Testing and resource assessment for Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma have shown that renewable energy can provide a significant portion of the energy needs for the region. The Alternative Energy Institute at West Texas A&M University has been collecting resource data since 1978 and placing test projects for specific research topics for renewables at WTAMU and selected field sites. The potential for renewables and how they have merged into the existing grid and community/home/ranch use shows that these technologies have a place in the region of the Texas/Oklahoma panhandles. The potential for power production with reduced use of water is also important for this region.
This paper presents the success stories, the potential downsides, and the lessons learned from 30 years of renewable energy research. The focus is to provide evidence that renewables have a place in the energy plans of the Desert Southwest, and if properly placed and planned, are a long-term sustainable energy solution.