection with Texas’ ERCOT regional transmission operations and the SPP market. The company said the project is suitable for 150 MW to 200 MW on each transmission line, with solar irradiance of 5.25 to 5.50 kWh per squared meter per day. Studies of the land suggest there are no species of concern or floodplain issues for the project site, said Amshore.

Further along the project development cycle is a set of two projects developed by Leeward Renewable Energy, which entered into two 200 MW solar PPAs with Microsoft. Both projects, Morrow Lake Solar and Cradle Solar, are installing First Solar thin-film solar modules.

In Frio County, the Morrow Lake Solar project created 313 construction jobs, with 112 local hires. In Brazoria County, the construction of Cradle Solar is expected to generate over 300 construction jobs at its peak. Construction at the Morrow Lake Solar facility is underway and is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2024, while construction of Cradle Solar is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2024 and completed by the fourth quarter of 2025.

Reaching one of the final legs of the project cycle is the Tres Bahias Solar, a project developed by Swift Current Energy that is now providing power to the Houston area. The Calhoun County project has entered a power purchase agreement (PPA) with utility NRG Energy.

UnitedHealth Group and Morgan Stanley Renewables Inc. are providing the tax equity for the 260 MW project. ING Capital, LLC provided construction financing for the Project, with Siemens Financial Services and Associated Bank as additional lenders in the construction financing.

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