There’s a Mind-Bending Amount of Solar in the US Pipeline

Nathaniel Bullard

At the end of 2021, the US had 1,144 gigawatts of utility-scale electricity generation capacity. That includes everything from 130-year-old hydro dams to brand-new wind farms and solar projects with batteries attached. It took over a century to install all of it, and today, companies want to build almost that much capacity, all over again. 

In its annual review of utility-scale solar, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed data from seven independent system operators and 35 utilities, which together represent about 85% of the nation’s electricity load, to see what’s awaiting connection. It found more than 1 terawatt of potential new power generation or storage capacity that has requested connection to transmission networks. To put that in perspective, the whole world hit 1 terawatt of installed solar capacity earlier this year

The Berkeley Lab data tells the story of US solar power — from its growth to its technological sophistication to its growing maturity as a sector. 

Firstly, most new power generation planned in the US is renewable. In 2014, the total of all resources in all combined interconnection queues was about 325 gigawatts, of which 14% was solar. Today, it is 1,450 gigawatts (including energy storage projects), 46% of which is solar.



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