The US overtook China for installed utility-scale solar capacity in the final quarter of 2013 and now exceeds 5GW, solar project tracking website Wiki-Solar claims.
Wiki-Solar quoted figures from California’s transmission grid operator CAISO, showing that several major projects went online in the state in the final quarter of last year, contributing strongly to the total. This included 937MW connected at three First Solar projects, Desert Sunlight, Topaz Solar Farm and Antelope Valley. All three are still partly completed and will total 1.35GW when finished.
The quarter also saw the completion of several projects in California of over 100MW in size. First Solar has partially connected the 290MW Agua Caliente project, SunPower finished the 250MW California Valley power plant, Sempra connected Mesquite 1 (165MW), Tenaska connected the Imperial South plant (130MW) and the 127MW Arlington Valley project was connected by GE.
When added to the contribution to total capacity of mid-sized projects around the US, Wiki-Solar found that installed capacity exceeded 5GW, representing a more than doubling of capacity from the start of 2013, which the firm claims was around 2.2GW.
Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe said: “We’ve known for some time that America’s pipeline of giga-scale projects would take it to the top of the table. Thanks to a further 12GW still in development, it should stay there for some time; though China’s progress is also impressive – and they have a habit of springing new capacity on us with little warning."
Wiki-Solar defines any plant over 4MWAC as ‘utility scale’ in size. The company expects to announce full figures for 2013 soon.
Although Wiki-Solar’s findings only reflect the increase in utility-scale PV capacity, analysis firm NPD Solarbuzz has announced that 2013 was a record year for US solar.