A new government energy forecast expects 21.5 gigawatts of solar capacity to be installed this year, despite widespread industry uncertainty.
The projection from the U.S. Energy Information Administration surpasses the record 15.5 GW of utility-scale capacity set last year, and makes up nearly half of the EIA’s projections for new electric generating capacity.
While the projections are positive, solar experts have been pointing to supply chain issues that are causing significant cost increases.
This has led many to believe that supply chain problems would limit industry growth this year.
Consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, for example, initially projected 22.5 GW of new solar capacity, but then downgraded the number to 15 GW after a survey with top developers revealed significant project delays.
According to the firm, developers are not confident they will be able to complete their scheduled projects this year due to shipping delays and equipment costs.
Potential buyers are being subjected to complex contracts, with financial tools used to limit the cost risks of both parties.
However, other industry experts are confident that while supply chain issues may cause delays, developers will be able to overcome them and still achieve record installations.
Many experts believe these challenges are temporary, and savvy planning and purchasing strategies, along with increased manufacturing, can work together to meet the increased demand.
The EIA forecast shows that most planned solar additions this year will be in Texas, with 6.1 GW and 28 percent of the national total, and California will come in second with 4 GW.
Experts agree that 20 GW or higher is a large amount of solar, indicating the potential for growth when the industry isn’t hampered by pandemic-related supply chain issues.
According to the EIA, the U.S. installed a total of 15.6 GW of solar between 2017 and 2019, 10.4 GW in 2020, and 15.5 GW in 2021.
Of the EIA’s projections for new utility-scale electric generating capacity this year, there is a total of 46.1 GW.
Solar makes up nearly half of this projection, followed by natural gas at 9.6 GW and wind power at 7.6 GW.
Experts say despite the obstacles of the past few years, renewable energy has shown powerful growth around the globe. While there could be more delays in-store, once cost fluctuations are able to stabilize, more progress can be made.
However, even if costs rise, experts say solar still remains a more affordable option than other types of energy.