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Solar to dominate 2023 US additions after supply chain, pandemic disruptions


54% of 2023 additions to be solar, 17% battery storage

Texas to lead solar additions, followed by California

  • Author
  • Kassia Micek
  • Editor
  • James Bambino
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition Natural Gas

Solar-powered generation will account for more than half of the 54.5 GW of new utility-scale electric generating capacity expected this year across the US, the US Energy Information Administration said Feb. 6.

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Most of the new solar capacity will be in Texas, where 7.7 GW is expected to come online, followed by California with 4.2 GW, the EIA said. Combined, those two states will account for 41% of planned new solar capacity this year.

However, "there's some uncertainty about how much of what is planned will be completed this year," said Morris Greenberg, senior manager of North America power analytics with S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Solar soaring

Solar power will account for 54% of 2023 additions, followed by battery storage at 17%, the EIA said.

US utility-scale solar capacity has been rising rapidly since 2010, with the exception of 2022 when solar additions declined by 23% year on year in 2022 due to supply chain disruptions and other pandemic-related challenges, according to the EIA.

"We expect that some of those delayed 2022 projects will begin operating in 2023, when developers plan to install 29.1 GW of solar power," the EIA said. "If all of this capacity comes online as planned, 2023 will have the most new utility-scale solar capacity added in a single year, more than doubling the current record (13.4 GW in 2021)."

Battery storage

Battery capacity is expected to more than double in 2023, after growing rapidly over the past couple of years. Developers plan to add 9.4 GW of battery storage to the existing 8.8 GW of battery storage capacity, according to the EIA.

"Battery storage systems are increasingly installed with wind and solar power projects," the EIA said.

Since wind and solar are intermittent sources of generation which can only produce electricity when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, batteries are being added to those projects since it can store excess electricity from wind and solar generators for later use.

In 2023, the EIA expects 71% of the new battery storage capacity will be in California and Texas, which both have significant solar and wind capacity. Texas leads the US in wind capacity at more than 37.4 GW, while California leads the nation in solar capacity with over 16.7 GW, according to the American Clean Power Association's latest quarterly report.

Wind additions

Annual wind capacity additions have begun to slow down after record additions of more than 14 GW in both 2020 and 2021. Wind additions in 2023 are expected to fall to be less than half of that, with 6 GW planned, according to the EIA.

Texas will have to most wind additions this year with 2 GW.

The only offshore wind capacity expected to come online this year is a 130-MW South Fork Wind offshore windfarm in New York.

In addition, the 806-MW Vineyard Wind I project offshore of Massachusetts is slated to be commissioned in 2023 and start commercial operations in 2024.

Nonrenewable additions

The two largest natural gas plants expected to come online in 2023 are the 1.836-GW Guernsey Power Station in Ohio and the 1.214-GW CPV Three Rivers Energy Center in Illinois, the EIA said. Overall, developers plan to build 7.5 GW of new natural-gas fired capacity in 2023, 83% of which is from combined-cycle plants.

Two new nuclear reactors at Georgia's Vogtle nuclear power plant are scheduled to come online in 2023, several years later than originally planned, according to the EIA. With a combined 2.2 GW of capacity, the reactors are the first new nuclear units built in the US in more than 30 years.