Texas Renewables 2006
- I just returned from attending Texas Renewables 2006 in Austin. This was hosted by the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association. It was exciting to recognize the accomplishments in Texas toward growing renewable energy generation. We have good folks in the renewable energy business. Here were some highlights:1) THE RENEWABLE ENERGY POTENTIAL! Renewable energies have the technical and economical feasibility to put a cap on CO2 emissions and curb global warming. But it will take a government initiative to turn the financial and policy incentives away from fossil fuels and redirect them to renewables. The US leads in energy consumption, and it must lead in implementing renewables. Every day we wait, the cost we pay later gets higher.2) WIND! Texas produces more wind power than any other state in the US - or country in the world. This year, for the first time ever, Wind electricity retailed at a lower cost than conventional electricity. Texas is the only state to have a pro-active policy toward continuing its wind power growth in that it is planning and putting in the necessary transmission lines ahead of wind growth.3) BIOFUEL! The first few large scale biodiesel production facilities were started this year, and the first two large scale ethanol facilities are being built. Many more are in the works. Texas universities are developing high growth plants that require less water and nutrients. Several filling stations have started selling biodiesel. BioEthanol is now common in gasoline.4) SOLAR! Solar was not highlighted at the conference this year. Solar distributors are having a boom year in places where there are incentives (such as Austin & San Antonio).5) GEOTHERMAL! In the past, geothermal energy in Texas has been largely ignored because of the high cost of drilling wells ($6-8 million a hole). However, someone came up with the bright idea of using existing oil & gas wells that have been taken out of service - there are 600,000 to choose from. Now the economics look promising. A database in being put together that identifies potential sites.6) TEXAS POLICY! 89% of Texans said they wanted electricity from renewable energy rather than coal and natural gas. Politicians are listening, but many legislators and staff need to be educated on technical issues. The oil and gas companies visit the capital regularly to educate our government officials on issues important to them. If RE is to have enabling policy, it must do the same.