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

Publication Type

Report

Date Published

09/2022

Abstract

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.

Year of Publication

2022

Notes

You can find a brief overview of this research here

The authors will host a webinar summarizing key findings from the report on September 28, 2022, at 10:00 am Pacific. Please register for the webinar here.

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