US Utility Solar Capacity Crosses 100 GW

Highlights :

• Operating utility-scale solar surpasses 100 GW
• 5.6 GW of new clean power online in Q1 2024, up 28% year-over-year
•  First large-scale offshore wind project in federal waters supplies 132 MW of grid capacity

US Utility Solar Capacity Crosses 100 GW Travancore Cochin Chemicals Issues 22 MW RE Plant Tender

The American Clean Power Association (ACP), in its quarterly report for the US states that 2024 has begun on a strong note with Q1 seeing U.S. utility-scale solar, wind, and storage sectors adding a combined 5,585 megawatts (MW) of new capacity.This is an increase of 28% compared to installations in the same period a year ago. These additions are enough to power 1 million homes with clean energy. 

US Solar capacity growth

Courtesy: ACP

Among renewables additions, solar (4,557MW) accounted for 81.6% in Q1, followed by onshore wind (449MW), BESS (447MW) and offshore wind projects (132MW). Solar additions in Q1 increased by 83% compared to Q1 2023, but dropped by 63% quarter-on-quarter. Interestingly, on solar, it adds that it took 18 years to build the first 50 GW of U.S. solar capacity, but just four years to double to 100 GW. OF the additions in Q1, almost 40% were accounted for by one state, Florida.

The largest project that came online during Q1 was the 828MWp/640MWac Lumina project in Texas, developed by US renewables company Intersect Power.

Cumulatively, the US had close to 270 GW (269.9) of renewables capacity as of the end of Q1 2024. Wind accounted for 56.1% of the total capacity (151.3GW), while the solar sector (115GW) made up 37.3%. BESS accounted for only 6.6% (17.8GW/47,543MWh) of the operating renewables capacity.

A Bright Outlook For Renewables

Even as numbers added up, the renewables pipeline remains strong, increasing to 174GW, up from 171GW in Q4 2023. On a year-over-year basis, the pipeline is now 26% larger than Q1 2023 (139GW). The ACP said the expansion of the pipeline can be attributed to BESS and solar, which have grown at an average rate of 11% and 4% per quarter, respectively, since Q2 2022.

The pipeline in Texas was 28.3GW, the highest among all states in the US, followed by California (17.7GW), New York (14.3GW), Arizona (8.7GW) and Virginia (7.9GW). Even states like Kentucky which had only 81MW of operating renewables capacity, are playing catch up fast with 2.5GW of projects in its pipeline.

As of the end of Q1 2024, the US’ utility-scale solar pipeline reached 94.5GW, up from about 81.5GW in Q1 2023. The capacity of solar that is under construction increased by 14GW year-on-year, while the advanced development pipeline shrank by only over 1GW. Until the end of Q1 2024, 72.1GW of renewables were under construction, consisting of 553 projects across 45 states.

Geographically, Texas and California were the top two states with the most projects under construction, having a total capacity of 18.9GW and 8.6GW, respectively. These two states were followed by New Mexico (5.2GW), Wyoming (5.1GW) and Arizona (4.7GW).

Solar Growth Led By Price Drops

Explaining the record-breaking 21.1GW of solar added to the grid in 2023, ACP’s report states that it is lower prices that have given solar an edge over other options, with corporate PPAs also rising thanks to the same phenomenon.

The high numbers easily cement the US’s place as the second largest market in the world for solar, after China, which was at 228 GW at the end of 2023.

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Tony Cheu

Tony is a BSc who has shifted from a career in finance to journalism recently. Passionate about the energy transition, he is particularly keen on the moves being made in the OECD countries to contribute to the energy transition.