Daily Blog

Which Way Does That Old Pony Run? - Clean Energy Booms in Texas, But Oil and Gas Still Critical

Plans to greatly expand the production of low-carbon energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be found just about everywhere, from national and international policy discussions to debates at the state and local levels. Given the potential for dramatic economic, social, and geopolitical impacts over the coming decades, it’s no surprise that top-down mandates for a transition to a more renewables-centric energy mix and away from fossil fuels can stir up concern over the pace, scale, and ultimate effectiveness of such a massive undertaking. In some places, like California, critical voices are largely drowned out. In other spots, apprehension may fester just below the surface. But in a state like Texas that identifies so closely with the energy industry, the conversation is right out in the open. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how that debate is playing out in Texas, where renewable energy is booming in a state known for fossil fuels. 

This is the third blog in our series on the ongoing efforts to decarbonize U.S. energy networks. While developments are playing out very differently from state to state, based on any number of factors, one thing that has become clear over the past couple of years, as energy transition initiatives have gained momentum, is that all sorts of practical economic and logistical realities that may have initially been glossed over by proponents have been laid bare. The truth is that Americans expect the industry to deliver fuel and power where they need it, when they need it, and for a price that everyday people can afford — what’s referred to as the trilemma of availability, reliability and affordability. But those goals not only clash with each other at times, they can also conflict with environmental priorities.

In our first blog, Can’t Help Falling in Love, we looked at the many ways that Hawaii exemplifies both the ambitions and pitfalls of today’s energy landscape. The state has a longstanding commitment to expanding energy production from renewable sources while also tamping down the use of fossil fuels (especially coal for power generation) — but doing all that while also keeping prices under control and reducing pollution is turning out to be no easy feat. Complicating matters, many renewable energy projects have faced significant delays due to conditions not unusual in the Lower 48: supply chain problems, rising costs, difficulties in permitting (see Don’t Pass Me By), and contracting issues.

Next, in Freeze Frame, we highlighted how difficult it can be to significantly scale up renewable energy production while moving away from fossil fuels at the same time, even in a state like California with abundant financial and clean-energy resources and a commitment to decarbonization. Fearing a shortfall in power generating capacity that could hit as early as 2025, the Golden State has extended the life of several gas-fired power plants along its coast, increased the capacity at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site near Los Angeles, and moved to keep the 2,180-MW Diablo Canyon nuclear facility — once targeted for closure — operating into the mid-2040s. 

Join Backstage Pass to Read Full Article

Learn More