Texas Should Get Its Head in the New Solar Market

Texas Should Get Its Head in the New Solar Market

What would a world powered by clean, low-water energy look like? If you visit Israel’s
southern region, you don’t have to imagine.

In 2011, Arava Power in the southern Israeli desert launched a 4.9 MW solar field
(enough to power more than 3,000 U.S. homes). Since then nearly 200 times as much
capacity — both fields and rooftops — has been installed in the region. By 2025, it’s
likely solar will provide 100 percent of daytime electricity, plus the excess, along the border
with Jordan.

With solar technology, more advanced and cheaper than ever, solar power can take off
quickly in Texas, as it has in Israel.

The Arava Desert, where many of Israel’s solar fields are located, averages about 360
days of the sunshine per year. Austin, where I live, averages about 300 days per year, and
it’s not even as sunny as West Texas. But in January 2016, solar provided just 0.4
percent of power across the vast majority of the state. There is the huge opportunity for
solar growth in Texas.

 

Solar Economy and Jobs

Beyond requiring virtually no water to create energy (unlike traditional fossil fuels), new
solar jobs and income are a boon to the economy.

Typically, reliant on dates, dairy farming, and tourism, southern Israeli communities like
the Eilat Eilot Institute support a range of jobs, from solar development to
implementation to maintenance.

In fact, according to the institute’s director, schools,
cafes, and other amenities are being built to serve the growing community.

It’s not hard to imagine that type of job hub here. According to the Solar Foundation’s
recently-released census, Texas is now home to the third-highest number of solar jobs.
The Lone Star State’s solar job market also saw an impressive 34 percent growth in
2016.

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