As the saying goes, ‘Everything’s bigger in Texas.’ And Texas will soon live up to that benchmark yet again when it becomes home to the U.S.’s largest solar farm.
Invenergy, a private operator and developer of sustainable energy solutions, recently announced in a press release that it will build a 1,310-megawatt solar plant in Northeast Texas which, upon its completion, will be the nation’s largest.
The Samson Solar Energy Center is slated for completion in 2023 and will be constructed over the next three years in five phases. The massive project will span Texas’ Lamar, Red River, and Franklin Counties and is expected to support up to 600 jobs during the 36 months of construction.
“Invenergy continues to lead the energy transition, and this record-setting project demonstrates our expertise at a new scale,” said Ted Romaine, Senior Vice President of Origination at Invenergy, in the release. “The Samson Solar Energy Center is the latest example of what can be achieved when companies and utilities seek an innovative partner to meet their sustainability goals and invest in a clean energy future.”
According to Chicago-based Invenergy, when the Samson Center is completed, it will be capable of providing power to some 300,000 American homes. Invenergy says the project is a $1.6 billion capital investment.
“In addition, the project will drive significant local economic development, bringing more than $250 million in landowner payments and supporting local communities through nearly $200 million in property tax payments over the life of the project,” Invenergy said in the release.
Five major corporations including AT&T, Honda, McDonald’s, Google, and The Home Depot, have contracted to buy power from the project. AT&T has the largest agreement and is set to receive 500 megawatts of solar power from the Samson Facility.
“At AT&T, we believe renewable energy is good for the planet, for our business, and for the communities we serve,” Scott Mair, president of AT&T Technology & Operations, said in the release. “With more than 1.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, our portfolio delivers clean electricity to the grid, helps to create jobs and community benefits, and supports the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Additionally, the facility will supply power to three Texas municipalities: the cities of Bryan, Denton, and Garland.
The Invenergy announcement is part of a larger trend toward solar in Texas–a state with a robust, wind power-driven renewables portfolio that matches its ‘Everything’s Bigger’ slogan.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “five years ago, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid operator, projected that as much as 12,500 megawatts of solar generating capacity would be installed across the state by 2029. It now expects to surpass that as soon as next year.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Texas grid currently has around 3,800 megawatts of solar capacity. However, ERCOT says that number could reach 21,000 by 2023, therefore making it possible for Texas to surpass California — the current U.S. leader in solar with over 13,000 megawatts of solar capacity.
Texas ranks first in the nation for wind power with an industry that supports more than 25,000 jobs in the state; Texas is also the overall leader in renewable energy with close to 29,000 megawatts total wind and solar generation, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the American Wind Energy Association, in 2019, wind energy generated over 17 percent of total in-state electricity production–sufficient energy to power upwards of 7.7 million average American homes.
With 30 gigawatts of wind capacity, Texas is competitive with the world’s top wind power-producing countries, according to the American Wind Energy Association. And with plenty of land and lots of sunshine, solar could be the state’s next frontier.