US installed 4.5 GW of utility-scale solar in 2019

US installed 4.5 GW of utility-scale solar in 2019

For the third year in a row, more utility-scale solar was installed in the southeastern United States than any other part of the country.

Solar PV Mounting Structure

More than 4.5 GW of utility-scale solar came online in the United States in 2019, bringing cumulative capacity to more than 29 GW, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s 2020 update of utility-scale solar data.

These capacity additions were driven by projects in the southeast, which accounted for nearly 1.5 GW, by California at just under 1 GW.

Across these two regions, the vast majority of completed projects used trackers, with only four projects in Florida using fixed-tilt racking. As you look north, however, the tracker phenomenon flips, with almost half of PJM’s 17 projects utilizing fixed-tilt systems. In fact, there were no documented projects utilizing trackers north of Long Island, though it isn’t specified whether the three solar+storage projects in Massachusetts and Vermont used fixed-tilt or tracking systems.

Looking at the country as a whole, the vast majority of new PV projects utilize trackers over racking, with fixed-tilt systems representing roughly 0.5 GW of capacity. 77% of projects and 88% of capacity added in 2019 used single-axis tracking. Going back to solar+storage, the report shows that nine such projects achieved commercial operation in 2019: two in Vermont, one in Massachusetts, one in Florida, two in Arkansas, two in Texas and one in California.

Vermont was also the second in the country in terms of solar generation as a percentage of in-state generation. The top spot went to California at 19.9%, by Vermont at 14%, Nevada and Massachusetts tied at 13.7% and Hawaii at 12.6%. It should be noted that this data also includes residential and commercial and industrial solar generation.

As for the cost of installing these new projects, that figure is down 20% from 2018’s mark of $1.40/W, coming in at $1.20/W in 2019. This number is also down more than 70% over where it was at the start of the decade.

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