Utility-Scale Solar, 2023 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, 2023 Edition” presents analysis of empirical plant-level data from the U.S. fleet of ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV), PV+battery, and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants with capacities exceeding 5 MWAC (PV plants of 5 MWAC or less, including residential rooftop systems, are covered separately in Berkeley Lab’s companion annual report, Tracking the Sun).

Highlights of this year’s update include:

  • 10.4 GWAC of new utility-scale PV capacity came online in 2022, bringing cumulative installed capacity to more than 61.7 GWAC across 46 states.
  • 94% of all new utility-scale PV capacity added in 2022 uses single-axis tracking.
  • Median installed project costs declined to $1.32/WAC (or $1.07/WDC) in 2022.
  • Plant-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 $39/MWh in 2022 ($29/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 $20-30/MWh (levelized) in the West and $30-40/MWh elsewhere in the continental US.
  • In 2022, solar’s average market value (defined in the report to include only energy and capacity value) rose by 40% to $71/MWh and exceeded average wholesale prices in 4 of the 7 ISOs/RTOs and 11 of 18 other 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 ~100 PV+battery hybrid projects that are already online or that have secured offtake arrangements.
  • At the end of 2022, there were at least 947 GW of utility-scale solar power capacity within the interconnection queues across the nation, 456 GW of which include batteries.

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

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A webinar summarizing key findings from the report recorded on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, can be viewed here

A brief overview of this study can be found here


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