Berkeley Lab’s “Utility-Scale Solar, 2021 Edition” provides an overview of key trends in the U.S. market, with a focus on 2020. Highlights of this year’s update include:
- A record of nearly 9.6 GWAC of new utility-scale PV capacity came online in 2020, bringing cumulative installed capacity to more than 38.7 GWAC across 43 states.
- 89% of all new utility-scale PV capacity added in 2020 uses single-axis tracking.
- Median installed project costs declined to $1.4/WAC (or $1.1/WDC) in 2020.
- Project-level capacity factors vary widely, from 9% to 36% (on an AC basis), with a sample median of 24%. The report explores drivers of this variation.
- Utility-scale PV’s LCOE fell to $34/MWh in 2020 ($28/MWh if factoring in the federal investment tax credit, or ITC).
- PPA prices have largely followed the decline in solar’s LCOE over time, but have stagnated more recently. Prices from a sample of recent contracts average just above $20/MWh (levelized).
- In 2020, solar’s average market value (defined in the report to include only energy and capacity value) exceeded average wholesale prices in 12 of the 17 balancing authorities analyzed (including 4 of the 7 independent system operators across the United States).
- Adding battery storage is one way to increase the value of solar. Our public data file tracks metadata for more than 150 PV+battery hybrid projects that are already online or that have secured offtake arrangements.
- At the end of 2020, there were at least 460 GW of utility-scale solar power capacity within the interconnection queues across the nation, 160 GW of which include batteries.
For more information, and to explore related interactive data visualizations, go to utilityscalesolar.lbl.gov.
Year of Publication
A webinar discussing this research recorded on October 12, 2021, can be viewed here.