From Green Right Now Reports

Being sunny, windy and large, Texas has abundant potential for renewable energy. It leads the U.S. in wind power generation with 12,200 megawatts, but has long been considered to be a relative underachiever on solar power.

Solar panel, Solar Center at A&M PROMOTexas’ solar future, however, just got considerably brighter. Last week, Texas A&M University announced plans to build a $600 million solar testing incubator, projected to be — you guess, it’s Texas, that’s right! — the largest in the world.

The new Center for Solar Energy will be built on 800 acres in Bell County and provide a testing ground for an array of emerging solar technologies. It will provide engineering and manufacturing support to companies and entrepreneurs that are selected by A&M’s venture capital partner, PPA Partners. And it hopes to speed solar development by offering  a National Photovoltaic Innovation Award, among other incentives.

A solar array incorporated into the project will help power the campus, and ultimately could provide power for 200,000 homes and possibly also nearby Army post, Fort Hood, where they’re under orders to become more energy efficient.

The Center for Solar Energy hopes the facility will serve as a magnet for investors, developers and scientists from around the world, creating a hub of photovoltaic innovation while also providing an economic boost to Central Texas.

“The collaboration between A&M-Central Texas and the Center for Solar Energy is truly a market-changing partnership and will make A&M-Central Texas the premier destination for the study and advancement of solar energy,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System.

Officials say the center could work with 100 manufacturers and help the most promising technologies be fast-tracked to market, turning the usual six years or so of development time into two years, according to a report in The Eagle, the newspaper serving A&M.

The university will use the center for real-world studies in solar-related engineering, physics and business, offering courses and specialty certificates.