Published on January 16th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill1
US Comes Out Top In Utility-Scale Solar For 2013
The solar industry is dominated by statistics showcasing the Asia-Pacific Region’s dominance, thanks primarily to China’s massive output and demand. However, according to statistics published by Wiki-Solar on Tuesday show that the US overtook China as the world leader in utility-scale solar capacity.
Utility-scale is just the industry’s shorthand for large solar projects that handle many more megawatts than the more community- and local-driven installations. As an example, some of the power projects which helped push the US to the top of the chart include three partly-completed First Solar projects — the Desert Sunlight project, currently running 470 MW out of an eventual 550 MW capacity; the Topaz Solar Farm which is running 237 MW out of 550 MW; and the Antelope Valley project, which is nearly complete with 230 MW out of an eventual 250 MW. Each of these projects connected energy to the grid in the late part of 2013, helping break the 5 GW barrier of installed capacity.
“We’ve known for some time that America’s pipeline of giga-scale projects would take it to the top of the table,” said Wiki-Solar’s Philip Wolfe. “Thanks to a further 12 GW still in development, it should stay there for some time; though China’s progress is also impressive – and they have a habit of springing new capacity on us with little warning.”
The latest figures from Wiki-Solar also include several 100+ projects which went fully-connected during 2013 — including First Solar’s 290 MW Agua Caliente, SunPower’s 250 MW California Valley for NRG Energy, Sempra’s 165 MW Mesquite I, Tenaska’s 130 MW Imperial South and GE’s 127 MW Arlington Valley.
The phenomenal development of the US solar industry through 2013 is evident in the figures from year-to-year: at the beginning of 2013 the US only had 2.2 GW of capacity installed, which as can be seen in the graph above, more than doubled over the following year.