Utility-Scale Solar, 2023 Edition: Empirical Trends in Deployment, Technology, Cost, Performance, PPA Pricing, and Value in the United States
Berkeley Lab’s “Utility-Scale Solar, 2023 Edition” presents analysis of empirical plant-level data from the U.S. fleet of ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV), PV+battery, and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants with capacities exceeding 5 MWAC (PV plants of 5 MWAC or less, including residential rooftop systems, are covered separately in Berkeley Lab’s companion annual report, Tracking the Sun).
Highlights of this year’s update include:
- 10.4 GWAC of new utility-scale PV capacity came online in 2022, bringing cumulative installed capacity to more than 61.7 GWAC across 46 states.
- 94% of all new utility-scale PV capacity added in 2022 uses single-axis tracking.
- Median installed project costs declined to $1.32/WAC (or $1.07/WDC) in 2022.
- Plant-level capacity factors vary widely, from 9% to 35% (on an AC basis), with a sample median of 24%. The report explores drivers of this variation.
- Utility-scale PV’s LCOE fell to $39/MWh in 2022 ($29/MWh if factoring in the federal investment tax credit, or ITC).
- PPA prices have largely followed the decline in solar’s LCOE over time, but have recently stagnated and even moved slightly higher. Prices from a sample of recent contracts average around $20-30/MWh (levelized) in the West and $30-40/MWh elsewhere in the continental US.
- In 2022, solar’s average market value (defined in the report to include only energy and capacity value) rose by 40% to $71/MWh and exceeded average wholesale prices in 4 of the 7 ISOs/RTOs and 11 of 18 other balancing authorities analyzed.
- Adding battery storage is one way to increase the value of solar. Our public data file tracks metadata and PPA prices from ~100 PV+battery hybrid projects that are already online or that have secured offtake arrangements.
- At the end of 2022, there were at least 947 GW of utility-scale solar power capacity within the interconnection queues across the nation, 456 GW of which include batteries.
For more information, and to explore related interactive data visualizations, go to utilityscalesolar.lbl.gov.
Year of Publication
A webinar summarizing key findings from the report recorded on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, can be viewed here.
A brief overview of this study can be found here.