We’ll often hear lawmakers and experts talk about the need for America to embrace an “all-of-the-above” energy policy and nowhere is this more visible than right here in the Lone Star State. Traditionally known as America’s oil and gas capital, Texas has become a national leader in the deployment of wind and solar power – a testament to Texas’ efforts to diversify its energy grid and economy. As more of these clean energy projects come online, Texas will continue its energy dominance, grow its economy, and make an impact on fighting climate change.

The rapid deployment of renewables across Texas over the past several years is impressive. Today, Texas leads the nation in wind-powered electricity generation and is the second-largest producer, after California, of solar power, according to the Energy Information Administration. As a result, the Dallas Fed notes that electricity generated from renewables has tripled between 2010 and 2020, accounting for one-fourth of in-state electricity net generation – and growing. In fact, one day last month renewables accounted for 76 percent of electricity generation in the state.

The transition toward clean energy didn’t happen overnight or by accident; it was the result of widespread private-sector investment. These companies have deployed their own capital to meet the growing demand as the Texas population has ballooned over the past several years. The inflow of capital has meant new jobs, more local tax revenues for public safety and education, and dozens of new projects added to the grid.

Growth is also expected to continue in the years ahead, with the EIA anticipating wind and solar generating capacity to double by 2035.

Part of this growth will come this year from new projects that are plugged into the grid, like the Mockingbird Solar Center under construction in Lamar County. This project, owned by the Boston-based company, Ørsted, will add 471 MW to the grid, enough to power 80,000 homes. I was fortunate this week to tour the solar center and see the progress of installing the 1.2 million solar panels that will soon capture the sunlight and transform it into clean electricity.

While this expansion of clean energy represents immense progress toward our climate-related goals, the land needed for renewables will require important decisions regarding land use.

The Mockingbird Solar Center represents the collaboration that can happen when two organizations come together to work toward a common goal. While Mockingbird was under development, Ørsted partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and committed to preserving almost 1,000 acres of the Smiley-Woodfin Native Prairie Grassland. This is the largest contiguous remnant of a rare and threatened type of native prairie in north Texas. The fertile dark clay soils of the Blackland Prairies are some of the richest soils in the world, supporting over 300 native plant species that are important for pollinators.

Conserving our beautiful state and developing clean energy are not mutually exclusive. We can honor our natural heritage while reducing emissions. When conservation organizations and energy developers work together, they can prioritize conservation and mitigate impact when constructing new generation facilities – and can even leave developed land in better condition for the future. While it may sometimes be best not to develop land that houses at-risk or endangered species, other times, conservation and clean energy can collaborate to ensure the best results for our planet. In this project, for example, Ørsted is protecting nearly 1,000 acres of this rare habitat and reseeding the remaining portion of the prairie under the solar arrays with native plants, allowing the land to regenerate during the project’s lifetime.

Ørsted also has invested in other biodiversity initiatives when developing its clean energy projects around the country. In addition to protecting the tallgrass prairie in Texas, it is working with The Conservation Fund and TNC to protect and restore up to 3,000 acres of tallgrass prairie habitat within the Flint Hills near its Sunflower Wind farm in Kansas.

Clean energy means more than just generating electricity; it also means protecting the environment, habitats, and biodiversity for future generations.

Zack Abnet is the Texas State Director for the American Conservation Coalition (ACC). He’s based in Austin.