EIA: Utility-scale solar production doubled last year
- Power output from commercial-scale solar projects grew by 102% last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Electric Power Monthly update for February 2015.
- The EIA's numbers do not include output from "behind-the-meter" solar projects, meaning the actual amount of solar power generated was even higher.
- In its last Short Term Energy Outlook, EIA said it expects continued growth in utility-scale solar generation, projecting it to average almost 80 GWh per day in 2016.
While solar's overall share of U.S. electricity production remains fairly small, EIA data shows it continues to grow as a resource.
Coal power grew by a fraction of 1%, while nuclear added about 1% and gas generation actually fell slightly. Non-hydro renewables have increased 11% since 2013, according to EIA data.
Despite the growth, the EIA said it expects solar power will average only 0.7% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2016. Although solar growth has historically been concentrated in customer-sited distributed generation installations, EIA said it expects that utility-scale solar capacity will increase by more than 60% between the end of 2014 and the end of 2016, with about half of this new capacity being built in California.
Wind capacity, which the agency said grew by 7.7% in 2014, is forecast to increase by 16.1% in 2015 and by another 6.5% in 2016.
"Because wind is starting from a much larger base than solar, even though the growth rate is lower, the absolute amount of the increase in capacity is more than twice that of solar: 15 GW of wind versus 6 GW of utility-scale solar between 2014 and 2016," EIA noted.
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