New US utility-scale solar installations in the first half of 2014 defied a general downward trend across all generation types to surge by nearly 70% year on year, according to official figures.
According to US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, new solar installations to June 2014 were up 66.5%% compared to the same period last year, despite total new capacity additions across all energy types over the period falling by 40% on last year.
The EIA’s latest Electric Power Monthly report recorded 1,021MW of new utility-scale PV and 125MW of new solar thermal PV in the first half of this year. The PV figure was up nearly 50% on the 688MW achieved in the first half of 2013.
New PV additions were nearly double those of wind, which saw 675MW of new capacity to June, though this was almost double the 329MW it saw last year.
The big decreases in new generation capacity came from coal, which fell from 1508MW last year to zero so far this year, and natural gas, which fell from 4,500MW last year to 2,319MW this year, though it remained the overall leader in new capacity additions.
According to the EIA, around three-quarters of the new solar capacity built in the first of this year was located in California and included the First Solar’s giant Topaz and Desert Sunlight PV power projects. Plants in Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts make up the bulk of the remaining solar installations in the first half of 2014.
Reflecting the uptick in installations, solar generation also enjoyed a strong first half of 2014, surging 115% year on year from 3.956 million MWh to 8.535 million MWh.
Independent power producers accounted for the majority of this – 7.727 million MWh, up from 3.334 million MWh – while utilities saw only a modest increase, from 470,000MWh to 593,000MWh. Commercial and industrial generation made up the remaining 215,000MWh.