Most US utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plants are 5 MW or smaller
Post date: 07/02/2019 - 20:14
The United States have more than 2,500 utility-scale solar photovoltaic electricity generating facilities. Most of these power plants are relatively small and collectively account for 2.5 percent of utility-scale electric generating capacity and 1.7 percent of annual electricity generation, based on data through November 2018. The US Energy Information Administration EIA, part of the US Department of Energy, considers utility-scale generating facilities to be those where total generation capacity is one megawatt (MW) or greater.
Currently, North Carolina has 433 utility-scale PV facilities with capacities no greater than 5 MW, the most of any state, and accounting for nearly a quarter of all utility-scale PV facilities in the country between 1 MW and 5 MW. According to the data, these facilities collectively account for 1,803 MW of capacity, or 35 percent of the total US PV capacity located at facilities with 1 MW to 5 MW of installed capacity.
In other states, the growth of small utility-scale PV capacity is encouraged by strategies that include, for example, community solar facilities, says EIA. Community solar facilities offer a share of their solar capacity for sale to off-site customers who may not necessarily have access to solar generation. In these programs, customers may subscribe to a designated community solar facility and receive monthly credits on their electric bills for the energy generated by the share of solar capacity they purchase. The average community solar facility has a capacity of 2.0 MW.
Growth in small utility-scale facilities is expected to continue through 2020. EIA’s Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory for October 2018 reports that most of the 216 solar PV facilities that will come online by the end of 2020 will have capacities of five megawatts or less.