US clean power installations flat in 2021

Wind and solar power plant in the US. Featured Image: welcomia/Shutterstock.com

May 18 (Renewables Now) - The US installed 28.5 GW of new wind, utility solar and battery storage power capacity in 2021, flat on 2020 as headwinds from the pandemic, supply chain issues and policy uncertainty deterred clean power growth, according to data from the American Clean Power Association (ACP).

The industry group said on Tuesday that around 10 GW of clean power projects initially scheduled to go live in 2021 were delayed due to a raft of challenges. After a record 2020, wind installations declined to 13.4 GW last year as more than 5 GW of projects were delayed on a number of factors including supply chain challenges, higher commodity prices and interconnection delays. The utility solar additions rose 20% year-over-year to a record 12.4 GW but still over 6 GW of projects were postponed due to supply chain constraints and trade barriers. Battery storage is gaining momentum with 2.7 GW of installations, bringing the total now in operation in the US to 4.7 GW.

While the 2021 additions saw the US clean power capacity top 200 GW, significant acceleration is needed to achieve a net-zero grid by 2035. ACP estimated that the 2021 rate of installations will deliver only 35% of what is needed to achieve this goal.

“Looking to 2022 and beyond, the uncertainty of tax credits for renewable energy projects, the availability of solar panels, supply chain issues, and inflation are all expected to have a concerning impact on our ability to deliver growth,” said ACP chief executive Heather Zichal.

Notably, 2021 was marked by a record for clean power contracts by corporate buyers. A total of 13.6 GW of such deals were announced last year, making it the first in which non-utility buyers accounted for more than half of announced clean power purchase agreements (PPAs), ACP said. Business demand was led by Amazon, Meta and TotalEnergies.

The association further said that the offshore wind market continues to mature. States and utilities announced a record 8.4 GW of offshore wind procurement in 2021. Currently, 18 projects totalling nearly 17.5 GW have secured offtake.

Texas installed the most clean power capacity in 2021 -- 7.69 GW, followed by California with 2.85 GW, Oklahoma with 1.4 GW , Florida with 1.38 GW and New Mexico with 1.37 GW. Texas also leads in terms of cumulative installations with 45.3 GW. Next come California, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas.

According to ACP’s Clean Power Annual Market Report 2021, total wind and utility solar capacity in the US after 2021 stood at 135.8 GW and 60.7 GW, respectively. Clean power now provides 13% of the country’s electricity.

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Browse all articles from Plamena Tisheva

Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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