U.S. solar capacity passes 100 gigawatts after strong first quarter, but Covid challenges persist


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The United States is now residence to over 100 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity, in line with a brand new report, though rising prices may pose challenges to the sector.

The figures come from the most recent U.S. Solar Market Insight report, launched on Tuesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie.

It discovered that America’s solar business put in barely greater than 5 GW of photovoltaic capacity within the first three months of 2021. This represents a file for the first quarter and is 46% greater than the identical interval in 2020.

On a state by state stage, Texas got here out on high, putting in greater than 1.52 GW of capacity, adopted by California and Florida, the place 563 and 525 megawatts had been put in.

Looking on the larger image, the report states that solar made up “58% of all new electricity-generating capacity added” within the United States through the first quarter. Wind, it says, was answerable for “most of the remainder.”

While the U.S. solar business has now surpassed 100 GW of capacity, different markets have already reached that milestone. Toward the top of 2020, SolarPower Europe stated capacity within the European Union stood at greater than 137 GW.

The above figures relate to direct present, or DC, scores versus alternating present. Capacity is the utmost quantity that installations can produce, not essentially what they’re at the moment producing, whereas photovoltaic refers to a approach of immediately changing gentle from the solar into electrical energy.

Challenges forward

While the quantity of installations within the U.S. seems to be encouraging, the sector faces some potential headwinds going ahead.

“Over the last several quarters,” the report’s government abstract states, “critical components for solar equipment — polysilicon, steel, aluminum, semiconductor chips, copper and other metals — have become increasingly supply-constrained.”

It provides {that a} rising demand for solar, “combined with pandemic-related macroeconomic realities” — which embrace the provision of microchips and a hike in transport prices — had seen commodity costs improve and deliveries delayed.

“There is a lag between commodity prices and subsequent solar system prices,” stated Michelle Davis, principal analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and lead creator of the report.

“But there’s no doubt this is impacting the solar industry,” she added. “Installers are managing current equipment shortages and having to decide whether to renegotiate contracts.”

While the rise in solar installations is prone to be welcome information to advocates of renewable power, any transfer away from fossil fuels might be a major problem that requires an enormous quantity of change.

In the U.S., preliminary figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration present that pure gasoline and coal’s shares of utility-scale electrical energy technology in 2020 had been 40.3% and 19.3%, respectively.



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