Texas Connects Us: Solar Energy Plants in Texas Projected to Double

The number of large solar energy plants in Texas is projected to nearly double over the next four years.

"We're seeing a lot more people coming in, kind of kicking tires looking for property, seeing how they can do it," said Ken Becker, chairman of the West Texas Energy Consortium.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas expects 20 new utility-grade solar projects to come on line by the end of 2020.

That would bring the total to 41 solar plants in Texas, which could produce enough electricity to power all of Dallas County.

"Texas looks great. I mean, it looks bright – the future's very bright for us here in Texas," said Dennis Brennan, manager of Texas Solar Construction, Operations and Maintenance for ConEdison Development.

ConEdison currently operates four solar plants in Texas, including Alamo 7, the state's newest.

Located 55 miles north of Abilene in Haskell County, the massive solar farm is nearly the size of 1,000 football fields and includes 423,360 individual solar panels.

"The sheer size of this site – covering 1,400 acres – is a difficult challenge, but you have to break it down into small chunks," Brennan said.

There are 10,080 individual "trackers," which keep the solar panels always pointed toward the sun.

"The guys will do what we call a tracker run. They'll go out in the morning, make sure everything is facing the right directions, see if we have any issues, maybe some trackers didn't wake up when the sun rose," Brennan said.

A total of 42 solar panels sit atop each tracker, which then uses a dual-axis to precisely follow the sun as it crosses the West Texas sky.

"There's two sensors – one controls the north south motion and the other one controls the east west," Brennan said. "So those sensors are always looking at the sun, reporting back to the control panel and letting them know where to move to get the best angle to the sun."

ConEdison Development says Alamo 7 is the largest operating dual-axis solar plant in North America, producing enough electricity to power 26,000 homes.

"We will continue to build here in Texas and look at different opportunities and see what the future brings," Brennan said.

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