Utility-Scale Solar, 2022 Edition: Empirical Trends in Deployment, Technology, Cost, Performance, PPA Pricing, and Value in the United States

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Berkeley Lab’s “Utility-Scale Solar, 2022 Edition” provides an overview of key trends in the U.S. market, with a focus on 2021. Highlights of this year’s update include:

  • A record of nearly 12.5 GWAC of new utility-scale PV capacity came online in 2021, bringing cumulative installed capacity to more than 51.3 GWAC across 44 states.
  • 90% of all new utility-scale PV capacity added in 2021 uses single-axis tracking.
  • Median installed project costs declined to $1.35/WAC (or $1.02/WDC) in 2021.
  • Project-level capacity factors vary widely, from 9% to 35% (on an AC basis), with a sample median of 24%. The report explores drivers of this variation.
  • Utility-scale PV’s LCOE fell to $33/MWh in 2021 ($27/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 recently stagnated and even moved slightly higher. Prices from a sample of recent contracts average around $20/MWh (levelized) in the West and $30-40/MWh elsewhere in the continental US.
  • In 2021, solar’s average market value (defined in the report to include only energy and capacity value) rose by 55% to $47/MWh and exceeded average wholesale prices in 13 of the 17 balancing authorities analyzed.
  • Adding battery storage is one way to increase the value of solar. Our public data file tracks metadata and PPA prices from 67 PV+battery hybrid projects that are already online or that have secured offtake arrangements.
  • At the end of 2021, there were at least 674 GW of utility-scale solar power capacity within the interconnection queues across the nation, 284 GW of which include batteries.

For more information, and to explore related interactive data visualizations, go to utilityscalesolar.lbl.gov.

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You can find a brief overview of this research here

The authors recorded a webinar summarizing key findings from the report on September 28, 2022. You can view the webinar here


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