US solar 4000% up on 2010 as industry booms and utilities no longer dominating new contracts

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The American Clean Power Association report catalogues the extraordinary growth of solar power in the US. Image: American Clean Power Association

The amount of solar installed in the US in 2020 was 4000% higher than was installed in 2010, with 8,894MW of utility-scale solar projects being added, as corporate demand becomes almost on par with utilities.

This was the finding of the first Clean Power Annual report by the American Clean Power Association (ACPA), which showed record US renewables growth and investment.

In the US, the “energy transition is well underway”, according to Heather Zichal CEO of the ACPA. “We hope this report can be a tool and resource as our industry drives innovation and job creating investments in every American state.”

In 2020, the US installed 26GW of new clean power, with utility solar, wind power and battery storage capacity now exceeding 170GW. Combined wind, solar, and battery storage power represent 78% of new power installations in 2020.

Driving much of the 26GW installed last year was business demand, which set a record as corporate buyers announced over 10GW of new clean power contracts and power purchase agreements (PPA) in 2020. Overall, corporate buyers contracted nearly the same about of clean power as utilities – 10,417MW versus 10,854MW, respectively. Non-utility share of contracted clean power capacity reached an all-time high of 46%.

Meanwhile, the industry employed 415,000 Americans and invested US$334 billion in the economy since 2005, said the report. This growth is only set to continue, with 90GW of clean energy projects currently underway, representing investments upwards of US$120 billion.

A key factor here is that wind and solar now offer the lowest cost of any generation type in most parts of the country, according to the report. It showed how the unsubsidised cost of energy for solar has fallen 90% since 2009 (wind power has fallen 71%).

When broken down by state, Texas (37,443MW) has installed by far the most clean power capacity, followed by California (20,354MW), Iowa (11,394MW), Oklahoma (9,395MW), and Kansas (7,058MW).

Texas also added the most clean power capacity last year with 6,320MW, followed by California (2,193MW), Florida (1,267MW), Iowa (1,218MW), and Oklahoma (1,182MW).

Last month, ACPA urged the US renewables industry to grasp a “once-in-a-generation-opportunity” to create up to 600,000 jobs and simultaneously meet climate goals.

The full report can be accessed here.

For more information on Solar & Storage finance in the US, sign up for Solar Media’s Solar & Storage Finance US virtual summit on 6-8 October 2021, which will hear from a range of industry experts and analyse the state of the US Solar & Storage market to inform business decisions.

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