US added record 12.4GW of utility-scale solar last year despite module availability issues – ACP

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An operational PV plant in Texas, the leading state for utility-scale solar deployment last year. Image: Lightsource bp.

Utility-scale solar deployment in the US reached a new high last year despite scores of projects being pushed back, in part due to a lack of regulatory certainty impacting the availability of modules, according to the American Clean Power (ACP) Association.

Solar installs jumped 19% year-on-year to 12,364MW, bringing the country’s total utility-scale solar capacity up to around 60.6GW, the trade body said in its Clean Power Quarterly 2021 Q4 report.

Texas topped solar installations in 2021, with 3,774MW added, followed by California in a distant second with 1,154MW, Florida (955MW), Virginia (873MW) and Georgia (693MW).

Despite the rise in installs, PV plants totalling more than 6GW were pushed back beyond their expected commissioning in 2021, with supply chain constraints and trade barriers the major culprits headwinds that ACP expects to continue to hamper the growth of the industry “for the foreseeable future”.

With the US’s solar pipeline in Q4 jumping 11% sequentially, the country now has more than 66GW of utility-scale PV under construction or in advanced development.

Nonetheless, the report said supply chain issues and trade barriers continue to threaten to significantly delay or even lead to the cancellation of projects, especially those unable to take delivery of modules due to product detainment at ports.

Last year, the US banned the imports of silica-based products made by Hoshine Silicon Industry in response to allegations of the use of forced labour in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Some solar module shipments have since been detained at US ports.

Combined with wind and utility-scale energy storage installations, a total of 27.7GW of capacity was added in the US last year, meaning the country has surpassed 200GW of deployed clean power.

However, ACP said last year’s clean power deployment was only 45% of what’s required to stay on track for an emissions-free power sector.

Heather Zichal, ACP CEO, urged Congress to take action to create a clean energy future that will help create more jobs and combat the climate crisis. “Surpassing over 200GW of clean energy is a significant milestone for the United States and shows that we can achieve even more with strong public policy support for the industry.”

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