US utility-scale solar installation hit all-time high in 2023, research group says

By Thomson Reuters Feb 29, 2024 | 8:18 AM

By Nicole Jao

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Utility-scale solar projects in the United States added a record 15 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2023, up 60% from the year prior and marking an all-time high, according to data from environmental research group Kayrros.

The acceleration was in part due to a rebound effect from the previous year when supply-chain bottlenecks, labor force constraints and import tariffs slowed development. Solar development outside of Texas, the largest solar market, also contributed to the rise, Kayrros said.

While the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) had the most capacity additions in 2023, other regions saw faster capacity growth. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which operates across the Midwest, grew 224% year-on-year and PJM Interconnection on the East Coast grew more than 150%.

“There’s a lot of growth in ERCOT, partly because of the fact that it is quite insulated from other markets,” said Antoine Rostand, CEO and co-founder of Kayrros. “But there is cause for decarbonization everywhere. It’s not surprising that [solar development] is spreading in other markets,” he said.

The first quarter of 2024 is on track to post the fastest increase in the number U.S. solar completions recorded for that time of year, which normally experiences a seasonal slowdown.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects the acceleration will continue throughout 2024, with its latest forecast calling for more than 125 GW of solar panel installations this year.

Rostand said the EIA forecasts are significantly higher than Kayrros’ because they often reflect corporate announcements without taking into account project delays or bottlenecks.

(Reporting by Nicole Jao in New York; Editing by Nia Williams)