The US installed more solar in Q1 2020 than ever before

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The United States installed more solar in Q1 2020 than in any previous first quarter ever, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and SEIA. Almost 2 GW of utility-scale solar, 1.96 GW in total, were installed in the first quarter of 2020, more than 65% higher than the total installed in the first quarter of last year.

The fun doesn’t stop with utility-scale solar, however. According to SEIA, once all installations are factored in, the total capacity installed in Q1 jumps to 3.6 GW, which makes the start of 2020 the largest Q1 on record by more than 1 GW. The tidal wave of solar doesn’t seem to be slowing down yet, as SEIA also shares that 5.4 GW of new utility PV projects were announced in Q1 2020, though, as they year progresses, distributed solar will face virus-related tension and installation slowdowns.

The majority of these installations came on-line in January, which was home to a commanding 56.7% of the total capacity added during the quarter, according to S&P. However, even more impressive than that one month of dominance, the emperor has been overthrown, as Florida installed more solar in Q1 (596 MW) than California did (359 MW). The largest single project to go on line came from where else but Texas, with the Childress Solar Park, formerly known as the Misae Project, clocking in at 240 MW. This project is also one of shared ownership, with IKEA and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S holding 51% and 49% shares respectively.

Looking forward

America as a whole now has a cumulative installed utility-scale solar capacity of 41 GW, as of March 31 reached 40,652 MW, up 18.4% from 12 months prior. According to SEIA an additional 10.8 GW are set to add to that figure by the end of the year, with the projection that 14.4 GW of solar will be going on-line across all sectors in 2020.

According to SEIA, U.S. solar market will install 113 GW of solar from 2020-2025, which is actually down 3.6 GW from the projections the company made in 2019, due to the ongoing pandemic. The 2020 outlook was also lowered to reflect the pandemic, as initial projections expected the country to add 20 GW of solar in 2020.

Of those 113 GW anticipated to go on-line in the next five years, a significant portion is set to come from the Lone Star State. S&P shares that Texas is projected to install 26 GW by 2024, more than any other state in the country and also marking the first time that California has had significant competition, in terms of anticipated capacity. The jewel of this frantic development in Texas will be the Greyhound Solar Project in Ector County. The 650 MW behemoth is still in early development, but is expected to reach commercial operation in June of 2021.