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US clean power installations surpass 2020 to reach a Q2 record, Texas leads states


Clean power capacity more than double from five years ago

Battery energy storage installations up 439% from Q1

Texas leads additions with 1.489 GW, 17% of pipeline

  • Author
  • Kassia Micek
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  • Jennifer Pedrick
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US project developers installed 5.62 GW of clean power capacity in second-quarter 2021, a record for Q2 installations and an increase of 13% year over year, the American Clean Power Association announced Aug. 24 in its quarterly report.

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Additions for the first half of 2021 totaled 9.915 GW, up 17% year on year to surpass 2020 as the most active six months in new clean power installations, according to an ACP statement accompanying the report.

"This market report shows the record growth across the renewable energy sector," ACP CEO Heather Zichal said in the statement. "With a record pace of installations in the first half of 2021 our industry not only provides good-paying jobs but also is a key part of solving the climate crisis."

Battery energy storage surged 439% quarter on quarter with 570 MW installations in Q2, as new energy storage capacity in 2021 now totals about 665 MW, nearly equal to all of 2020, according to ACP.

Solar capacity increased 73% from Q1 with 2.226 GW installed in Q2, bringing the total new annual operating solar capacity to 3.513 GW, according to the report. Solar-plus-storage projects are the most common operating hybrid projects with 2,251 MW on the grid and 27% of solar projects paired with energy storage.

Wind-plus-storage is the second-largest operating hybrid class with 1,892 MW. The wind sector installed 2.824 GW in Q2, an increase of 10% year on year and a Q2 record due to projects originally planned for Q1 2021 being pushed back, according to the report.

"This growth and expansion are expected to continue but we need policymakers in Washington to make long term decisions to ensure we can continue to develop these critical projects," Zichal said in the statement.

The US Energy Storage Association will merge with ACP in January, but before then, the two associations will work together to encourage Congress to enact the storage investment tax credit, along with continuing to make progress on policies that advance storage in states and in organized wholesale markets, ACP announced Aug. 23.

By the numbers

Project owners commissioned 56 new projects across 27 states in Q2, including 16 wind projects, 30 utility-scale solar projects, seven energy storage projects and three solar-storage hybrid projects.

Texas, once again, led the nation in Q2 additions with 1.489 GW, followed by California at 585 MW, Michigan at 424 MW, Florida at 373 MW and Kansas at 301 MW, according to the report. Texas has 40.176 GW of operational clean power capacity, followed by California at 21.114 GW and Iowa at 11.927 GW.

Four companies added more than 500 MW in Q2: NextEra Energy, EDP Renewables, ENGIE, and Algonquin Power & Utilities, according to the report.

NextEra Energy led Q2 installations with 847 MW after starting operations at five solar projects — the Discovery Solar Energy Center, Orange Blossom Solar Center, Rodeo Solar Center, Sabal Palm Solar Energy Center, and Willow Solar Energy Center.

EDP Renewables delivered three projects in Q2 with a combined capacity of 691 MW, while ENGIE brought online four projects totaling 603 MW. Algonquin Power & Utilities brought online the 301-MW Neosho Ridge wind project, the third-largest wind project to reach commercial operations in Q2.

What's ahead

There was now more than 180.216 GW of clean power capacity operating in the US, more than double the US capacity just five years ago and an increase of 9.9 GW since the end of 2020, according to the report.

At the end of the Q2, there were 906 projects totaling over 101.897 GW of clean power capacity in the near-term development pipeline, including 37,725 MW under construction and 64,172 MW in advanced development, according to the report.

Clean power projects totaling 4,276 MW started construction and 10,520 MW entered advanced development in Q2, according to the report. Solar represented the largest share of capacity in the pipeline at 54%, followed by land-based wind at 23%, offshore wind at 14% and battery storage at 9%.

The report listed Texas with 17% of total development pipeline, followed by offshore wind projects in Federal Waters at 14%, California 10%, Indiana 5%, New Mexico 4% and Nevada 4%.