The rise in capacity for energy devices over 2022-2023 will total 10.3 GW – 60 % of that total will be brought on steam as infrastructure for solar panels. The installed capacity of solar panels connected to the general grid will increase over that period by 38 GW.
By way of comparison, for onshore and offshore wind farms, the rise in capacity will total 11 GW and the figure for a gas-fired stations 16 GW.
The fact that solar power heads the rise in capacity is to a great extent linked to lower costs – in 2013, unit costs for a KW of capacity of solar panels totalled $3,705 in the United States, while in 2019, that had declined to less than half the original figure – to $1,796.
By way of comparison: unit costs for construction of an onshore wind turbine over the same period fell by more than 25 % (from $1,895 to $1,391 per KW of capacity, according to the EIA). Tax breaks also favour development of solar capacity. When a consumer installs a panel himself, he or she may claim an income tax deduction of up to 26 % of the costs involved. This tax break will decline to 23 % in 2023.
More than half (52%) of the rise in total capacity of solar panels and energy storage devices is accounted for in the states of California, Texas and New York. In California, the share of solar power of total generation amounts to 15.4 % – that figure nation-wide stands at only 2.2 %, according to the California Energy Commission and the EIA. Growth in terms of output by solar panels is kept in check by by the dependence of solar panels on weather conditions. In 2020, their average load throughout the United States stood at only 21 % — lower than the figure for onshore wind farms (42 %) and gas-fired power stations (50 %).
This problem could be solved by storage devices able to produce energy in periods of overcast skies. Global investments in construction of energy storage devices rose by nearly 30 % in 2021, from $5.5 billion to $7.1 billion, according to an initial estimate of the International Energy Agency (IEA).