Pipeline for utility-scale solar in the U.S. reaches 947 GW

The US research institute Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has presented its new »Utility-Scale Solar« report on the development of solar power plants including solar thermal plants (which, however, are hardly relevant in terms of numbers) from a capacity of five megawatts with and without storage.
According to the report, the installed capacity of such plants in the USA amounted to 61.7 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2022. Of this, 10.4 GW was installed in 2022, which is significantly less than the 12.5 GW achieved in the previous record year of 2021. Nevertheless, there is much to suggest that expansion will continue at a rapid pace: The pipeline of projects for which requests for grid connection had been made amounted to »at least 947 GW« at the end of last year, according to the report. More than half of this (457 GW) were related to battery storage. Of the new capacity installed in 2022, a high percentage (3.6 GW or 35 percent) was also in conjunction with battery storage, which totaled 1.8 GW of power and 5.4 gigawatt-hours of capacity.
Almost all new solar power plants built in 2022 (94 percent) use single-axis tracking systems. Installation costs were quite high by international standards, averaging $1.07 per watt of DC power ($1.32 per watt AC). This resulted in an average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of 3.9 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
The average price for power purchase agreements (PPAs), »which to date reflect receipt of the federal investment tax credit (ITC)«, calculated for the report »from a small sample of contracts signed in 2022« was 2.5 cents/kWh. The trend in PPA prices has been stable or even slightly increasing since circa 2019.
As a result of the general price increases, the wholesale market value of electricity generated in solar power plants has increased very significantly, by 40 percent, averaging 7.1 US cents/kWh in 2022.
The authors will present the report in a free webinar on October 18.

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