NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: New factors help drive growth of big solar

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    Wednesday, December 14, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: New factors help drive growth of big solar

    As RPS importance declines, 3 factors help drive growth for utility-scale solar; For the first time, most utility-scale solar development this year won't be driven by renewable portfolio standards

    Herman K. Trabish, April 5, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Under the new administration, state policies could determine the long-term fate of New Energy.

    The solar industry added a record 7.3 GW of new capacity in 2015, with over 4 GW of that coming from the utility-scale solar segment. Industry numbers foresaw 2016 more than doubling last year’s installed capacity — increasing to 16 GW of installations, including almost 12 GW of utility-scale solar and, as of Q3 2016, numbers were reinforcing the forecast. Energy Department numbers that predicted utility-scale solar would be, for the first time, the biggest source of new U.S. generation for the year have proven accurate. GTM Research’s The Next Wave of U.S. Utility Solar explained that while 80% of utility-scale solar had been driven by state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), over 50% of the 2016 utility-scale solar pipeline is non-RPS driven.

    As demand for solar expands beyond RPS programs, three factors are expected to drive growth in the utility-scale segment of the market, the study reports. The biggest will be voluntary utility procurements as power companies are attracted by solar’s low price. The installed cost for utility-scale solar has dropped over 50% since 2007, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The second will be must-take procurement from qualifying facilities (QFs) under the dictates of the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act(PURPA). The third will be corporate procurement of power from utility-scale solar systems. While this area is smallest of the three at present, analysts expect it to be among the most interesting markets in coming years… click here for more

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