Community choice aggregators in California have now signed over 2 GW of power purchase agreements for renewable energy projects, with 1.4 GW in 43 projects coming from solar power.
Dear Members of Congress,
As some of the nation’s leading solar energy companies, we write to convey the importance of extending the Section 48 and Section 25D investment tax credits (ITC) for solar and other clean energy resources.
The ITC has a tremendous track record of spurring clean energy deployment across the country, creating nearly a quarter million well-paying jobs and driving down electricity costs for consumers, businesses and municipalities. It also has generated significant economic activity, accounting for $140 billion in private investment since its inception.
As you consider clean energy tax legislation, we urge you to include a multiple-year extension of the Section 48 and Section 25D tax credits before they begin to phase down at the end of this year. The residential and commercial investment tax credits will step down from 30 percent at the end of this year. The credit falls to 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021, and, in 2022, the residential renewable energy credit is eliminated, and the commercial investment tax credit drops to 10 percent.
As a result of these credits and greater competition in the electricity sector, more Americans have access to clean energy than ever before. The greatest solar job growth today is happening in the Midwest and Southeast, in emerging markets such as Kansas, North Dakota, Illinois, Alabama and Florida. More than 240,000 Americans work in solar energy today, a figure that has more than doubled since 2010. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “solar installer” could become the fastest-growing occupation in America.
While this recent success has driven 50 percent annual solar growth over the past decade, solar energy can do more for the economy, especially since it accounted for only 2.3 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2018 and less than 1 percent of generation in 29 states. Harmful public policy changes could quickly compromise future growth. For instance, the solar industry has experienced $8 billion of cancelled or deferred investments and the loss of 9,000 jobs in the wake of federal policy changes singling out solar. That's why we're asking you to extend the Section 48 and Section 25D investment tax credits for clean energy resources and support the continued growth of solar nationwide.
Thank you for your continued work and leadership developing American-made clean energy. We appreciate your consideration of our views and look forward to bringing solar to more of your constituents.
Breiter Planet Properties
m: (401) 954-6450
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers estimate that installing floating solar photovoltaics on the more than 24,000 man-made U.S. reservoirs could generate about 10 percent of the nation’s annual electricity production. Their findings, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, reveal for the first time the potential for floating PV to produce electricity in the United States.
While the United States was the first to demonstrate floating PV panels—with the first installation occurring 10 years ago on pontoons on an irrigation pond in Napa Valley, California—the idea has not received widespread national acceptance. The U.S. focus has primarily been on installing large-scale, ground-mounted solar panels, and only had seven floating PV sites as of December 2017. Floating PV sites are being deployed more overseas, however, with more than 100 sites as of the end of last year. Japan, for example, is home to 56 of the 70 largest floating PV installations.
Sunrun made a splash at the BNEF Summit in New York City at a time when utilities are increasingly struggling to adapt to new realities. But distributed energy resources have a long way to go to play a major role, and we will still need additional energy sources in future power systems.
Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich. Image: Bloomberg
Dr. Miguel Oneto has developed a 682 MWdc solar power project in Childress County, Texas. The project is the second by the new developer, following a 324 MWdc project under construction nearby.
It’s a story that would only happen in Texas, where everything is a little bit bigger – including the business opportunities.
In August of last year, pv magazine reported on a 240 MWac / 324 MWdc solar power project that broke ground in northern Texas. A couple of months later, the developer reached out to start a conversation with us about the next project he was developing, and gave us a bit of a background story.
While the Super Bowl victory parade rolled by, solar energy professionals shook hands, shared stories, made deals and visited more than 80 industry exhibitions on the floor in Boston, Massachusetts.
Contrary to President Trump, more and more U.S. states are setting their sights on an ambitious expansion of solar and other renewables. Five new state governors elected in the midterms are committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity. Several others are also pro-clean energy and pro-solar.
Developers have applied to build 139 GWac of large-scale solar projects in the territory of six grid operators – around five times what is currently online across the country – and that figure doesn’t even cover the entire United States. By any metric, we are looking at an unprecedented boom in solar development over the next five years.
Image: NREL - Hit me with your Sunshot
Some of it is the pending drop-down of the Investment Tax Credit from the end of 2019 through the end of 2023. Some of it is a series of decisions by states, cities and corporations to decarbonize their electricity supply, and to use solar as a main means of doing this. And some of it is the continual decline in PV system prices, which makes large-scale solar the cheapest form of new generation in much of the United States.
But whatever the cause, there is an unprecedented, massive volume of solar projects that is underway in the United States. Research conducted by pv magazine USA has uncovered more than 139 GWac of solar projects which have applied for interconnection with six grid operators (CAISO, NYISO, ISO-NE, MISO, PJM, ERCOT) by the end of December 2018, spanning the Northeast, Midwest, California and Texas.
For perspective, Wood Mackenzie estimates that there was only 34 GWdc of large-scale solar online at the end in the third quarter of 2018. When you convert that figure to AC power, it means that the new capacity being considered is around five times as large.
There are other reports looking at upcoming capacity, and they do vary greatly – which ought remind us all that much of what is in a queue won’t move forward. ISO New England estimates that 70% of the projects in its queue never see the light of day.
However, more than 15 GWac of solar projects in these six grids either already hold interconnection agreements, or have entered the engineering and procurement phase.* The largest portion of these is in California, but there are also more than 4 GWac of projects in Texas that hold interconnection agreements.
Our investigation showed solar project development going truly national. In fact, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) grid has a smaller volume of solar projects in its interconnection queue than the Midcontinent System Operator (MISO), Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) or PJM Interconnection, each of which have more than 32 GWac of solar projects in their queue. Unlike California, the large majority of project volume in all three has been proposed in 2017 and 2018 and these regions had all seen limited large-scale solar market development until a few years ago.
Even more to come
It is important to remember that these grids don’t cover the entire United States, and as such this 139 GWac does not include projects in the majority of the South, Mountain West, Pacific Northwest and Plains States. And we aren’t seeing these massive projects only in databases, either. As documented in pv magazine USA’s year-end coverage, we have found large solar projects either planned or under construction in 17 states that have not had substantial solar markets to date.
The signals of a boom to come in the U.S. solar market is reinforced by other data sources. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) monthly Energy Infrastructure Update(located under Energy Infrastructure tab) gives estimates of future capacity, and the latest report shows 63 GWac of proposed solar project additions before the end of 2021.
A quarterly report by Stephanie Tsao and Ellen Meyers of S&P Global Market Intelligenceestimates that the U.S. utility scale solar project pipeline through 2022 has expanded to 33.9 GWac.
In these estimates by S&P, grid operators reports and FERC, we are only talking about large utility-scale projects. These numbers do not include smaller systems such as rooftop solar either on the homes or businesses of utility customers. Data from other projections suggest that another 4-5 GWdc is coming from residential and commercial solar combined. Adding that volume to the S&P projections with a DC:AC ratio of 1.25:1 applied, suggests that the United States might build 18 GWdc of solar power in 2019, and just over 19 GWdc in 2020.
Energy storage boom
The six grid operator queues we investigated also showed more than 16 GW of battery projects which have filed for interconnection. And this number should not be too surprising to anyone who is watching the meteoric growth of energy storage.
Per the US Energy Storage Monitor, from Wood Mackenzie Renewables & Power along with the Energy Storage Association (ESA), total energy storage deployed expanded by 60% in terms of energy and 300% on a power basis in the third quarter of 2018 versus the prior year. Going out mostly until 2023, the report noted that the front of the meter pipeline expanded to approximately 33 GW of power.
The next five years are going to be truly massive for solar and energy storage. Hold on to your seats.
*Editor’s note: PJM Interconnection did not have a list of projects with interconnection agreements, but did list projects which had entered the engineering & procurement stage of development.