- California and North Carolina lead the U.S. in utility-scale solar construction, new analysis finds. California has over 24 projects under construction and 3.8 GW in its pipeline and North Carolina has over 20 projects under construction and 3.3 GW in its pipeline, according to a report from SNL Energy.
- The California projects are significantly larger in capacity, but the North Carolina projects are in more advanced stages of development. North Carolina growth was pushed up by Duke Energy's $500 million plan for 278 MW of new solar PPAs and purchases in 2015.
- Building in the Southeast has also picked up in Georgia and Florida. South Carolina has only TradeWind Energy’s 80 MW Palmetto Plains Solar project, but it was one of 10 biggest U.S. projects announced in Q4 2014.
The U.S. had 3.7 GW of new utility-scale solar capacity come online in 2014, breaking 2013’s record-setting new capacity total by 10%. The two year total represents over 60% of the U.S. installed solar capacity of 10.6 GW.
Utility-scale PV solar sent 15,700 gigawatt-hours of electricity to U.S. grids through November of 2014, an almost doubling of the 7,969 gigawatt-hours in 2013’s first 11 months, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The solar growth came from new projects and from projects performing above projections.
The 30% federal Investment Tax Credit, which was established in 2008 and will drop to 10% after 2016, was the key driver behind solar’s growth because it provided long-term stable support.
The other major factor driving growth was the 70% drop since 2008 in the contract price of solar-generated electricity delivered to the grid. Agreements in 2013 and 2014 were signed at $0.05 per kilowatt-hour, according to Utility-Scale Solar 2013 from DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.