Historically, the United States has depended to a great extent on fossil fuels for the generation of electricity. These conventional sources of energy adversely affect the environment due to the harmful emissions produced in their processes, including greenhouse gases (GHG) and other pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Consequently, there is a need for affordable and environmentally beneficial alternatives to conventional hydrocarbon-based energy sources.
Renewable energy projects create an opportunity to generate electricity using sources that do not produce GHG and criteria pollutants (SO2, NOx, etc.) like those released by fossil-fuel‐based plants. Sunlight is a clean form of renewable energy, which means that it can be used continuously without depleting natural resources and does not produce waste byproducts that require disposal or gas emissions that contribute to air pollution. Moreover, solar energy production does not consume or pollute water, although small amounts may be used to clean the panels from time to time.
In 1999, Texas established a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) as part of its power industry restructuring legislation under Senate Bill 7, which was designed to increase the delivery of renewable energy and the associated environmental benefits to the people of Texas. In 2005, the Texas Legislature approved a much more aggressive RPS, increasing the state mandate for total renewable energy to 5,880 MW by 2015 and 10,000 MW by 2025. Texas has already exceeded these goals. In 2021 the state had an installed capacity of 43,208 MW, generating 114,395 GWh of electricity from solar and wind sources.
The project consists of designing, constructing and operating of a solar park with a generation capacity of 200 megawatts of alternating current (MWAC).
The main components of the project include: Approximately 498,000 bifacial monocrystalline photovoltaic (PV) modules mounted on single-axis tracking arrays, 62 inverters to transform the direct current from the modules into alternating current, a step-up substation to transform the electricity from 34.5 kV to 345 kV and a SCADA control system to monitor, operate and track the park remotely, as well as document the performance of the PV system relative to its projected output.
The solar park will be developed on approximately 1,865 acres of private land and will be interconnected to the existing 138-kV Uvalde-Razorback transmission line operated by ERCOT that crosses over the project site. The transmission line interconnects to two main substations: the Uvalde Substation on the west side of the solar park (inside the 100-km border region) and the Razorback Substation on the east side of the park (outside the 100-km border region). The electricity produced by the project will be sold to private companies and/or in the wholesale electricity market operated by ERCOT.
The project will increase the installed capacity of renewable energy resources, which will help reduce future demand on traditional fossil fuel-based energy production and thus help prevent the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants from such power generation. The outcomes anticipated for the project include the generation of approximately 515.2 gigawatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operation, of which it is estimated that approximately 35% will be consumed in the border region, equivalent to the annual consumption of 13,735 households (38,870 people). The project in its totality will help prevent the emission of an estimated 220,085 metric tons/year of CO2, 164 metric tons/year of NOx and 164 metric tons/year of SO2.