green energy

How Much Green Energy Does Texas Use?

Texas is not only America’s largest state but also its largest producer and consumer of  energy, even operating on its own unique power grid.

This may seem like a recipe for disaster when it comes to the climate crisis, but the massive amount of energy Texas generates is surprisingly green. While the state has a long way to go in terms of sustainability, it’s already made some major strides ahead of the rest of the country, especially when it comes to wind and solar power.

Key Takeaways

  • As of 2021, about 24% of the energy Texas used came from renewable sources, with an additional 10% coming from nonrenewable but carbon neutral sources.
  • Texas’s primary green energy sources are wind power and solar power.
  • Texas produces and consumes more energy than any other U.S. state (the state was responsible for 12% of the nation’s total energy consumption last year). This means it’s responsible for a lot of traditional energy consumption but is a national leader in renewable energy as well.

How Much Green Energy Does Texas Use?

In the fight against climate change, it’s crucial to focus on renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and biomass wherever possible. Texas is a massive state that operates on its own power grid separate from the rest of the country. This means that while the state produces and uses massive amounts of energy from traditional sources (the majority of Texas’s energy comes from natural gas), it’s simultaneously a green energy leader.

As of 2021, approximately 20% of Texas’s energy comes from wind power, and 4% comes from solar power. This means that almost a quarter of the power Texas generates and uses is completely green and renewable. 

Nuclear energy also accounted for about 10% of Texas’s total power last year. While nuclear energy isn’t exactly “clean” (the process by which uranium becomes fuel is dangerous for the human miners involved and for the environment), it is a zero-carbon energy source once produced, which is why some see it as a step above fossil fuels.

Over the past decade, Texas has begun to transition from traditional energy sources to more sustainable ones. Since 2009, Texas’s use of wind energy has quadrupled while three of its largest coal-based power plants have shut down. This transition does come with its challenges, however—mainly involving infrastructure, logistics, and cost. 

For instance, Texas is in need of more transmission lines to get renewable energy to consumers. Energy is blocked from reaching households demanding it by overcrowded power lines, and if this weren’t the case, Texas could already be using double the solar power. Another factor is the variability of natural energy sources like wind and sunlight, necessitating the development of giant batteries to store surplus energy for the future.

Regardless of these hurdles, Texas has set a national precedent for what green energy can do. This past summer, during a period of record-breaking electricity demand created by extreme heat, it was renewable energy that bailed Texas out. And the future for increased production of sustainable energy in Texas looks bright. One proposed wind farm in the Gulf of Mexico could power 2.3 million Texas homes.

Where Is the Majority of Green Energy Coming From?

The majority of Texas’s green energy comes from wind power, followed by solar power. Texas has a few advantages that make these resources abundant: For instance, the state’s climate provides for (typically) abundant wind and sunlight (and using and/or storing these readily available resources keeps electricity bill costs down). Moreover, Texas’s “wide open spaces” mean more land availability for wind farms and solar farms, and the state’s sheer size only adds to that benefit.

As of 2021, about 20% of Texas’s power comes from wind, while 4% comes from solar power. Other renewable energy sources make up a fraction of a percentage of Texas’s energy consumption, and that fraction is only growing. These sources include biomass energy (power generated from wood, wood residue, agricultural residue, and agricultural/household waste), biogas energy (power produced from methane and other gasses generated from agricultural and municipal waste), geothermal energy (thermal energy from the Earth’s crust), and hydropower (generated from running water).

How Does Texas’s Green Energy Usage Compare to Other States?

Texas is the national leader in green energy, with the rest of the top 10 made up of Washington, California, Iowa, Oregon, Oklahoma, New York, Kansas, Illinois, and Minnesota. Much of Texas’s success with renewable energy can be accredited to the state’s massive size, its abundance of resources like land, wind, and sunlight, and its power grid separate from the rest of the country. (Since Texas operates on a separate power grid from the rest of the continental U.S., it cannot legally buy or sell electricity across state lines, which means the state can store and use all of the renewable energy it produces.) 

Meanwhile, states that rely on their mining industries (i.e. West Virginia and Wyoming) rank closer to the bottom of the list. Likewise, small northern states simply don’t have the capacity to produce as much solar power as southern sunny giants like Texas, California, Florida, and Arizona. Luckily, states that are part of the larger federal power grids (unlike Texas) can legally buy and sell their resources which makes a greener future possible even for states with greater challenges in the way.

Texas produces and consumes more energy than any other state in the U.S. This means that, while the state’s power mainly comes from traditional sources like natural gas and fossil fuels, the state is also inherently a leader in green energy. About a quarter of Texas’s total generated energy came from renewable sources like wind or solar power last year. Not to mention, an additional 10% came from nuclear power (which is not the greenest or safest source, but is an improvement from other traditional sources since it’s technically carbon-neutral). 

Last year alone, Texas produced 481,844,256 megawatt-hours of energy. The fact that 24% of that energy came from completely renewable sources is a feat of modern technology, and while Texas is certainly not perfectly sustainable, it’s on track to continue its trajectory of improvement in the coming years.

Questions Others are Asking

What state has the most green energy?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of Q1 of 2022, Texas is the national leader for green energy, with Washington and California coming in second and third respectively.

What is Texas’s electricity generation capacity?

Texas is responsible for more energy production and energy consumption than any other U.S. state, generating 12% of the nation’s total net energy in 2021. In that year, Texas produced 481,844,256 megawatt-hours of energy (to put that into perspective, a 100-watt light bulb left on for ten hours uses one kilowatt-hour of energy).

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