EIA: Solar Will Surge in 2024, Account for More Than Half of New U.S. Capacity

Installations of new solar power generation capacity this year are expected to nearly double the amount that was built in 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The agency is its latest “Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory” report said developers expect to add 36.4 GW of new solar capacity in 2024. That compares to 18.4 GW of new capacity added last year. The EIA is expected to publish its next update on Feb. 26.

The EIA said solar power accounts for 58% of all new capacity additions expected across the U.S. this year, and is part of what the agency expects will be an overall increase in electricity generating capacity. The EIA report said the U.S. could add 62.8 GW of new power capacity in 2024, a 55% jump over the 40.4 GW added a year ago. Solar power paired with battery energy storage is expected to account for 81% of new U.S. generation capacity.

Texas, California, Florida

The report said 35% of overall new capacity additions are expected in Texas, followed by California at 10%, and Florida at 6%. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has said those three states, in that order, are forecast to add most of the nation’s new electricity output over the next five years.

One of the first major solar-plus-storage projects is expected online by the end of February. Primergy’s Gemini installation in Nevada will feature 690 MW of solar generation capacity, along with 380 MW/1.4 GWh of energy storage. The Gemini project will be the largest U.S. single-site solar project when it begins commercial operation.

The EIA in its report said it expects 470 new solar projects will come online this year, along with 220 energy storage installations. The 14.3 GW of new battery capacity forecast by the EIA is second only to the capacity additions in the solar sector; the agency expects total operational storage capacity will nearly double this year, and it also said capacity additions in 2024 will more than double the 6.4 GW added last year.

Large Storage Projects

Several standalone energy storage projects are expected to begin operating this year, including the 200-MW/400-MWh Peregrine facility in San Diego, California, forecast for a September start date. The Peregrine installation will work in concert with several nearby wind and solar projects. Renewable energy leader RWE recently announced completion of three projects, two in Texas and one in Arizona.

Other major electricity generation projects expected to enter commercial operation this year include the second unit of a two-unit expansion at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia. Unit 3—the first new nuclear power plant built in the U.S. in decades—came online in summer 2023. Unit 4, like Unit 3 a 1,100-MW Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, reached initial criticality earlier in February, according to operating utility Georgia Power. The utility on Feb. 14 said Unit 4 is expected to begin commercial operation in the second quarter of this year.

Though the U.S. offshore wind industry has moved in fits and starts, and has lagged its European counterpart, the 800-MW Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts is expected to come online later in 2024. The installation produced its first power on Jan. 2 of this year.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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