U.S. Solar Power Doubles Capacity in 2017, but Market Trends Downward
-Utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) development continues to trend downward, according to a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) (Washington, D.C.). This decline was expected, due to uncertainty stemming from tariffs for solar module imports, and a decrease in solar investment tax credits through 2021.
Industrial Info is tracking 532 solar projects in North America, valued at more than $58.6 billion, that are scheduled to begin construction between June 2018 and January 2021.
The solar industry more than doubled its total installed capacity to 53.3 gigawatts through the end of 2017, with the top six states for solar development being California, North Carolina, Arizona, Massachusetts, Texas and Utah, according to SEIA.
In New York, the "Vital Brooklyn" initiative announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo commits $1.4 billion to advance 26 large-scale solar energy projects, including 22 utility-scale solar installations.
WEC Energy Group (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is increasing its five-year capital budget, with a goal of spending up to $900 million on solar and other renewable-generation projects.
In Minnesota, solar was the top contributor to renewable energy growth, which historically has led renewable energy in the state. This change was attributed to favorable policy incentives.
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) drove less than half of all U.S. growth in renewable capacity from 2000 to 2017, but power demand attributed to those standards is expected to almost double by 2030, according to a report by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratories (Berkley, California). The RPS policies, though diminishing over time, continue to play a significant role in supporting renewable-energy growth in certain markets, particularly in the Western, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states.
Mexico's solar market is in its infancy, but is booming due to massive solar resources and low labor costs. The decline in expenses was spurred by recent energy reforms that make it easier for private companies to participate in electrical systems, which have been long dominated by a single state-run utility. As part of the reform, Mexico has held three annual solar auctions that saw successive plunges in average bid price; the third round saw nine solar projects totaling 1.7 GW, and Mexico now holds the record for the cheapest average solar bids in the world.
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