Utility-Scale Solar

Utility-Scale Solar

All Utility-Scale PV Projects (built through 2022) GIFBerkeley 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). While focused on key developments in 2022, this report explores trends in deployment, technology, capital and operating costs, capacity factors, the levelized cost of solar energy (LCOE), power purchase agreement (PPA) prices, and wholesale market value.

Key findings from this year’s report 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.

The report, published in slide-deck format, is accompanied by an executive summary, a public data file, and interactive data visualizations. All four products are accessible via the menu bar below. In addition, plant-level hourly generation and annual value estimates are available for download at the Open Energy Data Initiative (OEDI) at https://data.openei.org/submissions/5963.

We want to hear from you. If you have specific questions about the report or data or requests for related analytical support from LBNL staff, you can submit those comments through a separate form here, and they will be routed to the appropriate staff.