Utility scale solar is to continue driving US solar PV installations over the next 5 years as SEIA and Wood Mackenzie’s new report expects the country to install nearly 100 GW DC of solar between 2021 and 2025. (Source: Wood Mackenzie)
- The US installed 3.5 GW DC new solar PV capacity in Q2/2020, reflecting 52% annual growth and 6% quarterly decline, according to SEIA and Wood Mackenzie’s new report
- While residential and non-residential segments were impacted by the pandemic, utility scale solar was largely insulated from COVID-19, adding around 2.5 GW DC
- There is 50 GW DC of utility scale PV capacity in operation in the US currently, and over the next 5 years, 83 GW DC of utility PV capacity will come online
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Lockdown measures in place to curb the spread of the pandemic pulled down residential solar installations in the US 23% sequentially to 617 MW, and non-residential installations by 12% at 372 MW, resulting overall quarterly additions in Q2/2020 came in at 6% less than last quarter. But compared to last year’s Q2 it looks very different.
The Q3 2020 US Solar Market Insight Report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables pegs total installed new PV capacity in the country during Q2/2020 at 3.5 GW DC making it the strongest second quarter ever for solar in the country. Yet it was 52% up on YoY basis. Last year in Q2/2019, the country installed 2.1 GW as per the 2 collaborators (see US Added 2.1 GW New Solar PV Capacity In Q2/2019).
Utility scale solar braves ahead
Despite the residential and non-residential segments not doing as well in the reporting quarter, utility scale solar remained resilient, the report writers say, adding 71% of all new solar capacity in Q2/2020 – with some 2.5 GW DC installed. What’s more, 8.7 GW DC of new utility PV power purchase agreements (PPA) were announced in the quarter, taking the entire contracted pipeline to a record total of 62 GW DC.
The country now has over 50 GW DC of utility scale solar PV capacity in operation. Even though the authors see this segment growing in the future, they caution, “With increasing frequency, banks and investors are showing signs of insufficient tax equity investment for all projects in development. Additionally, some developers have expressed concern that there will not be enough EPC bandwidth to complete their development pipeline. This is all combined with broader financial market instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Solar PV technology accounted for 37% of all new electricity generating capacity added in the US in H1/2020. “The growth we see in this report underscores the resilience of the solar industry as we deal with COVID work stoppages, a struggling economy, harmful trade policy and an uncertain tax environment,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO.
The analysts maintain their previous annual guidance of over 18 GW DC in 2020, reflecting a growth of 37% from last year, after lowering it from their previous guidance of around 20 GW (see US Installed 3.6 GW DC New Solar PV In Q1/2020).
The report states that between 2021 and 2025, the US is likely to install nearly 100 GW DC of solar, 42% more than the cumulative installed over the last 5 years. Over the next 5 years, 83 GW DC of utility PV capacity is expected to come online.
The report can be purchased at Wood Mackenzie’s website for $5,000.
Meanwhile, the SEIA has put forward a goal of 100 GW of annual renewable energy manufacturing production capacity for the US by the end of 2030, with a particular focus on solar, wind and energy storage technologies (see 100 GW Solar PV Manufacturing Capacity By 2030 For US).