The next Texas miracle? It’s ours for the taking.

The next Texas Miracle is ready to us to design it. It involves a robust and resilient economy; roads filled with cleaner vehicles; and more than 40 million Texans all thriving on abundant and affordable energy. This bright future of shared prosperity is possible – but not inevitable. The decisions we make today in giving shape to the new energy miracle will determine whether we are ultimately able to enjoy it.

If our state’s economy had a heartbeat, it would be the energy sector – a colossal engine driving more than one-third of our economy and generating more than 12% of the nation’s total electric production. From the Spindletop oil well in 1901 to the wind farms that now provide 40,000 megawatts of installed capacity, Texas has been a national leader in energy production for over a century.

Over the past year, we’ve been analyzing data and developing projections to understand what Texas’ energy future will look like. And the resulting Future of Texas Energy dashboard tells us that a path to shared prosperity is unfolding before us, but we must act now to see that future become a reality.

We looked at four viable, practicable future energy pathways for our state. These included a scenario based on current rates of development of energy technologies, a stronger emphasis on oil and gas production, accelerated renewable generation, and a mix of everything under an “all-of-the-above” future.

Four pathways to energy prosperity

Development of these four pathways involved more than a year of work, integrating more than 20 unique data sources and creating realistic forecasts for the future, with each presenting unique challenges.

By 2050, Texas’ energy output could surge by as much as 59%, propelled by both hydrocarbon and renewable sources. This expanded production would generate four million new jobs here in Texas, creating new opportunities for more Texas families to share in this new economic miracle.

At the same time, our electricity demand will double, underscoring the urgent need for strategic planning to ensure energy remains reliable and affordable while seeking ways to be cleaner and more water efficient – something many of our elected officials have highlighted in recent years.

Technology holds a key to sustainable energy industries

Producing jobs and supporting a growing economy while remaining vigilant about our environmental impact requires embracing innovation and adaptability. Just as advances in geology and engineering vaulted Texas to the top of American energy production, emerging technologies like battery storage, hydrogen and carbon capture are forming the foundation for the sustainable energy industries of the future.

While we should continue pursuing the research and development necessary to accomplish these dual goals of economic growth and environmental stewardship, a shift away from energy sources like natural gas would result in a self-defeating loss of jobs and economic growth.

Thanks to breakthroughs in energy technology, however, we know that we can have both reliable, affordable energy and lower emissions – and energy technology is on pace to continue improving. Projections provided in our new Future of Texas Energy dashboard indicate that by 2050, Texas could see eight million more light-duty vehicles on the road using 40% less fuel thanks to advancements in hydrogen and electric vehicle technology.

The data is clear: by embracing innovation and pursuing a comprehensive, forward-looking approach to future energy development, we can ensure that Texas thrives economically while producing energy more efficiently with less environmental impact. It’s the next Texas Miracle, and it’s ours for the taking.

But don’t just take our word for it – check out the models and data in our online dashboard and join this conversation we are having about the future of energy in Texas.

This op-ed was first published in the Dallas Morning News (Feb. 28, 2024)

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