U.S. power plant developers added more wind, solar and energy storage capacity in 2020 than ever before, according to a new report highlighting the country’s accelerating shift toward cleaner sources of electricity.
Fueled by an unprecedented building boom in the final three months of the year, the wind industry commissioned 16,913 MW in 2020, up 85% from 2019, the American Clean Power Association, or ACP, said in a report released Feb. 4. Utility-scale solar capacity, meanwhile, more than doubled to 11,158 MW, while front-of-the meter energy storage additions jumped 300% to 734 MW. The ACP data does not include distributed solar and storage projects installed at homes and businesses.
“We saw wind had a record year in 2020. Solar and energy storage also had record years in 2020,” John Hensley, ACP’s vice president of research and analytics, said during a media briefing. “So [it is] just incredible to see these three clean energy technologies all set new peaks in 2020.”
In order to reshape the U.S. electric system with renewable energy as the dominant source of power by the end of this decade, though, “we need to be doubling annual deployment of wind and solar and significantly increasing the amount of energy storage that we’re adding to the grid every year,” Hensley added.
Texas was by far the strongest U.S. wind market in 2020, adding 4,235 MW of new capacity, followed by Iowa with 1,498 MW and Wyoming with 1,123 MW. After years of gathering momentum, Texas also emerged as the leading U.S. market for large-scale solar in 2020, adding 2,852 MW. Next was California, with 1,726 MW of new photovoltaic capacity and Florida with 1,714 MW.
California, however, still leads the U.S. with over 13,000 MW of cumulative solar capacity, more than double that of Texas. Nationwide, the U.S. had 43,318 MW of cumulative large-scale solar capacity at the end of 2020, enough to cover the power needs of 11 million American homes, ACP said. The Golden State also added 612 MW of large-scale battery storage in 2020, accounting for the lion’s share of energy storage installed last year, according to the trade association’s data.