US government expects 24 GW of new solar this year


From pv magazine USA.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) agency of the U.S. Department of Energy expects 13.4 GW (AC) of utility scale solar power capacity and 5.1 GW (AC) of small scale PV to be installed in the United States this year – an anticipated 95% increase on last year.

The 18.5 GW (AC) total, with a standard 1.3:1 DC-AC ratio, suggests 24 GW (DC) of solar will be installed. The previous 12-month record, set in 2016 as an investment tax credit was about to expire, was just under 15 GW (DC) of new solar. And the EIA expects the annual total to increase to 25.9 GW (DC) next year.

The government body also expects a net negative volume of fossil fuel capacity installations this year, a situation which has occurred every year since fossils peaked in the U.S. in 2006.

A third piece of good news is the 18.5 GW worth of wind generation capacity that is expected this year. Between wind and solar, the EIA expects 32 GW of new generation facilities – which would mark a true record year for the United States.

New solar peak

In 2016, there was a peak of 11.2 GW (AC) of new solar followed by a decline in 2017 due to the investment tax credit hangover, itself then followed by two years of gains. The anticipated 2020 and 2021 explosion will be heavily driven by a jump in annual utility scale PV volume, from 5.9 GW (AC) to 13.4 GW (AC).

But the massive growth projections are not just limited to large scale solar projects. The EIA sees small PV growing from 3.6 GW (AC) last year to slightly more than 5 GW (AC). That will mostly be driven by the residential market but also by commercial systems in a segment expected to expand again after contracting last year.

The utility scale data aligns with a year-old report by S&P Global Market Intelligence which suggested more than 12 GW (AC) of utility scale solar might get deployed this year. Coupled with a recent Wood Mackenzie Renewables & Power report suggesting energy storage deployment could triple from last year to this – and more than double from 2020 to next year – it is clear the clean energy industry is on a roll.

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