Utility-scale solar has grown fast over a past 5 years

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Utility-scale solar installations—including both photovoltaic (PV) and thermal technologies—grew during an normal rate of 72% per year between 2010 and 2016, faster than any other generating technologies. Utility-scale solar era now creates adult about 2% of all utility-scale electric generation. The initial utility-scale solar plants were commissioned in a mid-1980s, though some-more than half of a now handling utility-scale solar ability came online in a past dual years.

Image credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

As of Dec 2016, some-more than 21.5 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar generating ability was in operation opposite a United States, with some-more than 7.6 GW of that ability entrance online in 2016. Although California has a top sum commissioned ability of any state, a series of states have deployed poignant utility-scale solar ability in new years. Several states have policies such as renewable portfolio standards or state renewable taxation credits to inspire solar deployment. Since 2005, a sovereign supervision has supposing a 30% investment taxation credit, that is scheduled to proviso down or end by 2022.

Image credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Utility-scale solar era has been augmenting as a outcome of a fast expansion in capacity; however, solar’s share of utility-scale electricity era is 0.9%, about half of a share of capacity. Most solar generators are deliberate an few or non-dispatchable apparatus since their accessibility depends on ambient insolation (exposure to a sun). Some systems, such as a Crescent Dunes solar thermal plant, are interconnected with an appetite storage system, that allows larger operational flexibility. As monthly ability factors indicate, solar era is strongly seasonal, with some-more object accessible in a summer (about 30% ability cause on average) than in a winter months (near 15%).

Image credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

In further to utility-scale solar, electric generating ability from small-scale solar systems (such as rooftop and other customer-sited PV systems) has also grown. In 2016, EIA estimates that a United States combined 3.4 GW of small-scale solar generating ability opposite all 3 end-use sectors (residential, commercial, and industrial), finale a year with some-more than 13.1 GW of commissioned capacity. (EIA reports ability values in GW of swapping stream output.)

According to EIA estimates, California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts had a many small-scale solar ability with 5.4 GW, 1.3 GW, and 1.0 GW, respectively. Monthly era from small-scale solar ability is estimated to have been 1.6 million megawatthours (MWh) on normal in 2016, or about two-thirds of a volume generated by utility-scale solar generators.

Source: EIA

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