The U.S. utility-scale market has long been set for a breakout year in 2016, due to the formerly pending expiration of the U.S. Investment Tax Credit (ITC). But figures on exactly how much solar will get installed have been hard to pin down.
GTM Research has documented a boom in project starts, and according to the company’s Utility PV Market Tracker service there is currently 10.1 GW-DC of utility-scale solar PV under construction nationwide. This includes 8.6 GW of solar projects being built in the top 10 state markets – more PV than was put online in the entire year 2015 across all market segments.
Among this, the company also lists eight states where more than 400 MW-DC of solar is currently under construction. These include not only California and Texas – which each have over 1 GW under construction – but also states that a few years ago had small to non-existent markets, such as Georgia, Florida and Utah.
GTM Research notes that this has been building for some time. “States don’t go from zero to 1 GW, so a lot of the places where we’re seeing diversification, there is only a small amount being developed, but it is indicative of more to come,” GTM Research Solar Analyst Colin Smith told pv magazine.
In at least two of the top eight states – North Carolina and Utah – projects are being driven by PURPA, a 1978 law which mandates that utilities must buy electricity from independent power producers if they can match the price that the utility would otherwise pay for generation.
Rounding out the eight states with more than 400 MW under construction are Nevada and Arizona. Both of these states have seen regulatory set-backs for distributed solar in recent years, and in both utilities are instead pursuing large-scale solar.