The pipeline of solar, wind, and storage projects in interconnection queues across the United States has soared to a record 1,300GW, according to new research published this week by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
The Berkeley Lab study – which analysed electricity markets accounting for 85% of all US electricity load – identified over 1,400GW worth of total generation capacity seeking interconnection.
This included 676GW of solar capacity, 275GW of wind capacity, and 427GW of storage.
“The sheer volume of clean energy capacity in the queues is remarkable,” said Joseph Rand, a senior scientific engineering associate at Berkeley Lab. “It suggests that a huge transition is underway, with solar and storage taking a lead role.”
Proposed fossil fuel generation accounted for only 75GW of natural gas and there was less than 1GW of new coal-fired generation capacity proposed.
There was an increasing number of hybrid plants being proposed, led by 286GW worth of solar hybrids, dominated by solar + battery, and 19GW worth of wind hybrid projects.
In fact, nearly half of the battery storage capacity in interconnection queues is paired with some form of generation, most of which is solar.
It is likely that a large share of interconnection queued projects will ultimately be withdrawn. An analysis of projects seeking connection between 2000 and 2016 saw only 23% of projects were subsequently built.
Completion percentages are only on the decline, and are even lower for wind and solar projects than other resources – though this may simply be the result of the huge numbers of wind and solar projects being proposed.
This is unfortunate, considering that Berkeley’s analysis concludes that the amount of solar, wind, and storage currently in the countrywide interconnection queues is equivalent to what is needed to get to the goal of 80% of US electricity from zero-carbon resources by 2030.
“The trends in these interconnection queues suggest that developers are eager to meet this ambition, though they may face some headwinds,” Rand notes.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.