In a burst of cosmic irony, the Lone Star State is now the manifestation of an all-of-the-above energy policy.

Rich in fossil fuels, Texas accounts for nearly one-quarter of U.S. energy production. It is home (along with New Mexico) to the celebrated Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale, as well as the Barnett, the shale revolution’s birthplace. It’s no exaggeration to say that Texas and its abundant shale resources have allowed the U.S. to emerge as a dominant exporter of LNG, surpassing even long-time heavyweights Australia and Qatar.

And Texas is cementing its position among the energy elite in the renewable sphere as well, leading the U.S. in wind-generated electricity and ranking among the top states in solar energy potential and generation.

As a longtime oil and gas producer, the state is primed to be a major producer of geothermal energy and is blessed with ample reserves of uranium, rare earth elements and other critical minerals, according to the U.S.-based Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Wind turbine density in the U.S.
wind turbine density in Texas
The maps show the relative density of wind turbines in the U.S. and Texas. (Source: U.S. Department of Interior and the USGS' "The U.S. Wind Turbine Database")

Bill Gates has taken notice, and commented during CERAWeek by S&P Global in Houston that there was irony in the surge of renewable energy in a state known for its oil and gas.

“If you want to see what the cutting edge of next-gen clean energy innovation looks like, it’d be hard to find a place better than Texas,” Gates wrote in a blog post. “Amazing companies are breaking ground not just in Southeast Texas but across the state. Each one represents a huge boon for the local economy, America’s energy security and the fight against climate change.”

Gates has made no secret of his desire to fight climate change. He founded Breakthrough Energy, a company funding research into clean energy technologies, and TerraPower, which is developing advanced technologies for nuclear energy.

Whether it’s the size of its population or its economic landscape dominated by hydrocarbons, companies in the renewables space are finding Texas attractive, Gates said. These include the largest international oil companies like BP, Eni, Equinor, Repsol, Shell and TotalEnergies, among others.

Renewable energies come laden with challenges—costs and their intermittent nature are still bridges that must be crossed. And the February 2021 freeze in Texas not only took out gas facilities but wind turbines. If anything, it’s a case in point about the reliability of certain renewable resources under extreme weather conditions.

But the ability of the state to dominate across the energy spectrum should head off arguments that it will not contribute mightily to a low-carbon future. As they say ’round these parts: “Don’t Mess with Texas.”


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