The United States sits on the precipice of what could be a monumental solar boom set to play out over the next five years, with developers in the country having applied to build 139GW worth of large-scale solar projects as of the end of 2018.
Announced at the start of 2019, pv magazine revealed that there was over 139GW worth of solar projects that had applied for interconnection with six separate US grid operators by the end of December 2018 spread out across the country’s Northeast and Midwest, as well as California and Texas.
In comparison, according to global energy research company Wood Mackenzie, the United States could only boast 34GW worth of large-scale solar by the end of the third quarter of 2018.
Important to note is that pv magazine’s figure is in AC, while Wood Mackenzie’s number is in DC. This means that, after converting from DC to AC, there is the potential for the United States’ solar capacity to expand by as much as five times.
The six grids focused in the study include the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), ISO New England (ISONE), Midcontinent System Operator (MISO), PJM Interconnection (PJM), and Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
What’s most important about this big figure, however, is that while the whole 139GW will likely not make it to operation – being the nature of the game, currently – the number also does not account for the whole of the United States, and as such could in fact be significantly higher.
For example, the figure doesn’t take into account potential projects in the Mountain West, Pacific Northwest, or Plains States. Further, pv magazine’s numbers do not include small-scale solar, which would only serve to push the total solar capacity that could be installed over the next five years through the proverbial roof.
Over the next few weeks and months it will be interesting to see what various analysts and analyst companies make of the potential US solar boom, as they begin to release their 2019 predictions, and as they look ahead beyond 2019 and 2020.