At the end of last week, I reported on new power capacity installed across the United States in the first half of 2020. The data for that report came from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, FERC’s dataset is incomplete. It does not include rooftop solar power and some other small and medium sized solar power installations. The US Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie also published a report at the end of last week, and it includes data from all types of solar power installations.
Using solar data from the new US Solar Market Insight Report, I thus have some updates to provide on new power capacity in the United States in the first half of the year.
The US Solar Market Insight Report concluded that solar power accounted for 37% of new US power capacity. Wind provided another 26% of new US power capacity. That means that renewable energy sources overall contributed 63% of new power capacity across the country. Natural gas dropped to 37% of new power capacity, basically a straight tie with solar alone.
As a reminder, capacity is not the same as electricity generation. Power capacity is how much power a power plant (or aggregation of plants) can put out at a given moment. Generation is the actually generated electricity over some period of time. As I wrote in a separate report published over the weekend, in terms of total electricity produced across the country, solar power provided 3.4% in the first half of 2020. Renewables as a whole provided 22.2%.
Back to the topic of capacity, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie expect total installed capacity of solar power on the grid to rise to 92,887.20 MW (92.887 gigawatts) by the end of 2020. Of that total, 60,134.38 megawatts (MW) are expected to come from utility-scale solar power, 15,204.51 MW from “non-residential solar” that doesn’t quite reach the level of utility-scale solar, and 17,548.31 MW from residential solar power systems.
Going forward, SEIA and Wood Mackenzie also expect strong growth in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
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