Late spurt for US utility solar takes 2014 total to 3.13GW - FERC

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Seventeen utility-scale PV plants totalling 618MW came online in the US in December 2014, taking the country’s annual total to 3,139MW across 277 projects, official figures show.

According to the latest ‘Energy Infrastructure Update’ published monthly by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the US now has 11.17GW of utility solar online, representing 0.96% of the country’s operating capacity.

FERC’s figures show a slight drop in overall utility-scale solar installs in 2014 compared to 2013, when 364 projects totalling 3,828MW were completed.

But December 2014 saw almost double the amount of new solar capacity than the previous month, when 315MW came online, and almost 100MW more than the 519MW added in December 2013.

The surge in activity towards the end of last year hints at what analysts have predicted will be a boom in utility-scale project activity in the US that will accelerate between now and 2016 ahead of the planned cut to the investment tax credit (ITC).

The ITC has been a key catalyst of utility solar in the US, but observers have warned that a 2016 peak in utility-scale projects could be followed by an all-out collapse in the same segment should the planned cut to the ITC from 30 to 10% take place at the end of that year.

Such are the concerns over the impact of the ITC cut on the US solar market that towards the end of last year the US Solar Energy Industries Association launched a campaign to save it, highlighting the fact that fossil fuels continue to enjoy a range of preferential subsidies in the US.

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