Some interesting news came out of the solar industry last week from a source you might not expect. Exxon, one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil, will begin using wind and solar power to facilitate production. In keeping with our commitment to inform Nebraskans about updates in the solar industry, this week’s blog will outline why Exxon has agreed to dabble in renewable energy and the implications the decision could have regarding the future of all energy production in the region—renewable and nonrenewable alike.

Why The Switch to Renewable?

The reasons behind Exxon’s implementation of renewable energy sources are fairly obvious. Their production facilities in the Permian Basin of Texas have been in need of additional energy sources to keep up with demands as their requirements continually outpace the limits of the current infrastructure in the area. Everything from pipelines to power plants have been struggling to keep the Exxon facilities up and running, Bloomberg reports, and the demand for additional energy sources will only increase in coming years as facilities continue to consume inordinate amounts of energy.
New highs in electricity demand for the area have already been recorded. The Houston Chronicle ran an article in April of this year documenting the energy shortage and found that the reliability of the grid in Western Texas has been compromised due to increasing demands. Jeff Billio, a senior manager of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas told the Chronicle, “To say that this is load growth like we have not experienced before is kind of an understatement… There is not an area in ERCOT that has seen that kind of load growth before. That is unheard of.”

Impacts of Introducing Renewable Energy

Orsten, a former Danish state-run oil company which now produces renewable energy, will fulfill the contracts behind Exxon’s wind and solar deals. Two sources of renewable energy will be used, each of which will account for approximately half of the energy Exxon needs. The Sage Drew wind farm which has plans to be finished in 2020, will account for one half of their renewable energy while the other half will come from the Permian Solar farm, which should be fully operational by 2021.
While investing in renewable energy will likely stabilize much of the regions energy grid issues, the contracts will not fully reverse the issues inherent in Exxon’s presence in the Permian Basin. The company has received public criticism in the past for its late response to climate change, and their goal of producing more crude oil than ever before in West Texas should be cause for concern to environmental activists. The move is, however, a step in the right direction.
Keep up with all things solar by following the J-Tech Solar blog. If you’re ready to do your part for the environment by investing in renewable energy, call our offices today!