The U.S. clean power industry hit significant milestones, but more must be done

Last week, the American Clean Power Association released its Clean Power Annual Market Report 2021, which showed that wind, utility solar, and battery storage power capacity in the U.S. topped 200 gigawatts (GW) after 28.5 GW of clean energy projects came online in 2021. Regardless of this milestone, installations were flat when compared to 2020 levels due to several policy headwinds facing the wind and solar sectors. ACP found that maintaining last year’s project volume would provide only 35% of what is needed to reach a net zero grid by 2035.

“Despite recent growth trends, unrelenting challenges from the pandemic and global supply chain issues slowed clean power growth. Roughly 10 gigawatts of clean power capacity originally expected online in 2021 were delayed because of various policy headwinds,” said Heather Zichal, ACP CEO. “Looking to 2022 and beyond, the uncertainty of tax credits for renewable energy projects, the availability of solar panels, supply chain issues, and inflation are all expected to have a concerning impact on our ability to deliver growth.”

Clean power dominated new power capacity additions in 2021. A total of 594 projects came online, representing 81 percent of all new power capacity installations. And more is on the way, so long as constraints can be eased. At the end of the year, there were 303 projects under construction and 390 in advanced development. Clean power technologies now deliver 13 percent of the nation’s electricity – the equivalent of powering over 56 million homes.  

There are 35 states with at least 1 GW of operating wind, utility solar or battery storage capacity. Texas leads all states with 45,301 MW of cumulative clean power capacity installed, followed by:  

In 2021, Texas led all states in land-based wind capacity additions with 3,343 MW and utility scale solar capacity additions with 3,768 MW. California led in battery storage additions, with 1,371 MW.    

When it comes to electricity generation, Texas led all states by generating over 116 million MWh of renewable electricity in 2021. However, when it comes to the share of total electricity generated in a state, Iowa led with 55.8% of electricity generated from clean power in 2021. Other top states for clean power generation share include South Dakota (52.3%), Kansas (45.3%), Oklahoma (41.6%), and New Mexico (36%).   

Visit the ACP website for an interactive version of the data and to download the full report.

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