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Texas has gone big with renewable energy. Why can’t it go all the way?

Renewable energy has boomed in the state, but finding economical ways to store it and building transmission lines to move it to population centers remain major hurdles. (Flickr/Daxis)

By Kristi E. Swartz for Floodlight and the Texas Tribune

Texas leads the nation in renewable energy. Solar, wind and other renewables exclusively power businesses, colleges and even one town in the state.

So, why can’t the state simply continue that trend and run on 100% renewable energy?

Like any long-term relationship, it’s complicated, especially for a state that is rooted in fossil fuels.

“One side certainly has a longer history and is potentially better connected,” said Felix Mormann, a professor at Texas A&M University’s Engineering Experiment Station, of the state’s long history with natural gas and other fossil fuels. “But the future belongs to the other side.”

State lawmakers don’t see it that way, it would appear.

They are instead pushing bills that would turn back some of that effort toward decarbonization by creating new financial incentives for natural gas power plants to be built. They consider the gas plants the answer to having easily accessible emergency electricity at the ready if a storm akin to February 2021 happens again. During that winter storm, named Uri, roughly 4.5 million Texans lost power for several days, hundreds of people died, and the state’s electric grid was pushed to the brink of collapse.

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