Big spike in PV technology for utilities

Dec. 10, 2009
US utility photovoltaic (PV) activity has spiked over the last 18 months.

With only 77 MW of utility-driven PV projects currently operating, US utilities have announced a pipeline of more than 4.8 GW of large, utility-scale photovoltaic projects. This explosion of activity highlights the PV sector’s changing landscape and the key role utilities are expected to play going forward, according to a new study from the market analysis firm Emerging Energy Research.

The scaling adoption and newfound acceptance of PV technology by utilities has been catalyzed by four primary factors according to EER’s study: regulatory pressures at the state and national levels; widespread cost reductions in the PV sector; fossil fuel price volatility and overarching carbon concerns; and PV’s siting flexibility allowing utilities to leverage multi-pronged strategies. EER has forecasted that utilities will add 21.5 GW of solar PV to their generation portfolios between 2009 and 2020. Led by utility involvement, the US PV market will accelerate between 2011 and 2015, growing from 2 GW in 2011 to 12 GW in 2015, a more than 460% increase.

“At this early stage of PV adoption in the US, utilities are under significant regulatory and planning pressure to address their solar procurement strategies going forward, says EER Solar Research Director Reese Tisdale. “Unlike other larger, centralized power generation technologies such as natural gas, wind, concentrated solar power, and geothermal, PV offers scale and unique siting versatility. These key differentiators allow PV to be deployed in a wide range of geographies.”

Furthermore, PV’s versatility potentially circumvents transmission build-out bottlenecks that pose significant hurdles in the path of centralized renewables deployment, according to Tisdale.

More details are at the EER site:

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