New York — Utility-scale solar installations in the U.S. totaled 1,962 MW of new capacity in the first quarter of 2020, which was 65.5% higher than the total installed in the first quarter of last year and the strongest first quarter in the last five years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.
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The analysis aligns with data from the Solar Energy Industries Association Inc., which said that the first three months of 2020 was the strongest first quarter on record with new additions, including residential solar, totaling 3.6 GW.
Most projects came on in January, which saw 56.7% of the total capacity added during the quarter. Florida saw the highest utility-scale solar capacity added during the quarter at 596 MW, while California stood second with 359 MW of solar capacity added.
Cumulative installed utility-scale solar capacity in the U.S. as of March 31 reached 40,652 MW, up 18.4% from 12 months prior.
The Misae Project (Childress Solar Park), a 240-MW solar farm located in Childress County, Tex., was the largest solar project to come online during the quarter. IKEA owner INGKA Holding BV shares ownership of the plant with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S, which acquired a 49% stake in April.
Wright Solar Park in Merced County, Calif., was the second-largest plant to go online, with a total operating capacity of 200 MW. Owned by Centaurus Capital LP, the project came online in January and sells power under a 25-year contract to Peninsula Clean Energy.
NextEra Energy Inc. tops the list of companies with the largest pipeline of projects set to begin operation through 2024. The developer has an aggregate capacity of 5,867 MW, most of which is in early development. Invenergy LLC has the second-largest development fleet, totaling 5,092 MW, and Paris-based EDF Group has the third-largest project pipeline with 2,513 MW.
As of June 8, the amount of capacity scheduled to come online in the next five years is expected to peak in 2021, with 28,172 MW planned. Most planned capacity over the five-year period is in early development.
Texas has the largest amount of solar projects in the pipeline of any state, with 25,738 MW of new capacity through 2024. The single largest planned project in the state is Greyhound Solar Project, in Ector County, owned by Energy Acuity, LLC. The 650-MW plant, which is in early development, is slated to come online in June 2021.
Seven projects were announced in the first quarter. The largest is the 800-MW Orion Solar Project, in La Paz County, Ariz., which was announced by Hanwha Group subsidiary 174 Power Global Corp.