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US installs 6GW of solar in Q1

Utility installations accounted for 3.8GW of installed capacity in the first quarter led by Florida


The US solar industry installed just over 6GW of solar capacity and had its best first quarter in history, according to a report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.


It found the record Q1 was driven in large part by supply chain challenges abating and delayed solar projects moving forward.


The utility-scale market rebounded from a difficult 2022 with a strong first quarter and a record 3.8GW of installed solar capacity.

Florida was the top solar state in Q1 2023 by far, thanks to 1.46GW of utility-scale solar installations.


The state installed over 70% more solar capacity in Q1 than the next highest region California.


Due in part to those additions, the solar industry accounted for 54% of all new electricity-generating capacity put on the grid in Q1.


This quarter, more module importers were able to satisfy the documentation requirements under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).


This enabled more solar equipment to make it to project sites and allowed the industry to build out its long pipeline of delayed developments.


Due in part to the strong first quarter numbers and a surge in demand from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Wood Mackenzie expects the solar market to triple in size over the next five years, bringing total installed solar capacity to 378GW by 2028.


The IRA has also spurred a surge of new manufacturing announcements, with domestic module capacity expected to rise from fewer than 9GW today to more than 60GW by 2026.


At least 16GW of module factories are under construction as of the end of Q1 2023.


This quarter, the Biden administration provided some clarity on how the landmark law’s adder credits will be applied.


The law contains new credits that can be used in conjunction with the solar Investment Tax Credit, like the domestic content, energy communities, and low-income adder credits.


In particular, the energy communities and low-income adder guidance will help drive solar and storage investment in underserved communities.


“As the Inflation Reduction Act begins to flex its muscle and drive demand, the U.S. solar and storage industry is eagerly awaiting further guidance on some of the most impactful pieces of the law,” said SEIA chief executive Abigail Ross Hopper.


“Timely, specific, and workable implementation guidance from the administration will have a major impact on our success in both the near and long-term. This guidance is powerful, and if done correctly, it could unlock new market potential across the country,” Ross Hopper added.


While the IRA has already catalysed major investments in solar manufacturing and deployment, challenges remain with the implementation guidance for the domestic content adder credits in the near-term.


Because the rules to comply with the domestic content adder credit are complex and there is no crystalline silicon solar cell manufacturing capacity in the United States, it could take a few years before the credit can be widely used.


“The US solar industry is slowly starting to see supply chain relief,” said head of global solar at Wood Mackenzie and lead author of the report Michelle Davis.


“At the same time, qualifying for the domestic content adder will be a very complex process for solar project developers," said Davis.


“Even once crystalline silicon cell manufacturing is established, many other components will need to be produced domestically before projects can qualify.”


Original article link here.

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