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North America. Photovoltaic USA

13 June 2019

The United States of America, giant of the twentieth century, delays its definitive transformation to green energy due to trade wars.

If in 2017 the USA held the second place in the global photovoltaic ranking, only surpassed by China, in 2018 it passes to share this second place with India, keeping China the first place although with a noticeable decrease of %, due to the number of new countries which joined the ranking.

The literature on the US energy policy in these last two years, the two years of the Donald Trump Age, is very controversial, apparently given the guidelines of this president supporting the fossil fuel industry, to the detriment of renewables. "Donald Trump threatens 50,000 million per year in renewables" according to eleconomista.es 6/12/2017. The repeal of some of the laws of the last President, Obama, in these matters, as well as his refusal to sign the protocols of Paris (COP 21) in June 2017 "the citizens of Pittsburgh have elected me to be its president, not citizens of Paris... ", or their disbelief about the effects of climate change, present a very unpopular face of Trump. We already saw in one of the articles of these pages (31/08/2017), the comments of the North American press labeling of "failure and lack of breath", the policy of renewable European (more specifically German).

However, there is no lack of voices that qualify this unpopular image, by presenting data that would relativize Trump's positioning with respect to renewables.

We are simply going to present here the figures of (accumulated) photovoltaic installation during the last biennium (Trump's governance time). We do not consider other renewables here.

The installation of 13,592 MW of photovoltaic in two years does not seem an abandonment of this form of energy. It is true that given the magnitudes of the North American industry and its volumes of consumption, these figures could be higher, but if we consider that Spain, the tenth largest cumulative photovoltaic country in the world, had a total of 4.7 GW at the end of 2017, the US figures They do not seem to go down.

"Rick Perry is well aware of the strong cost reduction of wind and solar photovoltaics due to his long experience as governor of Texas. His appointment as Secretary of Energy can not be interpreted as contrary to renewable energies. " Pedro Mielgo, President of NGC Partners.


We can see, according to the graph, that solar represented only 6% of total renewables, which in turn represented only 11% of total primary energy consumption. The data is taken in April 2018.


“In 2018, approximately 4,178 billion kilowatts (kWh) of utility-scale electricity was generated in the United States.

About 63% of this electricity generation comes from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, oil and other gases).

About 20% comes from nuclear energy, and approximately 17% comes from renewable energy sources.

The US Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2018 an additional 30 billion kWh of electricity generation was generated from small-scale photovoltaic solar systems”.

US Energy Information Administration.

We see that renewables participate in the contribution of the USA 2018 mix by 17.1%. Of the total electricity generation, 1.6% belongs to solar energy (1.5 PV + 0.1% CSP).

This (relative) small percentage, compared to the magnitudes of the total generation of electricity USA 2018, presents this other point of view if we zoom in:

The tendency, according to the following graphs, is towards the reduction of the contribution of coal and nuclear with an increase in the contribution of natural gas and renewable energy.

The chart shows an 18% contribution of renewables for 2018 (analogous to the figures of 17.1%, mentioned above) with a projection of up to 31% by 2050.

Of this 18% as a total set of renewables, 13% would belong to the Solar PV in 2018, with an estimated increase of up to 48% by 2050.

Note: not to confuse the % of the solar to the total contribution with the % of the contribution to the renewable ones.

The consulting and research group Wood MacKensey issued the report "Our top ten Insights of 2018: WoodMac corporate research", from which we extracted the following chart, with the projection of the PV until 2024 in the USA, subdivided according to the different sectors (utility, residential, non-residential)


The following data is taken from this link.

"Currently, USA hosts more than 2 million photovoltaic installations, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Association of Solar Energy Industries (SEIA)".

Wood Mackenzie predicts that there will be 3 million installations in 2021 and 4 million in 2023, continuing the rapid increase in solar energy.


"California accounted for 51 percent of the first million facilities, but accounted for 43 percent of the second million. This is due in large part to a growing residential sector that is rapidly diversifying into state markets.

South Carolina, for example, was an emerging market in 2016 with 1,160 cumulative facilities. Today, the state hosts more than 18,000 solar systems and is expected to add 22,000 systems in the next five years.

Other fast-growing states in the last three years include Texas, Utah, Florida, Rhode Island and Maryland, which together have grown from about 50,000 facilities to more than 200,000. Looking ahead, Illinois will see cumulative facilities increase from 4,000 today to almost 100,000 by 2024.

While California will continue to lead the nation in facilities, the remaining 10 major state markets will see faster growth. Nearly 750,000 installations are expected in those markets over the next 5 years, compared to 500,000 installations in the last 5 years." Michelle Davis at woodmac.com

Emma Foehringer Merchant echoes this report on 9/5/2019, in

We extract some of the paragraphs:

"The rapid growth in the solar industry has completely changed the debate on energy in this country," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and executive director of the SEIA group. "This $ 17 billion industry is on track to double again in five years, and we believe that the 2020s will be the decade in which solar energy will become the new dominant form of power generation"

The author presents some of the challenges to which the US solar market has been / is:

a) It reached 2 million installations a year later than analysts initially predicted.

b) Residential facilities fell by 15 percent between 2016 and 2017 (...) Wood Mackenzie forecasts residential growth of only 3.3 percent in 2019.

The 2 million solar systems currently installed, representing a total of more than 70 gigawatts of capacity, provide enough electricity for approximately 12 million homes.

c) But that's only a fraction of the buildings in the United States.

According to the Census Bureau, in July 2017, US had 137.4 million "housing units," a figure that includes apartments and single-family homes.

d) But it does not have businesses, manufactures and other commercial buildings.

Although currently it is one of the largest sources of new generation capacity that is added in the USA every year.

e) solar energy still has a long way to go to become a major player in the general electricity market.

According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2018, large-scale photovoltaic plants generated 63 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, or the 1.5 percent of the total generation of the United States. (Note: we see the agreement with the figures that we show in another section of this work). The EIA estimates that the smaller systems, mostly on the roof, added another 30 billion kilowatt-hours.

f) The gradual decrease of the TCI.

On the contrary, the author continues to note, "there are a series of possible catalysts on the horizon":

The continuous decrease in costs.
The mandate of the domestic solar energy of California
The still new Green New Deal that the Democrats are discussing. "


We attach the ranking of the 20 American cities with more installed photovoltaic capacity, taken from the web


In this Frontier Group report, you can find tables referring to other parameters: for example, PV installed per capita, or per range (intervals) of watts / person.

The report also mentions "Many smaller cities and towns (which) are also gaining in solar energy" (among others):

Santa Fe, New Mexico, had 19 MW of accumulated photovoltaic capacity installed at the end of 2018, equivalent to 225 watts per person. That's more photovoltaic solar capacity per capita than any other city on our list other than Honolulu and San Diego.

Tallahassee, Florida, has enough installed photovoltaic solar power capacity (30 MW in total and 157 watts per person) to be cataloged as a leading "solar star".

Trenton, New Jersey, also has enough solar photovoltaic capacity installed to be cataloged as a "solar star".

Worcester, Massachusetts; El Paso, Texas, or Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Not to forget the entrance of Grupo T-Solar in Plant Operation of 25 MW in El Centro (California, USA) in 2013, which involved a total investment of 70 M $ financed by North American Development Bank and Banco Santander.


Obama (2011): 'The energy security of the US goes through investing in clean energy'.
US solar capacity hits 20 GW. 03/11/2015 Busines New. 

"A significant change in the market compared to previous years seems to be the emergence of a much larger residential solar sector, in a country where projects at the scale of public services have tended to dominate the photovoltaic scene thanks to 30% of investment tax credit (ITC).

But given that the ITC rate will be reduced to only 10% from the beginning of 2017, developers of public utility projects are competing to complete their facilities by the end of next year. And Rhone Resch, president of SEIA (Solar Energy Industry Association) stressed the importance of this legislation, saying:

"Since the ITC was approved in 2006, more than 150,000 solar jobs have been created in the United States and $ 66 billion has been invested in solar installations throughout the country. Now (it is understood the end of 2014, beginning of 2015) we have 20 GW of installed solar capacity, enough to supply 4 million homes in the United States. "

Carolina states allocate 14 solar projects for 600 MW. 01/05/2019 newenergyupdate.com/pv

Around 14 solar projects for 602 MW were awarded in the power grid of North Carolina and South Carolina, (...), announced the service on April 17. There were 10 selected projects in North Carolina and four projects in South Carolina. Two of the projects will couple solar energy with battery storage.

Advisory group DNV GL launches PPA buyer platform. 01/05/2019 newenergyupdate.com/pv

The global market for corporate renewable PPA is growing rapidly (...) The United States has led the growth of the PPA, but the demand in Europe is increasing as a growing number of industrial groups and smaller companies enter the market.

The growing demand from smaller contractors is driving new PPP structures that include multiple counterparts and multiple contract durations.

"The corporate PPA market should be significantly expanded to avoid being a bottleneck in the financing and construction of renewable energy. This growth in corporate PPPs will require an efficient and transparent market where the interested parts understand and mitigate emerging risks, "said Caroline Brun Ellefsen, Global Director of the new platform of DNV GL.

As solar lending begins to dominate, loan providers see increasing value in installer networks. As a result of the ITC reduction, solar loans will begin to resemble regular consumer loans. Chloe Holden 10/05/2019 greentechmedia.com

Goldman Sachs becomes a solar provider for CCA of California as it continues its acquisition process. Jeff St. John 16/05/2019. SOLAR FINANCE & VC. greentechmedia.com

"California is committed by law to use 100% renewable electricity in 2045. The State becomes the largest economy in the US to set the goal of eliminating completely polluting fuels in the electricity sector" Elpaís.com 10/09/2018.

The Green New Deal resolution requires 100% of 'Clean, renewable and zero-emission sources of energy' according to owner of greentechmedia.com 7/02/2019.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Monday unanimously rejected a proposal by the Donald Trump government to subsidize the coal and nuclear power industry. Infobae.com 9/01/2018.

Ohio Bill to eliminate renewable mandate, rescue coal and nuclear. Tim Sylvia 30/05/2019 PV Magazine-Usa.com

"Renewable energies represent 70% of the new generation capacity of the United States", headlined his article José A. Roca on 23/07/15 at Elperiódicodelaenergía.com

Super-size solar in the Midwest. Christian Roselund 9/04/2019 PV Magazine-USA.com

Considered for a long time as a slow region for the deployment of solar energy, the Midwest of the USA has seen an explosion of project development in recent years. And while there is still a lot of speculation and uncertainty, in one way or another, this region is going to have a great development.

USA exceeds 2 million solar installations as the industry seeks to 'dominate' the 2020s. Emma Foehringer Merchant 09/05/2019. greentechmedia.com

2019 is the last year in which the solar industry can take advantage of the total value of 30 percent of ITC. Emma Foehringer Merchant 14/05/2019. greentechmedia.com


DOE: The Department of Energy of the United States is the cabinet of the government of the United States responsible for the energy policy and nuclear safety.

EIA: The United States Energy Information Administration is the statistical and analytical agency in the Department of Energy of the United States, on which it depends.

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency. It depends on the DOE. Created in 2015 in the Obama era.

FERC: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the federal agency responsible for regulating the transmission and sale of electricity.


ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005. The Energy Policy Act of 2005
ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND SECURITY ACT 2007: The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (initially the Clean Energy Act of 2007) is a law passed in the House of Representatives in January 2007. In June of the same year, it was combined with the Senate Bill: "Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007". President Bush promulgates it at the end of the year.
AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT—ARRA. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The changes introduced in the energy policy of the USA focused to increase the use of clean energies and fuels are strengthened with the adoption of this law. The most important provisions were in relation to Tax Credits for the production of renewable energy, increase the electrical connection between the different rural regions of the country, main cities and increase the use of these energies in homes and communities.

CLEAN POWER PLAN.  Adopted by the EPA in 2014, in 2015 (Obama age) it was approved and put into execution, under the direction of the Department of Energy.

It establishes an incentive program, which includes credits for the development of renewable energies, as well as for research into energy efficiency projects in low-income communities with the aim of reducing the technological costs of low-carbon energy.

However, the Clean Power Plan (was / is) object of great legal controversy "according to the Report on Public Policies of the US, published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Embassy of Spain in Washington DC, October 27, 2016. "The compliance schedule does not start until 2022."

AMERICA FIRST ENERGY PLAN, May 26, 2016: Trump's speech. Elected president January 2017. The speech is readable on the web.

Resignation of the signature of the "International Environmental Treaty of Paris" by the US 2016

The GREEN NEW DEAL is the name of a project that aims, with 100% clean energy, to provide all the energy of the USA through an extensive national mobilization for a decade. It targets net emissions


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