The Clean Power Quarterly 2021 Q4 Market Report, released by the American Clean Power Association (ACP), shows the U.S. surpassed more than 200 GW of total operating utility-scale clean power capacity in 2021, but significant policy issues continue to hold back growth for the industry and threaten the country’s ability to meet emissions goals.
“Surpassing over 200 gigawatts of clean energy is a significant milestone for the United States and shows that we can achieve even more with strong public policy support for the industry,” said Heather Zichal, ACP CEO. “Although the U.S. has reached this incredible achievement, more needs to be done, at a faster pace, to reach the climate goals and targets our country needs to achieve. We urge Congress to take action to create a clean energy future that will help create more good-paying American jobs and combat the climate crisis.”
During 2021, there was a 3% decline for clean energy installations compared to 2020’s record year. Over 11.4 GW of projects, originally expected to come online in 2021, slipped to 2022 or 2023 due to a variety of issues. For the solar sector, this was due to trade policies and lack of regulatory certainty impacting the availability of solar panels coming into the country. The wind sector faced policy uncertainty, including the expiration of tax credits for wind projects.
The pace of installations fell significantly short of what is required to achieve a net-zero emissions goal. While 27.7 GW is the second largest year on record for combined wind, solar and energy storage installations, it is only 45% of what’s required to stay on track for an emissions-free power sector.
Other significant findings in the Q4 2021 report:
- 2021 was a record year for clean energy procurement, with 28 GW of PPAs signed in 2021. For perspective, 28 GW of clean energy exceeds the electricity demand of the entire U.S. federal government.
- Corporate buyers surpassed utilities in clean energy procurement for the first time, announcing deals totaling over 14 GW in 2021. Utilities signed contracts for over 10 GW of wind, solar and battery storage.
- Utilities made up 35 of the announced PPA capacity during the quarter, with 19 utilities signing contracts representing a total capacity of 1,994 MW. Solar was the dominant technology for utility PPA announcements, accounting for over 70 percent of the new capacity announced.
News item from the American Clean Power Association (ACP)