US: 16 GW of 32 GW utility-scale solar pipeline to be completed by ITC deadline

IHS reported on June 9 that developers in the U.S. were furiously working towards completing a 32 GW utility-scale PV pipeline before the ITC deadline on December 31, 2016, which will most likely see the current 30% tax break drop to 10%.

Senior IHS analyst, Christine Beadle told pv magazine that around 25% of the pipeline is already under construction, with more work expected to commence this summer. Solar developers First Solar, SunPower, SunEdison, 8minutenergy, NextEra all have multiple projects aiming for completion, she said.

However, Beadle cautions that many of the projects will fall short of the deadline. "A large number of planned projects will fall-out if permits are denied, financing unobtainable or the lack of a power off-taker," she said, adding, "Our forecast shows about 16GW of utility scale projects will be installed in 2015 and 2016."

Overall, California is set to be on the receiving end of most of the planned 32 GW, although if realized, North Carolina and Texas are expected to see 19% and 7%, respectively. Beadle added that 39 states already have projects in the pipeline over 5 MW in size.

Regarding the extension of the 30% tax credit, she said, "Extending the ITC … would be a very good incentive for 2017 and beyond. There is some indication that an extension of the 30% might be signed into law for residential and commercial installations."

It is very unlikely this will be extended to large utility-scale projects, but Beadle said there could be a grace period for those that are substantially completed. "This happened with a state tax credit expiration in North Carolina recently," she explained.