US installs only 31 MW of utility-scale solar in October

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has released data on new utility-scale generation placed in service in October, and the numbers are not good for solar. During the month FERC counted only five utility-scale PV projects coming online, for a total of 31 MW.

This is less than 20% the monthly average of 180 MW in 2014 to date, and 2014 has not been an impressive year for utility-scale solar. The 1.8 GW of solar PV that was connected to the grid in the first ten months is 31% below the level installed in the same period in 2013, and represents only 18% of new generation.

It is important to note that FERC only counts utility-scale solar, and thus these numbers leave out the growing “behind-the-meter” segment, including rooftop solar PV systems on homes, businesses and schools.

According to FERC’s statistics, the largest source of new generation in 2014 has been natural gas. The agency reports that 5.4 GW of new gas plants have come online, to represent 54% of new generation during the first ten months of the year.

And despite the slow progress of utility-scale PV during this period, GTM Research expects that the overall U.S. PV market will grow in 2014 to 6.5 GW, a 36% increase over 2013. This could allow solar to overtake gas as the largest source of new generation.

However, it will require a very busy two months for PV installers and contractors.