US Installed 5 GW DC New Solar Capacity In Q1/2021

US Solar Market now 100 GW DC Strong With 5 GW DC Installed In Q1/2021; SEIA & Wood Mackenzie Claim Renewable Energy Accounted For Nearly 100% Of All New Electric Capacity In Q1/2021

US Installed 5 GW DC New Solar Capacity In Q1/2021

Between 2021 and 2026, SEIA and Wood Mackenzie expect the US market to install 160 GW of new solar capacity to reach over 250 GW by the end of 2026. (Source: Wood Mackenzie)

  • SEIA and Wood Mackenzie report says in Q1/2021 the US installed 5 GW DC of new solar PV capacity
  • Utility scale installations were recorded at 3.6 GW DC with 10.6 GW DC expected to come online in 2021
  • Residential solar installations increased 11% YoY and expected to install 3.8 GW DC in 2021
  • Commercial solar installed 347 MW D, growing 19% annually, while community solar went up 15% from previous year to 131 MW DC

At the end of March 2021, the US solar PV installed capacity grew to exceed the 100 GW DC milestone ‘doubling the size of the industry over the last 3.5 years’, according to the latest edition of the quarterly solar PV reports that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie have been publishing over the years.

As per the US Solar Market Insight Report 2021 Q2, the US solar market saw 5 GW DC of new solar PV capacity installed during Q1/2021 having grown 46% annually and turning out to be the ‘largest Q1’ on record. In Q1/2020, it added 3.6 GW capacity (see US Installed 3.6 GW DC New Solar PV In Q1/2020).

Utility scale solar additions went up to 3.6 GW DC with more than 1.4 GW DC installed in the state of Texas alone. For this segment, 6.2 GW DC new utility scale solar power purchase agreements (PPA) were announced during the reporting quarter. In all, the country’s total contracted pipeline grew to nearly 77 GW DC.

The report writers said there are 17 GW DC of projects under construction, with another 10.6 GW DC slated to come online in 2021. It would contribute to the country reporting 17.9 GW DC of annual utility scale solar capacity additions in 2021. However, there are some headwinds they see the segment facing such as high component costs, global logistics challenges, tax equity supply shortages and EPC capacity constraints that could be exacerbated by new labor requirements. As a result, developers are approaching offtakers to renegotiate PPAs.

“So far, efforts to increase PPA prices on existing contracts have not been very successful in a hyper-competitive market. This will be an important issue to watch throughout 2021 and beyond,” states the report.

Healthy sales pipelines from previous quarters helped residential solar installations go up 11% from last year with 905 MW DC installed during Q1/2021. The report forecasts the residential segment to grow 19% annually to add more than 3.8 GW DC in 2021.

With 347 MW DC capacity added, commercial solar installations in Q1/2020 increased 19% annually, after suffering a decline for 3 consecutive years. Thanks to the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) extension and multiple state-level incentive programs, the analysts believe annual additions for commercial solar in 2021 will grow 20% YoY.

Community solar PV additions dropped 15% from previous year to 131 MW DC during the reporting quarter. Still, the authors are confident of this segment doing well to report a record 909 MW DC in 2021 as interconnection issues get sorted in various states.

Going forward, the analysts believe annual PV additions in 2021 will be well over 24 GW, and between 2021 and 2026, 160 GW of new capacity will be installed taking total installed PV capacity of the country to more than 250 GW by the end of 2026.

In 2020, the US solar market installed 19.2 GW DC new solar PV capacity, prompting SEIA and Wood Mackenzie to forecast more than 20 GW DC to be added in 2021 (see US Installed Record 19.2 GW Solar In 2020).

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

SENIOR NEWS EDITOR Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews, she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power. In the past 9 years that she has been associated with TaiyangNews, she has covered over thousands of stories, and analysis pieces on markets, technology, financials, and more on a daily basis. She also hosts TaiyangNews Conferences and Webinars. Prior to joining TaiyangNews, Anu reported on sustainability, management, and education for leading print dailies in India. [email protected]

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