The New Aktina Solar Farm Outside of Houston Will Help Power The Lone Star State
Texas is taking a massive step toward sustainable energy with a brand new 631-megawatt solar farm just outside of Houston. Texas-based Rosendin Renewable Energy Group and Tokyo Gas America are teaming up to build a massive new solar farm on 1,619 hectares in Wharton County.
The Aktina farm is set to come online in stages beginning this summer and will be made up of 1.4 million solar modules, making it the largest operating solar power project in the state. The electricity it generates will be sold to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) wholesale market, which manages the flow of power to more than 25 million Texans.
The Aktina solar project is one of the most anticipated new arrivals in the state’s rapidly-growing solar market. It is expected to be fully operational in early 2022 and has already hired more than 500 workers and contractors. The team is 30 percent women (much higher than the industry average) and is working closely with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The site is managed by Austin-based Origis Services, which will also provide full-time technicians as well as monitoring and compliance services. Aktina is Tokyo Gas America’s first solar project in the United States.
“This collaborative approach and ability to secure a stable workforce gave us confidence to launch our first American solar facility that we are taking from construction to commercial operation,” said Tokyo Gas America Senior Vice President Ken Kiriishi. “We chose to partner with Rosendin…because they align with developers, from the early stage through construction, to address unique challenges in the utility-scale solar industry.”
“Tokyo Gas is scaling quickly to meet its global clean energy goals,” added Origis Managing Director Michael Eyman. “We are honored to work with [them] on Aktina. The investments we’ve made in our facility and team to support the massive growth of solar and energy storage in the U.S. will now support Tokyo Gas America’s renewable energy footprint here.”
Aktina plays a significant role in Tokyo Gas’ 2030 initiative to scale their renewable power to 5 gigawatts and eventually achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
“We are very excited to be working with such a forward-thinking partner that is committed to increasing renewable power generation in Texas and around the world,” said David Lincoln, Rosendin Renewable Energy Group’s Senior Vice President.
The Lone Star State, like much of the U.S., is diversifying its energy portfolio by investing in clean energy technologies and unleashing renewable forms of energy such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric. The state has several massive solar plants in the works. In this large state where wind and sun are plentiful, there’s a growing trend to move quickly toward clean energy. Renewable resources now make up almost 43 percent of ERCOT’s output, outpacing gas (30 percent) and coal (down to just 14.9 percent). It’s a trend that is reflected across America. Recently, several major U.S. coal plants have been shut down or converted to solar. These include Black & Veatch, an engineering and construction firm that shut down all coal-based work in an effort to accelerate efforts toward a carbon-free future, and J-Power USA, which is converting its coal plants into new clean energy facilities. Industry giant General Electric also intends to leave the coal power market behind in the coming months.
With an estimated 10.4 gigawatts of new solar added so far in 2020, and an additional 15.8 gigawatts expected to come online before year’s end, the United States is trending strongly toward a green future. This transition is a part of the nation’s renewed commitment to Paris Climate Agreement goals and underscores the new federal administration’s devotion to a clean and sustainable economic future.