Renewable power installation slumps across the US
19:12, 27 July 2022
Renewable energy (RE) development across the United States slowed a great deal in the quarter through June, dragged down by “Congressional inaction”, trade issues and pandemic-triggered delays, according to industry group American Clean Power (ACP).
Solar and wind power installations slumped by 55% year over year during the period under review, the second-quarter of 2022, with just 3,188 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale green power capacity installed.
Energy storage was the only technology to experience growth, with a 13% increase in installations, per the latest Clean Power Quarterly Market Report.
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Solar installations were down 53% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2021, while onshore wind installations were 78% lower as against the year-ago period. That made the second-quarter the lowest quarter for renewable energy capacity additions since the third-quarter of 2019.
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The ACP also said that elevated commodity prices, supply-chain issues and higher operating costs weighed down on the rate of clean power development in the country.
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“Our member companies are ready to make the investment decisions necessary for building America’s clean energy economy, but the current business and policy environment is slowing the rate of deployment,” ACP chief executive Heather Zichal commented.
“We have been warning about the storm of policy and economic headwinds the clean power industry is facing, and this is a step in the wrong direction. Congressional inaction and uncertainty on long-term tax policy, tariff and trade restrictions, and transmission constraints all impact the demand for clean energy at a time when we need to be rapidly scaling up development,” Zichal added.
‘Misguided trade actions’
Solar projects were the most prone to delays, with nearly 21GW of projects currently delayed – much of which is a direct result of misguided trade actions, said the report. Solar accounts for 64% of all projects delayed.
Across the US, Texas led RE development activity in the second-quarter with 23,665MW underway, representing 18% of the total project development pipeline. The ‘jumbo state’ was followed by California (13,710MW), New York (10,809MW), Indiana (7,099MW) and Virginia (6,456MW).
Many large projects were commissioned during the quarter ended 30 June, with the biggest being:
- The 260MW DeCordova Energy Storage project in Texas, owned by Vistra Corporation.
- RWE’s Hickory Park Solar and Storage project located in Georgia.
- The 201MW Golden Hills wind project, in Oregon. Owned and developed by Avangrid, the wind farm uses turbines from Vestas and GE Renewables.
100% clean energy target
President Joe Biden’s administration wants all of the US to be powered by sustainable energy by 2035.
90% of the US, could be powered by clean energy, claimed a report by the University of California, Berkeley.
The rapid buildout of additional green energy would inject $1.7trn (EUR1.66trn / GBP1.39trn) of investment into the world’s largest economy, increase energy sector jobs by up to 530,000 per year through 2035, without raising consumer bills, per the 2035 Report: Plummeting Solar, Wind, and Battery Costs Can Accelerate Our Clean Energy Future.
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The target year of 2035 provides sufficient time for most coal and gas-fired power plants to recover their fixed costs, thereby avoiding the risk of stranded costs for investors and consumers, as long as the right policies are in place, the report said.
Existing gas plants, used infrequently and combined with storage, hydropower, and nuclear power would be sufficient to meet demand during periods of extraordinarily low renewable energy generation or exceptionally high electricity demand.
Power generation from natural gas plants would drop by 70% in 2035, when compared to 2019, it added.
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