60% of new Generating Capacity Should Come from Solar, Battery Projects

60% of new Generating Capacity Should Come from Solar, Battery Projects

Solar power is slowly gaining market share, with a majority of new generating capacity expected to come from solar and batteries in the next couple years.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory, power plant developers and operators expect to add 85 GW of new generating capacity to the U.S. power grid from 2022 to 2023, and 51 GW of that will come from solar power and battery storage projects.

As of now, about 3% of U.S. electricity originates from photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), but it’s been climbing steadily, from 0.34 GW of U.S. solar power capacity in 2008 to an estimated 97.2 gigawatts (GW) today.

At the same time, solar jobs have increased 167%, and since 2014, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped nearly 70%.

Falling costs – for both the panels, themselves, and battery storage – is contributing to that increased capacity, along with federal clean energy rebates and the march of technological progress.

The potential is definitely there – according to the Department of Energy, PV panels on just 22,000 square miles of the nation’s total land area (about the size of Lake Michigan) – could supply enough electricity to power the entire United States.

The DOE also predicts that, by 2030, more than one in seven U.S. homes will have a rooftop solar PV system, a bold prediction, indeed.

And since, as the EIA points out, more utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was added (24 GW) to the U.S. power grid than natural gas (12 GW) between 2020 and 2021, we’re already headed in the direction of wide-scale solar.

It’s one of the few positive stories to come out of the height of the global pandemic.