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Published on May 29th, 2013 | by James Ayre

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US Installes 33 MW Of New Solar Power Capacity In April



This article was originally published on Solar Love.

33 MW of new utility-scale solar energy capacity were installed in the United States during the month of April. This total includes 17 MW from the first phase of the Yuma Foothills Solar Power Plant, 5 MW from the Celina Solar project I in Ohio, and 4.2 MW from two projects in California, among others. The US now possesses an impressive 5.14 GW of total solar energy capacity.

Denver solar panels

Denver solar panels via Wikimedia Commons.



The 17 MW of capacity supplied by the aforementioned Foothills Solar Power Plant accounts for more than half of the new solar capacity installed during April. The project is currently being developed by the Arizona Public Services Co. in Yuma, Arizona, and will see its capacity roughly doubled by this time next year, following the construction of the second phase. The second phase will add a further 18 MW of capacity, and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

5 MW of the new capacity was provided the Celina Solar project I Mercer County, Ohio. The project was developed by SolarVision LLC, and will provide about 8% of the city of Celina’s electricity.

PV Magazine provides further details:

Light Beam Energy Inc. went online with two projects totalling 4.2 MW in Butte County, California. Light Beam’s 1.7 MW Gridley Main One Solar scheme will supply power to the city of Gridley and the 2.5 MW Main Two project will sell energy to San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit.

Warsaw Solar 2 LLC connected the 2 MW Warsaw Solar 2 project in Duplin County, North Carolina, which will sell energy to Progress Energy Carolinas and Hannon Strong Solar LLC added 1.4 MW with its project to power US Army Fort Bliss in El Paso County, Texas to round off the new build generation schemes totalling 29.6 MW.

The last 3.4 MW was from the expansion of three previously constructed projects.

As of the end of April, 2013, the US has seen the installation of 845 MW of new solar energy capacity, a significant jump over the same period last year — which saw 348 MW installed.

And something to note — while 5.14 GW of total solar energy generating capacity is impressive when taken on its own, it only represents 0.44% of the US’s total energy generation…. A significant increase in the rate of installation will be needed to stem the worst of the effects predicted from future climate change, or even for that matter to keep up with the rest of the world. Germany and China, among other countries, are both transitioning away from fossil fuels relatively quickly — it wouldn’t be intelligent for us to let ourselves fall too far behind.

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • mikgigs

    It is very misleading for solar energy to say that 5.14 GW is 0.44 % of total capacity… Infact, it is much much much less, since solar power peaks just for few hours per day, but not every day. On the other hand, coal plants are working intermittently – producing much more power. So, in my opinion this should be adapted for more clear understanding. Like, produced energy in GWh per year compared to other energy sources.

    • Ross

      The GW figures for dirty fossil fuels are name plate values too.

      Thanks to the merit order effect as soon as the nice clean renewable wind or solar is available it displaces the dirty global warming causing fossil fuels.

    • agelbert

      I disagree there. It is actually much more because indivual households installing PV and other renewable energy systems aren’t on the radar screen mostly. The demand destruction in utility electricity sales is the tell tale. THIS news from the US Government about oil imports is part of an overall trend NOT completely covered in the stats:
      In 2012, the Energy Information Administration projected that oil imports were on pace to drop by 50% — to 1987 levels — within two years.

      http://www.wisegeek.com/how-much-does-the-us-spend-on-oil-imports.htm
      Don’t you ever get tired of the “solar peaks just a few hours a day” argument? You know, there are these neat things call batteries and water tanks that have this weid and strange ability to store energy!
      Fossil fuels are on the way out. There is no way that trend will be stopped, period. You can get with the program or watch your fossil fuel stocks tank along with disappearing dividends. Your choice.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The EIA is picking up end-user installed solar to some extent. Those numbers are now included in national installed solar data.

        They have to get the data sort of back-handed by using displaced generation (I think that’s what it’s called) data from utility companies. It’s likely not as accurate as one would like, but a reasonable approximation.

        “Don’t you ever get tired of the “solar peaks just a few hours a day” argument?”

        The fossil fuel industry is fighting a rear guard action as they retreat toward their inevitable defeat. The best weapons they have are a handful of worn-out and largely meaningless talking points.

        Some of their BS….
        “Renewables are not dependable”
        “Wind and solar are not dense energy sources”

    • Bob_Wallace

      I agree. We need to compare electricity sources based on output, not nameplate capacity.

      For the first 11 months of 2012 (I need to update my data) solar provided 0.11% of US total electricity.

      Predictions are that solar should hit 1% by the end of 2015. With the very large price decreases I suspect we might even do better than that.

  • James Wimberley

    As the context shows, these data are only for utility solar plants, and exclude smaller distributed installations, which aren’t notified through the same channels. Get it right!

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