Fewer Installation Delays in 2023 Boost Utility-Scale Solar Projects in US: EIA

Utilities in 2023 registered a 27% YoY increase in solar capacity


The United States power sector faced fewer delays in installing new utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in 2023 compared to 2022, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

While the percentage of solar capacity reporting delays decreased last year, it remained higher than the average delays recorded between 2018 and 2021. In 2023, solar developers postponed the scheduled online date for an average of 19% of planned solar capacity, compared to 23% in 2022.

Solar power has emerged as the country’s fastest-growing source of new electricity generation, owing to the decreasing costs, tax rebates, and allied policy incentives.

In 2023, the electric power sector began operating a generating capacity of 19 GW of new utility-scale solar, registering a 27% year-over-year increase from the solar capacity by the end of 2022.

According to EIA’s survey of developers, the percentage of total planned solar capacity with a postponed operational date rose throughout 2021 and 2022, reaching a peak at 33% of planned capacity delayed in December 2022.

EIA also warned that the time from when developers report a project’s initial planned operational date to when it becomes operational varies considerably.

The report said that while projects can face delays for multiple reasons, the availability of building materials has become one of the primary reasons for stalling solar panel installations. The analysis found that U.S. trade policies can influence solar deployment, as the country’s tariffs affecting solar PV cell manufacturers in China are suspended until June 2024.

After this, imported crystalline silicon from China and companies based in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam will again be subject to tariffs.

In the first quarter of 2024, EIA stated that the electric power sector added 6 GW of net summer solar capacity. Further, 24 GW of solar projects that are estimated to go online sometime this year are in various phases of testing and construction, while 6 GW is in the permitting or planning stage.

EIA said another 26 GW of new solar capacity is scheduled to come online in 2025, most of which is in the permitting stage.

In another forecast, EIA estimated that the U.S. would add 36 GW of utility-scale solar capacity this year.

This follows EIA’s prediction that solar power will primarily drive electricity generation growth in 2024 and 2025.