By Griffin Saltron, January 5, 2024
At the end of last year, Governor Greg Abbott posted the following on X, claiming that “Texas is America’s #1 energy producer”:
This claim is not only verifiably true but arguably understates the accomplishment. Texas leads the country in energy production by providing for nearly one-fourth of the energy produced domestically. The state does this while only consuming roughly one-seventh of U.S. energy. This makes Texas not only the #1 energy producer but also the nation's largest net exporter of energy. In other words, Texas energy keeps the United States running. Texas does this through the diversification of energy, utilizing the available energy sources to bolster production. As a result, the state is, as Governor Abbott stated, not only #1 in crude oil and natural gas production but also #1 in wind energy production and #2 in solar energy production, second only to California.
As with all statistics, it is important to encapsulate the context of Texas’ #1 energy production rating to show just how far ahead of other states Texas is in the production of energy. In terms of wind energy, Texas has the installed capacity to produce 37,422 MW at peak wind. In reality, it is not always windy, so this capacity translates to the production of 6,775 MW produced in a less windy month such as August. This is, however, 66% more production than the second-highest wind-generating state of Oklahoma. In terms of solar energy, Texas is second place only to California with a capacity of 17,247 MW as compared to California’s capacity of 39,729 MW. The two states do, however, have a comparable rate of energy generation relative to their capacity at 17.9% in May. This means that production is simply a result of the number of solar panels in the state. As private investment in solar energy increases in Texas over time, this gap will close.
This high level of production in the renewable energy sector would not, however, be possible without the support of a strong reliable energy base. Fortunately, Texas can provide this with 10% of its energy production coming from nuclear energy, 42% from natural gas, and 19% from coal. These are considered the most reliable energy sources as they are not dependent on environmental factors like wind and solar. The reality is that with the current state of battery technology, wind and solar cannot yet be relied upon as a windless or cloudy day can disrupt their production greatly. For this reason, Texas must continue to produce these three forms of energy for the foreseeable future. This will not only allow for the continued development and prosperity of Texas, but also further advancement in renewable energy. If Texas has a secure base load that can support the populace, then private actors will be able to enhance the experience of Texans by investing in solar and wind technology which can add even more to the energy production capacity of the state.
Increasing the energy production capacity of Texas, if done through the marketplace and not to the detriment of the taxpayer, will always be a net positive for the state. This model is how Texas is able to be so dominant in energy production. By balancing renewables with traditional sources of energy, Texas can advance technologically while still providing a reliable supply of electricity for the state’s populace and economy.