Sunday, April 27, 2008

Texas Solar Forum held a few surprises

On Thursday and Friday, the Texas Solar Forum was held at the Capital Auditorium here in Austin. The event targeted a policy-maker audience, and its venue 1 level below the state's capital underscored the important role that policymakers can play in creating the environment needed for the solar industry in Texas to thrive.

There were many speakers and I encourage you to check out any transcripts, presentations, or video that they will eventually put up on the website (

Since I work for a wind developer, I was most interested in the final panel discussion, which featured representatives from Austin Energy, CPS (San Antonio's municipal utility), and executives from major solar manufacturers and developers including industry major First Solar and trailblazing concentrated solar startup Ausra.

I wasn't the only one to raise my eyebrows at hearing that Ausra is now able to offer long-term PPAs for electricity priced at 9 cents/kWh!!! That's on par with peak natural gas prices here in Texas and actually beats Arizona Public Service's peaker prices by a factor of 2...

Key takeaway: solar still has a long way to go, but grid parity is right around the corner for some technologies. And where better to launch a revolution in the U.S. than in the only state that can legally suceed from the union any time it chooses!

1 comment:

Edward Stautberg said...

I also attended this event. I agree that Ausra's economics were very impressive but what really caught my attention were the possibilities of Solar Thermal in general.
If you look at the peak demand curve over the day, conventional solar matches up with it in the middle of the day and early afternoon, but trails off as the angle of the sun gets lower.
Solar thermal's curve starts where conventional solar leaves off and ramps down with demand. If one combined these two it could serve all of, no just part of, peak demand with solar.