This February, a massive winter storm hit much of the United States, with Texas being one of the worst-off states. Many homes and businesses relying on fossil fuels and other mainstream energy sources were without power and heat for days, some destroyed due to frozen water pipes bursting.
While wind and hydroelectric power were also affected by the freezing temperatures, most solar power plants and even residential solar panels continued to provide energy. These outages should compel Texas residents to reconsider their choice of power sources and utilize clean energy, like solar power, instead.
However, while this storm may push the notion into residents’ minds, there are various factors to consider when weighing energy options. These include installation and setup costs, energy usage versus output considerations, maintenance costs, and payback periods.
Traditional Power Grids and Smart Grids
Like most other parts of the US, Texas has relied on traditional power grids for energy distribution. However, advanced smart grid systems offer more control through IoT communication between devices and provide two-way power distribution to and from secondary providers.
Smart grids use digital technology to enhance communication between subsystems and provide energy consumption output transparency. Apart from that, smart grids can transmit electricity more efficiently, enhance security, and reduce consumer costs. Although traditional grids may be cheaper to install and maintain, smart grids will help you save more energy in the long run.
Residential Solar Panels
Texas is one of the sunniest states in the U.S., making the state a prime candidate for solar energy use. On top of receiving optimal sun rays, Texas implemented a statewide renewable energy property tax exemption, meaning adopting solar power does not raise your property taxes.
The average cost of a residential solar panel in Texas falls between $2.30 to $3.17 per watt; this results in an approximate solar payback period of 12.6 years. Apart from installation costs, maintenance expenses are recurring and typically do not exceed two percent of the initial investment.
Here are some advantages of adopting residential solar energy:
- Solar energy is renewable. Thus, it can significantly increase energy savings and doesn’t harm the planet.
- Solar can provide surplus energy during sunny summers.
- Solar can yield tax benefits and exemptions.
Here are some potential concerns:
- Opting for solar energy requires a high upfront cost.
- Solar panels can involve a longer payback duration.
- Solar efficiency mostly depends on seasonal changes and cloud cover.
To account for setup costs, many energy companies have solar loan plans and incentives. For example, some organizations offer to buy back any excess power from your smart grid technology usage.
Small Scale Wind Energy
Small-scale wind energy systems consist of small, residential wind turbines with average energy outputs of 2–10 kilowatts. The height, diameter, generator capacity, and associated costs vary according to household energy requirements. For example, you can install a 5 kilowatts wind energy system with 18-foot diameter turbines on an 80-foot tower.
On average, Texas wind energy systems’ purchase and installation costs can range between $15,000–$80,000. The average payback period varies between 6–30 years. However, various tax rebates and incentives are available. Wind energy—just like solar—is pure and wholly renewable, making for an excellent long-term investment.
A Clean Energy Plan From a Renewable Provider
A clean energy provider generates a percentage of energy from renewables. An energy plan from such a provider should satisfy all your renewable energy needs while saving you the hassle of finding the best purchase rates, managing equipment installation, and maintaining utilities. Texas’ clean electricity options vary in subscription packages based on your power requirements.
The Hybrid Approach
One of the most significant drawbacks of renewable energy sources is their inherent susceptibility to natural and climatic changes. A novel approach to overcome this shortcoming is to adopt a hybrid renewable system.
A hybrid system combines two or more renewable energy sources to obtain greater efficiency and steady power output. Texas has an adequate supply of both strong winds and sunlight. Residents can opt for a hybrid system of these two sustainable power sources to offset inadequate production during seasonal and weather variations.
Hybrid systems are more expensive to establish than single-component setups. Power requirements and your target efficiency also come into play. Hybrid systems generally require a smart grid to function optimally.
Renewables Are The Future
With the recent climate change developments and increased awareness about diminishing fuel reserves, clean energy is now necessary. Most state governments and municipalities offer incentives to residents to encourage clean energy transitions. Now that you know about some of the options available, you can take full advantage of these rebates and incentives to make your property clean energy reliant.