Solar pipeline at U.S. utilities reaches 4.8GW: EER
reports 21.5GW of solar power generation in 2020
Dec 4, 2009 - Mark Osborne - PV-tech.org
A new detailed study of the U.S. utility market for
solar applications by market research firm, Emerging
Energy Research (EER) highlights the current and future
pipeline of PV installations expected from the U.S.
utilities. The utility-scale PV project pipeline has
already reached 4.8GW with utilities expected to add
a further 21.5GW to their generation portfolios between
2009 and 2020. Compared to the 77 MW of utility-driven
projects currently operating, an explosion in the
market is rapidly gaining momentum.
According to EER's study, utilities have been catalyzed
into action by the regulatory pressures at the state
and national levels as well as the widespread cost
reductions in the PV sector. This has also been helped
by fossil fuel price volatility and overarching carbon
concerns, the report notes. With the versatility of
solar power, utilities can leverage multi-pronged
EER has also forecasted that the US PV market will
accelerate between 2011 and 2015, growing from 2GW
in 2011 to 12GW in 2015, more than a 460% increase.
"Unlike other larger, centralized power generation
technologies such as natural gas, wind, concentrated
solar power, and geothermal, PV offers scale and unique
siting versatility," says EER Solar Research Director,
Reese Tisdale. "If PV's declining economic forecasts
come to fruition to foster more widespread demand
-- centralized, commercial, and residential segments
-- utilities will want to be at the industry's forefront
to shape the market in their favour."
The report highlights that the conservative utilities
market is starting to embrace PV technology, in particular
c-Si and CdTe thin film technologies, especially when
PV manufacturers take a direct role in projects and
However, EER is more sceptical about CPV technology
adoption, citing the cost reductions seen in conventional
c-Si and some thin film technologies that are now
squeezing CPV previous lower cost-per-watt capabilities.
CPV is now hampered by the lack of deployment compare
to conventional modules, further curtailing its potential
attractiveness to utilities.
The report also identifies the growing use of trackers
for projects as utilities try to maximise investments.
According to EER, utilities using trackers increase
output by 20% to 30% when tracking systems are deployed.
EER said that 712MW of PV projects that have been
announced will utilize tracking systems.
PPAs would also continue to be the primary method
of utility PV procurement. However, the share of projects
being owned by utilities is likely to be 30% to 45%
between 2009 and 2011, as utilities take advantage
of national incentives and increase their comfort
with and understanding of PV. EER expects 16.1GW of
PPAs are likely to be signed by 2020.