US utility PV pipeline. Source: Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.
The contracted pipeline of utility-scale solar projects in the US has reached a record 37.9 GW after 11.2 GW of announcements in the first half of 2019, Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) calculate.
All capacity in this article is given in direct current (DC).
In the second quarter of the year, 6.2 GW of large solar capacity has been contracted, according to the latest US Solar Market Insight Report by Wood Mackenzie and SEIA. Utility-scale solar prices have reached their lowest point ever with recent power purchase agreements (PPAs) struck at between USD 18 and USD 35 per MWh.
So far in 2019, 55% of the utility-scale solar projects announced have been the result of solar’s economic competitiveness with other generation sources. At the same time, about 17% come from off-site corporate solar procurement.
“As more companies commit to 100% renewable power, corporate offsite procurement is expected to drive more than 20% of new utility-scale capacity additions from 2019 through 2024,” says Colin Smith, senior solar analyst with Wood Mackenzie.
The US’ solar capacity grew by 2.1 GW in the second quarter of 2019. This included 1 GW of utility-scale farms, over 600 MW of residential solar, and 426 MW of non-residential systems. Wood Mackenzie forecasts a rise of 17% in 2019 capacity additions to 12.6 GW. It also says the US’ total photovoltaic (PV) power generation capacity will more than double in five years. In 2021, annual installations are seen to arrive at 17.6 GW ahead of the expiration of the residential solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and a drop in the commercial tax credit.
Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive of SEIA, said the extension of the solar ITC and other “smart policies” will be critical for the US to reach a solar share of 20% in power generation by 2030.