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Q1 US wholesale utility-scale solar sales rise 21% on year as more units come online

Highlights

10.6 million MWh sold in Q1 2020

Texas facilities begin to join top sellers

Houston — A total of 80 utility-scale solar power generating companies sold 10.6 million MWh of wholesale power in the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 21% compared with Q1 2019, according to data compiled from US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filings.

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The top three sellers — selling just over 1 million MWh each — were Southern Power, NextEra Energy Resources and Con Edison Clean Energy Business. The top 10 sellers sold a combined 6.85 million MWh in Q1 2020, or 64.6% of the total.

Southern Power, a merchant subsidiary of Southern Company, saw its Q1 2020 wholesale solar sales increase 3% year over year, while NextEra's sales climbed 14.1% and Con Edison's rose 11.5%.

Ranked seventh was Global Atlantic Financial, which saw its solar MWh sales in Q1 jump 201.4% year on year. The insurance company bought a one-third stake in Southern Power's solar portfolio for $1.2 billion in 2018.

Duke Commercial Power, which has been expanding its solar fleet, saw its wholesale solar sales jump 82.3% compared with Q1 2019. It is now ranked 11th among all sellers.

Facilities new to the top 25

Of the top 25 solar power generating facilities in the US, 15 are located in California, four in Arizona, four in Nevada and two in Texas. Four of the top five solar facilities by sales volumes reported to FERC are located in California, while one is in Arizona.

Combined, the top 25 facilities were responsible for 3.1 million MWh of sales, or roughly 29.4% of the total. All the facilities are 153 MW in capacity, or larger.

The largest facility in the US is the 550-MW Topaz facility in California that sold 275,757 MWh of wholesale power in Q1, most of which is bought under a fixed price, 25-year power purchase agreement with PG&E Corp.'s Pacific Gas and Electric utility subsidiary.

According to credit ratings agency Fitch, Pacific Gas and Electric "has continued to regularly serve" its PPA obligations to Topaz during the utility's bankruptcy.

Nonetheless, of the top 25 solar facilities active in Q1 2020, five are new and were not included in the Q1 2019 sales volume count.

Two of the new facilities are located in California: the 153-MW Imperial Valley Solar 2 and the 200-MW Wright Solar Park.

In Texas, there is the 241-MW Misae Lessee facility and the 250-MW Phoebe Energy Project.

In Nevada, there is the Techren Solar 2 facility, which has 200 MW of capacity.

The total wholesale power sales reported to FERC by the five new facilities in Q1 came to 503,188 MWh.

TOP SOLAR FACILITIES BY MWh VOLUME Q1 2020 vs Q1 2019
SELLER COMPANY
ST
SIZE MW
2020 Q1
2019 Q1
% CHANGE FROM Q1 2019
TOPAZ SOLAR FARMS
CA
550
275,757
243,522
13.2%
SOLAR STAR CALIFORNIA XIX
CA
310
168,881
161,976
4.3%
AGUA CALIENTE SOLAR
AZ
290
159,982
156,821
2.0%
DESERT STATELINE
CA
296
150,420
140,169
7.3%
SOLAR STAR CALIFORNIA XX
CA
276
147,673
141,824
4.1%
ARIZONA SOLAR ONE
AZ
250
140,008
117,995
18.7%
COPPER MOUNTAIN SOLAR 3
NV
250
138,205
117,141
18.0%
MOAPA SOUTHERN PAIUTE SOLAR
NV
250
135,389
116,008
16.7%
DESERT SUNLIGHT 250
CA
250
133,636
131,900
1.3%
SILVER STATE SOLAR POWER SOUTH
NV
250
129,285
116,586
10.9%
AV SOLAR RANCH 1
CA
242
125,557
117,992
6.4%
HIGH PLAINS RANCH II
CA
250
123,069
112,619
9.3%
DESERT SUNLIGHT 300
CA
300
122,748
154,415
-20.5%
TECHREN SOLAR II
NV
200
119,174
NA
NA
PHOEBE ENERGY PROJECT
TX
250
117,571
NA
NA
RE GARLAND
CA
180
102,934
83,618
23.1%
CENTINELA SOLAR ENERGY
CA
173
98,993
97,000
2.1%
GENESIS SOLAR
CA
250
98,608
103,390
-4.6%
MESQUITE SOLAR 1
AZ
165
93,395
89,055
4.9%
IMPERIAL VALLEY SOLAR 2
CA
153
91,477
NA
NA
WRIGHT SOLAR PARK
CA
200
89,845
NA
NA
MESQUITE SOLAR 3
AZ
154
89,140
90,224
-1.2%
IMPERIAL VALLEY SOLAR 1
CA
200
88,530
99,581
-11.1%
MISAE LESSEE
TX
241
85,141
NA
NA
MCCOY SOLAR
CA
250
84,029
100,858
-16.7%
Total top 25 facilities
3,109,447
2,492,693
24.7%
Source: Government filings compiled by S&P Global Platts